Saturday’s by-election in Ilaje Ese/Odo Federal Constituency, Ondo state is expected to be a heated contest as competing political parties are standing seven candidates for one House of Representative seat. The seat became vacant following the sudden death of Mr. Raphael Nomiye in November 2013. Nomiye was a member of the Labor Party.
The participating political parties are the-Labour Party (LP); Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) , All Progressive Congress (APC); Advance Congress of Democrats (ACD); Democratic Peoples Party (DPP); People for Democratic Change (PDC); and Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA). Analysis reveals three major candidates are from Ilaje – while the seat is traditionally in rotation between Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government councils. And three major political parties are most visible in the area – Labour Party (LP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Comrade Kolade Akinjo, a former Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the candidate of the Labour Party (LP). His campaign is strong in the riverine area because of the support from his godfather and Governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Mimiko. A source said the Governor and his entourage have engaged in spending and financing Akinjo’s campaign with the tax payers’ money since last week, staying in a local hotel and wooing voters with promises of “white elephant” projects for the area.
The All Progressive congress (APC) is supporting the former Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Pastor Adewale Omojuwa as their candidate. A source said since the merger the APC party is participating in State election for the first time, and they are confident of victory. A ward meeting planned for the same day as the by-election has been cancelled to ensure voter turnout.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is supporting a former board member, Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC) and current Coordinator of Sure-P, Ondo South Senatorial District, Bashoru Adewale Kukute as their candidate. This past weekend, a source said the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, together with the business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim, campaigned for Kukute in ilaje and spread money around. Commentating on the by-election, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Akin Orebiyi said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is fully prepared and has already trained its ad-hoc staff. The staff will be responsible for monitoring the ballot paper, ballot boxes and accrediting credible and eligible voters for the election.
According to a source most of the ad-hoc staff are members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) posted to the Southern senatorial district of the state. At a stakeholders meeting Mr. Orebiyi promised the REC would improve on lapses in the October 2012 governorship, and assured them of a flawless poll that would serve as a precedent for the 2015 general election.
Party representatives and officials said they want the INEC to take full responsibility to prevent manipulations, violence, and other forms electoral malpractices in the by-election. They demanded ballot papers and boxes arrive early to polling units and centers and the election be free and fair and not in favor of any political party.
The Commissioner of Police in Ondo state, Mr. Issac Eke, said nearly 2,500 Nigerian Police Officers will be deployed from various commands of the state to provide security ahead, during, and after the election. The officers are instructed to be non-partisan and to ensure parties follow election rules.