By Jethro Ibileke
As the zero hour for the gubernatorial election in Ondo state approaches, there is palpable apprehension among residents of the state over fear of violence during and after the election.
Residents who spoke with our correspondent on Wednesday morning, expressed misgivings over activities of the major gladiators in the election, especially in the last few days which witnessed violent clashes among supporters of the major political parties.
They are in fear that the state could witness a repeat of the violent protest that erupted in 1983, following the announcement of the gubernatorial election that was believed to have been won by candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Chief Adekunle Ajasin, but was declared in favour of Akin Omoboriowo, candidate of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
Speaking on the election, Dapo Adebayo, a resident of Oke-Ijebu quarters, said: “Going by what we have seen so far, I’m afraid we may witness a repeat of what happened on August 16, 1983, except God intervenes.
“The I-must-win-at-all-cost attitude of the politicians is making an election that ought to be like a game turn to a war. We certainly need God’s intervention to avert crisis,” he said.
Also speaking, 63-year-old Engr. Kunle Oluwateru, who resides at Ijomu Junction, said his personal experience in 1983 still remained a nightmare till date.
“I recall vividly what happened in August 1983. I was at my brother’s house at Oke-Ijebu when a stray bullet hit him and killed him at the spot.
“As if that was not enough, political thugs went to the next building and demanded that they sold bread for them. The woman responded that she reserved the last bread for her children, in view of the imminent hunger that will follow the crisis. But they will not have that for an answer, they set the building on fire.
“My fear is that the situation could degenerate to that level again if care is not taken. We just hope and pray that they will follow the intent and spirit of the peace accord they signed,” Oluwateru said.
Meanwhile, the presence of security operatives is felt everywhere in Akure, the state capital.
Several vans of the state security architecture, Operation Sting, were sighted by our correspondent patrolling along Ijomu/Oke-Ijebu road in full blast of siren.