Political allies of the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu have regrouped in Ondo State with the purpose of truncating the re-election of the state governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu in 2020, THISDAY has learnt.
With the re-alignment of political forces, the peace accord, which former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba and former APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande brokered between Akeredolu and some aggrieved members, might have collapsed.
Some leaders of Ondo APC anonymously spoke with THISDAY at the weekend, ascribing the rift in Ondo APC “is tied to personality clash between the APC national leader and Akeredolu as well as the latter’s anti-party activities during the last elections.”
One of the leaders claimed that shortly after Osoba, Akande and other APC leaders resolved the rift between Akeredolu and aggrieved party members, Tinubu and his political allies in the state held a secret meeting before returning to Lagos.
The source added that the meeting with the anti-Akeredolu faction was held at a popular hotel in the uphill area of Alagbaka, Akure.The meeting, which was attended by all political associates of the APC leader in Ondo State was convened with a view to shopping for a new governorship candidate ahead of the 2020 election.
At the meeting, the source noted that the leaders of the anti-Akeredolu faction critically reviewed the last presidential and National Assembly elections, concluding that Akeredolu’s anti-party activities contributed to the defeat of the APC in the state to greater extent.
Another party source at the meeting revealed that Tinubu’s political associates warned against nominating Akeredolu in 2020 on the ground that the defeat the APC suffered during the last presidential and National Assembly elections in the state “is a precursor for what will happen at the governorship level.
“We also believed that Akeredolu was responsible for the defeat of the APC in the state. The governor is perpetually at war with many party leaders, thereby giving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) undue advantage during the last elections.
Also at that meeting, the source added that a new pressure group-the Change Agent Foundation international (CAFI) was introduced to party members, noting that the core mandate of the CAFI “is to kick-state O To Ge campaign in Ondo state,” a similitude of political campaign that brought down the political dynasty of Dr. Bukola Saraki in Kwara State.
Only recently, CAFI, an offshoot of the Mandate Movement, a powerful political group that campaigned against the second term for former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos, was unveiled in Akure, the state capital, amid pomp and circumstance.
At the unveiling, the leader of CAFI, Mr. Dipo Okeyomi said: “We are determined to show Akeredolu the exit door in the 2020 governorship preliminary election of the APC because we cannot afford to lose the state to the opposition like it happened in the last general election.”
Okeyomi alleged that apart from engaging in anti-party activities, Akeredolu had become “too controversial, having taken on too many politicians in one form of quarrel or the other. The governor is too controversial to lead the APC to victory in the next governorship election in the state.
“Akeredolu has taken on too many politicians in one form of disagreement or the other. He is quarrelling with the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He is not in good terms with our national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
“He is not cordial with President Muhammadu Buhari. He is fighting with the state’s former party chairman. No, we the articulate and progressive members of the APC cannot condone that. How can a governor be campaigning openly for AA, another political party, when he is in APC?
“Those whom he misled from our party to AA to go and contest there are now regretting the action. Then the governor said people should be planting Indian hemp. Would that not suggest that he smokes it?
“We are determined to stop both Akeredolu and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi from picking our ticket. APC cannot afford to use non-sellable people as candidates again.”
Okeyomi also said the newly launched chapter of CAFI in Ondo State had been tasked to penetrate the grassroots and mobilise party members, noting that from the knowledge of hindsight, he could confirm that direct primary elections would be conducted in both Kogi and Ondo states.
In response to the CAFI mandate, the Ondo State Chairman of the APC, Mr. Ade Adetimehin described the CAFI as a strange group, expressing surprise that “non-existent allegations” could be leveled against the governor.
Adetimehin said the governor “is not fighting me, he not fighting the party or anybody for that matter. You could see that he was recently with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and that he also attended a meeting between President Buhari and the South-West governors. If he is fighting these people, would he go to meet them?”
Adetimehin said those maligning the governor “are people who cannot secure political appointment in the administration. Truly, everybody cannot get political appointment but if we are all patient, it will reach our turn at one time or the other.
“What should be our concern is that, is the governor doing well in the area of infrastructural provisions? Yes, everybody can attest to Akeredolu’s great performance.
“In taking care of party members, he may not have done it 100 percent but we are going round, talking to our people to seek their understanding; and in due course, everything will be sorted out,” Adetimehin clarified.