In this report, TOPE FAYEHUN takes a cursory look at the crisis that has polarised the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the recent move by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to resolve it.
National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, last Wednesday stormed Ondo state with some leaders of the party in the Southwest, in a bid to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.
The Ondo state chapter of the party has been enmeshed in series of crisis which started immediately after the party’s governorship primary on September 3, 2016. This development saw to the emergence of various factions of the party after some of the aspirants faulted the outcome of the primary.
To add more salt into th injury, factions within the party were the one engaging, criticizing and equally playing the necessary politics against the policies and programme of the government, like an opposition party in the state.
Also, the poor show of the party in the last general elections in the state further polarized the already divided ranks within the party after accusations of the imposition of candidates by the national leadership of the party and counter-accusations of alleged anti-party activities of the governor and the state Executive of the party.
With this latest development, it appears calm will soon return to the murky political water of the party with the recent visit of Tinubu to douse the tension ahead of the 2020 governorship election in the state.
Sensing that the cracks within the rank and file of the party may bring an imminent danger for the party’s chances in the 2020 governorship election in the state, Tinubu urged the aggrieved and warring groups to sheath their swords.
Tinubu, who was accompanied to the state by the former Osun State Governor, Bisi Akande who was also former APC interim National Chairman, stressed that political crisis is not strange to party politics but it must be resolved in the overall interest of the party and the benefits of all members.
While emphasizing that the 2020 governorship election is crucial for the party’s victory, he enjoined the aggrieved leaders and members to close ranks and work towards the common goal of winning the election for the party.
Tinubu, who spoke at the Dome, Alagbaka, Akure, shortly after a meeting with APC stalwarts in Ijapo area of the state capital, said that “We are leaving one thing behind. The charity that must begin at home.
“We want to win the next election in Ondo State and every other election. The solution is in your hands. We want to thank you for your commitment to the party. We apply a conflict resolution mechanism which is part of politics to resolve any other problem and smoothen the edges.
“The next move is unity; talking together, consulting one another and working together for the interests of our party and in particular Ondo state.”
Also on the entourage of Tinubu, who was received at the Akure Airport by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, were the former governors of Ogun and Ekiti states, Segun Osoba and Niyi Adebayo, alongside other chieftains of the party in the South-West.
Prominent Ondo APC leaders at the meeting were Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, state Chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin, former chairman, Isaac Kekemeke, Olusola Oke, APC Board of Trustees, BoT member, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, Segun Abraham, among others.
Speaking with newsmen on what was discussed at the meeting, Chief Bisi Akande, said the APC leaders had resolved to mend the broken fences within the state chapter of the party and have been instructed to work together.
Akande said, “We talked about how we shall win next election resoundingly. You see all our leaders coming out together laughing and happy. We have our leaders in Ondo and we have told them to go and do their job and bring our party together as one.
“We shall also keep encouraging our leaders in Ondo state to do what we have agreed to which is unity at all level.”
The former Chairman of the party in the state, Hon. Isaacs Kekemeke, expressed satisfaction, saying all aggrieved members have agreed to sit down and find a solution to the party’s problem in the state.
“We have agreed that we will work together and we have agreed to find a domestic solution to address our domestic problem. So in a short while, we will be putting ourselves together and proffer domestic solution to our domestic problem as motivated and encouraged by our National leader.
“We have all agreed that we have offended ourselves and that the better thing to do is to forgive ourselves and make comprise the way forward and the most important thing is to build a platform and move the party forward.”
On his part, Chief Olusola Oke said the “leadership of the party in the South-West met with us to foster peace and unity and we have resolved on some fundamentals.
“We will meet again to pursue the fundamentals and when we finally resolve, we will brief them.”
However, before the crisis escalated to this present level, Akeredolu had been denying the fact that all is not well with the party in the state.
It will be recalled that when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Tinubu to reconcile aggrieved members of the party across the country, Akeredolu pointedly said since the chapter was peaceful, there was no need for the APC national leader, to come to the state.
Akeredol, who dropped the bombshell during his first Media Chat titled “An Evening with the Governor”, said the Ondo APC was waxing stronger in the state, adding that there were no factions to be reconciled by Tinubu.
According to him then, “All is well with APC. Why did I say so? We control 24 states and APC is in all the states of the federation. If you have one or two problems in one or two areas, it is not to say all is not well with APC.
“I will use the Ondo state as an example. There is stability in Ondo state. We don’t have problems. Some people may claim there is a problem in APC in Ondo state. But there is no problem.
“I am sure that the peacemaker, Bola Tinubu, that you said was chosen, will have no reason to come here because we are at peace with ourselves. We have a party. We have a chairman and the party is being run very well. We welcome people. We welcome everybody. Today, some people joined us. People have been joining us.
“Somebody like Olusola Oke left. But he has returned and I am sure in his second coming, he will stay for us longer. So many other people have returned. So many people have joined, at least, from PDP. So many people from the Labour Party and from other political parties.
“The party is growing and it is growing in a manner peacemaker we are happy about it that we have a solid party in the group.
“So, when there is no problem, you don’t need a peacemaker so that he will not come and create a problem.”
We don’t need the peacemaker. We are saying that we are at peace with ourselves. Let us run the party the way we have been running it.
But when the reality of the last general elections dawn on the party, some of its members attacked the governor, accusing of being vindictive and the architect of the disunity within Ondo Chapter of the party.
One of the chieftain of the APC in the state, Hon. Bola Ilori, who is an aide of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and Tinubu, alleged that the governor’s vengefulness caused the state chapter of the party trauma.
Ilori said, “The governor’s vindictive traits have aided disharmony within Ondo APC. It is strange for a man that has become governor for years to still begrudging on an intra-party primary that preceded his tenure”, he said.
