By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South West
NO doubt, an end is not in sight to the crisis which engulfed the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ondo State after the 2016 governorship primaries.
Leader of the party in the state who is the governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, is not helping matters either going by his hard-line stand on the crisis and his unending tantrum at his perceived ‘enemies’ within the party.
He reignited the fire last week Saturday at a supposed unification rally expected to bring all the warring parties together.
But alas, the rally in which the major combatants failed to show up has further widened the gulf that existed in the party post-2016 governorship primaries of the party in the state.
It is an open secret that Akeredolu still nurses a grudge against those who preferred Olusegun Abraham to his candidature during the last primaries and seems not ready to forgive them.
That aside, those who took a step further by supporting the “returnee governorship” candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, Olusola Oke during the last governorship election further increased the number of Akeredolu’s perceived enemies.
The number grows as the governor says they are persona non grata in the party. He insisted that they should go back to their wards and re- register as new members of the party and apologise openly before they can be re-absorbed into the party they worked against.
Akeredolu’s many foes
There is no doubt that there are aggrieved APC members who are not on the same page with Akeredolu.
The likes of Senator Ajayi Boroffice, the factional chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke and Dr Olusegun Abraham, among others, are not throwing their weight behind Akeredolu.
The governor’s utterances last week Saturday has called to question his leadership quality and ability to hold the party as one family.
Vanguard gathered that many interventions by party leadership in the South-West have failed to resolve the imbroglio as both parties remained adamant.
One of the recommendations of the committee headed by Prince Tajudeen Oluyele Olusi, was “the return of Hon. Isaac Kekemeke to office to complete his tenure as chairman of the party or alternatively that Kekemeke “should be persuaded to relinquish the position of state chairman and be rewarded with a befitting federal appointment of federal board or corporation.”
The panel also recommended that the group of a governorship aspirant, Dr Abraham, who is challenging the outcome of the party primaries in court, should be made to withdraw the case and be admitted into the party.
Political observers in the state had heaved a sigh of relief when one of the activities to mark the first year in office of the governor was tagged: ‘unification rally.’
Even the chairman of the first year anniversary, Wale Akinterinwa, during a briefing said that the rally would be all encompassing as all aggrieved parties would be in attendance but the assurance fell flat as none of the aggrieved party leaders was actually invited.
Only Olusola Oke, who had returned to the party a month ago, was in attendance.
South-West govs absent
Questions were also raised why Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other governors in the South- West, except Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, were conspicuously absent at the rally.
Akeredolu, however, said Tinubu was to attend until he suddenly woke up that morning with a “terrible cold.”
He was silent on why other governors especially in the zone did not show up.
His Edo State counterpart, Mr Godwin Obaseki and two former state governors of Ekiti State, Messrs Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi were also in attendance.
Akeredolu, at the rally, threw mud in Boroffice’s eyes when he said he only recognised two senators representing the state.
He said: “I know of two senators from APC in Ondo State, and they are Senator Tayo Alasoadura and Senator Yele Omogunwa. For me, those two have been supportive and I know Yele has other engagement somewhere.
“Senator Alasoadura has been supportive from beginning to the end. So, those are the two senators I know in APC in Ondo State, I don’t know where the other belongs.”
He also stood his ground when he bared his mind on the contentious party chairmanship position.
According to him, “Ade Adetimehin remains the authentic chairman of the party. Any other chairman is a counterfeit. Anyone calling himself chairman is a counterfeit, he is the only one. Adetimehin is our chairman. Any other chairman is a counterfeit. He is the only Mr Johnson we have. Anybody who wants to fight should fight.”
Outrage greets Akeredolu’s remarks
Reacting to the governor’s statement, Mr Kolawole, a close ally of Senator Boroffice said the governor was playing politics with the truth on the need for the Tinubu committee to come and resolve the crisis in the state. The reality on ground suggests that the reconciliation committee is needed in the state. There is crisis in the state, that’s the fact.
“There is crisis in the state and it’s dated back to the 2016 governorship primaries. We need all and sundry on board now. In life, there is no permanent friend but permanent interest. The same Boroffice delivered his council for him during his (Akeredolu) contest for the governorship in the state,” he said. However, some aggrieved leaders who refused to engage the governor in a media war, noted that he was “hiding behind a finger.”
They were quick to note that it would soon dawn on him that “a tree doesn’t make a forest.”
Meanwhile, the governor had recanted on his outburst concerning Boroffice and the visit of Asiwaju Tinubu to the state. A statement issued days after the outburst reads in part: “The committee will, however, find that it has no work to do in the state, as there is peace and stability in the Ondo State APC.
“The Governor never doubts the ability of Asiwaju Tinubu to successfully carry out this onerous task of uniting our great party and putting it in good stead for the task ahead.