In a chat with TopSearch Magazine, the former Commissioner for Information and one-time DIrector-General of Akeredolu Campaign Organisation (ACO) predicted that the intervention of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will not guarantee victory for Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s reelection bid.Excerpts
You were the first APC stalwart to show interest in the 2020 governorship seat in Ondo state, which comes up on October 10, but later backed out, why?
That’s not the precise language to use. It is true I was the first to signify my intention to run for ‘Alagbaka seat’ right from early 2019 but the global pandemic that caused several deaths and locked down the whole world right from early this year forced me to suspend the project. What we experienced particularly in my base, United States of America(USA) as regards the Corona Virus epidemic is beyond expression and even till now lingers on. So, the development stalled the internal mechanism of my campaign strategy to mobilise round Ondo state, which I had started in earnest.
There had been a crack within your party, APC shortly after the 2016 primary election declared in favour of the incumbent Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and with his victory, the situation intensified with the birth of ‘Team Aketi’ that supposedly worked for his victory as against his antagonists’ Unity Forum’. However, the rift has now become history as Ondo APC has become one united family ahead of next month’s election through the reconciliatory efforts of Asiwaju Tinubu and other APC National Leaders. What is your take on this new development?
Honestly speaking, I am not comfortable with Bola Tinubu’s supposed intervention. The problem with Ondo state is that we keep allowing outsiders to pick our governors. We heard Akeredolu thanking Buhari, telling him that without him (Buhari), he would not have been governor. So, Ondo state has a governor who is not the one that can cater for their needs. If I were him, I would rather thank the Ondo state people for electing me to be their servant for four years instead of thanking an individual no matter how highly placed.
Many of these people feel comfortable with a governor that has been imposed by Buhari, whom we know is championing the Fulani agenda? Why are we so weak and self seeking to the point of being blinded and unable to seek what is in our best interest?
Remember last year Tinubu was here with other APC leaders to make peace between warring members…
(Cuts in) My brother, Tinubu did not visit Ondo for reconciliation. He came to Ondo to take side with the perceived winner of the election. He is the least concerned with either the welfare of the state or the general rot that has taken place in the APC. What Tinubu did was not to be perceived to be outside the winning circle in Ondo.
During the recent APC primary, delegates from the 18 local government areas massively voted for Akeredolu. It was a landslide victory. How did you see the exercise?
What happened in Ondo state during the primary was the greatest robbery that has ever been perpetrated on the people. Akeredolu of all the 12 contestants, was the only person that favoured indirect primary. The remaining eleven wanted direct primary. The kangaroo election board, bought and paid for by Akeredolu, kept mute till two days to the primary before announcing that it was going to be an indirect primary. Many of those contestants never saw the list of delegates who were to vote. Akeredolu kept substituting names up till a day to the balloting. Is that a free and fair primary?
In a free and fair primary, Akeredolu would have come last.
I don’t see how any of those eleven who contested with Akeredolu can live with their decisions to go along with the robbery. A real test of what has occurred to them will be to talk to people on the street of our towns and villages.
But all other defeated aspirants are now assiduously working to ensure that Akeredolu sustain his seat beyond 2021
Let me tell you, people, especially party stakeholders, were greatly disappointed on the outcome of the primary elections and even wishing the PDP flag bearer, Eyitayo Jegede could have teamed up with Ajayi rather than fractionalising their votes. The resolve of most defeated aspirants to support Akeredolu has an undertone they would regret eventually.
Many political observers expressed wonders on the burning love between Tinubu and Akeredolu recalling uncomplimentary invectives poured on the APC National Leader by Akeredolu, especially when he was being inaugurated as governor in 2016 and even in many other fora.
As for Tinubu, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand what he did. He told the contestants that he made himself scarce until a winner emerged. That was not the case. Akeredolu met him several times, pledging his loyalty to him at long last. As the presidential election is around the corner, many around the country may deny access to Tinubu until after the election. They may want to see where the pendulum swings before committing themselves. Ondo politicians must grow up and stop behaving as if they are supplicants.
The outcome of the present harmony within Ondo APC will facilitate victory for Akeredolu or what is your own perception ?
The so-called reconciliation is the coming together of hungry politicians trying to salvage what they can from the ruins that the winner-takes-all politics of the country has put them.
Here is the scenario, Akeredolu has been spending the state funds to finance his campaign while he has not paid three months’ salaries for state workers. In some sectors, workers are owed more than a year salaries. In Nigeria, you call that the incumbency factor. Many of these former contestants were promised refunds of their N22 million payment to the party and a chance to wet their beaks when Aketi wins. In the end, it is the people of the state that will loose. Their money will go towards settling old debts and I-Owe- You(s). What happened to Ondo state citizens during the second term of Rahman Mimiko will be a child play compared to what will happen should Akeredolu win a second term.
I saw the names forced together in the so-called Aketi campaign organisation. I just smiled. Ask Akeredolu for that list a day after the election; he would have made a bonfire out of it. Babajide, Betty, and all the in-laws would then come out from their hiding places to take control of the state affairs.
Akeredolu won the last election using the slogan – e dibo f’aketi e sebe. It was possible to use five thousand for some decent soup at that time. This time, any Ondo state citizen who may harbour the notion of doing the same unthinkable nonsense should better ask for double that money because that is the only benefit they are likely to get from an inept administration for the next four years. They are going to suffer for their poor decisions.
Therefore, what you call reconciliation now is just a forced truce imposed on those former aspirants due to hardship and with the hope that Akeredolu may be magnanimous in victory after the election. But they are yet to learn their lessons. Some of them will not be welcomed near the statehouse after the election. Those who shout about party loyalty are the very people who have traversed three to four parties in the last five years. They are, therefore, only loyal to themselves. They are stranded in APC. However, the election is not left for politicians who only make up one person of the voters. Ondo people must wake up and vote their conscience and be willing to stay with their vote to make it count.