Ilori recalled that the party’s Appeal Panel annulled the primary that produced Akeredolu due to glaring fraud and the National Working Committee of the party never agreed to the emergence of Akeredolu but those behind a conspiracy of that era submitted Akeredolu’s name to INEC and mobilized huge funds for his victory to become an “imposed” governor in Ondo.
“Some of us could not stand such shenanigan. We followed the party’s internal mechanism, but it was unilaterally terminated by then-National Chairman”, the Tinubu aide said.
“Subsequently, we left the party in the expression of our democratic rights on the platform of another party in the agitation against the clear injustice. We lost the election.
“It was well reported that some state government officials organized an attack on me at the venue of an official assignment in Akure. We were to go to court but some elders of the party, led by Chief Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Pius Akinyelure, intervened.
“They appealed to all aggrieved against the governorship election processes to drop all further agitation and return to the party and embrace unity. The governor thereafter organized a unity rally and I attended.
“Chief Olusola Oke has since been working hard for the success of the party and was the South-West Coordinator of the APC Presidential Campaign, while I, who was his Director-General in the AD, was the Chairman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (Field Operations) Door – Door Campaign throughout the country.
“Akeredolu’s anti-party activities would have been justifiable as a payback were it to be that his mischief was directed against Oke or Ilori, but neither of us was on the ballot but President Buhari and our National Assembly candidates. So, it was deliberate sabotage against the fortune of the party.
“I laugh at how, in his confusion and the desperate search for justification, he misguided himself with falsehood and hoped it will turn to the truth in an era of Google search engine. Let me put it on record; if Akeredolu and his associates are too lazy to Google, I was not holding any position in the party or government six months before and after the 2016 elections.
“And contrary to their claim that I was in Osun government while in AD, Osun had no cabinet for about 16 months at the time. So, dragging Aregbesola into their justification of treachery is not only based on falsehood but also pure mischief.
“I also wish to place on the record that, as the Director-General of the Alliance for Democracy campaigns in 2016, I don’t have any record of funding received from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola or Senator Ajayi Boroffice.
“I dare Akeredolu and his team to come up with such a fact. Let it be noted that neither Asiwaju Tinubu nor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola directed us to the AD nor funded the party. They did not campaign for the party to the best of my knowledge.
“If any of Akeredolu associates is in possession of substantive evidence against any of our leaders, let such fellow come forward with it or forever keep their peace.
“We as adults have rights to our independent actions and Asiwaju never encourages sycophancy. He promotes robust intellectual discourse and doesn’t see dissent as a crime, yet we hold him in high esteem”.
Meanwhile, in his reaction, the Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy to Governor Akeredolu, Dr. Doyin Odebowale, fired back at Ilori. Odebowale said they will not allow some people who want to govern the state by proxy.
Ostensibly, sensing that his second term ambition may be in jeopardy following the outburst of his Senior Special Assistant, SSA, Special Duties and Strategy, Dr. Doyin Odebowale, a peace meeting was hurriedly initiated between the governor and Tinubu
Expectedly, the governor and Tinubu met in Abuja, to smooth the rough edges of their disagreement before calling for the larger house.
The said peace meeting between Akeredolu and Tinubu then, came a week after the rumored suspension of the governor by the NWC for his role in the last general election which allegedly cost the APC the presidential election in the state.
Although there have been efforts by some of the governor’s aides to dissociate the peace moves from the governor’s reelection ambition come 2020, pundits opined that the then rapprochement was essential to the race.
At the meeting, it was gathered that both men expressed their grievances and resolved to work together in the overall interest of the party particularly in Ondo State.
Some of his aides said the first phase of the agreements was for “media aides to the parties to cease fire and maintain the peace.”
He said all the parties are interested in ending the feud and want peace to reign.
“As I speak with you, other meetings will be held in Ondo State, so that other players within the state would be actively involved in the peace moves,” he said.
That first reconciliatory meeting was said to have been initiated by a former APC national vice chairman South-west, Pius Akinyelure, who had made several attempts to bring the duo together.
However, there are strong signals that efforts of Tinubu and others to pacify aggrieved factions within the party, may not yield the desired result, unless something concrete and drastic is done to curb some of the big wigs followers who were hellbent of not working with Akeredolu again.
LEADERSHIP learned that most of the aggrieved members are still upset despite efforts to reconcile them by Tinubu. Some of them felt that the governor and the leadership of the party have neglected them for so too long in terms of political patronage.
They are of the opinion that, for Akeredolu to have treated them that way in his first term, his second term, if they allowed themselves to fooled again, will be brutal. Hence, the need to fight it to finish this time.
Presently, some aggrieved members of having insisted on the recent meeting in Akure between the National Leader and APC leaders in the state to resolve the crisis did not address the real problems.
One of the aggrieved members of the party, who spake on condition of anonymity, said that Tinubu and other leaders came to the state for personal reasons.
He said, “I don’t think Tinubu came to Ondo State to reconcile the warring factions, he came to reconcile with the leaders he has problems with. But obviously not to settle the Ondo crisis.
“At the meeting, Akeredolu was asked to expand his government to accommodate the aggrieved members and also to make the state executive of the party all-inclusive. What we want is for state executive to be dissolved and a caretaker committee put in place.
“If the two factions came up with certain terms for reconciliation but none of the terms was agreed upon at the meeting, so what are they reconciling? If they say the state exco should be all-inclusive, I say how does this work?”
Analysts, however, posited that, for the party to finally come out of a prolonged crisis as an indivisible house to win the 2020 governorship election in the state, APC national leadership still has a lot of work to do.
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