The candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, was again absent at a debate held on Sunday in Akure, the state capital.
The debate, themed, ‘2020 Ondo Governorship Election: Face the Voters’ was organised by media organisations, labour unions, civil societies, religious bodies and other critical stakeholders in the state.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 17 political parties fielded candidates for the election but analysts have opined that the poll would be a three-horse race between the All Progressives Congress(APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ZLP.
The moderator of the debate, Akinwumi Abodunde, said that the four political parties were invited for the debate but while APC’s Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, PDP’s Eyitayo Jegede and Social Democratic Party’s Peter Fasua were present at the debate, Ajayi was absent.
Ajayi was elected on APC’s platform in 2016 as Akeredolu’s running mate but the deputy governor defected to PDP earlier in the year when he fell apart with his principal. Ajayi later joined the ZLP after he lost out in the PDP governorship primary.
“We invited candidate of APC, PDP, SDP and ZLP for this debate and none of the candidates showed any sign of not attending as at one hour to the programme.
“But only the candidate of APC and SDP – Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and Mr Peter Fasua respectively were present at the scheduled time,’’ Abodunde said, adding that Jegede came an hour behind the scheduled time.
The moderator grilled the three governorship candidates on leadership, economy, agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, election security and insecurity.
Akeredolu, while responding to the questions, denied the allegation of running a family government, saying that he ran a transparent government.
The governor said that his wife was not a commissioner, neither did any of his children hold a post in his government.
Instead, he said that his wife “has been helping the women of Ondo State through the “BRECAN Initiative.”
“Let anybody that has evidence that anyone of my family is a consultant in the government come out.
“We will sue anyone that lies against my family,’’ Akeredolu said.
The governor called on his supporters to shun any act of violence during the governorship election scheduled to hold on Saturday.
Also, Jegede promised to run a transparent government if elected, cautioning his supporters against violence during the polls.
“There is nothing to be gained by violence which is why I make sure I report to the Police when such happens.
“This state must have respect for peace and order.
“I plead with our young men not to go near violence, and our leaders must discourage violence,’’ Jegede said.
Similarly, Fasua urged the youths not to die for any politician in the name of an election.
“Anybody that dies while perpetrating violence has lost his life for nothing. Please don’t waste your life for anyone during this election period.
“We, the candidates, are always with our security and are safe. Don’t allow yourselves to be used for violence,’’ Fasua added.
They appealed to voters to come out on the election day, vote their preferred candidates and ensure their votes counted by monitoring the process.