From Muyiwa Adeyemi (Head South West Bureau, Akure)
AHEAD of Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State, some Yoruba self-determination groups as well as youth and women associations yesterday called for massive turn out of voters in support of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
The development came as the Akeredolu Campaign Organisation (ACO) called on the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff to quickly intervene to stop the “criminal activity of the Labour Party, which has clothed its thugs in military uniform and boots, especially in the riverine area of the state.
A statement by Mr. Idowu Ajanaku, the director of Media, Publicity and Strategy of ACO said, “the LP, having failed to convince the Ondo people on why they should vote for Mimiko has resulted to criminality and violence tactics in order to rig the October 20 election. This last minute criminal act of kitting thugs in military uniform by the LP in the riverine areas is reprehensible and should be condemned by all well meaning Nigerians.”
The ACO also asked the LP to stop “intimidating the people with the mind that this would translate to victory for him as one of Mimiko’s associates has threatened to deal with anybody that comes out to vote for ACN in Ijapo Unit 19.”
According to Akeredolu’s group, “the farmers in the rural areas are complaining bitterly. In spite of the total neglect they have suffered from the Mimiko’s government, they are now being threatened of their means of livelihood. Particularly, the farmers in the Camp 1 and 2 belonging to the former cocoa board established by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo have been threatened with eviction from their farms if they vote for the ACN.”
Representatives of the groups, numbering about 200, came from all the South West states as well as Edo and Delta states. Leaders of Yoruba people in northern Nigeria and representatives from Togo and Benin republics were also at the press conference where the groups declared support for Akeredolu.
The leaders who addressed the media in Akure said Ondo State must return to what they referred to as the “greater Yoruba family.” They accused Governor Olusegun Mimiko of consciously working against Yoruba unity, saying his allegations that some ACN leaders wanted to collect ‘rent’ from Ondo is cheap.
“The retrieval of the mandate from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was a battle fought and won by the Yoruba people in Ondo State and beyond. Ondo is an integral part of the Yoruba culture and history,” they said.
The groups’ leader, Mr. Popoola Ajayi, said the election should be used to affirm the commitment of the people of Ondo to the ideals of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo whom the people gave their 90 per cent support in his lifetime. He warned that allowing Mimiko to retain the seat would undermine the political security in the entire South West region.
The groups at the event included the Oodua Self Determination Alliance (OSEDA), which comprises of over 26 pan-Yoruba groups, South West Youth Coalition, with a list of over 60 affiliates and a host of other women and youth groups drawn from across Yoruba land.
Popoola said: “We the representatives of Yoruba people from across the world are here with our own people in Ondo State. This event is to send a strong signal that the Yoruba people must act together. We have shared dreams and shared aspirations. We must not allow the Labour Party (LP) to destroy the Yoruba family.”
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