Ondo APC primary: Removing the shroud of doubts

Isaac Kekemeke

Isaac Kekemeke

Apart from signaling the commencement of real politicking preparatory to the November 26 governorship contest in Ondo State, the conduct of tomorrow’s primary election to pick the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will either make or mar the hope of the party to rule the state.

The exercise will not only provide an opportunity for the party to produce a formidable candidate to lead it to victory but also afford the largely divided platform the opportunity to mend the cracks in its wall.

Because of lack of centralized internal authority in an identified leadership, the APC has become a river flowing in different directions of individual ambitions of governorship aspirants with little efforts to create a united front; a situation made worse by allegations that the State Chairman, Isaac Kekemeke, has failed to provide the needed bonding agent.

Despite its internal wrangling, the party has all it takes to win the governorship elections not only because of its mass followership and prospects of providing an alternative to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but also because of providing an avenue for the tribe of politicians with progressive credentials to stage a come-back.

Since 2003 when the PDP tsunami swept the Alliance for Democracy (AD) inheritors of the values of the old brigade from power, they have been driven to the state’s political backwaters. And for a politically conscious state that played a leading role in charting the course for South West politics right from the First Republic, the coming election would provide an opportunity for Ondo to rejoin its sister states to execute the much-talked about regional socio-political and economic integration.

But in the last month, expectations of victory for the party were shrouded in doubts as the internal crisis arising from rumours of endorsements of weak aspirants that culminated in the controversial suspension of Kekemeke from office, threatened the ability of the party to win the governorship election.

Many major stakeholders publicly condemned what they called unwarranted interference of some powers from outside the state to influence the outcome of the exercise but the national leadership gave assurance of transparency.Another area of controversy is the list of delegates that will participate in the exercise. Some aspirants have raised questions over the list alleging that some names have either been removed or replaced to favour certain individuals.

Kekemeke, according to his Deputy, Ade Adetimehin, on Wednesday, dispatched the State Secretary of the party, Raman Dauda to the Abuja National Secretariat, to officially complain about the composition of the list.

Other sources however disclosed that the list was the closest to representing the real delegates alleging that the party secretariat had in the past, tried to doctor the document, a move that they said Abuja rejected. While President Muhammadu Buhari last Monday declared that he has no preferred aspirant, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in a release barely 48 hours to the election, cleared the air on insinuations that he has endorsed one of the aspirants.

Tinubu, the most influential political figure in the party from the South West, was in the eye of the storm for declaring that he had a right to show preference for an aspirant of his choice.

Speaking through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal after meeting the aspirants to boost their confidence in the process, President Buhari said, “government would do all in its power to provide a level-playing field for all the aspirants.

“We expect that all the aspirants will work hard to win the votes of delegates. In the tradition of APC, we expect that there will be no inducement of delegates or coercion.” As the leaders were removing doubts on the path of the party’s victory, leading aspirants, namely Roberts Ajayi Boroffice, Olusola Oke, Rotimi Akeredolu, Tayo Alasoadura and Jamiu Ekungba have also started to explore ways of working in unison not only for an acceptable primary contest but also for the success of the party at the election.

Sources disclosed to The Guardian that an ad-hoc committee comprising their representatives has been meeting with the aim of providing a joint platform for an aspirant that has the largest number of delegates in his camp.Already, the strengths of each individual aspirants is almost in the public space with the camping of delegates loyal to each of them prior to the conduct of the primary election and on that basis, the candidate may even emerge before the cast of the first ballot.

Expressing their determination to go into the election with the common objective of winning, Boroffice told The Guardian that what is needed is a level playing ground to avoid divisions in the party’s rank.

Boroffice, a second-term senator representing Ondo North District, also said that the unity of the aspirants after the emergence of a candidate would go a long way to prepare the party for a successful gubernatorial election on November 26.

According to the senator, who hosted a reconciliatory meeting of all leading aspirants in his Abuja home a fortnight ago prior to the group’s meeting with the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party, said:“All of us must realise that we have a responsibility as individuals and as a group to ensure that our party is strong enough to contest the election.”

“What we need at this point in time is to sink our differences and work together for the success of our party in the coming election. The post-primary collaboration is also essential to unify all members of our party in the state.

“We have an arduous task in liberating our people from the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the misfortunes it has brought on us. We can win this battle if we stay together and not divided because our strength lies in our unity.”

Tinubu in his release also echoed Boroffice saying, “The APC must go into the governorship as united in focus and purpose. All else is secondary to this objective. The journey to reestablishing governance for the people and for posterity begins with the primaries this Saturday.

“In Ondo we must close ranks to achieve victory. The future of the state and of the party in the state should never be held ransom to insignificant personal animosities and perceived slights. We all must focus on what is more precious than our personal ambitions and more durable than our individual wishes.

“We must dedicate ourselves to uplifting this state and the very lives of the people of this state and nation. All is minor and a distraction in comparison to this sound goal.”With a lot of external factors dragging it to the arena of national politics, the outcome of the Ondo governorship election will have implications for the conduct of the 2019 presidential contest between the known gladiators who are already scheming to make the state a launch pad.

Perhaps the only thing that needed to be done to further secure the confidence of the APC stakeholders and ensure that the party goes into the election as a formidable force is raising an all-embracing committee with the mandate of the national leadership to resolve all post-primary election issues.

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APC NewsIsaac Kekemeke
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