…….The endless war in Ondo State APC
…….Why Akeredolu may not emerge party’s flagbearer in 2020
SWITZERLAND, JULY 24 – With the inclusion of former Senator representing Ondo State Central, Olutayo Alasoadura on President Buhari’s ministerial list, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu seems to have finally rewarded him for his steadfast support during his emergence as governor in 2016.
The story of Akeredolu and Alasoadura goes back to the tough APC gubernatorial primary in Ondo State in 2016. Akeredolu didn’t stand a chance from the beginning. Besides the fact that he was not a resident of the state and not well known, he also didn’t have the support of many heavyweights in the party.
APC supreme godfather in the South-West, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had pitched his tent with another candidate, Segun Abrahams. In the end, Tinubu was embarrassed as Akeredolu emerged winner ahead of his candidate and several others including Alasoadura.
Following the controversial primary, many co-contestants rejected the candidacy of Akeredolu, polarising the party in the state. Key party chieftains in the state including Senator Borofice, State Chairman Isaac Kekemeke, former Deputy Governor Ali Olanusi, Bola Ilori, Olusola Oke and Segun Abraham formed another block in the party while some defected.
Today’s Echo gathers that Alasoadura was one of the chieftains that stood behind Akeredolu through out the ordeal.
During a press conference in Akure in 2016, the lawmaker had appealed to party members to sheath their swords to work together for Akeredolu.
“Now is the time to sink our differences and move forward as a united family to win in the November 2016 governorship election for our party by supporting the candidacy of Rotimi Akeredolu by all true democrats,” Alsasoadura begged
But it seemed Akeredolu had stepped on too many toes and there was no going back for those bitter against him. While Tinubu had rejected the former Nigerian Bar Association President, he had been accepted by some powerful APC politicians close to the presidency. These include Kayode Fayemi, Babatunde Fashola, Rochas Okorocha, Ibikunle Amosun and Yahaya Bello. With the help of these politicians who were called ‘Buhari Boys’ in Ondo State, Akeredolu won the election against Eyitayo Jegede of PDP and Olusola Oke of AD.
According to an APC chieftain from the state who spoke to Today’s Echo, Alasoadura was the arrowhead of Akeredolu’s campaign in the build-up to the election and many people knew he would be influential in his government.
“Alash(as he is fondly called) was one of the people saying Ondo State should not be dictated to by one man(Bola Tinubu) and that we should be independent of a godfather. In the end, he prevailed and Akeredolu became governor. But the seed of discord sown during that election continues to haunt our party in Ondo State today as we are still divided,” the source said.
For Akeredolu, the 2019 senatorial election in the state was the perfect opportunity to reward his friend but things did not go as expected.
Alasoadura who held a juicy position as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), got the automatic return ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to contest in the election, but lost to Ayo Akinyelure of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 Senatorial elections.
Akinyelure had polled 67,994 votes to defeat the sitting Senator, who polled 58,092 votes.
In the follow-up to the senatorial election, Governor Akeredolu castigated the people of Akure in the Central senatorial district for not voting for his friend.
“We participated in two elections or did I lie? The first election we did, I will say it the way I noticed it. Akure people, you did not do well to our party (APC) in the first election. You might have your reasons but I want to tell us in Akure that either we like it or not, we must apologise to Senator Tayo Alasoadura as we did not do well to him,” the governor said.
By recommending Alasoadura to Buhari for a ministerial position, Akeredolu has finally rewarded his friend. However, this is not the end of troubles for Akeredolu and his alliance. As the 2020 gubernatorial election in Ondo State approaches, the division within the ranks of the APC in the state has once again become a pressing problem.
In the build-up to the 2019 senatorial elections, party members in Ondo state accused Akeredolu of engaging in anti-party activities, calling for his suspension. While he campaigned vigorously for the APC candidate, Olutayo Alasoadura in the Central Senatorial district, the governor Akeredolu was alleged to be funding the candidates of Action Alliance(AA) in the Ondo North and Ondo South senatorial districts. Dr Tunji Abayomi and Dr. Olatunji Felder.
A few weeks ago, Bola Tinubu and some senior South-West APC chieftains went to Akure in a bid to reconcile the warring parties.
An APC member who spoke to Today’s Echo on the issue stated categorically that the party may lose the 2020 gubernatorial election if Akeredolu is picked again as the flag bearer.
“The governor has really messed up,” our inside source said.
“Instead of him unite the party, he is creating more divisions within the party. To make matters worse, he has not performed well as a governor and his administration has not been inclusive.”
Only time will tell if Akeredolu will be able to pull off his re-election in 2020.