On October 20, Ondo State will decide the next governor. The Director-General of the Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation, Dr. Dare Bada, speaks.
How will you describe your campaign so far?
It’s has so far been very successful, exciting and revealing. Our strategy is geared towards intensive grass root mobilisation. Our candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, and his running mate, Saka Lawal, have visited the 203 political wards in the state to interact with the people where they live, work and play. This afforded us a first-hand experience of the people’s feelings and frustrations. Never in my long political career have I seen such anger and blatant expression of pain, anxiety, frustration and disappointment by the people of the state. Our ward campaigns were more or less like religious crusades where people trooped out to identify with the change the PDP represents.
People are apprehensive that the major parties are planning to use thugs during the election. What’s your reaction?
The National chairman of the PDP (Dr. Bamaga Tukur) is a signatory to the INEC code of conduct for political parties, which prohibits thuggery and hooliganism. And he has directed the PDP in the state to comply strictly with the code of conduct. In my capacity as DG, I signed an undertaking on behalf of our candidate that we shall not promote violence. But unfortunately, because of our pacifist posture, we have remained at the receiving end of organised violence by the government of the day. Our intention is to contest a free and fair election. I cannot speak for others, but their actions, especially the incumbent, are already showing how desperate they are. Our records and antecedents with the people are there to speak for us. The people remember with nostalgia the glorious days of the Agagu administration and the positive ways we affected their lives between 2003 and 2009. We do not need thugs and violence to key into people’s expectations, we do not even have the capacity to perpetrate violence.
Government task force is being used to harass, intimidate and unlawfully arrest our members, while spurious petitions are generated to cause the arrest of law-abiding members who are then transferred to state Criminal Investigation Department in Akure to be locked up with hardened criminals. The joyful truth is that the people know who is really perpetrating violence.
The election is 18 days from now. What are the chances of the PDP?
The PDP is the party to beat. Our candidate has beautiful antecedents and pedigree. His candidature is popular and without rancour and he has the good record of the PDP government of Agagu to back him up. Our assurances and strength lie in the people and the choice they have already made.They are so disappointed in the current government and are ready to vote for the PDP and Chief Olusola Oke. The PDP left over N80bn in the coffers of Ondo State government in 2009, and barely three-and-a-half years the (LP) government has accumulated a debt of N50bn, despite the over N600bn revenue that accrued to it since 2009 from the Federal Allocation, oil derivation fund and Internally Generated Revenue.
During its inauguration, this government promised 4,000 jobs within 100 days, a N5b Ore Sunshine megacity plaza with 1,000 capacity trailer park, 200 shops 2,000 residential units, hotels, power plant, a N3bn tomato paste factory at Arigidi Akoko, a N13bn motor assembly plant at Bolorunduro, Ondo East Local Government, an N8b Cement factory at Okeluse in Ose LG, an N1.8b International conference centre (the infamous dome) among several others? What has become of the billions of Naira allocated to all these phantom projects. It is ridiculous and unfortunate that the Labour Party has treated the people with disdain.
The state university is in turmoil and has been shut down indefinitely because of unpaid staff emolument arrears. The state polytechnic is also embroiled in intractable crisis while secondary schoolteachers are seething with anger like suppressed volcano over the unpaid 27.5 per cent professional allowance promised them. Oke will win comfortably if this election is free and fair.
How would you describe the role of the security agencies and what are your expectations from them?
The police have not managed the pre-election period well; they have been very partial and have allowed themselves to be used to intimidate the opposition parties. But if the experience in the Edo election is anything to go by, we will only appeal to the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Army Staff, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director of the SSS to improve upon their good performance in Edo and deploy more personnel in Ondo.
What is your party expecting from INEC?
INEC appears to be ready and committed to making that all votes count, judging by the promises of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the many workshops, seminars and interactive meetings he has held with stakeholders. The steps taken so far by INEC appear definitive and promising, but he must ensure that all the good talks are made to work on the field because many beautiful ideas and plans on paper can get rubbished at the point of implementation. INEC did well in Edo and was roundly applauded. It must surpass its previous success in Edo. We believe in the integrity of the INEC Chairman, Prof. Atahiru Jega. His sense of duty, patriotism and deliberate work to target is something we are very proud of.
We admonish INEC not to recruit ad-hoc staff, whose integrity, identity and records are suspicious. The election and the lives should not be jeopardised by posting to the field electoral officials who have been compromised by the state government. Voting materials should arrive on time and security personnel should be deployed just in time and all possibilities for ballot box snatching and stuffing removed.