Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, on Saturday warned that the lingering rift between Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, and Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, may spell doom for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state during the 2019 general elections if the party’s national body failed to broker peace.
He gave the warning in his keynote address at the official unveiling of Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo (MBO) Dynamic Support Group at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan. The South West Zonal Office of the group was also commissioned at Mokola in Ibadan after the unveiling of the group.
But Ajimobi, the leadership of APC in the state and members of the executive council of the state were conspicuously absent at the event. Sunday Sun gathered that they, along with local government chairmen, instead went for a rally believed to have been convened by Ajimobi at the state secretariat of APC, Oke-Ado, Ibadan, probably to show on whose hand the control of the party rests between him and Shittu.
Dignitaries in attendance at the programme included Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole; former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani; Postmaster General of the Federation, Mr. Bisi Adegbuyi; National Coordinator, Muhammadu Buhari Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group, Usman Ibrahim; South West Zonal Coordinator of the organisation, Lateef Olawumi and Senator Ayo Akinyelure.
But Kalu, who said he was unhappy with the absence of the governor and the party executive at the programme organised by Shittu, who is the Chairman, Board of Trustees, MBO, emphasised the need for unity and why the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and President Muhammadu Buhari must urgently broker peace between the duo.
His words: “For us, we are preaching peace and unity. We are students, who say the truth. We are students, who are not afraid of telling people what we feel that is not right. Everybody in this hall will agree with us that there is a break in the communication between our governor and the minister. We don’t want that to continue.
“If anybody inside this house today (yesterday) in the University of Ibadan would say it is good for these two elephants to continue quarrelling, I and my senior brother, Senator Ken Nnamani, former senate president, would disagree that they should not be quarrelling. The minister and the governor should be the best of friends. And we are going to make that happen.
“We have already agreed with the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, with former senate president, that we are going to take it upon ourselves to the highest level of this party. If both of them are quarrelling, there will be no peace and progress in this state
“We are going to be fighting a very big party, a party that knows how to do it. We don’t want to lose any vote in Oyo State. We don’t want to lose one single sympathy here. I cannot understand. The minister is very close to me and the governor is very close to me. They are also very close to Ken Nnamani.
“We came here to honour both of them. I am slightly not very happy with what I have seen here that the governor is not here, the party officials are not here, the commissioners are not here, that will make APC what it is supposed to be here. They are not here.
“I am not a man that you’ll keep inside a room, and ask not to say the truth. Everybody knows that even what people are afraid to say, I will say it because it is only the truth that can set us free. When you leave the truth, we will suffer.
“I have spoken to the Minister of Communication, I told him I wasn’t very happy. Immediately I came, both the Minister of Health and former senate president whispered to me that the governor was not here.
I said the governor is going to Lagos this aftetnoon. This is what the Chief of Staff told my aide. I said after this programme, I will go and drink water with him. It is not good. We must preach unity in this party. If there is no unity in this party, we are going nowhere. Unity is very important.
“We must tell our national chairman, we must tell the president, we must tell the vice president. It is germane to solve this problem because these are two giants that are fighting. When two giants are fighting, the grass will suffer. We don’t want the grass to continue suffering. We need the grass to feed our cows, we need the grass to eat as vegetable. We don’t need the grass to suffer. We need the grass to grow. So, both of them must be able to be good friends.
“I don’t care if I finish this and Minister Shittu will tell me not to come to his house again, and not to greet him again, I will be satisfied. If I finish this speech and the governor says ‘you are a very useless person’, I will also be satisfied. The most important thing is that Senator Nnamani and I have said the truth, and the truth cannot be hidden.”
On the commissioning of the South west campaign office for Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Kalu said: “We stand with Buhari and Osinbajo. We are also waiting for them to tell us they are going to run,” adding that Buhari deserves second term in office “if he so wishes.”