The crisis in All Progressives Congress (APC) over the emergence of candidates in the next year’s elections has led to the defection of candidates loyal to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to the Action Alliance (AA).
Babatope Okeowo reports that the game plan in the governor’s camp is to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election and throw the other seats open
Some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) loyal to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State have dumped the party for the Action Alliance (AA) in order to contest next year’s National Assembly elections. They include Dr. Olatunji Julius Adeoye-Felder and Dr. Tunji Abayomi.
While Adeoye-Felder is the candidate of AA for Ondo South senatorial district, Abayomi will fly the party’s flag in Ondo North.
Apart from the duo, other APC aspirants, who have defected to AA in order to contest the forthcoming elections, are Chief Segun Ategbole, who is running for Akoko Southeast/Southwest federal constituency seat and Hon. Stephen Olemija, the member representing Akoko Northeast/Northwest in the House of Representatives.
This development has led to palpable fear among National Assembly candidates of the ruling APC over the source of funding for their campaigns and the setting up of campaign structures by the leadership of the party in the state.
It has also made all the National Assembly candidates who were promoted by the governor in the APC to be stranded not only in terms of funds but as a result of lack of capacity to effectively have a robust reconciliation process with aggrieved members of the party.
The candidates being promoted by the governor in the APC include Senator Omotayo Alasoadura (Ondo Central), Mr. Donald Ojogo (Ilaje/Eseodo), Otunba Timehin Adelegbe (Owo/Ose), Dr Jibayo Adeyeye (Ondo West/Ondo East) and Albert Akintoye (Irele/Okitipupa) federal constituencies.
Sources in the state told New Telegraph that Governor Akeredolu has handed over the responsibility of reconciliation of aggrieved aspirants to the party Chairman, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, but most of the aspirants and their backers are just watching whether the party can survive it or not.
A leader of the party, who is supporting one of the candidates, said the governor should have called all the aggrieved aspirants to a roundtable discussion instead of leaving it to the party chairman.
He added that the governor’s refusal to call for a stakeholders meeting to assuage and appease people has left the candidates stranded because they do not know where to start from.
His words: “Yes, they are candidates, but there is little they can do to heal the wounds. Only the leader of the party who is the governor can do so effectively not any party chairman, who himself, appears embattled. The result is that the governor has left the candidates to their fate, which is dangerous for the party.
“Some of us find it very difficult to believe that in spite of the conflicting signals as regards the readiness of some failed aspirants to fly the tickets of other parties, especially the Action Alliance, there is no meeting yet.
“More dangerous is the fact that the opposition PDP is vigorously campaigning on the field. So we do not know what the Governor is up to.”
The source said that it would be difficult to separate the candidates being supported by the State Executive Committee (SEC) from the candidates being propped up by the National Working Committee (NWC).
The defection from APC to AA has shored up the fortune of the party and made the party, which was unknown in the state to be darling of some people. With this development, the governor’s camp may mobilize support for AA’s candidates in parts of north and south senatorial districts.
It was learnt that the game plan in the governor’s camp made the group, led by a former deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Ali Olanusi and former state chairman of the party, Hon. Isaac Kekemeke, to hold a meeting to raise alarm over some developments in the party.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting read: “That the various groups of APC members in Ondo State, which constitutes over 80 per cent of the party strength in the state, have come together to form a platform capable of winning general elections for APC in 2019. That the group has pledged its absolute loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari; the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“That the leaders observed the compromise of the state party executive in undermining the national leadership through court litigations and therefore urge the national leadership to dissolve the state party exco and in its place emplace a caretaker committee in order to have one single APC and one goal in Ondo State.
“The leaders urge that the national headquarters to note and work to avert the sinister plot of some disgruntled government and party officials to stay in the party and work against the success of the APC in the forthcoming 2019 general elections, especially in favour of Action Alliance.”
But, in a swift reaction, the Elders Committee of the party directed the State Executive Committee (SEC) to initiate moves to punish erring members of the party, including Olanusi. The elders led by Second Republic Senator, Nimbe Farukani, in a communiqué after the end of its monthly meeting, expressed worry over anti-party activities of aggrieved members of the party led by the former deputy governor.
The elders, who wondered why any committed member of the party, would call for the dissolution of a performing State Executive Committee, equally expressed confidence in the leadership of President Buhari, Oshiomhole, Tinubu and Governor Akeredolu.
Apart from throwing its weight behind the State Executive Committee led by Ade Adetimehin; the elders said: “What Olanusi and his group did amounts to gross anti-party activity and should, therefore, be appropriately sanctioned.”
They added: “That there is only one party executive led by Ade Adetimehin, as recently affirmed by a recent court judgement and one Elders Caucus under the chairmanship of Senator Nimbe Farukanmi;
“That Alhaji Olanusi, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke and their group never believed in the APC, and did not work for the party during the last governorship election in Ondo State. How could they claim to control over 80 per cent of the party’s strength in the state?
“That the leader of the group, Alhaji Olanusi is aggrieved because Governor Akeredolu refused to part with more money having paid to him the sum of N147m as his entitlements in line with a court judgement.
“That the group neither believes in the party nor attends meetings in their respective wards and local governments. That since the inception of APC in Ondo State, Senator Nimbe Farukanmi has been elected chairman of the Elders Caucus in line with the constitution of the party as against the strange Concerned Elders Forum.
“That the members of the group are advised to retrace their steps and return to the party, so we can work together and ensure victory for our dear party during the forthcoming elections. That we, as elders of the party are fully prepared to support the party and the governor to deliver Ondo State for the re-election bid of President Buhari and other candidates of our party in the 2019 general elections.”
But, Olanusi, who admitted that he has grouse with the governor over what he called unpaid entitlements as a former deputy governor of the state, said the APC state executive and the governor’s team should not be allowed to handle activities of the party during the forthcoming elections.
His words: “You know that if election is conducted tomorrow, with the situation in the party now, APC will not record 10 per cent of the votes in the state. That was why we decided to call the attention of the leaders of the party at the zonal and national levels to what is going on in the party in Ondo State; that things are not going well here.
“They don’t call meetings. Nothing is happening in the party. They have destabilized everything because of the direct primary, which was allowed by the national secretariat. Now, they have directed all their aspirants, who did not emerge as candidates of APC to go and contest in another party, Action Alliance, and the governor has bought forms for them. They have decided to remain in APC, but to work against the party in the 2019 general elections.
“That is why we are now crying to the national leadership of the party not to allow them to handle APC election in Ondo State. If they allow them to be in charge of the election, APC will not record five per cent votes in the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
“Our plea now is that the national leadership of APC should not allow these people to appoint or nominate party agents for the 2019 general elections because most of their candidates have collected forms from AA. If Abuja people allow that to happen, if they give Akeredolu and his team the chance to handle the election for APC, they will use the resources to work for AA against APC and that will spell doom for APC in the elections.”
While both camps continue to exchange brickbats, there is no doubt that they would working at cross purposes during the National and state Assembly elections, but jointly for the success of the APC presidential candidate. How successfully they would do this considering the fact that the National Assembly and presidential election hold the same day is yet to be seen.