Ondo 2020: Why APC may lose governorship election — Olanusi
• Ondo APC Has Gone Comatose Under Akeredolu— Olanusi
Chief Ali Olanusi, a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was a deputy governor under the Labour Party (LP). He was also in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke with GBENGA AKINFENWA on the status of the party in Ondo State, among other issues.
What are the effects of politicians changing political parties?
I Would say the idea of politicians moving from one political party to another is partly responsible for the slow development in the country. This is because where there is no party stability, programmes and government policies are sometimes adversely affected, especially at the level of implementation and continuity.
But I must quickly add that those elected into power, especially in the Executive arm, are the ones guilty of this occurrence. Once they get into power, they turn 360 degree from who they were before they were elected, and begin to alienate themselves from party leadership and stalwarts. As soon as they get to the top, they change like a chameleon. And because of their actions, people are forced to be inconsistent, as what they see is different from party ideology or expectations.
In Ondo APC, our governor, Rotimi Akeredolu doesn’t recognise any party structure. For the first time in my political life, I am seeing something totally different. It was when Akeredolu became governor that the political party that brought him into power went comatose. Up till now, they have not been holding ward meetings in all the 203 party wards of Ondo State. But if you don’t meet at the ward, local government and state levels, where would issues affecting the party and state development be addressed?
What measures did the state APC take, when it discovered Akeredolu was not toeing party line?
He has killed the party in the state. All state party structures and organs are dead. That is why no meeting of any of the organs holds in the state. It is no longer secret that Akeredolu and his group romanced another party, the Action Alliance (AC). He is vigorously promoting and funding the party. That was the party he used to sponsor candidates against APC in the last general election.
We made efforts to notify party leadership at the national level. We wrote more than five letters to that effect, and copied Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and others, but no action was taken. The only action they took was the meeting they held with us at Heritage Hotel about five months ago, where they asked for reconciliation. We all agreed that the governor should finish his first term, after which he should leave.
What is going on in Ondo State is very unfortunate. It makes elders like me regret going into politics. When we joined politics, it wasn’t to acquire wealth, but to serve the people and the country.
Are you regretting going into politics?
Yes, because this is not how we met things. The current situation in Ondo is so messy, in that of all the 36 states of the federation, Ondo State ordinarily should not be at this level of under-development. It is an irony that this was the place (Owo), where Action Group was formed.
The defunct party was a vehicle used to revolutionise development in the old Western Region. Is it not sad that the present administration, whose head hails from the same Owo, cannot build on this initiative? How would Baba Ajasin feel in heaven, seeing that the successor from his ward is not buying into the challenges the formation of Action Group in Owo pose for the state’s development?
If we were so backward and had no future prospect, Baba Obafemi Awolowo would not have left his state to come and launch Action Group in Owo.
Ondo State APC is in a very terrible situation. I told those sent from the national body that, if election were conducted today in Ondo State, I don’t know which party would win, but it would definitely not be APC. If things do not change, I can assure you that APC cannot win election in Ondo.
I was PDP chairman for six years. And every month, we held caucus meeting, where we had the cabinet, governor, deputy governor and party leaders in attendance. But there is no caucus now in Ondo APC; even the wards are not meeting.
What is the way out of this mess, as you put it; is your group, Unity Forum planning to provide an alternate platform?
I’m a man of peace. So, we are just trying to patch things for the governor to finish his first term and leave. And this is the Unity Forum’s stand, where I am the leader. Don’t forget that the forum, which spreads over the 19 councils in the state, controls more than 70 percent APC members in the state.
You and Akeredolu are from the same North Senatorial District. If Akeredolu were denied a second term, wouldn’t the district have shot itself on the leg?
The situation on ground now is about who will play the game according to the rules of the land, carry the party along and embrace those who are not his party members for development. All the industries established by Ajasin are dead, while all those started by Agagu were abandoned. So, the issue now is not about zone. The government is for all and not about a zone. The Ondo people are suffering, irrespective of where they come from.
Even with the power of incumbency, your group will still defeat him?
Yes. We won’t allow what happened the last time. We are waiting for them. The election was rigged in Akeredolu’s favour at the primary, with people who are not even party members. We are going for direct primary this time around. That will make it difficult for anyone, either from London or Abuja to rig primary. This is the first time Ondo people would not pick their leaders. This man was forced on us by people in Abuja, but see what is happening.
What does the future hold for Ondo APC?
The future is, one with God is a majority. May God minister to the conscience of APC leadership at the national level, so that they can do what is right.
That is what can ensure the party’s re-election in the state in 2020 governorship election. And this can only be achieved by shutting out Akeredolu.If all the things we demanded at the Heritage meeting are done, I can assure you that APC will do well. Before Akeredolu came, APC gave Buhari over 54 per cent in 2015 election, when PDP was in power at the state and federal levels.
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