For supporting Olusegun Abrahams against Rotimi Akeredolu, who later clinched the All Progressives Congress’ ticket tâ€Žo win the Ondo governorship election, the party’s state chairman, Isaac Kekemeke, has been unceremoniously removed from office, writes James Sowole
The relative peace being enjoyed by the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) since the crisis that broke out during the preparation for the September 3, 2016 governorship primary of the party was broken recently when the State Executive Council of the party passed a vote of no confidence on the Chairman, Hon Isaacs Kekemeke for allegedly deserting the party.
Kekemekeâ€™s problems with the party executive started with the endorsement of one of the aspirants, Mr Olusegun Abraham by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who directed him (Kekemeke) to work with other executive members to ensure that Abraham was returned as the partyâ€™s flag bearer.
The endorsement, which did not go down well with other aspirants especially Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, who later emerged the party’s flag bearer and winner of the governorship election, nearly tore the party apart but for the timely intervention of the national exco of the party.
Many party loyalists were irked by Tinubu’s decision to impose Abraham.
The emergence of Akeredolu as the partyâ€™s standard bearer further deflated the ego of the partyâ€™s chairman as he almost became an outcast in the party. However, after series of meeting, he agreed to be part of the campaign train of Akeredolu though some party leaders doubted his commitment.
When Akeredolu eventually won the governorship election held on November 26, 2015, everybody knew that time was running out for Kekemeke as far as his position as the Ondo State APC chairman was concerned. On the other hand, Kekemekeâ€™s deputy, Mr Ade Adetimehin, a die-hard supporter of Akeredolu became the toast of party members as he became visible at all party and government functions unlike his chairman.
Despite the fact that the chairman was no longer popular among party leaders and members, removing him from office was very difficult in view of the provisions of the partyâ€™s constitution.
But on June 1st, the party’s executive council announced that a vote of no confidence had been passed against the chairman.
The action of the exco was announced in a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Abayomi Adesanya. The statement accused Kekemeke of neglecting his responsibilities as the chairman of the party.
The statement said: “The State Executive Committee of the APC in Ondo State, on this day, June 1st, 2017, unanimously passed a vote of no confidence on the state chairman, Hon. Isaacs Kekemeke.
“The action became imperative for failing to discharge his responsibilities, neglect and dereliction of duty, among other offences.
“This is in compliance with Article 21(D)(vi), of the constitution of the APC, (October 2014 as amended).”
While empowering the deputy chairman, Ade Adetimehin, who many party members referred to as “Jagaban of Ondo Politicsâ€ to act as the acting chairman, a three-man fact-finding committee was set up to investigate Kekemeke.
The fact-finding committee has Adesanya as the chairman, Saka Yusuff as the Secretary while Rasheed Badmus as a member.
Reacting swiftly to the action, Kekemeke described the vote of no confidence passed on him as scandalous and irritating insisting that he remained the unshakable elected state chairman of the party.
â€œThis scandalous and irritating move prompted by a promise of pot of porridge for the action by a segment of party executive, though not unexpected, beats the imagination of many reasonable party people.
â€œSincerely I wish I did not have to react to this remote-controlled, illegal and morally reprehensible conduct of some rancorous elements in the State executive, who had on many occasions traveled this ignoble path without successâ€™â€™, Kekemeke said.
Not stopping at that level, the embattled chairman, petitioned the Commissioner of Police for the Ondo State Command, Mrs Hilda Ibuforo- Harrison.
In the petition, Kekemeke alleged that three members of the party namely Abayomi Adesanya, Saka Yusuff Ogunleye and Rasheed Badmus forcefully took over the secretariat and chased out the staff of the secretariat.
He described the alleged invasion of the party secretariat by the trio and some other thugs as criminal, illegal and unlawful, urging security operatives in the state to investigate the involvement of the three party members in the incident.
“The trio invited the secretariat staff headed by the administrative secretary and forcefully disposed him of the keys to the party secretariat and chased the staff out of office, locked it up and took the keys away
“This is patently unlawful, criminal and illegal as the state secretary of our party is the constitutionally empowered custodian of the party secretaria.”, he said.
He said the petition became imperative because of the antecedent of the three party members involved in the invasion of the party office.
“I have reasons to fear that these persons want to loot the office, particularly the computer sets, generating sets, motorcycles and other valuables items of the party.
