Indications showed at the weekend that the Ondo State governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) may be denied the governorship ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress in the November 2020 governorship election coming up in the state.
Last week, a pressure group called Aketi O to Ge (Aketi or Akeredolu, Enough is Enough), fully backed by the APC, held its inaugural meeting in Lagos, with strong determination to ensure that the embattled governor does not secure an APC second-term ticket, The Point can confirm.
Akeredolu’s ordeal, investigations revealed, stemmed from what top sources in the APC described as “his compromising attitude when the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, supported him to contest against Governor Segun Mimiko in 2013.
“We didn’t know that Akeredolu is Mimiko’s childhood friend and would never do anything against the former’s interest; yet the party then (Action Congress) was funding Akeredolu, not knowing we were fetching water in a basket.
“Asiwaju felt betrayed by this play of Judas and that was why he didn’t support Akeredolu to pick the party’s ticket in the 2016 election; but Akeredolu did a fast one by running to a political block formed by Governors Nasiru el-Rufai and Yahaya Bello of Kaduna and Kogi states, respectively, which also include the then Minister of Steel and Mines Development, who is now the governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.”
The source, who craved anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the issue, explained further that the renascent group of el-Rufai and others were able to sell the Akeredolu candidature to Buhari, at a time Tinubu was tactically shut out by the President; hence it became too late for the President to withdraw his support for Akeredolu.
It was also gathered that Tinubu hesitated to attend Akeredolu’s inauguration in Akure, the state capital, but was mandated to grace the occasion by the President.
Sources, however, revealed that Akeredolu had engaged so many political juggernauts in the APC to reconcile him with his estranged godfather, Tinubu, all to no avail.
But Tinubu himself, in many media interviews, had denied ever having any tiff with Akeredolu.
However, the governor’s ordeal came to a head during the last general elections, when all his National Assembly candidates were dropped by the National Working Committee of the APC, under its chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The APC NWC had directly supervised the conventional primaries held by the APC in the state. According to party sources, Akeredolu should have known that it was all over, if he ever recollected that Oshiomhole himself was fully backed to become the APC chairman by Tinubu.
A party chieftain from Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo Local Council Area of the state, Mr. Adeyemi Pelemo, had in a chat with our correspondent, rationalised the plight of the governor, saying, “Instead of Akeredolu to allow the duo of Tinubu and Oshiomhole to fulfill their wish by picking candidates of their choice, the governor, rather childishly, got angry and withdrew his support for the APC candidates.
“The governor from there, brushed up a mushroom political party called Action Alliance (AA) and asked all his candidates to go there, giving them the necessary funding.
“This anti-party act cost the APC victory in the last National Assembly election, as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seized the opportunity of the discord to coast to victory.”
Pelemo also noted that petitions arising from the governor’s act led to his recent suspension by the NWC of the APC.
Although Governor Akeredolu recently denied being suspended by the party, sources within the APC, who affirmed the suspension to our correspondent, said some rapprochement was on, towards resolving the impasse.
Meanwhile, a pressure group in the Ondo APC-The Young Flyers has called for the lifting of the suspension placed on Akeredolu, describing the action as ill-advised and unfair.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its President, Mr. Clement Adeyanju, and Secretary, Mrs. Esther Buraimoh, the group said the accusation of anti-party activities levelled against the governor was a concoction by some desperate politicians keen on securing the party’s governorship ticket in the November 2020 election.
The TYF explained, “There was no way the governor would have worked against the party in the last general election. It is true that some candidates endorsed by Akeredolu did not scale through at the party’s conventional primary but he still went ahead to mobilise support for all the APC candidates during the election.
“But the truth of the matter is that some aggrieved party members, who knew that the governor actually supported popular candidates, went on their own to do protest votes for the opposition PDP.
“As you all know, Ondo State people are egalitarian in nature and detest imposition in whatever form; this was simply demonstrated in the outcome of the last general elections in which the APC performed abysmally in the Ondo South and Central senatorial districts.”
It added that it was Akeredolu who eventually saved the day by going round the state to assuage frayed nerves “among our teeming members, which resulted in the massive victory recorded by the APC in the state’s House of Assembly elections.”
The TYF, as such, called on Tinubu, and Oshiomhole to revisit the suspension order, by sending neutral assessors to come to Ondo State and hear all the parties involved.
“Governor Akeredolu is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who knows the full implication of anti-party conducts, and will never be that careless as to commit political hara-kiri. They are just blackmailing an innocent man, and our great party must stand for truth, equity and justice,” the group appealed.
Already, however, top party sources informed that before the end of the year, a new governorship hopeful is billed to emerge in the Ondo APC to challenge Akeredolu; same way the newly elected APC governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was backed up to dislodge his predecessor, former governor Akinwumi Ambode.