From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The chances of winning the 2019 general election in Ondo State by the All Progressives Congress (APC) is daily being threatened by the current prevailing political circumstances in the state.
No thanks to the rift between the national chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole and the governor of the state, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
Both Oshiomhole and Akeredolu have been at loggerheads since the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party gave automatic tickets to the three senators representing the state at the National Assembly; Ajayi Borofice (Ondo North), Yele Omogunwa (Ondo South) and Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo Central).
Before the emergence of Oshiomhole, Akeredolu was considered to be one of the confidants of President Muhammadu Buhari and a close ally of the former National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, while he was said to be one of those against the national leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
However, when the pendulum swings to the side of Tinubu, being the man behind the emergence of Oshiomhole, it was believed that the loyalty of Akeredolu to the party leadership was affected. This perhaps may be the reason the candidates of Akeredolu lost the senatorial tickets, as it was rumoured that Tinubu allegedly worked to ensure that Boroffice got the party’s ticket against the wish of Governor Akeredolu.
The development did not go down well with Akeredolu and the State Working Committee of the party under the leadership of the party’s chairman in the state, Mr. Ade Adetimehin who also mobilised against the decision of the NWC of the party, claiming that the leadership of the party in the state was not aware of the process that led to the emergence of the three candidates.
According to him, there was no primary election in the party and the leadership of the party at the state level was not carried along in the decision taken by the Oshiomhole-led NWC. This development however led to serious crisis within the state chapter of the party, as some
members threatened to dump the party and after few days many of them made good their threats, while some were persuaded and remain in the party, though with little or no contribution to the activities of the party.
The development appears to be posing a strong challenge to the chances of the party in the next year’s general election, especially National Assembly and Presidential elections, as many members of the party have defected to other political parties. This is even as a good number of APC members in the state have continued to maintain a low key in the activities of the party in the recent times.
Also, many members of the party have continued to protest against the decision of the party’s NWC and called for a reverse, failure of which they threatened that the party would lose the forthcoming elections in the state.
A strong member of the party who was also a senatorial aspirant in Ondo North senatorial district, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, has dumped the ruling party for the Action Alliance (AA), hinging his decision on the imposition of Boroffice on the party by Oshiomhole and vowed to ensure that APC loses the senatorial district.
Abayomi, who is a human rights activist and a close friend of Governor Akeredolu was appointed the chairman, Governing Council of the state owned Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba- Akoko by Akeredolu and it was the belief of many resident of the state, especially political observers, that his decision to quit the APC had the blessing of Governor Akeredolu, an indication that the APC has not only been divided but also on the verge of losing the state in the future elections.
He said “it is never the leaders who at any rate are expected to be chosen by the people that impose candidates in democracy. This is why the constitution of APC defines candidate as ‘any person who has been nominated at a primary or party election to contest at a general election.’ Nomination for elections is always the prerogative of the electors or the people. It is not that of the leaders, the APC Constitution in section 20 provides two types of primary elections for the nomination of candidates for Senate. I regret to inform you that the present leadership of APC at the national level has decided to take away your right to nominate candidates as well as my right to be nominated by its unlawful act.
“In keeping with long standing determination to fight for my right and your right, I will run for Senate in Ondo North Senatorial Zone on the platform of Action Alliance since the national leadership of APC under Adams Oshiomhole has unconstitutionally blocked my chance by forcing its candidates on us all. My decision to make a detour this time has been difficult. In spite of the many challenges we faced together I have not retreated. I have not equivocated. I have not moved an inch because there was always a chance at redemption,” he added.
Abayomi who blamed Oshiomhole for the crisis in many state chapters of the party, alleged that Oshiomhole violated the constitution of the APC by allegedly imposing Borrofice on the members of the party, claiming that imposition was a fundamental sin and an unforgivable sin against democracy.
He declared that he was supposed to be the standard bearer of the APC for the senatorial election having won the party’s primary election, which according to him was supervised by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders in election matters. He also lamented that APC lacks internal democracy as exemplified in the emergence of Boroffice and other senatorial candidates of the party in the state.
He said “the constitution of the APC forbids automatic ticket. The transgressions of APC under Oshiomhole with regards to the APC constitution arise from his failure to show us the primary that produced the senatorial candidate he submitted to INEC from Ondo North senatorial district. The APC national chairman and his NWC have become notorious for false claims, wrong assumption of power and unconstitutional attitudes. They have become unregulated government over the members of the party. They have become government of persons and not government of the law.
“I have read and re-read the APC constitution and I can say that there is nowhere in the constitution where the NWC is empowered to take all the unlawful decisions characteristic of Oshiomhole’s reign of error and terror. Therefore, I will not relent in demanding immediate remedy that conforms to the constitution of Nigeria and that of the APC. That remedy is that I must be declared the candidate of the APC in Ondo North senatorial district because I won the party’s primary election,” he added.
In another development, over 200 youths who are registered members of the APC in Ondo State had twice protested against the automatic tickets given to the three senators representing the state.
Describing the action of the NWC as imposition, the protesters who marched from the APC state secretariat on Oyemekun road to the Governor’s office, said the alleged imposition could spell doom for the party in the 2019 elections.
The protesters, led by the youth leader of the party in the state, Babalayo Olutayo, slammed the national leadership of the party for not creating a level playing ground for all aspirants.
Babalayo said “we are saying no to imposition, we are saying no to automatic ticket for any aspirant. There must be a room for everybody to be accommodated. We don’t want criminality and impunity in our party. We ask for change and this is not the change we asked for. When Adams Oshiomhole took over the leadership from John-Odigwe Oyegun, we thought everything will change for good but things have gone worse. Oshiomhole has not really helped us.
“The APC constitution, article 20 states clearly that party primary must hold through direct, indirect or consensus. There is no room for automatic ticket in our constitution and we want to know how the leadership came about the automatic ticket.
“Youths of Ondo State are clamouring now that we don’t want automatic ticket for any aspirant. The leadership should allow everybody to contest; Ondo State is not a place Oshiomhole can use as testing ground. Oshiomhole has betrayed us, the majority have said no to the minority because power belongs to everybody. We are coming to organise more rallies against this across the state, we are also using this medium to send a signal to Senator Ajayi Boroffice that if he cannot work together with those in the party, he should go to another party because political parties are many in Nigeria. The majority will not leave the party for minority, Boroffice belongs to minority,” he added.
However, Governor Akeredolu declared that he has nothing against Oshiomhole, saying that all allegations leveled against him regarding Oshiomhole are figment of imaginations of those sponsoring them, as he remains a loyal and faithful party man.
He said the allegation that he was planning alongside other governors to remove Oshiomhole was a wicked lie concocted to cause confusion in the APC, stressing that he would remain in APC regardless of what happens within the party.
Governor Akeredolu who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Segun Ajiboye said “it is surprising that anybody would come up with such allegation without any form of proof. I challenge these people to come forward with proof of their allegations. It is, however, important for these people to know that Governor Akeredolu is too busy with state matters and working to develop the state for him to be bothered by spurious allegations such as this.
“They are political jobbers whose stock in trade is to seek the attention of political office holders. Therefore, you will agree with me that the only motivation for them is to get the attention of those in office. However, as a loyal party man, the governor is working and will continue to work for the progress of the party and do anything that will ensure that the All Progressives Congress continues to win elections at all levels in the country,” he added.
He declared that the APC will win all the elections to be conducted in February and March and other elections in the future, adding that there are arrangements to woo aggrieved members including those who have defected to other parties back to the fold before the elections.