SWITZERLAND, JULY 20 – As the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) holds its primary for the upcoming Ondo State gubernatorial election today, there is an atmosphere of uncertainty hanging over the party in the state.
Today’s Echo gathers that the exercise may not go smoothly due to the current crisis of the party in the state, and the number of players opposed to the mode of primary.
The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has never been certain of getting the party’s ticket. This is due to the myriad of opposition from within the party in the state. However, the tide seemed to be turning with the return of the Governors to prominence as king makers in the party.
Today’s Echo gathers from reliable sources that some of the governors working for Akeredolu’s second term victory include Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Yahaya Bello of Kogi, and Mala Buni of Yobe, who has just been appointed to head the APC caretaker committee. Yet the road is far from clear for Akeredolu and there are concerns of violence if the lingering crisis in the party is not resolved amicably ahead of the October 10 election.
The insidious bickering amongst party members in the state started right from Akeredolu’s emergence as the governor in 2016, which was not supported by many of the party’s bigwigs in the state. Chieftains like Olusola Oke, Senator Ajayi Borrofice, and Segun Abrahams are at loggerheads with the governor and have vowed to ensure the white bearded man does not return for a second term.
After four years of civil war, the APC in Ondo state is beginning to tear itself apart. As the October 10 gubernatorial election approaches, the fracture lines are becoming wider and more obvious. Akeredolu’s Deputy, Agboola Ajayi has already defected to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), dragging the state’s House of Assembly into a crisis in an attempt to impeach him. The Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde, aka Abena, who had been one of the governor’s staunchest allies, has also resigned.
Meanwhile, the governor’s long-time enemies, Senator Boroffice and Chief Oke; both seasoned politicians with deep pockets, have continued to fight the governor from their Northern and Southern Senatorial District bases.
Senator Ajayi Boroffice, a four-term senator from Ondo North, has never hidden his desire to emerge governor of the Sunshine State. He lost out to Akeredolu in 2016 in a bitter primary election that was alleged to be full of manipulation. With the backing of certain party leaders at the national level, the senator has begun to get his pound of flesh in retaliation at the governor’s attempts to stymie his re-election bid.
Olusola Oke is seen as one of the biggest threats, the former APC counsel singlehandedly won the entire Southern Senatorial District in the 2016 election, on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), a party not considered strong.
The Chairman of the Primary Election Committee for Ondo state, Governor Yaya Bello, announced a few weeks ago that the party has adopted Indirect Primary as the mode of election for Ondo gubernatorial primary election. APC governorship aspirants, including Oke, have kicked against adoption of indirect mode of primary for the election.
In a statement issued by Rotimi Ogunleye, the Director Media to Olusola Oke said, “the Campaign Organisation views this development as shocking and a clear departure from the position of the eleven gubernatorial aspirants who expressed their open preference for direct primary in a letter jointly signed by all the gubernatorial aspirants and made available to the National Caretaker Committee of APC in Abuja.
“As a campaign organisation and stakeholders in the coming election, we wish to bring to the notice of Governor Yaya Bello and our national leaders that the adoption of Indirect Primary runs contrary to Article 20 of the APC.
“If it runs contrary to any section of our constitution, it is also proper to say that it is a subversion of the constitution of our party.”
Sources from the APC in Ondo State have accused certain politicians of fanning the flames of discord. Sources from Akeredolu’s camp blame allies of national leader, Bola Tinubu while opponents of the governor put the blame squarely on outside interference, especially form members of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), headed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, who has also been alleged to be nursing a secret presidential ambition.
Four days ago, Akeredolu advised all the party’s aspirants to sign a peace pact. He said this would allow any aspirant, who lost in the election to accept the outcome and rally behind the winner.
He said, “We must allow peace. Let us get all the aspirants to sign that whoever wins, others will support him.
“Anybody I have offended I will apologise to the person. We must allow peace.”
Governor Akeredolu added that the leaders and other members of the party must give room for reconciliation, noting that APC would still win the state and retain power.