Internal wrangling dampens Ondo APC’s excitement over Edo victory
• Agunloye wants Ondo people to vote for progress, not crisis
Buoyed by the victory of Edo State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), in the governorship election held on Wednesday, members of the party in Ondo State are excited that such feat could be reenacted in the November 26 governorship election.
However, they are troubled that it would be a herculean task given the fluidity of the party in the state arising from the squabbles over its primaries.
The fears are that if the leadership do not come together to forge a common front, the party might end up having a repeat of the 2012 defeat rather than the an encore of the Edo success.
The crisis rocking the Ondo APC is far from over after the September 3 governorship primary that was won by former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
Unfortunately for the party, the crisis trailing the primary has escalated even beyond Ondo. The national leaders are at each other’s throat with former governor of Lagos state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu taking a swipe at the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, as well as calling for his resignation.
In another turn, one of the aggrieved governorship aspirants, Chief Olusola Oke, who left the PDP to the APC few years ago, has officially dumped the party for the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to realize his ambition.
Oke came third in the primary election.The APC, which contested the 2012 governorship election in Ondo, as Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) before the 2014 merger, faced similar case when Akeredolu was imposed on other aspirants as the party’s candidate.
Majority of the ACN governorship aspirants in 2012 left for other parties to realize their ambition while those who stayed exhibited indifference towards the election. The party subsequently lost woefully to the then ruling Labour Party (LP) and the incumbent governor, Dr. Segun Mimiko.
While Oke has taken the bold step to leave APC, his colleagues like Senator Ajayi Boroffice and Segun Abraham were alleged to be playing the ostrich game pending when the leadership of the party would resolve the imbroglio.
Justifying his exit from the APC, Oke explained that his defection was necessitated by the injustice perpetrated by some leaders of the party during the primary.
Addressing his supporters drawn from the 18 local government areas of the state, he said he waited patiently for the leaders to correct the injustice but they were not forthcoming hence “I have to opt out.”
While some members of the party in Ondo taunted Oke’s exit as a usual trait of persons with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) background, there is also the fear that many of the APC governorship aspirants may follow the footstep of Oke before October 19 deadline when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would close the submission of name of candidates by parties.
It is also being alleged that most of them have made up their mind to stay back in the party but that they would work against Akeredolu and the APC’s interest in the election.For instance, sources alluded that Oke’s exit may have had the backings of Tinubu and Senator Boroffice. While Tinubu is expected to provide the logistics for Oke in the race, the position of nominating the running mate to Oke would be conceded to the Senator.
However Oke, who was a former national legal adviser to the PDP, said he was contesting for the governorship election to rescue the people of Ondo from underdevelopment. He said AD is home of the progressives.
Wondering why some leadership of the APC would embrace mediocre, Oke noted that the PDP has been celebrating the decision of the APC to field Akeredolu as the party’s candidate in the election.
Some members of the party said for it to repeat what it did in Edo come November 26 “it must settle down for its best to confront the ruling party in the election.”
But the PDP governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), said his party would retain the governorship seat. Speaking during a road show after INEC pasted his name as the party’s authentic candidate, Jegede boasted that he would win with wide margin. Addressing a crowd of supporters in Ondo town, he noted that the massive turnout indicated that he is a popular choice for the poll.
According to him, “What is happening today is a confirmation of what we all know that I am the only candidate of the PDP and the fact that PDP’s candidate has generated some form of interest because I won’t call it dispute, also confirmed to me that PDP is a party to beat.
To him, nobody will show interest if the party is not popular, saying: “I wonder why everybody is interested in PDP’s candidate. There was a transparent primary here in Akure, it started in the morning, concluded in a in the evening, and a winner emerged and that was my self.
“INEC was present both from Akure here and INEC from Abuja, security agents were also there and it was opened for all to see and that to me, was a confirmation that what we have done was transparent and lawful.
“Look at the level of support demonstrated by the people both young and old and I am excited by this affirmation and confirmation of friendship by the people who represents voters in Ondo State.
“I believe that this demonstration of support is also a call to duty in its own way. That we will more than ever before be committed on the need to serve our people and ensure that we make life better for all.”
But waiting to catch in on the controversies within the APC and the PDP over their primary, former Commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Dr. Olu Agunloye, the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) governorship candidate said what the state and its citizens need now is a committed person that would bail it out of the present economic crisis “it found itself in the last eight years.”
Agunloye who spoke with The Guardian said it was important to see the challenges confronting the state beyond the internal wrangling in the PDP and the APC “I will urge my people to vote for commitment, integrity and seriousness because our state needed to be developed.”