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Implication of Akeredolu’s victory for Yoruba politics, PDP crisis


Rotimi Akeredolu

Rotimi Akeredolu

Last Saturday’s governorship election in Ondo State, which was won by former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may likely pose two major implications as the country moves towards 2019.

First, the outcome of the election will ultimately have a direct impact on the strength of Southwest politics in future elections under the APC administration unless Yoruba leaders realigned themselves.

Secondly, the outcome of the exercise has also exposed the magnitude of the division between the two warring factions of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it may go ahead to determine how the party will perform in subsequent elections, particularly in the Southwest zone.

As it is, the exercise must have sent a strong message to Yoruba leaders in the APC on the need for repositioning to speak with one voice. Failure to do this might ultimately make the Yoruba states an easy prey for politicians from other regions to determine who win elections.

Since September 3, when the Ondo APC conducted its primary, what many thought should have been an internal issue became a direct confrontation among party leaders and the battle line between the ‘Abuja Force’ and ‘Lagos Force’ were drawn.

The ‘Lagos Force’ allegedly led by the national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu pitched its tent with Chief Olusola Oke, who defected to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) after the primary while Akeredolu enjoyed the support of the ‘Abuja Force’, allegedly spearheaded by former governor of Ekiti and Lagos states, who are now Federal cabinet members, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Mr. Babatunde Fashola respectively.

Governor of Ogun State, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun was also mentioned as one of the strong Abuja boys with the backings of some northern governors and the presidency.

It was also alleged that the Ondo election was massively influenced by the APC Governor’s Forum that resolved to mobilise all that was needed for Akeredolu against the desire of the Lagos Force.

It was no secret that Governors Yaya Bello of Kogi State and his counterparts in Plateau, mobilized heavily for Akeredolu just as Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo, also held several meetings with Igbo in Ondo to vote, not just for the APC but to checkmate the candidate of the ‘Lagos Force’, Oke and the PDP.

A source within the party, who expressed concern that the Southwest is gradually turning itself a political prey in the hands of the northern oligarchy said, “If the trend of what happened in Ondo should continue until the Ekiti and Osun election hold, the Abuja Force, will still dictate the tune because they are in control of the necessary resources including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suppress any opposing force.”

The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Dr. Olu Agunloye, while reacting to the conduct of the poll, said, “The APC has sent a very dangerous and wrong signal to Yoruba people. They influenced our people with money to vote against their conscience.”

The former minister of defence wondered what the future of Yoruba politics would be under the ruling APC “if what took place in Ondo is allowed to repeat itself in other Yoruba states in subsequent elections.”

Meanwhile, another source in the ruling party warned that the next target is Osun and Ekiti “of course, as long as Amosun remains with the Abuja Force, there is nothing Tinubu and his supporters can do to determine the next governor in Ogun or Oyo in 2019.

“He may even find it difficult, if not impossible, to repeat what he did in 2007 and 2015 when he singlehandedly determined Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode as governor of Lagos.”The source said he hopes the Yoruba leaders in the ruling party would have resolved whatever their differences are before any other election takes place in any of the Southwest states.

The challenge before Akeredolu is whose interest is he going to work for, as he will be stepping in as the next governor of Ondo. Would he work for the people and the interest of the Yoruba race at large or remain loyal to the forces that allegedly brought him to power?”

Another puzzle concerning the developments in the ruling APC is what the Southwest has to gain aside from the fact that some of its people were given juicy ministerial appointments.

The age-long yearning for restructuring, which the region has been promoting and which it claimed motivated it to align with the north in the 2015 election, may not see the light of the day under the Muhamadu Buhari administration. The National Assembly recently rejected the expected special status for Lagos, which was also part of the motivation that motivated the Southwest into the alignment as it appears the romance between the region and the north is bringing much more division among its leaders.

FOR the PDP, the outcome of the polls may further worsen the controversy surrounding the leadership tussle in the party, particularly as the faction of Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, which was represented by business mogul, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim allegedly called on the electorate to support Akeredolu before the polls after he was removed, two days to the exercise.

While the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee insisted the election must be postponed to give the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede enough room to prepare, the Sheriff faction insisted that the election should hold, a sign that it was ready to play the spoiler for the party.

Some members of the party told The Guardian yesterday that the role of Sheriff’s faction in the Ondo election was not only worrisome “but it was tantamount to selling it cheaply to the ruling APC, not just now but in the future.”

MEANWHILE, prominent politicians across the country have continued to congratulate Akeredolu and the APC for the Ondo victory.Senator representing Osun West, Mr. Isiaka Adeleke urged the Governor-Elect to employ the politics of “No victor, no vanquished.”

In a congratulatory message yesterday, Adeleke’s Special Adviser (Media & Public Affairs), Mr. Olumide Lawal described the Ondo polls as a true test of democracy and manifestation of the will of the people.“Akeredolu should be full of praises to God Almighty, who saw him through the epic battle and therefore should employ the politics of “No victor, no vanquished” as only God put in position, whomsoever He wills, no matter the human machinations or odds, put in the ways of such a person.”

As he enjoined Akeredolu to be passionate about selfless service to the people of Ondo by drawing all his co-contestants closer to tap from their invaluable experience, Adeleke was quick to advise him to be wary of those “who may want to reap where they did not sow, as success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.”

In another message, the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Olugbenga Ashafa congratulated Akeredolu as he also said the election was a true reflection of the will of the people.

According to him, “This victory is a reflection of the will of the good people of Ondo, who have decided to pitch their tent with our progressive party.”

The Lagos chapter of APC also felicitate with the people of Ondo and Akeredolu over the outcome of the Saturday exercise.The party in a statement yesterday by its Spokesman, Mr. Joe Igbokwe said Akeredolu won the election against all permutations, calculations and odds.

According to the party, “Akeredolu’s victory was a big plus for the good people of Ondo State, the progressives, the South West region and NigeriaThe party however enjoined the people of Ekiti State to learn from the courage and resilience of Ondo people in order to liberate the state from the PDP and return to the progressive camp.

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