Ondo 2020: Tinubu, Akeredolu attempt to mend APC
2023 Presidential Race Is At Work – Observers
What had been ominous clouds hovering around Governor Akeredolu’s 2020 ambition for second term now appears clear. In the last six days, Akure has been agog, as the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, visited the state to broker peace among warring factions.
Akeredolu had fallen out with the Jagaban Borgu after the controversial September 3, 2016 primary election. The notable senior advocate had enjoyed political tutelage under Tinubu in 2012, but by 2013 the relationship had soured. But to the utter surprise of many adversaries, the National Leader, in the company of other APC leaders in the Southwest paid a surprise visit to broker peace last Tuesday. They were held up in an indoor meeting for over four hours.
Those in attendance were; former interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, former governors of Ogun and Ekiti states, Segun Osoba, Niyi Adebayo and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode; alongside were former Ondo State party chairman, Isaac Kekemeke, Olusola Oke, Ali Olanusi and Dr. Segun Abraham, who were political adversaries of the governor.
Not unexpected, the indoor meeting sparked off a mild political drama at the venue, as loyalists of the former Lagos governor, expressed reservations about the modalities adopted for the admission of members into the closed-door session.
Prominent among those who were stopped from entering the meeting were former Osun State commissioner for Regional Integration, Bola Ilori; former chairman of OSOPADEC, Wale Omojuwa, former member of the House of Representatives, Afe Olowookere, as well as the immediate past commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Solagbade Amodeni.
Meanwhile, there had been rumours that some politicians loyal to Tinubu had threatened to boycott the meeting as they envisaged the governor had successfully bought his way to finally curry the forgiveness and favour of the National Leader.
Two venues were purportedly chosen for the stakeholders’ meeting, as some aggrieved members insisted on a different venue to create a parallel meeting, while the governor was said to have slated the event for the International Conference and Event Centre (The Dome), Akure.
Still fanning embers of vengeance, the aggrieved members, under the auspices of Concerned Leaders Forum (CLF), had issued a communiqué few hours to the stakeholders’ meeting on Monday that they had lost confidence in Engr. Ade Adetimehin-led executive of the party in the state.
They accused the APC state executives of anti-party activities in the 2019 general elections, which also indicted the governor.
Olanusi, a former Deputy Governor of the state and member of the APC Board of Trustees (BoT), who was at the meeting with Tinubu, had earlier raised opposition against the meeting, lamenting that it had been hijacked and turned into a jamboree to create an atmosphere of peace.
In the communiqué, they said: “We are surprised that a confab initially slated for the attendance of a few APC leaders to find solution to the crisis bedeviling the party in Ondo State has been turned to a jamboree and all-comers affairs as caretaker chairmen of all the 18 local governments in Ondo State, commissioners, House of Assembly members and all other political appointees who are not part of this meeting based on the original plan have been directed by the Team Aketi to mobilize minimum of 180 people each from the 18 local governments to the venue with pro-Aketi placards to create a subterfuge and deception of our party leaders coming for the said confab.
“We recall that all these people mentioned above worked for Action Alliance in the last election, which led to the failure of our party in Ondo State. We also have it on good authority that NURTW in Ondo State have been fully mobilised to ensure that none of the genuine leaders of APC is allowed access to the meeting venue at the Dome in Akure. These NURTW members are to destroy vehicles belonging to and physically assault genuine APC Leaders at the venue of the meeting.”
They argued that meeting with members of AA led by Ade Adetimehin will only encourage indiscipline and discourage hard work and loyalty among genuine APC members and leaders.
The aggrieved party chieftains expressed surprise that the leadership of the party ignored all those that are involved in anti-party activities that led to the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari and other National Assembly candidates in Ondo State at the last election.
They claimed the whole thing is about the 2023 presidency; and warned that Southwest can only survive by putting its house in order ahead of that crucial election.
Mindful of the rumples, which the new alliance between Tinubu and Akeredolu could cause in the state, aggrieved members noted that compromise is inevitable, as any plan to dissolve the state executive of the party would do more harm to them.
“If on the other hand we go into the battle divided, we will end up not achieving anything. So in looking at the Ondo scenario, various question are begging for answers. Therefore, it will be better for us to forgive ourselves and still have our party in place than forcing a sitting governor out for him to do damage to the party at the governorship poll because he has nothing to lose then. The implication will be that the opposition PDP will carry the day, God forbid,” he said.
A close source to Bourdillon revealed that the National Leader had successfully yielded to the appeal for forgiveness during Akeredolu’s last visit to Lagos on Monday, a day before the emergency meeting in Akure.
According to him, Tinubu gave Aketi some conditions he must meet, including dropping his Deputy, Agboola Ajayi for the Leader’s choice, enlarge his cabinet to include warring members and dissolve the state executives of the party.
He, however, disclosed that the emergency trip and meeting with the aggrieved party members, who also included aspirants preparing to dislodge the incumbent next year, was not unconnected with the 2023 presidential race.
It appears Tinubu does not want to leave any stone unturned in the Southwest in pursuit of his presidential ambition, most especially to have a strong home-base to match whatever obstacle that might want to thwart his moves from the North.
It was rumoured that a member of the Presidential caucus in Abuja, who seem not to relent in his affront to Tinubu’s Presidential ambition, has taken note of the reconciliation moves in Southwest.
His words: “I can tell you categorically that Tinubu is envisaging stiff opposition from the North, especially with the upcoming primary election in Kogi State. As soon as they knew he is rooting for an Igala man, the primary mode was changed to indirect primary.
“Now that it dawned on him that efforts are abroad to undermine his ambition, he has no option than to widen and strengthen his support base in the Southwest.”
But Tinubu, while speaking with journalists after the indoor meeting said, “the meeting is to promote the interest of the All Progressives Congress. We discussed how we shall win the next election resoundingly.”
He noted that the differences and age-long grievances among the leaders, especially against Akeredolu, had been amicably resolved. “You can see all our leaders coming out together, laughing and happy.
“APC in Ondo is one now, we have asked all our leaders to go back and bring peace and unity to the state. We applied conflict resolution mechanism to smoothen the edges.”
Kekemeke, who is the immediate past APC state chairman, stressed that the meeting did not endorse anybody, saying: “We have not reached consensus over Akeredolu’s second term bid. We never talked about first or second term. What we talked about is how our party will remain united and that whether anyone likes it or not, Akeredolu remains the governor of the state and by indication, the leader of the party in the state. There was no talk about second term, third term or forth term.”
He, added: “Leaders of our party have spoken to us and we have agreed that we will work together and find domestic solution to our domestic problems at the prompting of our leaders.”
Kekemeke, who is also contesting the 2020 gubernatorial poll, said they have all agreed to forgive one another and build a platform that is credible and will be able to win elections in the future.
The Guardian learnt that a steering leadership committee was set up to engage and converse regularly. Though, the committee has no chairman, a former chairman of the party, Kekemeke was appointed secretary of the committee.
Time will tell, whether this meeting can bring total healing to Ondo APC.
No comments yet