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Ondo deputy governor’s defection deepens APC crises

By Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure), Adamu Abuh (Abuja) and Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt)
22 June 2020   |   4:29 am
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) deepened yesterday as the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi...


• Ajayi joins PDP, retains office
• Akeredolu denies stopping him from leaving Govt House
• I was there to broker peace, says CP
• Rivers APC suspends Victor Giadom
• ‘Why ruling party is in disarray’

The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) deepened yesterday as the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Contrary to insinuations that he would also resign his position as deputy governor elected on the platform of the ruling APC, Ajayi said he retained his position.

Ajayi’s defection came after he had a face-off with the Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Salami, on Saturday night when he was prevented from exiting the Government House.

While renouncing his membership of APC at his Apoi Ward 2 in Ese Odo Local Government Area, Ajayi declared that his people and supporters urged him not to resign.

“My people that voted for me did not ask me to resign, so I remain the deputy governor of this state. I was duly elected as deputy governor,” he said.

While submitting his resignation letter at the APC secretariat in his ward, Ajayi said that the reason for his decision was public knowledge.

“I am here to officially announce to you that, as from today, I cease to be a member of the APC. I came to tender my resignation letter to the ward chairman. The reason I am taking this action is known to all of you.

“I listened to the advice from all supporters across the state, Ese-Odo Local Government will continue to witness peace and progress,” he said.

Ajayi, who is a former chairman of the Ese-Odo Local Government under PDP, further stated: “It is a painful thing that I’m leaving the APC, but there is time for everything. As a Nigerian, I have the fundamental freedom to belong to any party or group.”

At the PDP secretariat, where he collected the party’s membership card, the deputy governor reiterated: “As I said earlier, everybody all over the world knows why I left the APC. Some hours ago, you all know what happened to me at the Government House, but I am a man of peace.”

The PDP chairman in Apoi Ward 2, Mr. Festus Oboro, who received the deputy governor back to the PDP, said his return would further strengthen the opposition party ahead of the governorship election.

There is rumour that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP had adopted him as the automatic candidate of the party for the governorship election slated to hold in October this year.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Babatope Okeowo, Ajayi debunked the rumour, which he described as a sponsored attempt by his adversaries to cause confusion in PDP. “The rumour which is being spread by an online news platform is a lie from the pit of hell as it does not reflect the minds of the leadership of the PDP.”

Ajayi said he would not be bothered by cheap blackmail by agents of government trying to cause enmity among members of the PDP. He declared that he would go to the primary election with other qualified members of the party, who have shown interest in the governorship ticket of the party.

Meanwhile, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has denied involvement in the face-off between Ajayi and the Commissioner of Police, Salami, on Saturday night at the Government House.

There had been criticism of the governor on the social media that he used the police to witch-hunt the deputy governor while packing his properties out of the Government House.

In the face-off video that went viral, Ajayi warned the police to desist from being used by anybody to repeat the 1983 bloody saga in the state, saying the people would resist any repression.

Ajayi eventually moved out of the Government House in preparation for his deflection to the PDP to contest the October 10, 2020 governorship election.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, Akeredolu said “the stories are absolute falsehood intended to play victim by the principal actors involved.”

The governor said the claim that the commissioner of police restrained the deputy governor from leaving the Government House on his directive was a concocted and devious lie meant to discredit him.

In another twist, the APC in Rivers State has suspended Victor Giadom over alleged gross infractions of the party’s constitution.

The acting chairman of APC in the state, Igo Aguma, through his media adviser,
Livingstone Wechie, said by virtue of Giadom’s suspension, he had been barred immediately from the party and every party activity for his “numerous infractions of the party constitution and conduct, which have brought the APC irredeemable disrepute.”

The Guardian gathered that the decision to suspend Giadom was taken during an online meeting of the statutory members of the state executive committee presided over by Aguma.

It was gathered that a committee set up by the statutory members of the state executive committee to investigate the unwholesome activities of Giadom, submitted its report yesterday and it was accepted and adopted as the position of the APC in Rivers State.

Wuchie said the committee requested that Giadom should immediately write a letter of apology to the party and the same should be published in three national newspapers.

Sources in the State APC told The Guardian that Giadom was accused of bringing the APC into disrepute by taking the party to court and parading himself as acting national chairman.

They also alleged that during the state executive committee meeting, Giadom, by writing to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) without approval of the National Working Committee (NWC) acted in breach of the APC constitution and should be punished.

Giadom was also accused of engaging in divisive politics by taking sides with a faction of the party at the detriment of various segments of the APC.

The Guardian repeatedly called Gaidom and sent him text messages for his reaction, but he had not responded at press time.

The Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, identified absence of internal democracy as reason for the crisis rocking the APC.

Lukman, in a statement titled “Fundamental Leadership Challenge in Nigeria”, claimed that the situation was made worse by the display of sycophancy and intolerance by a section of those entrusted with the leadership of the party.

He faulted the notions held in certain quarters that the squabble for the exalted seat of the presidency in 2023 is at the centre of the crises tearing the party apart.