Looming catastrophe in Ondo APC
•Odigie-Oyegun’s action brazen display of breaches – Tinubu
•No qualms in party, says leadership
Sequel to the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stick to the choice of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as candidate in Ondo State governorship election, the common front to wrestle power from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), appears weakened and giving way.
The platform that has brought the three runner-ups has collapsed following the decision of Dr. Olusegun Abraham who came second at the primary, to go his own way; making the chances of the major opposition party slimmer by the day.
Besides, the national leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu warned yesterday that the handling of the primary by the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun posed a great threat to the party.
His words: “Odigie-Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display. In doing so, Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira. The party was supposed to buttress APC members elected to government at all levels. Because of Oyegun’s conduct of our affairs, the party is rapidly becoming an albatross to those it was meant to help.”
“Oyegun’s comportment regarding the Ondo State primary will become the textbook definition of political treachery and malfeasance of the basest order.
“In early September, the state primary was held. A purported winner was named. Having faith in the ways of the party, Tinubu publicly accepted what he assumed to be a verdict honestly derived. As a democrat, one must face the possibility of defeat and accept such as outcome with as much grace as one would embrace victory. One of the few bright spots during the conduct of the primaries was Jigawa Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar
The immediate cause of the political dilemma in the party was the September 3 primary election that produced Akeredolu as the winner and subsequent return of his candidature in spite of the recommendations by the Helen Bendega-led Appeal Committee report and the alleged majority vote of the National Working Committee (NWC) to cancel the poll.
Though there were other squabbles in the party like the estranged relationship between the troubled state chairman of the party, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, and the State Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Adesanya; the endorsement saga by the National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu.
The emergence of Akeredolu and the appeal trial synergised a common solidarity front among the three top aspirants: Abraham, Chief Olusola Oke and Senator Ajayi Boroffice, who scored 635, 576 and 471 votes in the primary to emerge second, third and fourth positions respectively.
Our correspondent gathered that the three aspirants reportedly met the National Leader on how to undermine the chances of the APC candidate and his allies in Abuja, who allegedly sponsored and perfected his emergence supposedly to spurn the leadership of Tinubu.
These eventually led to the press conference in Akure at the weekend where Boroffice and Oke expressed their grievance over the decision of the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to jettison the Appeal Committee report and the NWC decision on the election.
But Abraham, who was conspicuously absent at the briefing, disclaimed being a party to the claim made by the third and fourth runners-up through a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Mr. Sayo Aluko, dissociating himself from their decision.
The second runner-up added that he would not decamp from the party, as surmised by some people in a rumour, expressing his resolve to remain in the party to claim the mandate.
Meanwhile, Boroffice and Oke had mentioned him as a party to their decision to chastise Oyegun and the party for condoning corruption “in a manner at variance with democratic norms. The national chairman overruled the majority of the National Working Committee. He rejected path of truth and upheld the primary election that its process was characterised with corruption.”
Oblivious of the fact that Abraham would be another rallying point in their quest for justice; the contenders disclosed that their outcry against the presumed 383 fake delegates, who voted in the election, was a pre-election affair which they had protested, avowing that “even Akeredolu protested vehemently.”
They maintained that they would have rejected the result as well if anyone of them had emerged in such fraudulent process, pointing out “what is wrong is wrong; and what is right is right.”
“Therefore, we hereby condemn in absolute terms the undemocratic decision of the National Working Committee. Since the party and the official leaders of the party have found pleasure in covering fraud, we owe the people of Ondo State a sacred duty of liberation. This we are committed to and this we shall do.”
On his part, Oke who was formerly National Legal Adviser and 2012 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) argued that the recent development has opened a new chapter in the state. According to him, “I have not moved out of APC, if I will leave the party, I am going to make it public.”
Though Abraham has distanced himself from Oke and Boroffice, he faulted Oyegun’s decision saying: “My consent was not sought before my name was being branded; neither was I consulted to vet the said statement before my name was attached to it. I did not form any accord with any of the aspirants to give a joint statement.”
According to him, Oyegun’s action is “a move that is akin to injustice, and we know it won’t stand. I condemn it in strong terms, and I’m sure a lot of us do.”
He enumerated how the ‘fake delegates’ purportedly affected his votes, insisting, “These included 54 delegates loyal to our mandate in at least three LGAs of Akoko North West (13), Akoko North East (26) and Idanre (15), who were disenfranchised and substituted with fake delegates.
“We have sought that these disenfranchised votes should be added to my poll (635), after the fake and substituted ones have been removed from votes polled by the acclaimed beneficiary.
“This is why this latest inexplicable unilateral move by Chief Oyegun against the wish of the people, the eligible delegates and the leaders of the party in the vested powers of the NWC, cannot stand.”
Ditching the party for another, as he said, is not an option but “by carefully weighed constitutional means, this is my mandate of practical governance and blessings for the great people of Ondo State will be reclaimed.”
However, the Acting State Chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin, told The Guardian that there were no crises within the party. He noted that it was normal for squabbles to surface, adding that it was an internal issue, which the party is currently thrashing out.
Adetimehin, held that the primary “was the best in this state: free, fair and just. Definitely, when you have about 24 aspirants, people are bound to raise some issues. But shortly after the winner was announced, they all congratulated Akeredolu, embraced him and hugged him.
“It is normal in politics; people can start criticizing him again. But as a party, we believe we are members of the same family; we believe there is no victor, no vanquished. It is the party that has won. Definitely, we are going to reconcile ourselves through the internal arrangements of our party, any disagreement among us, we count it as internal issue within the party and very soon the whole storm will be over.
“After primary there must be reconciliation, which is pursued within the ambit of party mechanism. We have been meeting all the aggrieved aspirants and disgruntled members. The leadership is looking into it and very soon we will resolve everything. We will speak in one voice: no single crisis at all.”
Similarly, Adesanya said reconciliation is paramount, corroborating the stance of the Acting Chairman that the party has doubled up on ensuring a more united party and effective front to win the November poll. He applauded the decision of Oyegun stressing that “The party is Supreme.
A taxi driver in Akure Metropolis, who plies Oba Adesida Road to Alagbaka and identified himself as Sunday Agboola, bemoaned the crises rocking the party. “It is like a spell. They have always been like this since 2003; anytime they are at the verge of winning, something fatal happened to them.
“My fear is Owo and Ese-Odo, where the candidate and his deputy hail from respectively; are they not minority councils in their districts? If Oke and Boroffice should leave the party, what is their fate? Even Abraham that says he would not decamp, will he not play a spoiler game?” Agboola lamented.
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