By Dayo Johnson, Akure
LAST week’s outburst of the Senior Special Assistant, SSA, Special Duties and Strategy to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Dr Doyin Odebowale, against one of the loyalists of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, blaming the alleged suspension of Akeredolu by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the plan by some people to govern the state by proxy, has widened the gulf between Tinubu and the governor.
Ostensibly, the development has further put Akeredolu’s second term ambition in jeopardy.
The first term of the APC governor ends next year.
It has been widely speculated that Tinubu was not supportive of Akeredolu’s emergence as the party’s candidate for the 2016 governorship election in the state because he had his own candidate.
A chieftain of the APC in the state, Hon. Bola Ilori, who is an aide of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and Tinubu, had accused Akeredolu of being vindictive and the architect of the disunity within Ondo Chapter of the party.
The SSA had responded to the Ilori statement.
Party members, who are not the same page with Akeredolu, interpreted Odebowale’s attack as targeted at Tinubu who the governor’s camp had fingered in his suspension by the APC leadership for anti- party activities in the last general elections in the state.
Analysts are of the view that the frequent attacks by Odebowale on those perceived as Akeredolu’s enemies may, after all, have the blessing of his principal.
They believe that rather than the SSA stoking the fire, now was the time to seek genuine reconciliation and unity of his party.
The attack has further divided the already fractured party in Ondo.
Concerned party members say Odebowale has rubbished the efforts of the state APC Chairman, Ade Adetimehin, to bring aggrieved party leaders back into the party.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that Adetimehin’s efforts to unite the party had started yielding result before the latest attack by the aide to the governor.
According to several party leaders, Akeredolu’s inability to restrain politicians attached to his office was a threat to his second term ambition.
Many of them also believe that using the defection of Ilori from, and his return to APC, to justify the governor’s association with Action Alliance, AA, was unjustifiable and will not pave the way for peace in the troubled party in the state.
The governor is generally believed to have supported candidates of AA against those of his APC in the 2019 National Assembly elections in Ondo.
Consequently, the APC not only lost the presidential election to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state but equally lost the majority seats in the National Assembly polls while the ruling party managed to win majority of the seats in the state House of Assembly election.
Ilori blamed Akeredolu for being the architect of disunity within the APC in the state.
The Tinubu aide alleged that the governor’s vengefulness caused the state chapter of the party trauma.
“The governor’s vindictive traits have aided disharmony within Ondo APC. It is strange for a man that has become governor for years to still be grudging on an intra-party primary that preceded his tenure”, he said.
Ilori recalled that the party’s Appeal Panel annulled the primary that produced Akeredolu due to glaring fraud and the National Working Committee of the party never agreed to the emergence of Akeredolu but those behind a conspiracy of that era submitted Akeredolu’s name to INEC and mobilized huge funds for his victory to become an “imposed” governor in Ondo.
“Some of us could not stand such shenanigan. We followed the party’s internal mechanism, but it was unilaterally terminated by then-National Chairman”, the Tinubu aide said.
“Subsequently, we left the party in the expression of our democratic rights on the platform of another party in agitation against the clear injustice. We lost the election.
“It was well reported that some state government officials organized an attack on me at the venue of an official assignment in Akure. We were to go to court but some elders of the party, led by Chief Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Pius Akinyelure, intervened.
“They appealed to all aggrieved against the governorship election processes to drop all further agitation and return to the party and embrace unity. The governor thereafter organized a unity rally and I attended.
“Chief Olusola Oke has since been working hard for the success of the party and was the South-West Coordinator of the APC Presidential Campaign, while I, who was his Director-General in the AD, was the Chairman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (Field Operations) Door – Door Campaign throughout the country.
“Akeredolu’s anti-party activities would have been justifiable as a payback were it to be that his mischief was directed against Oke or Ilori, but neither of us was on the ballot but President Buhari and our National Assembly candidates. So, it was a deliberate sabotage against the fortune of the party.
“I laugh at how, in his confusion and desperate search for justification, he misguided himself with falsehood and hoped it will turn to the truth in an era of Google search engine. Let me put it on record; if Akeredolu and his associates are too lazy to Google, I was not holding any position in the party or government six months before and after the 2016 elections.
“And contrary to their claim that I was in Osun government while in AD, Osun had no cabinet for about 16 months at the time. So, dragging Aregbesola into their justification of treachery is not only based on falsehood but also pure mischief.
“I also wish to place on the record that, as the Director-General of the Alliance for Democracy campaigns in 2016, I don’t have any record of funding received from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola or Senator Ajayi Boroffice.
“I dare Akeredolu and his team to come up with such fact. Let it be noted that neither Asiwaju Tinubu nor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola directed us to the AD nor funded the party. They did not campaign for the party to the best of my knowledge.
“If any of Akeredolu associates is in possession of substantive evidence against any of our leaders, let such fellow come forward with it or forever keep their peace.
“We as adults have rights to our independent actions and Asiwaju never encourages sycophancy. He promotes robust intellectual discourse and doesn’t see dissent as a crime, yet we hold him in high esteem”.
In a swift reaction, Odebowale, in a statement, entitled, ‘BOLA ILORI: AN EGREGIOUS NONENTITY’, said, “lt is not uncommon to read inanities from these characters these days. The reason is obvious.
“The belief that the control of the party at the centre is firmly in their grip explains the growing audacity.
“They are correct to a great extent. The party leadership, at that level, has been able to isolate and victimize all those perceived to be antagonistic to pernicious expansionist tendencies.
“Their hyper activities have never been for service; and the irrepressible people of Ondo State are acutely aware of the lie, freely bandied by these strange progressives whose sole motive for participating in politics is to gobble the people’s commonwealth.
“Tribal marks are not sufficient proof of nativity. Any person, whose interests are parochial and stand at variance with the collective well-being of his people, excites curiosity as regards his ancestry. A true son or daughter of the land will not join forces with extraneous elements to expropriate and ravage his/her root.
“The people of Ondo State will be responsible for choosing their leaders.
“No foreign gods will be allowed to dictate to a land whose resources contributed, immensely, in the quest for the development and sustenance of the defunct Western Region. This point has been made consistently and repeatedly. They have left no one in doubt that they will do so again”.
The SSA blamed the alleged suspension of Akeredolu on the plan of some people to govern the state by proxy, adding that those accusing his principal of anti-party in the last general elections were the architect of anti-party in the state.
The question now is, when will these combatants stop polluting the already murky political water in Ondo APC and pursue genuine reconciliation ahead of next year’s governorship election in the state?