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Akure Bye-Election: How Youths Secured APC’s Victory

Akure Bye-Election: How Youths Secured APC’s Victory
  • PublishedMarch 6, 2022


Last Saturday’s bye-election for the Akure South/Akure North Federal Constituency has come and gone. 38-year-old Alademayokun Olarewaju of the All Progressives Congress was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission. In an unprecedented feat, Olarewaju polled 26,370 votes to defeat his closest rival, Olumuyiwa Adu of the People’s Democratic Party, who had 24,201 votes.

The bye-election was conducted following the death of the member representing the constituency, Adedayo Omolafe, in August 2021. Omolafe was a staunch member of the PDP and Akure, the state capital, has always been regarded as a PDP stronghold. The PDP had always held sway in the constituency, save for in 2015 when the Buhari tsunami swept across the Southwest and APC’s Afe Olowokere was elected. Many analysts had therefore expected the PDP to the carry the day.

This time around, however, the electoral success of the APC was reportedly engineered by a crop of young people. Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu was said to have insisted that a youth must be made the Director General of the campaign. The party’s state youth leader, Ayo Olawande, was thus chosen to serve in that capacity.

Sources say that the choice of the APC youth leader as the campaign DG was a masterstroke, as his perceived neutrality helped unite the different factions of the APC within the party. His experience as a youth mobiliser was also brought to bear in the discharge of his duties.

“From the choice of the DG, the state youth leader, our party got it right. We understand that Mr. Governor insisted that a youth must be given that slot. That alone solved most of the problems that could have hindered our victory. This is because irrespective of the faction you belong to, you could relate with him. That helped us a lot”, a source said.

The Director-General of the Project Performance and Implementation Monitoring Unit (PPIMU), Babajide Akeredolu, also played a key role in designing the strategy for the election. Babajide is widely regarded as the major proponent of youth inclusion in Ondo state politics and has been credited with coining the Youth O’clock slogan.

Damilola Abe, a young member of the APC who also participated in the build up to the election, hailed Governor Akeredolu for his neutrality. This, he said, was the beginning of victory for the party.

“Mr. Governor said he had no candidate. That alone appeased the mind of the people. People voted according to their conscience and choice. At the end, the other aspirants knew that the candidate that emerged worked on the field like them. No one imposed him, and that was the beginning of our victory.”

“With Mr. Governor’s neutrality, which was the best move, the PDP had nothing to fuel their campaign against us. They tried to rope in Babajide, who masterminded the Youth O’clock idea, but it worked against them as more youths rallied to the APC cause. As at now in Ondo State, there is a growing momentum around youth participation in politics within the APC.”

“I was part of the team that interfaced with the people. In my engagements with the landlords and others, I realized that people are eager to see more youths in power. I felt it and I was right. We won the election.” Abe said.

Political observers in the state have been pointing to the unity within the APC and the activities of the youths in the party as the major factor responsible for the APC’s victory. Unlike in PDP, where there were obvious cracks in the party structure, the APC was able to bring its family together.

Sources within the party narrated how one of the youths told the party chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, about the need for a genuine reconciliation in the party. Adetimehin, it was learnt, facilitated the resolution of conflicts among factions in the party in Akure South and North; the post-primary crisis that would have negatively impacted the outcome of the election was thus averted.

The assistant publicity secretary of the party, Comrade Ayodele Oladimeji said: “immediately after the primary election, youths under the auspices of Progressive Youth Stakeholders (PYS) led by Babajide Akeredolu held a strategic meeting on how to win the election. The meeting birthed the “Youth O’clock” slogan that was used in capturing the minds of the Youths in Akure North/South Federal Constituency. The result of the election is an attestation that indeed, the youths are ready for leadership responsibilities. I believe that this is a tip of the iceberg considering the demography of voters, as youths form a majority.”

When asked of his reaction to the victory of the APC in last Saturday’s election, Babajide Akeredolu said: “they say you should be magnanimous in victory, but I must not fail to remind the opposition of one of my reactions to their accusations about me. Contact me to teach you how to win elections.”

One of the youth leaders in the APC, Prince Dapo Adepoju said the bye-election reflects the determination of the youth to take what rightfully belongs to them in the political space of Ondo state.

“The general saying has always been that “Youth are the future of tomorrow”. The question is when will the tomorrow come? We as youths have decided to legitimately fight for our right”, he said.

He further expressed gratitude to Governor Akeredolu, who he said has shown exemplary leadership by appointing youths into strategic positions in his administration, and said that Mayokun Lawson-Alade’s victory at the polls shows that there is an enabling environment for youth participation in Ondo state politics.

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