Just a little over a year to the next governorship election in Ondo State and the race for the 2023 general election, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the south west zone has begun moves towards resolving the lingering crisis in the state chapter of the party.
Trouble started in the party in 2016 following the primary election that produced Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu was alleged to have been manipulated in his favour. This development made major aspirants in the contest and their supporters to express grievances by working against the interest of the party at the last governorship poll in the state.
Against all odds, Akeredolu won the election; however, the crisis in the party knew no end since he emerged the governor of the state. The party was polarised into factions.
In the 2019 general election, the ruling APC lost the presidential election to the opposition PDP and managed to get a seat at the Senate. Akeredolu, following the failure of his preferred candidates to get the party’s nomination for the senatorial and House of Representatives seats, sponsored candidates in Action Alliance (AA) against his party.
This development led to the poor performance of the APC in the state which resulted in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to issue query to the governor over his anti-party activities in the 2019 elections. The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Lanre Issa-Onilu had disclosed in April that the governor’s anti-party activities greatly affected the chances of the party during the polls.
While a former deputy governor of the state and member of the party’s Board of Trustees, Ali Olanusi; Deputy Senate leader and Senator representing Ondo North, Ajayi Boroffice; a former chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke; Olusola Oke and other notable leaders of the party are not on the same page with Akeredolu, the party might be heading towards another round of failure in next year’s poll.
Worried by these developments, Bola Tinubu, the national leader of the APC, last Tuesday led other leaders such as the former governor of Osun State and pioneer National chairman of the party, Bisi Akande, and a former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba to the state to meet all warring gladiators in the party to foster unity. The meeting, which lasted for more than three hours, was held behind closed door in Akure, the state capital.
Also at the meeting were Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Governor Akeredolu and his deputy, the National Vice Chairman(South) of the party, Bankole Oluwajana; the deputy National Chairman of the party and former governor of Ekiti, Niyi Adebayo; state chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin; the immediate past National vice chairman of the party, Pius Akinyelure; Olusola Oke, Segun Abraham; Isaac Kekemeke, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, amongst others.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Tinubu called on the warring and aggrieved factions within the party in the state to sheath their swords and work towards a united family.
Tinubu said the peace meeting was brokered by the APC leadership in the South West, to resolve the political difference among the various factions and groups, revealing that all members of the party in the state had agreed to work together in the interest of the party and state.
The former governor of Lagos State, who noted that political crisis, was not new in politics, enjoined leaders and members of the party to come together as one so as to win the next governorship election and every other future election.
He advised them not to destroy the house which they had built, stressing the need for all the parties and factions to maintain peace
He said: “We are leaving one thing behind. The charity that must begin at home. We want to win the next election in Ondo State and every other election. The solution is in your hands. We want to thank you for your commitment to the party.”
He added: “We apply conflict resolution mechanism which is part of politics to resolve any other problem and smoothen the edges. The next move is unity; talking together, consulting one another and working together for the interests of our party and in particular Ondo State.”
On his part, Akande, former governor of Osun State, said the APC leaders had resolved to mend the broken fences in APC in Ondo State.
He noted that members of the APC in Ondo State had been instructed to work together.
“We talked how we shall win next election resoundingly. You see all our leaders coming out together laughing and happy. We have our leaders in Ondo and we have told them to go and do their job and bring our party together as one.
“We shall also keep encouraging our leaders in Ondo State to do what we have agreed to which is unity at all levels,” Akande said.
The former chairman of the party in the state, Isaac Kekemeke, expressed satisfaction, saying all aggrieved members have agreed to sit down and find solution to the party’s problem in the state.
He said: “We have agreed that we will work together and we have agreed to find a domestic solution to address our domestic problem.
“So in a short while, we will be putting ourselves together and proffer domestic solution to our domestic problem as motivated and encouraged by our national leader.
“We have all agreed that we have offended ourselves and that the better thing to do is to forgive ourselves and make comprise the way forward and the most important thing is to build a platform and move the party forward.”
He assured that the internal wrangling within the APC in the state would soon be a thing of the past, saying peace would soon return to the party in the state.
Kekemeke, however, declared that the issue of second term of Akeredolu was not discussed at the meeting.
“All we discussed was how we will end the crisis, we never discussed the second term of anybody,” he said.
Also, speaking with BDSUNDAY after the meeting, Olusola Oke said the leaders of the party had agreed on some issues towards resolving the crisis in the state chapter of the APC.
“Leadership of the party in the South West met with us to foster peace and unity and we have resolved on some fundamentals. We will meet again to pursue the fundamentals and when we finally resolve, we will brief them,” he said.
As the political atmosphere gearing up for the coming governorship election in Ondo State, many observers hoped the peace meeting would bring an end to the long term crisis in the state chapter of the APC.
YOMI AYELESO, Akure