Olusola Oke…Lying low while Ondo APC grapples contentious congresses, primaries
Former National Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Olusola Oke has been deliberately quiet after he lost the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, in the November 26, 2016 governorship election. He thereafter picked the ticket of Alliance for Democracy (AD) to protest the alleged rigging of the APC primary. He also lost the election.
While declaring to contest the 2016 gubernatorial poll on March 23, 2016 at the party secretariat in Akure, the former state chairman, Isaac Kekemeke rated Oke above other aspirants. According to him, Oke had contributed more to the development of the party than those he met on ground. Oke said: “I have been accommodated, I have been respected and I have been given a plain ground. The time to take a decision is now and where to decide it is here, and the party is APC. I have no doubt in my mind that nothing will stop us from going to Alagbaka.”
However, his dream for the new order was cut short by the controversial September 3, 2016 APC primary, which was rejected by the major contenders, Abraham, Oke and Boroffice, who sought redress at the Appeal Committee of the party. But the erstwhile national Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun jettisoned the recommendations of the Appeal Committee to cancel the primary, leaving Oke with the option to join AD.
The Guardian gathered that Oke was visibly angry with the party for the prejudice against his PDP background, which informed the directives from Bourdillon that the party structure in the state must be collapsed to support Abraham.A close source to Bourdillon revealed then that, “after Tinubu could not reach Oke after the primaries, he sent Bola Ilori to meet him. He begged Oke and took him to the National Leader in Lagos. On getting to Bourdillon, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu reportedly pleaded to Oke to forgive him. Other schemes followed, including the picking of the AD ticket on October 1, 2016, in place of Dr. Akin Olowookere, who had earlier been listed by INEC as the flag bearer of the hurriedly revived AD. But it was too late to do the damage, as the other camp had upper hand.
The reports were that Tinubu backed out of the AD project after President Muhammadu Buhari prevailed on him through Chief Bisi Akande, leaving Oke stranded.
Fourteen months after, Oke has found his political route like Vasco da Gama back to the APC. The party leadership in the state led by Engr. Ade Adetimehin and Akeredolu, grudgingly welcomed him to the party at the unity rally held on January 18, 2018 but it was clear that Oke
Some political admirers of Oke chastised him for returning to APC, saying that was the beginning of the end for his political career in the state. They said it would have been better for him to go back to his root, PDP, adding that he would have been a strong rallying point for the opposition party in the state.
But Oke hinged his exit from the APC on the alleged irregularities in the primary election and assured Akeredolu and the party at large that he had come to help stabilize the ruling party and to work for the collective progress of the state.
While the Governor, who said there was room for everyone to come back to the party affirmed that there was no issue between him and Oke, he attributed the disaffection to some rabble-rousers who were keen to cause disaffection in the state, especially during the last election. “Sola is here today, he knows how close we are. He knows me and I know him very well. We should forget about the past because there is no how we will not offend each other if we are aspiring for the same position, but we have resolved our differences,” Akeredolu said.
The PDP Zonal Director of Publicity, Mr. Ayo Fadaka, remarked that: “We are disappointed that a politician of Oke’s status, nurtured in the traditions of political piety while in our party, can continue to immerse himself into this ludicrous APC. We would have desired to wish Oke well in his new adventure, being a former kindred, but his APC will surely end up in a well next year, we just hope he won’t look towards us for salvation.”
As uncertain as the future seems to be for Oke in the APC, besieged on all sides by the Aketi camp, who still see him as a threat to Akeredolu and his second term bid in 2021, it is safer that he maintains a low profile for now.Few days after the unity rally, at Igbokoda, the headquarters of Ilaje council, Oke attended a stakeholders meeting with members of the APC and some cabinet members. It was learnt that they openly disdained Oke by refusing to introduce him at the meeting. It was reported that calculated attempt was made to marginalize him in the last congresses.
Analysts said the cold treatment some APC leaders got during the congresses was not unconnected to the admonition by Governor Akeredolu to his camp to go home and guard their wards and units against intruders like Oke and his teeming supporters.Nonetheless, Oke, a former PDP and AD governorship candidate in 2012 and 2016 still remains a force to beat within the APC and a good horse to gamble with in the next governorship election.
A commentator, Mr. Dappa Maharajah, noted: “Chief Olusola Oke took the best political move of a lifetime. If he did not yield to Tinubu’s bidding that might be the end of his political carrier and his governorship aspiration.“Since Oke came back to APC, Akeredolu and his Aketi Team have had series of sleepless nights, grappling with uncertainties that lie ahead a few months to come. Oke is the Eastern Star and brightest star in the political sky of the state ahead of 2021,” he said.
As it stands, the factional crisis hitting the ruling party in the state may end being harvest of benefits for Oke, who might reap from the divide between the Adetimehin-led faction that supports indirect primary and the Idowu-Otetubi’s faction, which insists on direct primary option for the 2019 general elections.
Maharajah said, “I won’t be surprised if the national leadership of the party rejects the delegate list presented by Adetimehin and Akeredolu as the first political blow to warn of stormy days ahead.“The political ill-fate awaiting the governor will not be of externally motivated attack but a huge implosion within the APC family, if not remediated.”
Analysts think Oke will be the man of 2021 as the South District will line up their best politicians behind him to wrest power from Akeredolu and the North Senatorial District, while the Central District, which broke the jinx of eight-year rule recently, will have no option but to enforce rotation.Oke ducked the question when asked if he would contest the next governorship election. He chirped crisply that the spirit would lead him when it gets to that time.
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