By Dayo Johnson
AN atmosphere of anxiety and tension pervades the All Progressive Congress, APC, in Ondo State over the non inclusion of a ministerial nominee from the state in the list forwarded to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari and unveiled by the Senate President Olusola Saraki on Tuesday.
The party faithful across the state have been asking questions why none of the over 15 contenders in the state failed to make the first batch.
Findings by Vanguard however showed that three names have been pencilled down for the ministerial slot for the state from which the President is expected to pick one.
In the last two months, chieftains of the party have relocated to Abuja to step up their lobbying for the top job.
Disappointment and worries were boldly written on the faces of the party members and chieftains who have earlier expressed concern when those who made the list of 21 nominees across the country were peddled by some section of the media a few days before the Senate President unveiled the list.
The three nominees said to be in the fore front include the former governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria ACN in the state, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), the Vice Chairman of the APC in the South West, Chief Pius Akinyelure, and a female politician from Ose Local Council of the state, Mrs Oredola.
However, the Ondo APC has dismissed the three names been peddled as being in the forefront saying that until the supplementary list is presented by the President anything can happen.
Akeredolu was as good as getting the slot few months ago until Akinyelure a 74 year old industrialist and a close friend of a national leader of the Party, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu decided to join the rat race for the slot.
Akeredolu and Akinyelure are both close to Asiwaju Tinubu but many believe that Jagaban Borgu may prefer Akinyelure if his age would not be his albatross. If that happens, Akeredolu may be placated with a juicy board appointment.
Others said to be eyeing the slot include the State Chairman of the Party Hon Isaac Kekemeke; former governorship aspirant under the defunct ACN, Prince Ademola Adegoroye; former Special Adviser to Osun State governor, Hon Bola Ilori and Mrs Jumoke Anifowose, the daughter of the late sage and former governor of the state, Chief Michael Ajasin.
Tension gripped the camp of the contenders when it became clear that the President has not been able to settle for a ministerial nominee among the options before him.
A school of thought said this may be as a result of the fact that the state is been governed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the party’s choice for a the ministerial slot may eventually fly its flag in the governorship election in October next year.
It was also said that anyone to be given the slot must be a formidable party leader who could be a rallying point ahead of next year’s governorship election.
As it stands in the state, the battle is between Akeredolu and Akinyelure according to Vanguard findings in the state.
Sources within the party said that the state chapter of the APC had compiled the list of some nominees across the three senatorial districts as directed by the National secretariat of the party and they have been forwarded to the secretariat.
Each of the senatorial district was to produce three candidates each and they would be presented to the president via the National secretariat of the party.
While both the South and the Central senatorial zones of the state showed interest in the slot and have presented a candidate, the north senatorial district was said to have stayed aloof insisting that it would prefer that the zone produce a successor to the incumbent governor Olusegun Mimiko.
The northern area of the state is clamouring that it is their turn to produce the next governor of the state.
Vanguard gathered that contenders for the ministerial slot in the state have gone back to the drawing board to re-strategise so as to make an in road to the second list that may be submitted to the Senate any moment from now.
Some disappointed leaders of the party confided in Vanguard , saying:”Nobody is telling us why the state is yet to be represented on the list. We have asked our leaders both at the state level and the national. All they keep telling us is that it is beyond them and that the state chapter has done it’s part.’’
All the contenders are pushing different buttons within the party to make the list but reliable sources said that the President hold the ace and would pick from the top three before him when he is ready.
Speculations were rife that Akinyelure and Akeredolu may have been screened by DSS but Vanguard was able to confirm from any of them before going to Press.
Speaking with Vanguard, the state Chairman of the Party Hon Kekemeke who is also said to be interested in the slot said that there is no cause for alarm since the President has assured that there would still be a supplementary list.
Kekemeke appealed to the people of the state to be patient adding: “It is our constitutional right to have a representative in the FEC. I want to appeal to the people of our Sunshine State to be patient as the President has assured that a supplementary list would soon be released. Ondo state will not be short-changed that I am assuring them.
Asked if the party in the state would be at home with a technocrat, the chairman said,”we will accept whoever is given to us by the President. The APC in Ondo State will respect his decision.’’
The people of the state are waiting anxiously to know who the cap will fit when the president finally forward the supplementary list of the remaining15 states to the Senate.