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Governorship Primary further puts Ondo APC in disarray

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Governorship Primary further puts Ondo APC in disarray

– Aspirants awaits Tinubu’s final verdict

The All Progressives Congress, Ondo State chapter, is still facing turbulent period and it appears that there is no end in sight with the fresh crisis engulfing it, as a result of the primary contest for the coming November 16, 2024 governorship election. Before the controversial primary election of April 20, 2024, there had been a strong division within the party, which emanated during the sickness of the late governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, which split the party into camps.

This was the situation when Akeredolu’ s Deputy Lucky Aiyedatiwa became the governor but the primary election has now further heightened the already tensed situation. The primary, which according to reports, was described as a sham, is now causing serious ripples within the party and aspirants, who have rejected it, arguing, it was a stage managed primary in favour of the incumbent governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who was declared the winner by the primary election committee, led by the Kogi state governor, Usman Ahmed Ododo and Ovie Omo Agege, the secretary of the committee.

Aiyedatiwa was said to have won the primary with 48,587 votes, to beat Mayowa Akinfolarin, who came second and Barrister Olusola Oke who came third. In all, 16 aspirants contested the primary.

Three of the aspirants, who felt cheated and bitter about the conduct of the primary petition the National Headquarters of the party led by the former governor of Kano State Dr. Abdulahi Ganduje and dissociated themselves from it, arguing that the result of the election, was written by the committee that conducted the primary and alleged that there was no primary elections anywhere in Ondo state.

Their petition, however, led to a peace meeting at the instance of the National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, who invited all the 16 aspirants. The meeting eventually ended in a dead lock, as the aggrieved aspirants were determined to fight on, pointing out that the primary should be cancelled outrightly and a fresh one conducted, with a new panel and not the Gov. Ododo-led committee.

In fact, Ganduje was shocked at the determination of the aggrieved aspirants, who were not ready to sheathe their swords.

Although all other aggrieved aspirants attended the Ganduje peace meeting, but Wale Akinterinwa and Isaac Kekemeke were absent. At the meeting, Ganduje appealed to the aggrieved aspirants, not to dwell on the past and what happened during and after the primary, what is correct and what is not.

With his appeal and statements, he was actually oblivion of the disaster, which could befall the party in the major election in November, and the “controversy going on now if not resolved will not favour us considering the galaxy of politicians here with lawyers, doctors, engineers and other professionals.” He emphasized further that “we are all stakeholders but the state belongs to you all and I believe that your desire is for the APC to win the main and major election in November.”

Political observers believed that the aggrieved aspirants have no confidence in the National chairman of the party and as a result, the only person, who could resolve the matter is President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, since the major contestants, like Jimoh Ibrahim, the serving senator for Ondo South, who polled 9456 votes, the closest to the winner, and others

have dissociated themselves from the result allotted to them, fumed that it was written without any primary election conducted in any part of Ondo state, of which they claimed they have concrete evidence to substantiate their claims.

It was argued by some party stalwarts, that Tinubu may not want to alter what is on ground but other school of thought believed that the wise thing to do is for the primary to be cancelled and fresh one conducted, as in Edo, to please other aspirants, who may want to stall his success. It was argued that the aggrieved would not have any cause to grumble anymore, if fresh primary is held, as it would be very easy and smooth sailing to persuade them to cooperate with him.

However, the bottom line is the stake of the party in the election as the Peoples Democratic Party has pick the predecessor of Aiyedatiwa under late Akeredolu as Deputy governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, as its candidate. This means that the two contestants are those, who cut their teeth in the governor’s office under Akeredolu.

What is equall bothering the APC and those who are from the Ondo South Senatorial zone, is the tenure of Aiyedatiwa if he eventually wins the governorship election.

Those in APC, who are from the South and who are strong and capable of winning the election, like , Jimoh Ibrahim, Olusola Oke, in particular, who has been in the contest for a long time, is the feelings that they would be cheated personally and their zone too, would suffer the same faith, since Aiyedatiwa as it stands now can’t spend more than four years with the amendment to the Electoral law, which stipulates that any Deputy, who completes the tenure of his boss can only serve another four years because it is assumed he has been in office two times.

With this situation, and the new law, what the people of Ondo South Senatorial zone are fighting for is that whoever emerges as candidate in all the parties, especially, the two strong political parties, the APC and PDP, must be those, who have not been in office before and who would not rub the zone of spending eight years in office, since the people of the state have agreed that the south should produce the next governor.

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It was further argued that the reason they were all bent on not producing Aiyedatiwa from his party and the zone is, why the zone should govern for only four years when it has the opportunity to govern for the same eight years, which both the Central and the North had. Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, from the central spent complete two terms of eight years. Late Akeredolu spent over seven years and he would have completed his second term of eight years if not for death. It was also argued that the last time the zone had the opportunity was during late governor Olusegun Agagu who spent only a term of four years.

Political analysts are now of the opinion that if care is not taken, APC may not retain power because in the first place, the aggrieved aspirants who are equally from the south may tilt towards any candidate from the zone, secondly, there could be a strong consensus in the South to vote candidate, who is likely to spend eight years. If that happens it means PDP has a brighter chance than the APC as the entire people from the zone will go for its candidate. Even, those in the North and central, who are in the PDP are already yearning for power because they have lost out of power since the era of governor Mimiko, who left the party for the Labour Party, where he ran to and governed Ondo State for eight years.

Now he is back in PDP and the argument is that it will be comfortable for him campaign for the PDP, his party, than to back a candidate from another political party.

Even the candidate of the PDP for two consecutive elections, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede has given his support for Agboola.

With all these things happening now, there is a strong indication that the PDP members in the state have closed ranks and ready to work as a team, while the APC is still divided and in total disarray.

Already, protests over Ayeidatiwa’s emergence as the candidate of the party is still going on, especially, among the youths, who are from the Southern Senatorial zone asking President Tinubu to wade into the APC crisis.

The leader of the group Mr. Kolawole Johnson, said that what was witnessed during the primary was mere assigning of figures and would want President Tinubu to look into this.

A public affairs analyst and former President of the Nigerian Union of Journalist Mr. Lanre Ogundipe, who spoke with Business Hallmark, said that by now, the APC ought to have learnt its lessons to have conducted a rancor free primary because if people believed that they are cheated and appropriate measures are not taken to address it, they are bound to react negatively. He said this is the situation that the APC is facing right now and the best thing for them is to address the wrong.

He said “the APC now needs to put its house in order and this is, where the leadership of President Tinubu comes into play. He must make sure he unite the party in the state and all over Nigeria.”

A legal luminary in the state, who is equally a member of the APC, Benson Enikuomehin, now backing Olusola Oke, has said that the primary was a sham and could say that with all sincerity and all honesty, there was no primary that took place in Ondo APC.

He also complained of a complete absence of voting materials for the election. “I challenge Ododo and Omo Agege to show the world, where Aiyedatiwa voted or where they saw people voting and where voting materials were provided for the exercise”.

Enikuomehin said what the leadership of the APC should now realise is that the PDP is not going to sleep over the coming governorship election and they are wiser now to have bury their differences to produce a stainless primary, which brought out Agboola without any rancour.

According to him, “the APC must now rise to the challenges and do the right thing and if not, the Party is on it’s own” He pointed out hypothetically.

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Duru Meseko has, however, said in Abuja that the issue in Ondo State APC, would be resolved. According to him, “the party has resolved to continue dialogue with all the aspirants, individually and collectively for a common ground before the November 16 governorship election in the State

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