• Professionals endorse Akeredolu, seek free and fair election
Abimbola Akosile in Lagos and James Sowole in Akure
As controversies trail the alleged endorsement of an All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirant by a National Leader ahead of the August 31 primary of the party in Ondo State, a contestant for the party ticket yesterday alleged that his colleagues who were not sure of their chances had kidnapped some delegates.
An aspirant, Dr. Olusegun Abraham, levelled the allegation while featuring on a live programme of a private radio station in Akure, Ondo State. Abraham said those aspirants who knew that they would lose the primary election out of their desperation invited some delegates to a meeting but later held them hostage.
“These delegates who never knew the intention of the desperate aspirants went for the meeting but only to be confined and never allowed to go home”, he said.
Apparently referring to the comments of another aspirant, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, against the National Leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu, Abraham described the former’s comment as unfortunate and an ungrateful act.
Akeredolu had in a live radio programme, asserted that it was not Tinubu that made him the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate in 2012 and that Tinubu had lost his national leadership of the party by endorsing an aspirant ahead of the forthcoming APC primary.
Abraham described the statement as an act of disrespect to one’s helper highlighting all that Tinubu did for Akeredolu.
“Without our National Leader, President Buhammadu Buhari would not have won the ticket of the APC in 2015 and he would not have become the president of Nigeria. The National Leader was being accused of imposing me, I was not imposed. Endorsement is different from imposition. Those who regarded the two as the same did not know what they were saying. Abraham, who said he had used all he can for the CAN candidate in 2012 election, said he expected that he would enjoy the same treatment from other aspirants now that he had been endorsed.
He said it was not right for aspirants to make appointment into political positions a campaign issue, saying what one would do to turn the state around is what should be paramount. He advised the delegates to be careful of empty promises so they are not disappointed.
Meanwhile, a group, Ondo Concerned Professionals, has called on the leadership of the APC to ensure that the up-coming governorship primary in the state is free, fair and credible. It has also endorsed one of the aspirants, Rotimi Akeredolu, as a credible hand that can restore the fortunes of the state.
In a statement issued at the weekend, the group reviewed recent developments within the party and the challenge they posed to the future of the party, democracy and development of the state as it reiterated the need for justice and fair play in the election process. The statement signed by the group’s Secretary General, Mr. Francis Olagbuji, noted that politics was not without contending interests but that the onus was on the leadership to provide a level playing field where the delegates could be allowed to express themselves through the ballot without recourse to “undue influence”.
According to the group, the impending election should help to reaffirm “equity and tradition”, saying that the arrangement that had existed over time in the selection of candidates as regards zoning among the three senatorial districts should prevail.
Following this tradition, Olagbuji said, the mantle of leadership now falls within the North-central and accordingly endorsed former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Akeredolu ((SAN) as the man to beat.
In the endorsement, the group noted Akeredolu’s intellectual and professional stature as well as his pedigree and capacity not only to win in the general election but also deliver on the manifesto of the APC.
Also, the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate in Ondo state, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) has promised what he described as a friendly tax regime if elected as governor. He said people will be charged small amount as tax to encourage positive response.
Fielding question from newsmen in Akure the Ondo state capital at the weekend, Jegede said the time is indeed challenging economically, adding that his government would adopt a friendly measure to make people pay their dues to encourage government serve them well.
The gubernatorial hopeful while admitting that the time is challenging, offered that extraordinary measures would be taken by his government to ensure the people perform their civic obligation of regularly paying their tax.
“To tax people is not an easy task. But then if NURTW and Okada riders can collect money and you see them, drivers having jeeps with ‘Tokyo One’ as the number or ‘Okada One’ in a jeep and I’ve seen them, it is because they have a little bit friendly way of collecting taxes, friendly in the sense that the money they pay is small, and they also have effective ways of enforcing because they have people who are enforcers.”
He further explained that the mention of enforcers may not go down well with the people but the friendliness will go down well with them.
“My position is that, make the tax minimal so that it can be a little bit friendly. And you don’t have to wait to collect taxes once in a year; you can do it every month, you can do it every quarter, and you can make it as small as possible to encourage positive response”, he added.
He said Ondo as a civil service state, will disconnect financially from the centre. “It will take some time but it can be done and an industrial base will also be created in the southern belt especially with the Omotosho power plant that will ensure power supply to the area,” he said.