TOPE FAYEHUN, in this report, writes on the unending political battle between the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and the senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District, Prof Ajayi Boroffice ahead of 2019 general election.
Although the two political heavyweights in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Ondo State, belong to the same political party and enjoy perks of offices based on their positions, there has been no love lost between them since 2016 governorship primaries of the party. The two APC chieftains have been at loggerheads over the 2016 governorship primary and the management of the party. Analysts observed that since 2012, Governor Akeredolu and Boroffice have been rivals. Both wanted to rule Ondo State. But, the personality clashes got to a peak during the 2016 governorship primary after the shadow election, which nearly crippled the party in the state. Recall that Boroffice, five days after the primary election, at a reception rally organised for him by a member of the House of Representatives in Akoko South West/ South East constituency, called for the rerun and total cancelation of the shadow election. At the primaries, Boroffice came fourth with 471 votes, which Oluwarotimi Akeredolu won by 669 votes, beating his closest rival, Dr Segun Abraham, with 34 votes, while Chief Olusola Oke came third with 583 votes. Speaking at the event, the lawmaker disclosed that he was told that many hired people, who were not delegates, voted in the party’s primary election. He, therefore, said, “If the appeal committee finds out that the allegations that characterised the election were true, a total cancellation of the exercise is the best.
I am in support of the total cancellation of the election, we must do it again.” Senator Boroffice claimed, “Before the conclusion of the election, I kept hearing the rumours that the delegates’ list had been infiltrated. That there were even some people who were not accredited, who were not even delegates but were given tags and induced to come and vote. That has been substantiated now and it’s unfortunate.” The senator insists he will remain an APC member regardless of the alleged fraud that took place during the election of the party with change mantra. “I am a loyal party man, I had the opportunity to leave the party in 2012 but I didn’t. I was one of the three people that remained then, among the aspirants. I am not in this party to be a governor. I am in this progressive party to help build Nigeria. If I don’t become governor, another person will be a governor, as long as the process is free, fair and credible,” he said. Even, Abraham, who initially congratulated Akeredolu, had to also call for the cancellation of the primary on the same allegation of fraud. Although Akeredolu emerged as the flag bearer, the animosity continued in the postprimary period. One of the contenders, Chief Olusola Oke, left the APC for the Alliance for Democracy (AD), where he lost his deposit.
Another aspirant, Dr Segun Abraham, is still in court protesting the outcome of the primary. Since then, Akeredolu, who eventually won the governorship election and subsequently became the leader of the party in the state, was said to have refused to forgive his perceived ‘enemies’ within the party, including Senator Ajayi Boroffice. Both of them have been battling for the soul of the party in the Sunshine state. While Akeredolu insists that the Senator is no longer a member of the party except he goes back to his ward to re-register, Boroffice is fighting so hard to make the governor know that he remains a committed member of the party in the state. Pointedly at a unification rally to mark Akeredolu’s one year in office, the governor, 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, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and the senator representing Ondo Central Senatorial District, Prof Ajayi Boroffice ahead of 2019 general election. 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 engagements 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.” Analysts observed that, with the way things are currently going on in the party, particularly, with the outcome of the congresses of the party in the state, the door seems to have been permanently shut against the Asiwaju of Akoko land in the state APC. Boroffice, in a statement issued by his media aide, Kayode Fakuyi, declared that the party has adopted direct primary as the only means of electing party candidates in Ondo State and other APC- governed states for the 2019 general elections. The senator said the adoption of the direct primary is a settled matter because the National leadership of APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other prominent leaders of the party have declared firm support for it. “As the preparations for primary election quicken, it is necessary to reassure members of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State that the national leadership of our party, ably led by Comrade Adams Oshiomole, has adopted direct primary as the only means of electing party candidates in Ondo State.
“The position of APC on the direct primary is clear. It states that direct primary will hold in APC – governed states while indirect primary/delegate primary will hold in states where the state governments are not governed by APC. “It should also be noted that President Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other prominent leaders of our party have thrown their weights behind the party on the adoption of the direct primary. Therefore, the adoption of the direct primary is a settled matter. It is unambiguous. It is uncontroversial. It is clear. “It is from the purview of the afore stated facts that media bureau of Distinguished Senator Ajayi Boroffice, view the statement credited to the vice chairman of the APC (Southwest), Pastor Bankole Oluwajana that, “The method to be adopted will depend on what the leadership of the party in the state wants”, as untrue. It is utterly defective and misleading. “The comment doesn’t reflect the position of our party on the adoption of the direct primary. Thus, the comment should be treated as a personal opinion bereft of constitutional backing. “Instructively, it should be noted that the national leadership of APC with the exclusive responsibility to conduct primary election. across all states in Nigeria, has adopted the direct primary. It is neither the business of the zonal structure nor duty of state structures of our party. All party members are aware that the constitution of the APC does not empower state chapters to choose or decide the method of selecting party flagbearers. “Furthermore, the resolution of the National leadership is not subject to discretional amendment or modification by the zonal or state structures of the APC.
