The governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, in the last Ondo governorship election, Olusola Oke and his supporters may soon head back to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The move is regarded as a strategy to fortify the APC ahead of the general elections of 2019, with a focus to ensure that the party maintains control over Ondo State.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr. Oke’s return to the party is dependent on the outcome of a meeting between a special committee set up by the AD leadership and the leadership of the APC in Ondo State.
Mr. Oke who aspired to run on the APC ticket for the governorship election, left the party with his followers to AD after he faulted the outcome of the primaries won by the current governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.
He earlier left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the APC, shortly after Goodluck Jonathan failed to return as Nigerian president in 2015.
He got the ticket of the AD and contested the November 24, 2016 election, but failed to realise his dream of becoming the governor of Ondo State.
A few members of his campaign who left with him to AD subtly returned to the APC, while Mr. Oke and majority of supporters remained in the party.
But Mr. Akeredolu and the APC in the state had insisted that those who left the party and worked against it in the last election should be punished for anti-party activities if ever they were allowed to return.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that AD members reached a decision to return to APC at an emergency meeting held in December at the office of Mr. Oke’s running mate, Gani Dauda, with most of them driven by their desire to prepare for the 2019 elections.
“The meeting was called by the leaders of the party because some members were angling for elective positions and needed to know the state of things within the party,” a source within the party said.
“The meeting was held, but Oke was not there and three key issues were for determination: whether they stay back in AD, go back to the APC or decamp to the PDP.
“About 600 out of about 800 persons voted that there should be a return to the APC; 100 voted to remain in the party, while 64 voted to move to the PDP.”
He, however, said the party leadership constituted a committee to interface with the APC before a decision can be reached whether to finally move to the APC or not.
The committee, it was gathered, had concluded meetings with the APC leadership, and was expected to brief the stakeholders in the AD later this month before a final decision would be taken.
When contacted on the issue, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Ondo State, Abayomi Adesanya, confirmed a meeting between the AD and the APC, but said he had no details of the meeting because he had not been fully briefed.
“I am aware that discussions were ongoing, but I cannot comment on it now because I have not been fully briefed on the matter,” Mr. Adesanya said.
“What I can tell you is that we welcome people who want to come to the party, provided they will not create problems for us, particularly when their ambitions are not realised.”
A media aide to Mr. Oke, Rotimi Ogunleye, also confirmed the development, but said Mr. Oke was yet to take any decision on the matter.
“As a leader, it is only democratic for him to listen to the majority that have decided that a return to the APC was the way forward,” Mr. Ogunleye said.
“Even if he disagrees with the decision, he could only ensure that the will of the majority prevails as a democratic.
“However, the outcome of the interface between the parties would determine his next move.”