Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
There seems to be no end in sight in the crisis rocking the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) despite efforts made by the leadership of the party at the national level to reconcile all warring members of the party.
Not even the peace and reconciliatory committee set up by the leadership of the party and headed by the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has reached a truce with the warring factions of the party in the state.
Although Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who is the leader of the party in the state had said that the Tinubu’s committee would not have any job to do in the state as there was no crisis within the party in the state, recent happenings in the state appears to indicate that the governor was being economical with the truth.
With the unfolding developments within the APC in the state, there is no gainsaying the fact that the house of the APC is already divided and the centre can no longer hold. The party, it was gathered is embroiled in “serious internal crisis.” No thanks to the national leadership of the party.
The crisis rocking the party took a dangerous dimension recently during the state congress of the party held in two different locations within the state as a faction of the party loyal to the
State governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu allegedly sponsored thugs said to be members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to attack the faction allegedly sponsored by the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Tinubu.
The crisis in the party, it would be recalled started during the last governorship primary which produced Governor Akeredolu as the flag bearer of the party against the wish of Tinubu who allegedly sponsored Dr. Segun Abraham, who eventually came second in the contest.
The outcome of the governorship primary also led to the defection of Chief Olusola Oke from the APC to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) with notable members of the party including the Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration, Mr. Bola Ilori who later served as the Director General of Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation.
However, Oke in February this year returned to the APC, while Abraham who came second in the governorship primary went to court to seek redress on the emergence of Akeredolu as the party’s candidate.
Abraham’s case which is currently before the Supreme Court often generates tension in the state as there were records of fracas between Akeredolu and Abraham’s supporters, especially after court sittings.
Since the emergence of Akeredolu as the party’s candidate, the APC in Ondo State has been polarised with two persons: Mr Ade Adetimehin and Isaac Kekemeke claiming to be the state chairman of the party.
Mr. Kekemeke was frustrated out of office after Akeredolu emerged the governor of the state as he (Kekemeke) was alleged to have worked for Abraham during the party’s primary and also worked for Oke of the AD during the main election.
Kekemeke’s deputy, Mr Ade Adetimehin was subsequently appointed the acting chairman of the party, and no sooner had he assumed office than he announced the suspension of his former boss (Kekemeke) for alleged anti party activities.
Not done, Adetimehin also expelled some individuals, most of who were loyalists of Kekemeke, Abraham and Oke from the party for allegedly failing to appear before the party’s disciplinary committee set up to investigate allegations of anti party activities against them.
The internal crisis in the party became significant and got out of hand when both Kekemeke and Adetimehin announced that they are both authentic chairmen of the party in the state and at different times presided over meetings of party stakeholders.
While Akeredolu and his deputy, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, members of the state executive council and those of the state House of Assembly are behind Adetimehin, members of the National Assembly from the state, especially Senator Ajayi Boroffice and Baderinwa and Osun State commissioner for Regional Integration, Mr. Ilori are with Kekemeke. Prominent members of the Kekemeke- led faction of the party also include a lawmaker representing Akure federal constituency.
It was alleged that the Kekemeke’s faction is being sponsored by Tinubu; while Adetimehin’s faction is sponsored by Akeredolu and that it also enjoys the backing of the party’s national chairman, Chief John Oyegun.
The crisis however took a different dimension when recently some members of the Kekemeke faction who converged on BTO hall, Akure for the parallel state congress of the party were attacked by political thugs allegedly sponsored by the Akeredolu’s faction.
Journalists and other innocent people were not spared in the attack as many of them including Bamigbola Gbolagunte of The Sun, Damisi Ojo of The Nation and James Sowole of ThisDay were beaten to pulp.
The attack, notwithstanding, the faction went ahead with the parallel congress which eventually produced factional leaders for the APC in the state, just as the Akeredolu’s faction also produced leaders said to be authentic, being the congress attended by national officers of the party from the party’s national secretariat.
Speaking on the ugly developments within the party, Senator Boroffice said he had made several attempts to reconcile with Governor Akeredolu but to no avail, adding that “I hold no personal grudge against Akeredolu. I am a loyal party man but the governor had denied me the opportunity to make peace with him. He said it openly that I am not an APC Senator. These are insults too many to bear.”
He further said “violence has returned to the state unlike before. We now witness violent clash almost every day since Governor Rotimi Akeredolu took over the affairs of the state. This is unfortunate and those sponsoring violence in the state must be called to order in the interest of peace.”
However, he assured that “days of impunity and tyranny are numbered in Ondo State. Peace will soon return to the state by the grace of God. Those who believe in thuggery will soon leave and men of peace will take over the reins of government. Very soon, Journalists will be able to operate freely in Ondo State without hindrance or attack from any quarter,” Senator Boroffice added.
Also speaking, the Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration who is a factional leader of the party in Ondo State, Mr. Bola Ilori stated that his faction has majority of members of the party in the state, alleging that the national chairman of the party; Chief John
Oyegun and Governor Akeredolu were behind the crisis in the party.
He said “the plan of Oyegun was to weaken the party that some of us struggled to build. He is using his protégé in Ondo State in the person of Governor Akeredolu to achieve his aim, and we all knew the support Oyegun gave him during the last primary election. So, Akeredolu has seen this moment as a payback time for Oyegun.”
According to him “Oyegun and Akeredolu want to destroy the party which we built, because of his selfish and greedy attitude. We are sure their plans will not see the light of the day. President Muhammadu Buhari had already confided in some party leaders that he is interested in Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the next national chairman of the APC.”
Also, the lawmaker representing Ifedore/Idanre federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Baderinwa Bamidele who was one of the APC leaders attacked during the parallel congress of the party, threatened that his faction will also launch an attack against the
“This is the beginning of war in Ondo APC. Akeredolu has again demonstrated that he is not a tolerant politician. He is not even a politician and he has shown this again. He is too cowardice, hence his decision to sponsor thugs to disperse our people during our congress, knowing full well that we are more than his faction,” he said.
He added that “we will retaliate at the appropriate time. This impunity cannot continue in our state. This is a height of impunity by a corrupt person. He connived with Oyegun to get the party’s ticket and now he wants to help Oyegun to ensure the elongation of his tenure. There cannot be an end to crisis in Ondo APC as long as Akeredolu is interested in a group and Oyegun is backing them without fairness.”
Bamidele noted that the crisis in the party can no longer be resolved amicably, saying “the crisis in Ondo APC has gone out of hands and there is no way it can be settled other than to choose new leaders, and this we had done being the authentic faction.”
But, Adetimehin dissociated his faction from the attack on some factional leaders of the party, just as he declared that he was the authentic chairman of the party in the state, saying that the parallel congress of the Kekemeke’s faction was not known to the national secretariat of the party.
He said “we shall continue to extend hands of fellowship to all the aggrieved members. We will not relent in efforts to bring them to the main stream of the party. There are efforts made to reconcile us and we shall continue to make efforts till peace returns to the party.”
From all indications, it is evident that the APC crisis in Ondo State is far from being over as the two factions are itching to carry the political war further.