President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday in Akure met with governorship aspirants of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State, to solicit their support for the candidate of the party, Rotimi Akeredolu.
He commended the aspirants for their loyalty to the party despite losing to Mr. Akeredolu in the September 3 primary election.
Mr. Akeredolu was declared winner of the primary election after polling 699 votes, a victory that was intensely challenged by Olusola Oke, Ajayi Boroffice and Olusegun Abraham, top runners at the primary election of the party.
PREMIUM TIMES, however, gathered that Messrs. Boroffice and Abraham, who voiced their discontent with the outcome of the election and choice of Mr. Akeredolu, did not attend the meeting with the President.
The meeting with the president was attended by about 19 aspirants, some of whom are already involved in the campaign project of the candidate.
While Mr. Boroffice who came fourth with 471 votes, had maintained a low profile since the crisis over the choice of the candidate, Mr. Abraham, who came second with 639 votes, on the other hand took the matter to court, seeking the nullification of the primary election over acclaimed irregularities.
Mr. Boroffice and Abraham had maintained their membership of the party, though unhappy with the turn of events. However, Olusola Oke, who placed third with 576 votes in the primary, moved to Alliance for Democracy where he is currently the candidate for next Saturday’s election.
One of the aspirants who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, Tunji Ariyomo, said the meeting underscored the president’s respect for the aspirants.
“The meeting was to ensure that we are on the same page as we enter into the election, and to ensure that all the aspirants were behind the candidate,” he said.
“This shows that we are united and we are approaching the election as a united party.”
He said the president commended the aspirants for staying behind the candidate who won the election, given that in every contest one person would emerge winner.
A statement by the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, said President Buhari told the aspirants at the meeting attended by other party leaders, that the unity of the party was crucial for the outcome of next Saturday’s election.
“I am very pleased that those of you who lost the primaries are still very much in the party,” the president said.
“That you lose elections doesn’t mean you should walk away, you keep on trying. I went to the Supreme Court three times in my bid to become the President of Nigeria.
“I like your high spirit and your commitment to the party and I hope your constituencies are taking note of that.”
The President, who was accompanied to the meeting by the Senate President, APC National Chairman, several APC governors and ministers, told the party faithful in Ondo that he looked forward to a successful election next week.
President Buhari assured Nigerians that determined, steadfast and patriotic people in the APC-led government will transform the nation’s ailing economy, which, he said, was run aground by the party that governed Nigeria for 16 years from 1999-2015.
In his remarks, the representative of the aspirants, Tunji Abayomi, assured the president that they had resolved to deliver Ondo to APC.
“No single aspirant left the party after the primaries. Those who left the party were not party members; they returned to where they belonged,’’ Mr. Abayomi said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of APC Elders Council, Ondo State, Olorunnimbe Farukanmi, said Mr. Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was eminently qualified to lead the state.
“We have fielded an experienced, informed, hardworking and capable legal practitioner to work with President Buhari to carry out massive industrial development, job creation, eradication of poverty and massive economic improvement in the nation,’’ he said.