S’West Must Be United to Clinch Presidency in 2023, Says APC Chief

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Bankole Oluwajana

· Says no misunderstanding between Akeredolu, deputy

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor. Bankole Oluwajana has said all political leaders in the South-west should be united if presidency must return to the geo-political zone in 2023.

Oluwajana, a former company secretary, NAL Merchant Bank Plc, added that contrary to media reports, there was no misunderstanding between Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and his deputy, Mr. Agboola Ajayi.

He made the remarks at a session with journalists in Lagos at the weekend, though noted that it was too early to start discussing the 2023 presidential election while the executives at the federal and state levels were just settling down.

“I think 2023 is still far off. We just finished an election. We should allow our president and governors to concentrate on the assignments they were elected to carry out before discussing 2023 elections. 2023 is far away.

Oluwajana, however, said he was happy that political leaders across the federation were looking up to the South-west “to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as a good development.”

He said: “We have not even made the demand. But it is like everybody is thinking towards the direction of South West. For me, I will simply say that let us just keep our gunpowder dry. We are not going to shy away as a region for a call to duty or to take up the responsibility when the time comes.

“The emphasis, for me, is unity. We want unity in the South-west. All our governors must be united. All our political leaders must work together in oneness. We must speak with one voice if South-west must produce Buhari’s successor. With internal rift, it will be difficult for the region to produce the next president.

“We will definitely give it what it takes to ensure unity in the South-west. We must realise that other geopolitical zones too want to produce the president in 2023. That is why all political leaders must work together to produce Buhari’s successor in 2023,” the APC national leader advised.

On Ondo politics, Oluwajana dismissed reports of misunderstanding between Akeredolu and his deputy, noting that it was in a dictatorial environment that political leaders would not speak on issues or disagree on policies.

He said there “is no government anywhere that will not have people that are agitating or expressing divergent views on issues. In government, there will always be voices of argument. But that does not mean there is any serious rancour.”

He, therefore, expressed confidence that the APC would retain Ondo State, insisting that whatever happened in the state “is a normal development in an election year. You’ll probably see more as the state’s governorship elections draw nearer.

“It happens everywhere. It is only where there is no vibrant political party that you will not have such people that feel otherwise. I am happy that you said the way it was in 2016. That year we still had an election and won. The moment we pick our governorship candidate the situation will ease.

“For me, there is nothing unusual in that respect. I must also accept that we have a governor in Ondo State, who focuses essentially on infrastructure development. The governor sees the state as belonging to the citizens.
With a population of over three million, Akeredolu feels that whatever he is going to do must be about these 3 million people. I heard a story sometimes ago that some civil servants went to him and discussed their outstanding salaries.

“At that time, he had paid part of the outstanding, remaining one or two months then. He had consistently paid the salaries, every month. I think that particular time; he had about two months outstanding. The civil servants felt that he should pay everything, especially now that the election is approaching.

“The governor just told them not to blackmail him because of election. He told them that they were not the only one that own Ondo State. This is what I can afford. I am here to work for everybody in the state. I don’t have free money. He is very passionate serving his people.”