Saturday, October 10, 2020 8:14 am
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
Today, Saturday, 10 October, 2020, the Ondo electorate will vote in a governor that will be in charge of the state for the next four years. In the arena today are these major gladiators: Rotimi Akeredolu, of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Eyitayo Jegede of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and Agoola Ajayi of Zenith Labour Party ZLP.
Ondo is a state in the South West or Old Western Region, a zone that brooks no nonsense with election rigging. What analysts are saying is that in order for what happened in the 1960s during “operation wet e” or 1983 not to happen again, the votes of the electorate must be allowed to count by all.
The DIG Adeleye Olusola Oyabade, Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Research and Planning who IGP, Muhammed Adamu drafted to the state to administer the general security arrangement for the election should be even handed. So also are those deployed to assist the DIG: AIG Karma Hosea Hassan, Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Federal Operations (FEDOPS), Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja, and eleven (11) Commissioners.
All eyes will also be on the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, to be an unbiased umpire.
Below is a revisit of what happened in 1983 in Ondo State in order to be a guide, lesson or check or a combination of the three.
Guiding against recurrence of 1983 electoral violence
As we published on this platform in the past, conflict happened between the late Governor Adekunle Ajasin and his Deputy, Akin Omoboriowo that sparked off crisis of murderous magnitudes in 1983. Ajasin who had been governing since 1979 was seeking re-election and his Deputy too wanted to govern. In the primary election, Omoboriowo alleged that he was rigged out in favour of his principal. Consequently, he changed camp to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) on the platform of which he contested.
In the governorship election, Omoboriowo was declared winner by Dapo Alibaloye, the Ondo state electoral commissioner. All hell was let loose, because the allegation was strong that NPN and Alibaloye rigged Ajasin out.
However, when TheNEWS confronted Alibaloye on the matter, he defended himself:
“If that opportunity comes back my way today, I will do what I did in 1983. I will do it! I was not on the field, I was a returning officer and I was to return the figures that were added, pronounce them as they were added.
Omoboriowo had the highest figures before me by what was tallied. And I was there, it is true that the UPN, NPN, they said this one is from so, so, and each returning officer was accompanied by a police officer. I did not have the power to cancel it on my own at that time and if let’s say that I knew the right result, I didn’t have the power to cancel it.
The alternative, therefore, was for the state not to have a result, then as a senior civil servant, I would have been irresponsible for not announcing the results, because making a bad decision is better than making none.
The NEWS asked him to clear the air on how he mysteriously escaped when violence erupted after that announcement. “There was a myth waxed around how you escaped from Akure. Some said as an Ekiti man with relevant African insurance, you disappeared, using transponder (egbe). On a serious note, how did you leave Akure because some people allegedly wanted to attack you?”
Alibaloye replied: “I do not know whether I was to be attacked or not but I finished my work, went to my house and took my bath and started off to Lagos that night. Those who wanted to attack me, maybe God stopped them, saying this person is not what you think, so there is no power that is above that of God. God was with me and ever since I have lived. Were they not around to use that their foul power? God knows I didn’t do anything wrong. I had to sign when they had added the figures. That’s all.”
However, not many were as lucky as Alibaloye. Four NPN stalwarts were roasted alive in Akure. Olaiya Fagbamigbe, a member of the federal House of Representatives, Awoleye Agunbiade, former majority leader in the state house of assembly. Worse still, NPN official R.A. Agbayewa and his wife were beaten to death by the mob.
The Police and the media, especially, the Ondo state Radio Vision Corporation, made the violence worse as the latter was making announcements about the escape route of the Deputy Governor!