“Conclusively, it is the opinion of Senator Ajayi Boroffice that the adoption of the direct primary by the APC will deepen democracy and ensure popular participation. The National leadership has empowered all party members in Ondo State with voting powers for the purpose of nominating flagbearers of the APC in the 2019 general elections. No individual or group can snatch or hijack such voting powers from members of APC in Ondo State. “ In a swift reaction, the party in the state, through its publicity secretary, Alex Kalejaye, said the party was yet to decide on a method to adopt for selecting candidates, noting that Boroffice had no right to speak on behalf of the party since there is a leadership in place in the state. Kalejaye said: “Firstly, it takes a party man that has consistently demonstrated concern and commitment to the party and its affairs, and remains connected to the state secretariat to appreciate the plans and activities of the party. “It is inappropriate for Senator Ajayi Boroffice to speak on behalf of the state chapter, especially where there is a vibrant Working Committee, led by Engr Ade Adetimehin, in place. “It is the responsibility of the leadership of the APC to brainstorm, as it has been done elsewhere, and come up with a position that would be announced through the right channels. Ondo APC would consider all the available and legal options, and go for a popular one that does not hurt the interest of the stakeholders.
“The party appeals to aspirants at all levels to be guided by civilised rules in their quest for positions, and avoid creating the impression that there are divisions in the state. “The State APC had assured, in a recent statement, that it would ensure transparent and credible primaries, devoid of sharp practices. That position is hereby reaffirmed. It is pertinent to remind ourselves that the three options, including delegates, consensus, and direct, are all lawful for us in the APC.” Ajayi Boroffice, the Senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, has warned that it will be very disastrous for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, under the government of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, to pursue the 2019 general election with a ‘divided house’. Responding, however, Senator Boroffice advised that it would be more honourable for Governor Akeredolu to lead a genuine reconciliation of all aggrieved party members in the state before aiming to work for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has shown interest to run for a second term in office. Boroffice, in a press statement issued by his media aide, Kayode Fakuyi, to celebrate the Eid-El-Kabir, said that there is no hiding the fact that the crisis and disaffection rocking the APC in the state still exists unabated. According to him, “It is incumbent on Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to demonstrate favourable disposition towards party cohesion and lead genuine reconciliatory agenda. Just like it is suicidal for an army to approach war with a divided and disunited army, it is dangerous for Ondo APC to pursue the 2019 general elections with a divided and disunited party”. Boroffice disclosed that the leaders and members of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Ondo State need to embrace peaceful harmony ahead of the 2019 general election. “In this atmosphere of Eid el-Kabir, it is imperative to admonish all leaders and members of the APC in Ondo State to come together, build party cohesion and work together for the electoral success of President Muhammadu Buhari and other APC flagbearers in the 2019 general elections. “There is no denying the fact that there are many issues that have given leeway to all manners of speculations and postulations about crises and disaffections within the APC in Ondo State. “However, it is time for all aggrieved leaders, all dissatisfied members, all factional tendencies and all political groups to drop their grievances and come together as a party to deliver massive victory for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general elections. “It is time for all party men and party women of conscience to be guided by the lessons of history. Recent political history has availed worthy lessons that should guide us to create the future of our party. “Party members should be reminded that party cohesion was one of the major factors that triggered the great outing of the APC in the 2015 general elections in Ondo State,” he said. The Ondo Senator stated that without party cohesion, the APC would not have defeated the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State in the November 2016 governorship election. According to Boroffice, the members of the party should not lose focus on the ultimate target, which is to ensure an all-around victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and other candidates in Ondo State. “For this target to be reached, everybody is important. The importance of party members should not be taken for granted. It is time to work together for victory.
The prognosis of the political malaise that has afflicted our party is instability. It is the collective responsibility of all of us to move our sunshine state forward,” Boroffice added. He, however, said that the best brains must be brought together to generate the best ideas that will propel growth and development for the ruling party as politicking for the 2019 general election begins. “This political struggle is for all of us. If we win, we win together and if we lose, we also lose together. Furthermore, unity is key to ignite and activate the economic potentials of our state in order to midwife a new Ondo State that will be economically vibrant, industrialised and politically stable”, said Boroffice. Reacting to Boroffice’s remarks, the party’s director, Media, and Publicity, Mr Steve Otaloro, in a statement, described the Senator’s statement as “appalling and uncharitable.” Otaloro, in a statement, said: “This statement gives the erroneous impression that the party is in a fray of the sort and needs a peacemaker to appease it. “Far from it as he has presented it. The party is in good shape and is at work in harmony to defeat the opposition in the coming general election.”
“Boroffice’s statement also passively expressed such lies that it was by his influence the APC was able to defeat the PDP in the 2016 gubernatorial election in the state. “Everyone living in Ondo State knew the overt anti-party activities perpetrated by him to subvert the APC’s victory in the 2016 governorship election. “For a man, who worked assiduously to hammer out an action plan for the opposition against us to come back, preaching party unity and cohesion, sparks stupidity. We are definitely wary of such person and his Trojan horse. “Senator Ajayi Boroffice has continually demonstrated his open hatred for our party, hence, he is not in a position to advise us in any way. He can pocket that. “APC in Ondo State is already moving forward as one united family and working across the state to reach out to the electorate. Senator Boroffice is not bigger than the party; it is expedient for him to jump on the APC bandwagon for his own good .” Political observers posited that the conflict between Akeredolu and Boroffice, is geared towards the forthcoming 2019 general elections. While the senator wants to have another term at the National Assembly, the governor, who already owns the state party structure, courtesy of the recent state congress, is leaving no stone unturned in making sure that Boroffice and his supporters do not get the ticket of the party in the primaries. The battle, according to analysts, is simply a battle for supremacy and ego. If the situation is allowed to go on unabated, the party may find it difficult to make any meaningful success in 2019 general election in the Sunshine state.
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