Crisis deepens in Ondo APC as ‘estranged’ members reinstate ‘sacked’ chairman

Rotimi Akeredolu
Rotimi Akeredolu

The structure of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Ondo State may be heading for the rocks barely nine months after it took over power in the state, as influential members of the party have established a parallel party leadership.

Crisis is brewing on the division created by the controversies which attended the party’s governorship primaries held in September last year.

Coincidentally, the fresh crisis stems on the heels of the visit of the party’s national leader, Bola Tinubu, to Akure last week.

Mr. Tinubu is reported to have spearheaded the opposition against Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s candidature in the November 2016 governorship election.

Although the matter of the suspension of the chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke, is being challenged in court, he (Kekemeke) convened a meeting of the party stakeholders in Akure on Tuesday, in which he was declared the authentic chairman of the party in the state.

Those who attended the meeting were those who, either had openly expressed their dissatisfaction with the emergence of Mr. Akeredolu as the party’s candidate at the primaries, or those accused of working against the party and Akeredolu during the governorship election.

Notable among them were the APC National Vice Chairman, (South-west), Pius Akinyelure; the senator representing Ondo North senatorial district, Ajayi Boroffice and the Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration, Bola Ilori, who also was the Alliance for Democracy(AD) campaign director for the election.

The party had accused most of them of anti-party activities, which was one of the grounds for  Mr. Kekemeke’s suspension.

The group however revealed their preparedness to run a factional APC, when they passed a vote of confidence on Mr. Kekemeke as the chairman of the party in Ondo State.

The state executive committee had removed Mr. Kekemeke under controversial circumstances and installed his deputy, Ade Adetimehin, as acting chairman of the party.

A former chairman of ward chairmen, James Kolawole, told PREMIUM TIMES that the allegations that they worked against the party during the election was false and unfounded as they all laboured for the party’s victory.

According to him, the governor and his loyalists were trying to ”push them out of the party” after they had worked so hard to restore the party to victory.

He said ‘more’ APC members would join them in another meeting that is being planned for next week, beside the over 500 persons that attended the Monday meeting.

“I, as chairman or of the all the ward chairmen worked very hard for the party to make sure we won the governorship,” he said. “I and many other persons that have been sidelined by the governor and his men campaigned across all the local government of the state to make sure that the APC emerged victorious.

“They told lies against us that we worked against the party.  They want to push us out of the party that we established even before they came, we will not allow them to do that. We will stand firm and do what we need to do.”

Mr. Akeredolu, against all appeals, had maintained that all those ”who worked against the party during the election were outsiders” and would need to reregister their membership at their respective wards before they would be recognised by his leadership.

The publicity secretary of the party in the state, Abayomi Adesanya, re-echoed the governor’s position when he said the party in the state did not recognise the agitators as members of the party given that they left the party and worked against it during the last governorship election.

He told PREMIUM TIMES that the party’s constitution was supreme and all those who were involved in anti-party activities should face the disciplinary action of the party.

Mr. Adesanya insisted that there was no faction in the APC in Ondo State and that, ”only one party leadership and secretariat is recognised.”

“I can assure that there is no faction in Ondo APC. There is just one party, one secretariat and one leadership”, said Mr. Adesanya.

“We learnt that there was a meeting of some political associates at the residence of the former chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke; yes they are free to meet, but that is not the meeting of the APC.

“Section 96 of the party’s constitution is clear about the venue of party meetings and it states clearly that the party leadership would decide where such meetings would hold.

“Isaac Kekemeke was investigated and duly suspended after he was given fair hearing and found guilty of antiparty activities, dereliction of duty, gross misconduct among others.

“Although he is still seen as a member of the party, he no longer has the right to convene any meeting or parade himself as the chairman of the party.

“Most of those who attended that meeting had left the party and worked against the party in the last election. If they want to return, they should go to the party wards and reregister as party members indicating that they have returned to the party, then we will begin to recognise them as members of the party.”

Mr. Adesanya also made available a letter from the APC headquarters, signed by the national secretary of the party, Mai Mala Buni, appointing Mr. Adetimehin as the acting chairman of the party “pending the determination by the national working committee, the report of the fact-finding committee set up by the state executive committee on the allegation of anti-party activity and other charges levelled against the state chairman.”

The letter dated 17th November 2017 was copied to the Deputy National Chairman, South; the national Vice Chairman, South-west, the state governor and security agencies in the state.

In his reaction, Mr. Kekemeke decalared ‘amnesty’ for all those who left the party in the heat of the last elections.

“Therefore, all members that left the party in annoyance or became less active in the party because of the fallout of the last gubernatorial election are hereby invited to return home to their party and are hereby granted unconditional amnesty with full rights and privileges as obtained before their ‘brief’ departure”, he said.

“We are specifically calling on Senator Boroffice, Dr. Segun Abraham and Chief Olusola Oke to come out strong for APC. Henceforth, our disagreements are now in the past and it is our collective duty to build a vibrant party,”

Meanwhile, Mr. Boroffice has said that Mr. Kekemeke will continue to be the party chairman since the national leadership of the party ”did not appoint any acting chairman.”

Mr. Boroffice defended Mr. Kekemeke, while attending the party’s stakeholders’ meeting on Monday.

Also in a statement signed by his media aide, Kayode Fakuyi, on Thursday, the senator dismissed a letter currently been circulated to announce the purported appointment of the deputy chairman of party as acting chairman as fake.

“In fact, the content of the fake letter has no constitutional backing. It reads more like an ordinary note than a party communication seeking to confer authority on anyone. It should also be noted that the National Chairman of APC has no such powers to direct any party official to author such letter. Only the National Executive Committee of the party has the powers to sack the state party chairman and appoint acting chairman. It is on record that the NEC of our party has not considered the matter and the NEC has not taken any position on the matter. The letter is fake in its entirety”, the statement was quoted him as saying.

The statement quoted him further, “Barr. Isaac Kekemeke remains the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State. If there is any allegation against the state chairman, the allegation should be investigated. However, nobody, no matter how highly placed, would be allowed to address such allegation with corruption and impunity. Fouling constitutional provisions of our dear party with an agenda to derive personal gains and satisfy bloated ego is corruption.

“The reported disciplinary committee-led by Omo’ba Abayomi Adesanya is unconstitutional. Aside fact that the committee breached the rules of fair hearing, the inauguration and composition lacked legality. The recommendations of such unconstitutional committee are null and void.

“It is instructive to note that the South-west leadership of the APC has set up a committee to investigate the allegation raised against the state chairman of APC in Ondo State. Until, the committee completes its work and submit its report to the National Executive Committee (NWC), any decision taken on the matter will be subjudice.”

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