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In Ondo APC, it’s everyman to himself

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Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. Photo/Twitter/GOVONDO


• As Governor And Candidates Are Not In One Accord
• Akeredolu Is Committed Only To APC – Olowolabi

In Ondo State, there is uncertainty among the members and candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) about the elections, especially the National Assembly poll. The situation has left party faithful in a kind of dilemma regarding the right choice of candidates and parties) to vote in the February 16, 2019 poll. This is the continuation of the fallout of the primary elections last year, which deprived loyalists of the incumbent governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu two senatorial tickets out of three and five House of Representatives seat out of nine. 

Worthy of note is that the election for the number one position in the state would not hold until November 2020, thereby causing some level of sanity, as the atmosphere is not so tensed up, yet, some party members are still accusing the Aketi Team of marginalizing them. As the APC National Working Committee (NWC) released the result of the primary elections, it added to the division on ground since the September 3, 2016 governorship election, thus, rendering the party more polarized. 

The senators representing Ondo North and South senatorial districts, Prof. Ajayi Boroffice and Pastor Yele Omogunwa got their return tickets to the displeasure of Governor Akeredolu, while some five House of Representatives candidates also got the party tickets, courtesy of Abuja. Not unexpected, Akeredolu’s loyalists, Dr. Tunji Abayomi and Dr. Olatunji Julius Felder who were deprived of APC senatorial tickets for the North and South District respectively, decamped to Action Alliance (AA) and are now candidates for the senatorial slots. 

From the governor’s cabinet former Commissioner for Agriculture, Gboyega Adefarati, resigned to contest Akoko South West/East Federal Constituency but lost to Ade Adeogun but he refused to decamp, while another loyalist Victor Ategbole left for AA to contest the seat.  Consequently, many APC members are not so sure of which candidates to support and work for in the next election as loyalty is divided between party candidates that enjoy the blessing of the NWC and the governor’s cronies who are currently pursing their political ambitions in AA. 

According to an APC member from Oka Akoko, Mr. Ishola Otegbeye: “We are confused now and don’t know who exactly to work for in the coming election. The governor is not supporting most of the candidates running for election in APC. Now it is everybody on your own.”Moreover, the reference point the APC factional groups always use to link Akeredolu to AA is his relationship with Dr. Abayomi and his resignation letter, which according to them, suggested that the Governor supported his defection to AA. 

This was how Dr. Abayomi put it in his letter of resignation, which he addressed to Akeredolu, as he exited the party: “I have not moved an inch because there was always a chance at redemption. Today the chance is unconstitutionally, totally blocked. In my interest and in your interest I must keep the chance open. After the next Senatorial election which I hope to win, I will return to you.”

A foremost APC member and lawyer, Tolu Babaleye, raised an allegation recently that the Governor and his Deputy, Agboola Ajayi, were mobilising members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to vote against some APC candidates. Babaleye said: “National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) were summoned to a meeting at Ikare today on the instructions of the Lord of Alagbaka. At that meeting, members of the union from the four Akoko LGs who were earlier told to come along with their voter cards had the particulars of the card collected and collated. They were thereafter all instructed by the said Alagbaka Landlord to go and work for AA.

“Pure anti-party activities going on in North and South Senatorial Districts of Ondo State. While Alagbaka landlord coordinates the North, the Deputy landlord of Alagbaka is coordinating the South. Alagbaka landlord and his Deputy are hiding under one finger, thinking no one is seeing them. Let’s see how it will end,” he said. The Guardian learnt that the confusion was not limited to party members, but obviously even among the governor’s cabinet as the Aketi Team officeholders are divided between APC and AA, undermining the sanctity of party loyalty in the state. 
 
From reliable sources, the Budget and Planning commissioner, Dr. Emmanuel Igbasan; the Deputy State chairman of APC, Agaba Atili; chairman of the State Oil Producing Communities Areas Development Commission, Gbenga Edema and commissioner for Environment, Funso Esan, threw their weight behind the APC senatorial candidate in the South District, Omogunwa. Other cabinet members who reportedly chose not to work against the party and choice of the governor in the South are: the commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa, his Culture and Tourism counterpart, Alhaji Ismaila Olurimisi; chairman of the State Water Sanitation Board, Yetunde Adeyanju and Lucky Ayedatiwa.

