The crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State may have taken a new turn as leaders of the party in Akoko North West have accused the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, of working against the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The leaders, who addressed journalists on Monday, said the governor’s support for his allies who defected to the Action Alliance (AA), was affecting the fortunes of the party as it faces the presidential election this Saturday.
The leaders then used the opportunity to alert Mr Buhari and the national leadership of the party of a looming defeat of the APC presidential candidate in Ondo State due to what they described as anti-party activities of Mr Akeredolu.
They alleged that Mr Akeredolu had mobilised all the state and local government machinery and party resources to support his political allies who are contesting on the platform of an opposition party, AA.
In order to avert defeat on Saturday, the party leaders demanded that Mr Buhari and the national leadership of the party should relate directly with the party’s candidates in the states instead of through the governor.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the leaders, Thalis Apalowo alleged that Mr Akeredolu disbursed money meant for Ondo APC to his political allies in Ondo AA for the postponed elections and that he had continued such serious anti-party activities ahead of this Saturday’s polls.
Following the controversies that trailed the emergence of candidates of the APC after the primaries, some aggrieved members of the party, loyal to the governor, defected to the AA to actualise their dreams.
This added to the political conflict between Mr Akeredolu and the senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Ajayi Boroffice, who was favoured for the ticket at the expense of other aspirants who were put forth by the governor.
One of such candidates is human rights lawyer and activist, Tunji Obayomi, who is challenging Mr Boroffice on the platform of the AA.
The leaders had expressed their support for Mr Borrofice to return to the Senate as well as Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo as the candidate for the House of Representative to represent Akoko north-east/north-west federal constituency.
“Despite this reality, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has continued to finance the AA and its candidates in Ondo State. It, therefore, indicates that the governor is indirectly funding the presidential aspiration of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,” the leaders allege.
“It is a known fact that the leadership of AA in Ondo State has complied with the directives of their National leaders to work for the success of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and all PDP candidates in Ondo State.
“It is no longer news that the media has reported the involvement of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in anti-party activities. What the media is yet to report is that the governor has mobilised the machinery of the government of Ondo State and local councils to work for his preferred candidates in the Action Alliance (AA).
“For us, we consider the report that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu disbursed the money meant for Ondo APC to his political allies in Ondo AA as the height of anti-party activities. In Ondo North senatorial district and other parts of Ondo State, the money meant for APC was distributed to members of AA.”
However, the Commissioner for Information, Yemi Olowolabi, has denied the allegations.
In a rebuttal made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, the commissioner said the statement containing the allegations erroneously alleged that Mr Akeredolu is financing the activities of the Action Alliance (AA).
“Still threading the path of error, the statement described Governor Akeredolu as ‘the principal threat to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and other APC candidates in Ondo State,” Mr Olowolabi’s statement read.
“Nothing can be farther from the truth. In actual sense, Governor Akeredolu’s campaign activities and record of achievements in office have been a major boost for the re-election of President Buhari and indeed all APC candidates in the state.
“However, from the contents of his statement, Mr Apalowo must have fallen victim of deliberate misinformation by some mischievous politicians.
“For the record, and perhaps to rescue Apalowo from the gully of distortions, especially this allegation that the governor is working against President Buhari, it is important to let the world know that Governor Akeredolu donated and branded over 20 buses to the Buhari\Osinbajo campaigns in the state.
“The governor also set up one of the best-equipped political campaign office in the south-west region of the country. This is in addition to flooding the capital city and other major towns across the state with Buhari\Osinbajo campaign billboards, while at the same time sponsoring radio and television commercials of the Buhari\Osinbajo campaign.
“It is also on record that as the leader of the APC in the state, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, set up and inaugurated the Ondo State presidential campaign council made up of eminent leaders and members of the APC in Ondo State.
“He organised hugely successful political rallies in the state’s three senatorial districts in Owo, Akure and Ore respectively, between February 12 and 13, where he campaigned for the re-election of President Buhari and all the candidates of the APC, most of who were present at the rallies.
“Now to address the issue of disbursement which was mischievously distorted in Apalowo’s statement, the governor met with selected APC leaders on the eve of the postponed election, where funds meant for party agents and other logistics were released.
“Those who attended the meeting were party leaders drawn from the 18 local government areas. They were the APC party local government chairmen, women leaders and local government caretaker chairmen, and other three leaders, all of the APC from across the state.
“The governor would like to reassure his supporters, and indeed all loyal members of the APC all over the state that he remains committed to ensure the success of President Buhari and the party in the state at the polls.
“He, therefore, urges all members of APC in Ondo State to continue to work for the success of the President, assuring them that President Muhammadu Buhari will win, handsomely, the election in Ondo State.”