The triumph of Rotimi Akeredolu in the gubernatorial election conducted in Ondo Stateyesterday shows that the ruling All Progressives Congress remains popular, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said on Sunday.
In a congratulatory statement signed by his media adviser, Turaki Hassan, Mr. Dogara hailed Mr. Akeredolu’s victory as one for democracy.
“The election of Barrister Akeredolu and the APC in Ondo state is a clear indication of the popularity of our political party,” Mr. Dogara said. “I would like to congratulate my learned colleague on his victory at the poll, and also commend our great party, the All Progressives Congress, for a thorough and successful campaign.”
The APC seized power at the centre for the first time in the 2015 general election. However, Nigerians blamed the lingering economic crisis on the party, with many suggesting that the its popularity was waning.
Mr. Akeredolu scored 244,842 votes to defeat 27 others in the governorship election held on Saturday.
Eyitatyo Jegede of the PDP came second with 150,380 votes while Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy scored 126,889 votes to book third place, figures released by INEC returning officer, Abdul-Ganiyu Ambali, showed.
Mr. Dogara, however, noted that the victory should be seen as a call to service that both the candidate and the party must render to the residents of the state.
“As a party, we must take our victory in Ondo seriously since the people have placed trust in us. We must, therefore, deliver on policies that will improve their standard of living.”
The Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, also distributed a congratulatory message to the media on Sunday, expressing optimism that Mr. Akeredolu’s victory will usher in an unprecedented progress for Ondo State.
“This is one choice that will bring unprecedented progress, infrastructural development as well as social and economic growth to the Sunshine State,” Mr. Amosun said. “The victory of Akeredolu in the Ondo polls also portends a good omen for the collective development and progress of the South-West geopolitical zone under the progressive socio-political and economic ideals of the APC.”
The congratulatory messages came as civic groups that monitored the election gave INEC a pass mark for its overall performance.
The Situation Room, which is a coalition of several civil society organisations, said INEC recognised the task it was faced with in the run up to the polls and made adequate preparation.
“There were early distribution and deployment of personnel and materials, which led to the commencement of voting at the scheduled time of 8:00am across the state, taking cognisance of the peculiar terrain of the riverine areas of the state,” the Situation Room said in a statement signed by its director, Clement Nwankwo.
But the group also highlighted a few grey areas where INEC failed to live up to expectation, especially as concerned the use of card readers.
“However, the inability of the smart card readers to authenticate fingerprints in a large number of instances is still a sore point in election management.
“We also observed that some of the SCRs were not fully powered and lacked back up where it became necessary,” Mr. Nwankwo said.
Mr. Nwankwo praised the professionalism of security personnel deployed for the exercise, but expressed reservations about alleged failure of police leadership to provide adequate welfare for them.
“The poor welfare condition of security personnel deployed for elections has become recurring. Situation Room is again concerned that many security personnel still complained of a lack of support and welfare package, especially for those who were deployed from distant states of the federation for the election.
“Despite assurances given by the police that all police personnel had been given their entitlements while commenting on deployment for the election at the stakeholders meeting and observers briefing held in Akure, deployed police personnel lamented that this was not the case.
“We are constrained to raise concern about the minimum standards of welfare for this assignment,” Mr. Nwankwo said.