By Felix Oboagwina
Just three days after the violent clash between supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oba-Akoko, Ondo State, it took the active intervention of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his predecessor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, to deflate another showdown, this time around involving the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the ancient city of Ondo at the weekend.
Angry ZLP supporters moved to confront APC members led by former Ondo State Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Chief Ariyo Adetula, who reportedly blocked the OndoAkure Highway to welcome a motorcade of Akeredolu-led APC members visiting the town for an empowerment programme.
Speaking about the incident later in a chat with Daily Times, the incumbent Ondo Deputy Governor and ZLP Gubernatorial Candidate, Honourable Barrister Agboola Alfred Ajayi, who had come to Mimiko’s home to enable them travel together to Ore for their party’s campaign flag-off, decried the APC’s action as provocative and undemocratic.
“We are not going to join issues with them because of our nature. We will not fight them,” Agboola said.
“But the whole world is watching events in Ondo and they will definitely pass comments at the appropriate time.
The comment of the Ondo people will be known through the ballot coming up on October 10, and we are waiting for them.”
Video clips capturing the Wednesday clash have gone viral on social media with gun-toting men allegedly in Akeredolu’s entourage attacking a motorcade of the PDP Governorship Candidate, Barrister Eyitayo Jegede, who was returning from a campaign in ObaAkoko, in the Akoko South West Local Government Area of the state.
The about three-hour delay caused by the Governor’s delegation on Saturday led to the lateness of the ZLP entourage to the venue, Government Field, Ore, in Odigbo Local Government Area.
They finally arrived at about 3.30pm for the flag-off originally billed for 10am.
The music-blaring APC motorcade that took over the entire stretch of the major Ondo highway was heading to the Yaba area, adjacent the palace of the paramount traditional ruler, the Osemawe of Ondo, Oba Adesimbo Victor Kiladejo, scheduled for the empowerment programme.
Dancing with music blaring and remaining stationary for hours, the APC procession pinned down hundreds of ZLP supporters converging around the Ondo-Akure highway, the part of town where Mimiko resided and which had been designated as take-off rendezvous for members travelling for the flagoff in Ore.
After enduring the delay for over two hours, some impatient ZLP supporters finally decided to force their way through, which, according to eyewitnesses, led to fisticuffs with the former NURTW Chairman, an indigene who had reportedly defected from Mimiko to Akeredolu.
However, on getting wind of the brewing confrontation, Mimiko pacified his party supporters and instead trekked through the traffic logjam for about one kilometre to meet Akeredolu and negotiate an impasse.
“There were over 500 boys and they would easily have killed Ariyo if I had not intervened,” Daily Times heard Mimiko later reporting to impatient party chieftains waiting in his compound, including the ZLP Gubernatorial Candidate and his Running Mate, Engineer Gboye Adegbenro, and the Ondo State Chairman of the party, Honourable Joseph Akinlaja.
As Mimiko approached his successor’s bullet-proof SUV in the traffic that had built up for several kilometres on both sides of the Ondo-Akure highway, Akeredolu, wearing a mask and adorning a white APC-branded campaign top, alighted from the vehicle.
Both men discussed briefly before the Governor returned into his vehicle and his long convoy of vehicles moved faster to slowly clear the logjam.