The race for the Ondo State governorship seat became fiercer yesterday with the campaign teams of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate, Chief Olusola Oke and that of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu bickering over an alleged N7 billion campaign fund.
The Olusola Oke Campaign Committee(OOCC) had cried out to the Presidency over an alleged plan by some government officials to ‘surreptitiously’ release the sum of N7b to the APC governorship candidate, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu from the N10b infrastructural contract slated for Owo community of the state to perfect plans to rig the November 26, 2016 poll in the state.
The organisation while raising the alarm yesterday in Akure, alleged that the plan was hatched in a federal ministry, Abuja, wherein a bogus contract without due process was mooted for works on some infrastructure in Owo area of the state where Akeredolu hails from and then divert a substantial part of the money towards rigging the election.
The OOCC in a statement issued by the Chairman of the Publicity Committee, Kolawole Olabisi said: “The boast of the APC which had been sedentary in its approach to canvassing for votes in the state is that they would rig this election even if only one vote is cast for them.They have been preaching it and now they have professed it with this dastard plan perfected and supervised by the top echelons of the government to use government funds to make good their threat.”
According to the OOCC, the contract sum was perfected and released without going through due process and the money has now been earmarked as part of the war chest to be used by the APC to rig the election later this month.
“We want to appeal to President Buhari to be aware of what is being done by some members of his cabinet in their vaunted ambition to win this election at all costs and immediately arrest the situation. While we have been going round the state canvassing for votes from the people, they have remained in their offices boasting that they will use federal might to rig the election even if nobody votes for them.
“The APC members in Ondo have been preaching this strange gospel of rigging and we are now amazed by this latest antics to win the election with the award of a strange contract for a whopping N10 billion for Owo community where Akeredolu hails from with a view to releasing a whopping sum of N7 billion to him to make the rigging plan a reality.
“The pertinent question to ask now is, why a contract in Owo, which has one of the best road networks in Ondo State? Who approved this contract sum and why did it not go through due process that such contracts have to go through?
“We want to assure them that the people of Ondo State are watching them and the consequences of rigging election here await perpetrators. Winning election should not be a do-or-die affair,” the OOCC said.
The Oluwarotimi Akeredolu Governorship Campaign Organization has however described the allegations as a cheap blackmail and baseless.
The campaign team said Chief Oke has accepted defeat before the election because he knew that the AD could not fly in the coming election.
It added that Oke was only looking for ways to discredit the process before the election is conducted just the way he did after the APC governorship primary.
A statement issued by Chairman of the Campaign Research and Communication Committee, Mr. Soji Alakuro said no amount of blackmail would stop the party from winning.
The statement reads: ”It will be recalled that Oke and one of his main supporters were behind the crisis in APC before it was resolved.They intentionally painted the process of the September 3, APC primary as being fraudulent by asking journalists to interview Oke’s cook and one of his brother from Ilaje who pretended to be delegates. In the said interviews, they lied that they voted during the party primary and also claimed that Akeredolu gave them money to vote during the primary.
“They were declared wanted by security operatives after Akeredolu officially made complaints about the allegation and later on, it was revealed to the whole world that they lied against our candidate. Oke is afraid because he believes that his political trick of running to AD to contest cannot change the mind of the electorate, who have made up their minds to vote for the APC.
It added: “We also challenge Oke to explain the source of his funds because we are aware of those governors oiling his campaign through their states resources. It is unfortunate that Oke, who raised the allegation that N7billion project had been diverted to the campaign of Akeredolu, failed to mention where the project will be cited in Owo and the kind of project that will be executed in that ancient community.
“Oke should be informed that the people of the state are aware of his roles during the primary election and will never believe the lies being spread by a man, who is desperate to rule the state.”
However, our party is not planning to rig the coming election as you all know that our candidate and party have absolute respect for the rule of law.