After months of internal party primaries and intense campaign across 18 Local Government Areas by political parties, the stage is set as the Ondo State governorship election holds today.
A total of 17 candidates are vying to get the mandate of 1.4 million voters to become the state’s next governor.
Despite the multitude of candidates, three of them are expected to be the key battle contenders for what seems to be a very tight election.
Rotimi Akeredolu, the incumbent state governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Eyitayo Jegede, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and Agboola Ajayi, the incumbent state deputy governor and candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), are the candidates whom the spotlight would beam on the most.
The aforementioned candidates can both be described as heavyweight politicians in their own right.
Akeredolu, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), was inaugurated as governor in 2016 and will hope to win a second term. He is from Owo Local Government Area in Ondo North senatorial district.
Jegede was a former attorney-general of the state and commissioner of justice under former governor Olusegun Mimiko. He is from Akure South Local Government Area in Ondo Central senatorial district.
Ajayi, who fell out with his principal, hails from Ese Odo Local Government Area in Ondo South senatorial district.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, the electoral umpire, has guaranteed all the candidates, political parties and voters in the country of a free, credible and fair election.
Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, stated this when the candidates signed a peace accord in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Tuesday.
According to Yakubu, all INEC officials must remain neutral at all times, assuring that the will of the people will be respected.
INEC put the number of registered voters for the election at 1.8 million. However, only 1.4 million voters have picked up their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
As expected, there is a massive security presence in Osun State as Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector-General of Police, deployed 33,000 police officers to maintain law and order.
Also, other security personnel from the military and para-military organisations have also been deployed to the state to help monitor the situation.
Adamu also ordered the restriction of vehicular movements from 11:59pm on Friday to 6pm on Saturday in the state.
According to a statement issued by DCP Frank Mba, the Force spokesman, the directive from the IGP is aimed at preventing political actors and troublemakers from freely engaging in unpatriotic acts such as circulation and use of illicit arms and hard drugs, movement of political thugs from contiguous states to Ondo State and the disruption of the electoral processes, which are inimical to the dictates of the electoral laws.