Ondo APC wound refuses to heal few weeks to guber polls
Less than seven weeks to the Ondo State governorship election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is yet to recover from its self-inflicted wounds since the controversial governorship primary of September 3.
Apart from the divisions arising from the fallout of the primary, the crisis has degenerated into physical clashes between supporters of two major contenders in the party – Oluwarotimi (SAN), the winner and Dr. Segun Abraham, the runner-up.
Hundreds of supporters of the two APC bigwigs squared up on the streets of Akure, the state capital, wielding dangerous weapons including guns, machetes, cudgels, etc.
Abraham’s supporters, said to have been drawn from across the 18 councils in the state had mobilised for a protest rally in Akure to reject the candidature of Akeredolu as the party’s governorship candidate.
They marched through the metropolis with placards and inscriptions: “With Abraham we stand,” “Restore Abraham’s mandate,” “Abraham is APC’s candidate” and “Abraham is the authentic winner of September 3 primary.”
The rally however, took a dramatic turn as some party members allegedly loyal to Akeredolu stormed the secretariat with dangerous weapons and clashed with Abraham’s supporters.
The timely intervention of the police and men of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), helped in disarming the warring groups and checked the fracas.
A former State Publicity Secretary of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and one of those clamouring for Abraham’s candidacy, Mr. Rotimi Agbede, said he did not know know where they came from but observed that some people came armed with cutlasses, Dane guns, charms and other dangerous weapons to attack the protesters.
According to him, the protest was to kick “against the name submitted by the national leadership of our party. If as a party, we are preaching anti-corruption and a sane society, we cannot be seen to be doing otherwise. We don’t want some people to drag our party to self-destruction.”
He claimed that some people held to be Akeredolu’s loyalists were responsible for the attack to disrupt their peaceful protest, blaming the whole situation on the National leadership of the party.
“We have refrained from conducting ourselves in a manner that is capable of causing injury to the party, but as it is, it is obvious to us that some people particularly in the National leadership are head bent on destroying the party in Ondo State.”
“It was a peaceful rally asking for our mandate to be restored and not to be delayed. All of a sudden, the Aketi people brought weapons and attacked the people. Is this the kind of thugs we want to put in power? Is it thuggery they use for governance; thuggery is different from governance,” Abraham stated.
He expressed the fear that Akeredolu’s candidature for the November 26 governorship election would tarnish the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government, if such anomaly as the primary, which produced him, was condoned.
But a stalwart of the Aketi 2017 team (Akeredolu’s Campaign organization), who pleaded refuted the allegations against the APC candidate, saying plainly that the accusation against him was spurious and borne out of political desperation.
Several attempts to reach the chairman of Team Aketi 2017, Research and Communication, Mr. Kunle Adebayo, proved abortive, as he did not response to calls to his gsm telephones.
Nevertheless, one of the aspirants who later aligned with Akeredolu, Mr. Moyosola Niran Oladunni, claimed, “nothing strange happened in the course of the Ondo state APC primary election.”
Oladunni declared, “Protests and appeals are rights, which are open to all to vent their anger or seek redress. It is sad that politics in Nigeria at all levels is still characterised by lots of deft maneuvers and undemocratic activities.”
He affirmed that there was need to make reconciliation very paramount “at this stage of the contest, and with elections just a few weeks away, it is high time we all came to terms with the reality in the interest of the party and the good people of Ondo State.”
However, the State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Abayomi Adesanya, said those protesting against Akeredolu’s candidacy were hired mercenaries and youths from neighbouring states like Kogi, Ekiti and Edo.
According to him, “We reliably gathered that these people, who are majorly youths and students were hired from neighboring states and tertiary institutions after they have been given N2000 each and were mobilized to create an unnecessary scene and disrupting the peace we enjoy in the state.
“The protesters are not our party members. We do not have hooligans in our party. All our members have accepted the decision of the Party on Akeredolu’s candidature and are in various units and wards across the state mobilizing for the Party and its candidate.
“The Party is supreme and its decision is binding on all members irrespective of status. The public should disregard them and security agencies should do the needful.”
He argued that the emergence of Akeredolu in the primary is divine, noting “APC is a very disciplined party and a congress of progressives across the country. I don’t expect someone of Abraham’s calibre to be so diversionary now that all hands are on deck to work for the victory of the party.”
Though Adesanya said there might be some imperfections in the election, which is peculiar to elections across the globe, he asserted that it was not substantial enough to cancel the result of the primary.
“Whatever the party does is in good fate for the strength and continued progress of the party in the state. It is not always good to throw away the baby with the bathing water,” he said.