The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Sunday met with members of the Unity Forum and governorship aspirants in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in renewed efforts to unite party elements against opposition parties.
The forum, led by former deputy governor, Ali Olanusi, had waged war against the Akeredolu government since he assumed office, and during the 2019 general election.
Although members of the forum are all of the APC, they have held tenaciously to the “Aketi must go mantra”, and had been the government’s main opposition.
Mr Olanusi had joined forces with Olusegun Abraham, a two-time aspirant for the APC ticket, as well as other disenchanted members of the party to stop Mr Akeredolu from returning as governor for a second term.
In the run up to the primaries, the forum endorsed Olusola Oke as its preferred candidate, but was defeated eventually by the state governor at the polls.
Some of the aspirants had individually pledged to support the governor in his return bid, but the meeting between Mr Olanusi and the national leader of the Zenith Labour Party, Olusegun Mimiko, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, caused a disquiet within the ranks of the APC.
The ZLP is poised to field the state’s deputy governor, Ayoola Ajayi, as its candidate, after he formally joined the party on Friday.
Fears within the APC is that even if Mr Ajayi fails to win the election, his influence might tilt the pendulum in favour of the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, a popular candidate within the central senatorial district.
The aim of the Sunday meeting was well captured by the Chairman of the APC in Ondo State, Ade Adetimehin, who noted that it was an opportunity for members of the party to put behind them the differences that existed before and after the party primary.
According to him, all hands must be on deck to achieve the collective aspirations of winning the October governorship election.
Mr Adetimehin enjoined all the stakeholders to always explore the use of the party’s internal mechanism of crisis resolution.
“We are one, APC is my party, your party and our party. Akeredolu is my governor, your governor and our governor. Under the leadership of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, whose appellation is known as AKETI, all of us now belong to Aketi and Team APC,” Mr Adetimehin said.
Mr Akeredolu, who vowed to sustain the ongoing reconciliation efforts, urged the stakeholders to replicate the meeting at the local government, ward and unit levels for the party’s victory in October.
The governor also assured of more high-level stakeholders’ meetings to demonstrate the oneness of the APC and determination to retain the state in the October polls.
He said his campaign of the governorship election would be flagged off in the first week of September 2020.
Mr Olanusi; another former deputy governor, Lasisi Oluboyo; Mr Akeredolu’s running mate, Lucky Aiyedatiwa; a federal lawmaker, Ade Adeogun; as well as aspirants in the July primaries were also present at the meeting.
A former South-west vice-chairman of the APC, Patrick Akinyelure, commended the presence of the gladiators at the meeting.
Aspirants who were present include Isaac Kekemeke, Bukola Adetula, Blessing Akinsehinwa, and Dayo Faduyile.
They all reportedly agreed to forget the wrangling of the past and support the Akeredolu/Ayeditiwa ticket.
Others including Ife Oyedele, Sola Iji, Olusegun Abraham, Olusola Oke, Jimi Odimayo also reportedly sent representatives and promised to join the APC team ahead of the polls.
This will be the second meeting the governor would hold with his political opponents in pursuing a reconciliation towards his victory at the polls come October 10.
He had met with the aggrieved aspirants two Sunday’s ago, after which they pledged to work with him during the election.
Leading the group of aspirants at the meeting were Olusole Oke, Isaac Kekemeke, Ife Oyedele and Olusegun Abraham.