Akeredolu still at loggerheads with party ahead of guber race in Ondo
In spite of the popularity the six Southwest governors might have gained over their courage to launch a new security outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun to address the spate of insecurity ravaging the zone, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is still finding it difficult to convince the Ondo State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) to get second term ticket ahead of the governorship poll billed to hold towards the end of the year.
Whatever popularity the incumbent might have garnered along with his colleagues as a result of his deep involvement and commitment to Amotekun seems to mean less to APC stakeholders in Ondo, who are allegedly plotting, in collaboration with some forces in the presidency, to stop him at the governorship primary and deny him re-election.
The development might have forced the governor to issue a stern warning to the party hierarchy in the state against handing the ticket to any other person other than himself. It is also alleged that the presidency might have decided to leave Akeredolu at the mercy of the party in Ondo to pay the governor back for his involvement in the launching of Amotekun, which the Federal Government seems not comfortable with.
While speaking to reporters in Abuja at the weekend, he assured that he would sweep the poll with a landslide if he retains the ticket of the party to actualise his second term ambition.
Akeredolu, who acknowledged subterranean moves by highly placed chieftains of the party to abort his second term bid, said APC stood the risk of losing Ondo State if he is denied the ticket of the party. The governor, who recalled how he survived the odds to emerge victorious in November 2016, did not mince words in expressing his abiding faith in God rather than godfatherism to retain his exalted seat.
According to him: “I did not ask to be governor of Ondo State. People came to ask me and I heeded their call. I am not saying generally the people of Ondo State; it is the people of my town. They felt it was their turn to produce governor and ‘you are our son that can clinch it for us.’
“So, when in the first instance I even lost, it was all right by me and I didn’t bother because I felt that it is God that gives power, nobody does, and ‘let us not start all these unnecessary self-glorification. It is God.’
“So, the second time I came and God made it possible in his own way. I am one person who ran for primaries and I did not give anybody money to vote for me. it doesn’t happen anywhere. So there must be a force that is beyond me that is pushing this agenda. And I still rely on that force. So I can assure you; I am confident; I have always been confident. I mean, there is no threat about the governorship. No!
“I have to be very careful with my choice of words, but I have that confidence to the extent that I will tell APC, ‘you pick another person, you lose that state.’ Let us be fair to ourselves; we have done what is needed. The people can see what we have done, improvement on infrastructure and schools, water, and everything.
“If anybody can come up and start talking anything and say, ‘I want to run’ and the people don’t like him. Let him come out and see whether the people like me or not. For me, clearly for APC, it is a clincher. There is no way if APC brings me up, we will win flatly. It would be a landslide. It would be more than the other time.
“The other time I ran, I won clearly that nobody went to tribunal. Does it happen? It doesn’t happen. These are matters it doesn’t take you to know that God’s hand is not what anybody can twist and I am confident about that because I know the God i serve.
“I have told people that even before I won election, I had problem with my ogas. I told them that I know the God I serve and I am not serving any human being. And I would win. They went, picked another person and took him to another party. It didn’t move me, because I knew that the God I serve would make me win. My trust is in my God, not in any man with clay feet. And I know God would do it.”
Reminded of the threat posed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to his reelection bid, he retorted: “Is there any PDP in Ondo State? There is no PDP in Ondo State.”
On fears nursed by his colleague, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state that APC might not survive after the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term tenure, Akeredolu said: “I am not too sure that was what he said. We have no doubt that President Muhammad Buhari is the strong glue that is binding the party together. We don’t want to run away from that fact.
“And we believe President Buhari will live long and so, if he is leaving and ends his term, it doesn’t mean that he is no longer in the party. As usual in every other case like that, there would be skirmishes because we are going to go into another election when he is leaving; so, there would be interests.
“People who want to be president can’t be one person and he has said he is not going to choose a successor. So, what will happen? So, that was the fear my brother Governor John Kayode had when he was quoted as saying so.
“He would have said that the party has a duty not to allow it to collapse after President Buhari leaves office. It was just a warning not to allow APC to collapse. Let us from now ensure unity among members of the party. I believe that that was what Kayode said.”
Reminded also of calls on the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to resign, and intra-party squabbles among the ranks of the party across the country, he said there was nothing unusual about the development. Akeredolu, however, said there was more to be done to strengthen the party in the years ahead.
He noted: “What I believe is happening is probably teething problems that could happen to any party. How old are we? Yes, we have spent one term of four years and we are all from different political parties. We had this marriage. There is no way all these problems would go away, but what some of us governors are saying is that we must have a party as an institution and build it on known parameters.
It is not that you go to one state and say, ‘go and use direct primaries, and you go to another state it’s indirect primaries.’
“There must be uniformity so that everybody would know that yes, in our party, we use this. So, when we had the last set of elections it gave a lot of problems and I want to believe that we are learning. We should have learnt our lesson.
“The earlier we all come together and decide that ‘look, this is what we want and that not one single person can lord over the party,’ because it cannot work. If the president is not saying whatever he wants must be done then how can another person say whatever he wants must be done?
“It would lead to friction, but I believe that we are trying to find solution to it. That is not to say there is no political party without its own problems. We know how many chairmen the PDP changed in their 16 years in power. All of you can recollect. It happens at this age of any political party.”
The governor said President Buhari is favourably disposed to the Amotekun security outfit aimed at protecting lives and property of the citizens in the Southwest geopolitical zone in spite of the heated debate it recently generated.
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