By Dayo Johnson
The centre may no longer hold in the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ondo State.
This is because for two years, attempts have been made to manage the internal crisis rocking the party, which has been discussed in hushed tones by those involved and their lieutenants.
But last week, one of the combatants, Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice, who represents the Northern Senatorial District, threw his hat into the ring, rolled up his sleeves and threw some punches at the state governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu.
Lawmaker tackles governor
Casting aspersion at the governor for allegedly alienating a critical mass of the party leadership, the Professor of Zoology cum politician, said: “Today, the attitude of the governor to other party leaders in Ondo State, who do not see issues from his perspective, has unfortunately polarized the Ondo State chapter of the party and alienated a critical mass of the party leadership and supporters as well.”
According to him, “all is not well with the All Progressives Congress in the Sunshine State. Rather than embrace the challenges of leadership and reach out to every leader of the party in Ondo State, the governor preferred to run the government of Ondo State and the party with his trifling followership. He continues to erroneously lay claim to the ownership of the party.
“He continues to threaten other party leaders with expulsion from the party.”
Instructively, the governor and Boroffice have been avoiding each other since his emergence as the candidate of the party in 2016 for obvious reasons.
Akeredolu believes Boroffice did not support him after the contentious party primaries in 2016.
Also, Akeredolu’s camp is said not to be comfortable with the perceived rising profile of Boroffice and has continued to drum it into the ears of the governor.
The governor’s camp holds the view that Boroffice joined his perceived enemies and worked against him during the election.
However, Boroffice denied engaging in anti-party activities during the election and has decided to stay aloof and watch events from the sidelines until the governor threw some mud at him.
The lawmaker, who was conspicuously absent at the governor’s swearing-in on February 24, 2017, expressed displeasure by the way the national secretariat handled their petitions as regards the delegate list alleged to have been doctored to favour the governor.
In fact, it has been observed that Boroffice has not attended any government function in the state in the last one year.
The last time they were seen together publicly was during the party’s governorship primaries in 2016.
Interestingly, the lawmaker and the governor are from the same senatorial district.
Boroffice replies Akeredolu
Boroffice, in his reply to the governor’s attack, in a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Kayode Fakuyi said he refrained from joining issues with the governor on the pages of newspaper to avoid further heating up of the polity. The statement reads: “However, the referenced press statement clarifying the position of governor vis-à-vis the earlier vitriolic utterances of the governor where the governor reportedly condemned Senator Boroffice for anti-party activities raises the need to separate facts from fictions.
“The insinuation and innuendoes contained in the press statement suggested that the senator has not been working for the progress and development of Ondo State in general and Ondo North senatorial District in particular. Given the several developmental strides that have been spurred by the eventful tenure of the distinguished senator, such suggestion of non-performance is wholly incorrect. It is a cherry-picked attempt to taint the senator with bad name in order to hang him. Nothing can be further from the truth.
“Setting the records straight, the governor has sent two private communications to the Senate since his inauguration as Governor of Ondo State on the 24th of February, 2017, in respect of confirmation of appointments from Ondo State. In the consideration of the governor’s requests, Senator Boroffice, despite the underlying differences, rallied his colleagues to support Governor Akeredolu’s position in the interest of the good people of Ondo State. Therefore, the suggestion that Senator Boroffice is not working for the upliftment of Ondo State is false and misleading.”
He, however, called on the national leadership of “our great party to urgently intervene in the crisis plaguing the Ondo State chapter of the party. We cannot afford to sweep under the carpet issues polarizing the APC in Ondo State as we move into another round of congresses and general elections.
“It is for this reason that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari has called for reconciliation of leaders and resolutions of disputed issues. This is the wise road to travel and we cannot dissent. Therefore, Senator Boroffice wishes to express full confidence in the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led presidential committee. We fully support our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on this course.”
Replying on behalf of the governor, the party, in a statement, entitled: ‘Boroffice Lied-APC’, denied the allegation that the governor had polarised the party.
In a statement by its Director, Media and Publicity, Steve Otaloro, the party said: “We want to make it clear that the governor does not in any way intervene in the affairs of the party. The party affairs are solely run by the leadership of the party in the state led by Ade Adetimehin.
“Its sheer figment of Borofice’s imagination to have claimed that people are leaving our party when in fact people are defecting to our party in droves everyday to the point that the entire party fabrics of the opposition in the state have been more or less collapsed into our party.
“Borofice, no doubt, is alone in this illusion that critical mass of our party leadership and members are leaving which could best be described as a product of a demented brain informed by his desperate ambition to govern the state at all costs. This same ambition had earlier pitched him against his former party leader and governor in the Labour Party, LP.
“It would baffle any member of the party in the state to hear Borofice claiming to have worked tirelessly for the governor to win the election when he never at anytime appeared at the electioneering campaigns of the governor.
“At this point, I think it is expedient to ask Borofice to swear by the God he serves that he truly worked and voted for Arakunrin Akeredolu at the poll.
“It is incontrovertible that Borofice, who came distant fourth in the party primaries, immediately ordered his supporters to move en mass to the opposition party, but being a sitting senator on the platform of our party, APC, he couldn’t openly canvass for the opposition. He however engaged in anti-party activities behind closed doors.
“That Senator Borofice is just reacting to the unification rally after several weeks smacks suspicion. It is no longer a secret that Senator Borofice is not only currently sponsoring meetings against our party but already on his way out of the party because he knows he has slim chances of winning the next primaries to return to the Senate the third time due to his depleting popularity among the people of the Northern Senatorial District.”
With the face off with the governor, observers of political events, believe that the third term ambition of the Senator may be thwarted unless the broken fences are repaired.
However, if the heat from the governor and the party becomes unbearable for Boroffice, he may eventually take a walk and with his popularity and his title as the Asiwaju of Akokoland.
The door seems to have been permanently shut against him in the APC.