With the governorship election in Ondo State fast approaching, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is still grappling with crisis. The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, is still at loggerheads with the leadership of the party, spearheaded by National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinibu.
Already, arrangements have reportedly been concluded among the leaders of the party to shop for a new governorship flagbearer, ahead of the 2020 gubernatorial poll.
Investigations revealed that all overtures made to Tinubu by Akeredolu for re-consideration had yielded no result.
Akeredolu had reportedly sent many emissaries to Tinubu and the national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, but the duo had only sneered at him, it was gathered.
A source within the party, however, revealed that the embattled governor was considering dusting up his ‘Plan B’. The plan involves dumping the ruling party and pitching his tent with an alternative political party, the Action Alliance, AA, to realise his second term ambition.
Issues Against Akeredolu
Impeccable sources within the party revealed that when Tinubu and other leaders of the APC visited Ondo State recently to broker truce between the governor and some aggrieved party members, the team also held a secret meeting with his loyalists within the party, before returning to Lagos.
According to a source who did not want his name mentioned, the meeting with the anti-Akeredolu faction of the party was held at a popular hotel in the uphill area of Alagbaka, Akure.
“The meeting, which was attended by all the Tinubu boys in Ondo APC was convened with a view to shopping for a new governorship candidate ahead of the 2020 election, because we reckoned that our loss in the last presidential and National Assembly elections, was a precursor for what will happen at the governorship level.
“We also believed that the loss was caused by the governor, who is perpetually at war with many party leaders, making the opposition PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) to reap from the wide cracks on the wall of the party.
“Also at that meeting, a new pressure group-the Change Agent Foundation International, CAFI, was introduced to party members and the group’s mandate is to propagate Akeredolu O To Ge (Akeredolu, Enough is Enough) tantrum,” the source revealed.
The CAFI’s Mandate
Only recently, CAFI, an offshoot of the Mandate Group of the APC that campaigned against a second term for former Governor Akinwumi Ambode in Lagos, was launched in Akure, the state capital, amid pomp.
The group is being led by a Lagos politician and security expert, Mr. Dipo Okeyomi, who is an indigene of Ondo State.
Okeyomi had told The Nigerian Xpress during the launch that “we are determined to show Akeredolu the exit door in next year’s primary election of the APC because we can’t afford to lose the state to the opposition like it happened in the last general election.”
He particularly accused the governor of anti-party activities, alleging that the governor abandoned APC candidates and openly campaigned for those of AA during the last National Assembly election.
However, if Okeyomi’s allegation is right, it might not have been unconnected with the fact that most of the governor’s preferred candidates lost out in their bid to pick the party’s ticket.
How Tinubu, Akeredolu’s Rift Began
Another source also revealed that the perceived disaffection between Tinubu and Akeredolu is ingrained, dating to 2012, when the former supported the latter to contest against Governor Olusegun Mimiko.
Tinubu was then said to be distraught with Mimiko whom he had assisted in the legal battle to reclaim his mandate at the courts, from Governor Olusegun Agagu, who is now late.
Mimiko, sources recalled, after securing the mandate, tactically dumped Tinubu, thus setting the tone for a political ‘warfare’ that saw Tinubu supporting Akeredolu to take a shot at the governorship seat.
The source said: “Tinubu then failed to realise that Akeredolu and Mimiko are childhood friends; the type that existed between Biblical Jonathan and David, and will never betray each other.
“So, as Akeredolu was campaigning against Mimiko in day time, they were eating pounded yam together at night.”
The source added that Tinubu later realised this and possibly rationalised it as the reason for Mimiko’s second term victory, deeming Akeredolu to have faked commitment to his own governorship ambition.
That scenario was widely believed as responsible for Tinubu’s refusal to back Akeredolu in 2016, pitching his tent, instead, with another contestant, Mr. Segun Abraham.
But Akeredolu, with strong supports from politicians at the national level of the APC, won the primary election, and eventually triumphed at the governorship poll.
The clash, inside sources further said, worsened thereafter, and that it claimed a major casualty in the state’s party chairman, Mr. Isaacs Kekemeke, a strong Tinubu loyalist, who was shoved out of the position.
Akeredolu, it was gathered, soon consolidated his grounds in the state, with the emergence of his supporters in key organs of the party, and of government.
‘Governor Not At War With Anybody’
Meanwhile, in a recent chat with our correspondent, the Ondo State chairman of the APC, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, denied that there was any rift between Tinubu and Akeredolu, stressing that disagreements among some members of the APC are normal in politics.
“If there had been a disagreement between Asiwaju and Mr. Governor, would the latter have paid him frequent visits? So it is normal for disagreements to happen in politics and they will be resolved.
“In Ondo State, for instance, those who are complaining are those who failed to secure political appointments and we have told them to be patient, that at one point or the other, the thing will go round. We have visited these people and we thank God, they are showing understanding.
“No matter what, you can’ accuse the governor of not performing, as we can see the various infrastructural achievements recorded in the state in only three years. This, I think, is the most crucial thing in governance,” Adetimehin said.
Three Gladiators Emerge
Meanwhile, two gladiators have reportedly signified interest in the Tinubu camp of the Ondo APC, to fly the party’s flag in the 2020 governorship election, top sources informed at the weekend.
They are Mr Olusola Oke, a seasoned lawyer and governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy in the 2016 Ondo governorship election; and Kekemeke, who lost the chairmanship position of the party as a fallout of his brush with Akeredolu.
If any of these candidates is to be picked, it thus means the party is considering shifting power to Ondo South Senatorial District. The last governor from the district was the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu.
Yet, another source within the party claimed Tinubu has a joker in the person of Mr. Tope Fasua, the presidential candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, ANRP, in the last general election.
Fasua hails from Akure, in the Central Senatorial District, same district that produced former Governor Mimiko, who is from Ondo town. Akeredolu, the incumbent governor is from Owo in Ondo North Senatorial District, and same Owo produced the late Chief Adekunle Ajasin, the first Executive Governor of the state.
“But what I can confirm is that, if Fasua from Akure is not picked, he looks good to become a running mate to either Oke or Kekemeke,” the source disclosed.