“Their intention was to remove and alter documents particularly those indicting Saka Yusuff Ogunleye and Ade Adetimehin as working for the PDP and SDP respectively during the National Assembly electionâ€, he said.
However, Adesanya said there was no iota of truth in Kekemeke’s allegation but said the embattled chairman was “crying wolf where there was none and raising a false alarm.”
He said the state’s executive empowered his committee to investigate Kekemeke and said it would be better for the chairman to appear before the party rather than hiding under one finger.
He said “this is a family affair and we are not out to crucify Kekemeke but he should come forward to explain his side of the story and I am assuring him the committee will not be partial and will be fair to him.”
Compounding Kekemekeâ€™s problem, party chairmen of the 18 local government areas of the state were said to have backed his removal at a news briefing addressed by the Chairman of Akoko South West, Mr Daudu Bolakale.
He said “it became necessary for Kekemeke to step down as Ondo State Chairman because he has committed the following offences ranging from gross abuse of office, financial impropriety, neglect and dereliction of duty and other anti- party activities.
In the battle to save his office, Kekemeke petitioned the South West Zonal Committee of the party calling the attention of the zone to what he described as the extremely dangerous; most unconscionable and unconstitutional actions of some members of the state exco.
He said that no meeting of the exco was ever called by either the chairman or the State Working Committee; neither was there a complaint nor petition by any member against him or any other officer to necessitate the invoking of the disciplinary procedure as provided for by Artticle 21(B) of the party’s constitution,
Kekemeke alleged that the state governor, was the one behind the whole drama.
â€œClearly; this song with its familiar and cacophonic tune was scripted by Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu; Governor of Ondo State; who has refused to break-away from the bitterness and vestige of the Ondo State APC gubernatorial primary election; and has therefore deployed state machinery to vilify perceived enemies; resulting in this latest choreography with a macabre sense of humour.
“We are however baffled that such a respected and respectable organ of our party created by the constitution for noble ends, could be wrongly and maliciously appropriated by a few misguided and unqualified elements without regards to the clear constitutional requirements of the mode and composition of that organ.
â€œAnd most shockingly; with the active connivance of the state governor, who ought to know better; but is only bent on re-enacting his position immediately before the Ondo State APC gubernatorial primary election. We are quick to draw your attention to this ongoing political experiment because of the danger it poses to the health of our party in the state, zone and nation at large”, Zone and Nation at largeâ€, Kekemeke added.
The allegation that Akeredolu was the one that orchestrated the action of the executive members was vehemently denied by the his Senior Special Assistant, Special Duties and Strategies, Dr Doyin Odebowale,
The governorâ€™s aide, who punctured Kekemekeâ€™s position that the meeting where he was suspended was an illegal and fraudulent one, said Akeredolu was not connected remotely or otherwise in the whole matter.
He said: “In as much as we can assert that the governor is not connected remotely or otherwise with the present development in respect of the chairmanship of the party in Ondo State, we posit that no process could have been more legal than the meeting which determined Kekemekeâ€™s queer leadership.
â€œIt is verifiable that majority of the executive members attended the meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed on him. The proceeding was said to have been recorded in full. There was nothing secretive about it.
â€œAll those who attended the meeting are well known party members. Therefore, the laughable claim by Mr Kekemeke that he had been informed through phantom calls and visits by men and women of his like, should be seen as the plaintive cry of a man whose influence has waned as due recompense for non-perfomance.
â€œA true democrat would have resigned as the chairman of any political party, let alone the ruling platform which dislodged powerful political groups without him. His continued stay, after the resounding rejection of his lack luster leadership, depicts him as deluded and withdrawn from reality. He cuts a pitiable picture with this latest assault on logic and decency.”
He described Kekemeke as a general without troops.
“If a supposed leader of a ruling party does not attend meetings, party functions and appears to be collaborating with antagonistic and extraneous interests, actively, decency demands that he should quit his pretense. True democrats respect the will of the majority. Only deluded potentates think and act otherwiseâ€, Odebowale stated.
However, THISDAY gathered that the suspension of Kekemeke was to pave way for Akeredolu to constitute his cabinet.
Kekemekeâ€™s problems with the party executive started with the endorsement of one of the aspirants, Mr Olusegun Abraham by the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who directed him (Kekemeke) to work with other executive members to ensure that Abrahams was returned as the party’s flagbearer.