However, it was learnt that the commissioner for Education, Mr. Femi Agagu, Special Adviser on Political Matters, Mr. Tunji Fabiyi and the chairman of the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB), Mrs. Oladunni Odu choose to follow the governor in the bid to thwart NWC’s plan by working for the AA senatorial candidate in the South District, Dr. Felder. 

But the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Solagbade Amodeni is said to have declared unflinching support for the two-term senator representing the North District, Boroffice, who slugged the governorship ticket with Akeredolu in 2016 and have maintained political differences with the Governor ever since. 

The AA senatorial candidate (North District) Dr. Abayomi enjoys support of the commissioner for Natural Resources, Alhaji Rasheed Badmus and largely the NURTW; while the commissioner for Works and Infrastructure and former Speaker of the Assembly, Abdusalaam Taofeek, works for the African Democratic Party (ADC) and its senatorial candidate, Mr. Jide Ipinsagba.

But despite all the political writings on the wall, the commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, has denied insinuations and allegations against the governor, declaring that he is fully committed to the interest of the ruling APC and its candidates at all levels. He emphasized that the governor was neither funding nor working for candidates of AA or any other opposition political parties aside APC, saying the ruling party in the state was committed to the success of the party in the next elections.

Olowolabi, who noted that Akeredolu’s loyalty to the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari and his Deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was publicly declared through donation of 18 campaign buses across the councils, said the allegations were products of some mischief makers in the party. He described the allegation of support for AA candidates as misconception borne out of the friendship between the Governor and the human right activist, Dr. Abayomi.
 
“If there are some members of APC pushing for AA’s success, the governor is not part of them. The governor has said it repeatedly that he is a member of APC. At a meeting we held, a leader was trying to bring up the issue of AA and the governor shouted him down, saying he is a member of APC and not AA.“Some people are just trying to use the Governor’s name to push their personal agenda. But Akeredolu is not part of any arrangement that will support the candidates of other political party,” the commissioner said. 

APC members who are not with the Aketi Team but are under the aegis of Concerned APC Elders and Leaders, Ondo State chapter, urged the Governor to demonstrate his commitment to the party by leading campaigns of all candidates of the party.

According to the leaders, the Governor should not stand aloof but identify with the party’s candidates in order to exculpate himself.The elders were led by former Deputy Governor of the State, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, former chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke, former chairman of Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Makinde Oguntona and former commissioner, Chief Bode Sunmonu among others.

They insisted that Governor Akeredolu, as the leader of the party, must lead the campaigns of all the candidates irrespective of the factions they belong to in the party. The grouse of the elders is that the governor should not only support the four House of Representatives candidates namely: Donald Ojogo, (Ilaje/ Ese-Odo), Timehin Adelegbe (Ose/Owo), Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye (Ondo East/West) and Albert Akintoye (Irele/Okitipupa), but also the other five APC candidates, though they are not in the Aketi Team. 

They also want him to campaign for Prof. Boroffice and Pastor Omogunwa in the North and South Districts respectively, just as he is said to have declared support for the senator representing Ondo Central District and loyalist of the Aketi Team, Tayo Alasoadura.The APC leaders said if Akeredolu is sure that he is not funding AA candidates, he should campaign for candidates of APC for Ondo North senatorial seat, Ondo South senatorial seat, Akoko North West/Akoko North East, Akoko South West and Akoko South East and Idanre/Ifedore Federal constituencies.

They point as evidence of support and funding for AA by Team Aketi, the fact that some candidates of AA are people with strategic appointments in Ondo State government.They also tackled the Independent National Electoral Commission  (INEC) for contravening extant regulations by recognising AA candidates when it did not observe any of the primaries of the party.


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