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2020: From unexpected quarters Ayiloge springs opposition against Akeredolu

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Ahead of November 2020 governorship election in Ondo State, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Banji Ayiloge has opened hostilities with the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, straining a once cordial relationship. 

Ayiloge, who was the Director-General of Aketi Campaign organisation in 2012, when Akeredolu contested under the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), now claims insider knowledge of how to run the state better. 

In a recent interview, the former campaign DG described the Akeredolu-led government as the worst in the history of the state, accusing him of using public office to enrich families and cronies. 

According to him, he is more experienced than the incumbent governor and has traveled far and wide. He expressed optimism that he would also defeat the governor in the 2020 APC primary election to stop his second term bid. 

He said, “If you take a closer look at those who have signified their intention to run, they do not have a comparable set of skills that I have in abundance. You have a defense attorney who has not run anything other than a small law firm of a few junior lawyers running the state. 

“At every turn, we now realise that he lacks any appreciable managerial skill, the finesse in dealing with people, coupled with a penchant for clannishness. Undoubtedly, Governor Akeredolu’s nepotism will have a long-lasting debilitating effect on the people.”

Without weighing his words, the Ifedore-born politician and veteran journalist, Ayiloge, described Governor Akeredolu as a “fifth-eleven” APC member who will cause the defeat of the party if fielded as the standard-bearer of the party in the 2020 poll. 

But Akeredolu, who disclosed his willingness to allow other members of the ruling party to contest in the governorship election in the state next year, said the former DG is a beneficiary of his government. 

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor (Media and Publicity), Mr. Ojo Oyewamide, disclosed that Ayiloge, who is a former commissioner for Information, had benefited immensely from the present government. 

Oyewamide said: “the right of Ayiloge to aspire to the highest political position in the state is undoubted, inalienable. That is the beauty of democracy. This is more so that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN has not, and will not find enthralling, any undemocratic arrangement whereby he is seen to be the only governorship contender. Such is no longer a contest.

“Ayiloge reserves the right to run for the governorship of Ondo State, especially on the platform of the APC, his trajectory of lies are the least of desirable qualities needed by the people of the state. We have not gone that low in the state.”

He also dispelled all of the allegations against the Akeredolu-led government as untrue, revealing that a major part of the vision of the administration is how to boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state. 

“Governor Akeredolu believes that the government cannot do much with poor IGR. Hence, a former staff of WEMA Bank Mr. Tolu Adegbie was appointed as the chairman of the Ondo State Internal Revenue Service, after emerging tops for the job.

“Although the state is yet to attain her target, it is heartwarming to inform the public that the State IGR is no longer crawling. We have improved from N700m to an average of N1.5billion monthly.”

He noted that the Ayiloge was not interested in the massive infrastructural development embarked upon by the state government in the last two years. 

“Rather, the former commissioner mischievously elected to play politics by falsely linking Governor Akeredolu’s son with the now vibrant organisation. This is preposterous and most unexpected of an elder whose passion for self-aggrandizement has overshadowed reasoning.”

As inferred, he attributed the political war between Ayiloge and Akeredolu, to the fact that the latter did not involve the former in the 2016 governorship activities, and by extension his cabinet after he became governor. 

“It is obvious that he still bears a for not rehiring him for Akeredolu’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign exercise. The question is, who is likely to rehire anyone who did a bad job the first time? 

“Akeredolu simply did what any forward thinker would do. He opted for a new line of direction by which he hired to work for him a new team of experts who delivered on target.

“Ayiloge wants to become popular by attacking Governor Akeredolu and using him as leverage to kick-start his campaign activities. He pretends to pose a serious threat in a race that he is just a bystander.”

Reacting to the comment by the former commissioner, who claims to belong to the camp of former deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi’s faction, which is opposed to the Governor, suggesting that the ruling party is more disunited than ever, Oyewamide said: “Ayiloge’s claim that the APC Ondo State is disunited is not true. 

“Today APC, Ondo State is more united than ever. It became stronger after the last election. Members who left have since rejoined the party after the olive branch extended to them by the Governor.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr. Oladoyin Odebowale, said Ajiloge is “a deluded economic refugee,” lamenting that he was not fair on Akeredolu. 

Odebowale, who urged the ex-DG to substantiate his claims, noted that allegations of the Governor of running the state aground were not only spurious but baseless. 

“No son of the Governor is in charge of IGR in the state. A Canadian Consultancy outfit, CSDC, has been appointed as a major external body, which supervises revenue collection in the state.”

The estranged political ally of the Governor, Ayiloge, expressed his determination to stop the second term ambition Akeredolu on the platform of ruling APC, warning that the candidature of the incumbent governor will spell doom for the party. 

“We must bale this water now that it is only an ankle-deep. If we allow Akeredolu to win a second time, Ondo State will take decades to recover from the general state of underdevelopment that he will throw us into.

“Ondo needs a person like me who has a human-centered development program to lead to the rebirth of the state. Today, our children are jobless, our educational system has failed them, our health sector including the much-talked-about maternity hospitals that former Governor Mimiko made a fanfare of are all in disrepute.”

According to him, he has been consolidating efforts with other factions of the ruling party to defeat Governor Akeredolu in next year’s governorship primary election and to bring good political tidings for the people. 

“Has anyone asked the governor why it is the lot of the state government to ‘construct’ town roads? Why do we have local governments throughout the state? Ondo State citizens must wake up to put a stop at the apparent ineptitude of the current actors. They are our fifth-eleven. Nobody wins by taking the fifth-eleven to a match,” he thundered. Surprises indeed!


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