…as opposing forces vow no retreat
By OLUSESAN LAOYE
The plot is thickening and pressure mounting from all fronts within and outside the ruling party in Ondo state, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to scuttle the second term bid of the governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu who has had a running battle with the leadership of the party, since he came into office three years ago. The contest for the national party leadership further aggravated the crisis and indeed, escalated after the governor backed the wrong candidate for the chairmanship.
He has had one problem or the other with the party stalwarts in the state, Lagos, and Abuja, who would given anything to get rid of him, because of what they considered his stubborn political attitude and challenging the national leader, Asiwaju, Bola Tinubu, and chairman, Adams Oshiohmole.
The elites in the state seems to have resolved to give him the boot ostensibly at the instigation of Abuja and Lagos since there is no love lost between him and the national leadership who are using the local machinery to frustrate him. As it stands, he is practically man-alone as nobody in party either in the state which Tinubu seems to be in Tinubu’s control and Abuja, where is declared enemy, Oshiohmole is in charge. The expected clash is over the second term primary next year. In the last six months, several attempts have been made to use the state Assembly and the state executive against him but all attempts failed.
This, it was said, made the powerful people in the party especially the National leader engineered his suspension about three weeks ago from the party for alleged anti party activities during the last general elections which led the party to lose the presidential election in the state and three senatorial seats to the opposition and only managed to clinched four out of the nine House of Representatives seats.
However, majority of those that won the State House of Assembly election were his loyalists, which has made the impeachment moves against him impossible, despite several attempts.
With his recent suspension by the National Exco of the party, it was believed that he would be frustrated but he has remained undaunted and still forging ahead on his plans to remain in the party, to win the primary and probably win the governorship election in 2020.
But powerful people in the party have vowed that it would be over their dead bodies that he would get the ticket of the party. Sources hinted that the powerful people against him have formed a group known as ‘Change agent foundation’ that would drum up enough is enough “Oto-ge” support as it was done in Kwara state. The group has been mobilised to commence action ahead of the party’s primary in 2020.
These powerful elites were said to be seriously looking for who would replace Akeredolu.
It was also learnt that they have succeeded in getting the support of some of his aides who complained that the governor was running a one man cabinet with his wife as they were only in their respective ministries and agencies as figure heads who could not sign for up to N10,000 contract and that they don’t have any other thing going for them except their salaries.
.some of these aides along with other leaders were said to have gone to meet Tinubu is bent on the need to field another candidate and not Akeredolu
Among the leaders of the party who were strongly against the governor are Senator Ajayi Boroface, former Deputy Governor of the State Alhaji Ali Olanusi and former chairman of the party Mr. Isaac kekemeke.
Inside sources hinted that the reason the peace meeting supposedly held sometimes ago to reconcile all warring groups in the party in the state by the National leader of the party Bola Tinubu did not succeed was the fact the the National leader was more concerned about his presidential ambition and it was an attempt to cut a deal that ties the second to support for his ambition which the governor rebuffed.
Akeredolu was said to have rejected all the conditions placed on the table because they did not favour him. Part of the conditions it was learnt was to dissolve the State Exco which the governor is enjoying its support and set up an interim Exco that would midwife a fresh State Congress election that would be in place before the next primary of the party.
The governor sensing a bobby trap rebuffed the condition and this has heightened the crisis in the party and the need for the governor ‘s replacement which is vigorously being intensified.
The former deputy governor of the State who is heading the elders forum of the party Alhaji Ali Olanusi has said the only way for peace is for the dissolution of the current Exco in the state party, saying that Governor Akeredolu has failed to honour his own part of the agreement reach in Abuja, Lagos and in Akure respectively.
The state chairman of the party Mr. Ade Adetimehin said when contacted that they are working toward progress and unity in the party, saying that the governor is doing well. Mr. Adetimehin said that what is happening is a family natter which would be resolved. He said that he has called on all warring groups to sheath their swords
As the battle rages some die-hard loyalists of Governor Akeredolu have started mobilising for him ahead of next year and they said that no matter what, the governor would get the ticket of the party and go ahead to win the election.
His Secretary to the Government SSG Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde last week mobilised for his boss when he called a meeting involving some stakeholders and asked them to support the governorship aspiration of Akeredolu for a second term. Those at the meeting include the APC chairman Akure South LG, Chief Olu Ojo, menbers of the state Assembly and other party faithfuls across the state.
Also a group known as Su shine Integrity movement stated that it is already working to secure 75 percent of votes of automatic delegates ahead of the party primary election next year
The Director General of the group and the project, Professor, Olu Aboluwoye said they have secured credible, honest and party members with impeccable characters to vote even if the party wants to adopt direct primary of picking its candidate, stressing “we have now secured the backing of 70 percent of loyal party members such as commissioners, Special Advisers and Assistants, members House of Assembly, council chairmen and other appointees of government.
Meanwhile chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Mr. Clement Faboye, said that the crisis in the APC is a welcome development for the PDP as it would defeat them very easy.He said that apart from that, the bad performance of the party and the governor would make kicking APC out very easy in 2020.