Akeredolu: Despite recall from ‘suspension’, fresh hurdles on road to 2020
The suspension order placed on Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been lifted, yet it does not guarantee him the party’s governorship ticket for another term. The primary election of the APC is less than 10 months away, and it portends a lot of twists and turns, as an array of strong contenders within the party are bent on making the process not an easy ride.
Among the top contenders are: Prof. Ajayi Boroffice, the third term Senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, the Governor’s district; Chief Olusola Oke; Dr. Segun Abraham; the NDPHC boss Engr. Ife Oyedele and a former deputy governor, Board of Trustees (BoT) member and leader of APC Elders’ Forum, Alhaji Ali Olanusi.
Akeredolu seems to be surmounting every trap to stop his re-election; firstly, the ministerial slot that was clinched by one of his loyalist, Senator Tayo Alasoadura; the dissolution of the state executive committee of the party led by Engr. Ade Adetimehin and the suspension by the NWC of the party.
In a statement issued by spokesman of the party, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu, after the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting held at the APC Headquarters in Abuja on Monday, Akeredolu and four chieftains of the party were pardoned for anti-party activities against the party in the last general elections.
Whereas Akeredolu’s rivals felt slighted by the pardon, despite the glaring anti-party activities levied against him and the party executives in the state, Onilu described the move as part of efforts to end the lingering crises within the party.
Onilu added: “We urge them to also take steps to reconcile with groups and individuals that are important to ensuring a lasting solution to any conflict that may exist in their respective states.”
Some political observers are not sure quick reconciliation between the governor and his opponents in APC. They faulted the suspension order, describing it as a joke.
They are of the view that Akeredolu’s suspension from the party never carried any weight and was never acknowledged. Even the leadership of the party was not forceful enough regarding the suspension. How can you suspend a governor, yet he became the chairman of the Governors’ Forum of South West? At the same time, Akeredolu was enlisted into the committees to execute the party’s governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states. Meaning that he has been very active while the suspension order lasted.
Moreover, the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu, was in the state early July to reconcile the Governor and the warring factions in the interest of the party. Was it possible to reconcile a man who was under suspension by his party? Watchers of political events think the leadership of the party has failed to address the very reason for which Governor Akeredolu was suspended, which has become a major face-off between the Governor and his deputy, Agboola Ajayi.
It was rumoured earlier, after after Tinubu’s visit to the state that one of the decisions reached at the peace meeting was to drop Ajayi ahead of the 2020 re-election bid for a replacement to be sourced for by the Bourdillon power bloc. Yet, the deputy has remained unruffled and at every opportunity at his disposal, pledges his unalloyed loyalty to the Akeredolu-led government.
At a recent meeting in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, it was learnt that the Governor and some top APC aspirants for the 2020 governorship met and that most of the contenders had agreed to pick the Governor as a consensus candidate.
But the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Boroffice, declared that he had not entered into any pact, either by omission or commission with the Governor ahead of next year’s governorship election, affirming that there is no automatic ticket for Akeredolu.
The Senator, from feelers, has a good chance to contend for the governorship ticket and perhaps, realise an age-long ambition to govern the state. Boroffice, the Pioneer Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASDRA), a position he held for 10 years, was first elected into the Senate in 2011 under the aegis of Labour Party (LP), but joined the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in December 2011 to vie for the 2012 governorship.
He mobilised strongly for the party and became a rallying point for the survival of ACN then, but the Southwest bloc of the party under the leadership of Tinubu favoured Akeredolu as the candidate of the party.
The election was lost Olusegun Mimiko.
To pre-empt stories of a pact with the Governor, a release from the media office of Boroffice said:
“I urge associates and supporters of Prof Boroffice to ignore the cheap lies emanating from some appointees of the Governor. Assuredly, no illusory pact can suspend the rights of party members to determine party’s candidate or circumvent the process of direct governorship primary election in Ondo State.”
The Media Assistant to the Senator, Mr. Kayode Fakuyi, noted: “the purveyors of the falsehood and their sponsors had many years to build and garner goodwill but they chose to fritter time and resources away by fighting imaginary enemies. Having lost out on all counts, they have resorted to cheap lies and clout chasing in the twilight of tenure.”
The race towards 2020 will no doubt be tough for those who seek the ticket of the ruling party in Ondo State. They have to work had to surmount all obstacles, human and institutional.