• Warns against underestimating opposition party
• Says people can’t afford reign to regressive government
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu yesterday observed that Ondo State was a parlous state before its incumbent governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu took over the mantle of leadership.
Sanwo-Olu, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress National Campaign Council for Ondo governorship poll, also said the people of the state “cannot afford to return to retrogressive life after experiencing progressive governance offered by the APC.”
He expressed these views in Abuja yesterday after the APC Caretaker Committee inaugurated him as the chairman of the 104-member campaign council for Akeredolu’s re-election, which had been scheduled to hold on October 10.
Since returning to civil rule over two decades ago, three governors had governed Ondo State between 1999 and 2016 with different records of achievement before the Akeredolu administration kicked off February 2016.
Late Chief Adebayo Aderafari governed the state between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD); late Dr. Olusegun Agagu between 2003 and 2009 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Dr. Olusegun Mimiko first on the platform of Labour Party (LP) before defecting to the PDP.
Of all the administrations that governed the state till date, Akeredolu’s has perhaps been the most controversial administration with some APC leaders at the national and state levels joining forces to deny him the return ticket.
Despite the gang-up against his reelection, Akeredolu defeated ten other governorship aspirants of the APC, polling 2,458 votes out of the total 2,793 votes.
But after his inauguration as the chairman of the APC campaign council yesterday, Sanwo-Olu noted that since Akeredolu took over the reign of power in 2017, Ondo “has moved from her hitherto parlous state and has returned to a trajectory of growth and development.
“This is a major feature of our party. We pride ourselves as harbinger of peace, progress and purposeful leadership wherever we have our foothold. Mr. Chairman, let me assure you that the tasks you have given us will be approached with the highest sense of responsibility.
“We know that the people of Ondo State cannot afford to return to retrogressive life after experiencing progressive governance offered by the All Progressives Congress. Therefore all the 104 members will roll up our sleeves and work hard for the victory that we truly and genuinely deserve,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu, however, acknowledged the popularity of the main opposition candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, saying the APC would not take the PDP for granted in the forthcoming election.
Although he said the APC would not take the PDP for granted, Sanwo-Olu observed that the main opposition party should not bother campaigning as the election was for APC to lose.
He said the PDP really “should not waste their time. But election is something that is not over until it is all over. We are not taking anybody for granted. We are going for an election. It is going to be issues-based.
“We will ensure that we campaign for the people of Ondo State to see the need to continue with the progressive government that they have. Akeredolu is doing very well. We have seen it. He still has the capacity,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Asked whether the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had endorsed Akeredolu’s candidature with his appointment as the chairman of the campaign council, Sanwo-Olu noted that it was not just about endorsement by the national leader, but about the collective endorsement.
He said: “In this endorsement, you saw Senator Ajayi Borrofice. You have seen our brother, Mr. Olusola Oke (SAN). You saw meetings where Mr. Isaacs Kekemeke, the state’s former party chairman, was in attendance. You see meetings where Dr. Olusegun Abraham was in attendance.
“After the party primaries, they all came together even before our choice of the national council. In Ondo State, they have resolved their problem themselves and all of them said we are supporting Akeredolu as the APC governorship candidate. So, it is a unified decision.”
He, however, observed that the most critical thing “is the people of Ondo State. It is about good governance. It is about what he is doing. It is not an easy job. But we believe in him. We believe that what he has started as a true progressive he will take Ondo to a higher level.”
Also at the inauguration, Yobe State Governor and Chairman, APC Caretaker Committee, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni said the task before the council was to ensure the renewal of Akeredolu’s mandate.
He stressed that the chairman and members of the council were carefully selected based on their personal records of hard work, proven integrity and commitment to the ideals of the party.
Buni observed that the rich cream of personalities on this council with vast electioneering experience would once again secure the mandate of the people of Ondo state for the APC governorship candidate.