Ondo Governorship Election: INEC Ready for D-Day

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Friday morning reaffirmed its preparedness for a hitch-free process for the Ondo state governorship election scheduled for Saturday, 20thOctober, 2012. The leading contenders in the election that has generated heated political debates in the last one month are the incumbent Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Labour Party (LP), Chief Olusola Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and legal icon Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Jega - INEC Chair
Jega - INEC Chair

Speaking to newsmen at the Ondo state INEC secretariat on Friday morning, the state Resident Electoral Commission of INEC, Mr. Akin Orebiyi assured that the election management body has done everything possible to ensure smooth, free and fair governorship election. NigerianEcho correspondent in Akure, Ondo state capital, quoted Orebiyi as saying that INEC commenced the distribution of election materials on Thursday to the two local government areas of Ilaje and Ese-Odo in the coastal part of Ondo state while the distribution of materials to the remaining 16 local government continued early on Friday. He noted that information from the two local government areas of Ilaje and Ese-Odo already confirmed delivery of the materials. He also spoke on the readiness of the security agencies to ensure a violent-free exercise. Orebiyi also confirmed that elections would be held in 3,007 of the 3,009 poling units across Ondo state; explaining that election could not be conducted in two poling units in Ese-Odo local government where registration of voters did not take place during the last voter registration exercise in 2010.

Meanwhile, residents of Ondo state appear ready to massively participate in the election considering the level of enthusiasm in the state capital and major towns visited by our correspondent. The state government declared Friday half-work day to enable electorate prepare for the exercise. As at 1pm, major motor parks were already filled to capacity as Ondo state citizens were travelling to various locations in the state for the exercise.

Security situation which has become water-tight since the visit of President Jonathan to the state to round off the PDP campaign last week Saturday has been intensified with the presence of soldiers in border towns and at INEC secretariat in Akure. Police presence across towns and villages is massive with a restriction of movement to Ondo state as from 6pm Thursday and Friday which was ordered by the Inspector General of Police. So far, no serious threats is anticipated despite pockets of violence that characterized last days of electioneering campaigns in few locations in the state.

There is no doubt that all appeared set for a historic election on Saturday considering the enthusiasm from stakeholders in the process. Some electorate who volunteered response to the investigation by NigerianEcho confirmed that the election would be keenly contested. Some respondents however listed Owo, Ilaje, Okitipupa and major towns in Akoko areas of the state as possible places that are two close to call as none of the aspirants could be perceived as possible clear winner. Whatever, the outcome, opinions of the electorate are unanimous that the election would turn out to be defining moment for new political realities in Ondo state and the southwest in General.

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