Ondo 2020: Akeredolu, Otetubi and APC primary poll - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

Ondo 2020: Akeredolu, Otetubi and APC primary poll

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By Yemi Akintomide

Politics, especially in our clime, remains an unpredictable game even when you're deep into it and playing like a master; however, no winner, no master yet until the final whistle is blow and the referee brought the game to a stop.

One of the active participants in the already scheduled 2020 Governorship Election in Ondo State and the incumbent governor, Arakunrin Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN) has been displaying and unveiling some of his hidden dribbling tactics and skills to outshine other players for him to win the Golden boot for another fresh four years of reign as master of the game.

But, unlike in 2016, where even with little experience, poor skill and largely amateur dribbling tactics of the lawyer turned politician, he won both the primary and general elections; however, its a different ball game in 2020 as he would needed all the skills and known tactics in the world to achieve that feat once again.

So, like the Yoruba adage will say "oju omode o nkuro nibi to  ti mu igbin lana" that is, a young lad will always has his eyes glued to the very spot he picked a snail the other day; Akeredolu has his eyes on the ticket of his All Progressives Congress, APC, to run for his reelection for another term of four years, so he is vigorously agitating for same form of primary poll that elected him as the party flag bearer in 2016, an indirect primary.

For those who don't know, indirect primary will favour a sitting governor who is in total control of the party Executive members in the state in addition to his large number of political appointees and aides, all of which will form the greater percentage of approved delegates that will vote in the primary election.

Meanwhile, direct primary will automatically send any sitting governor out (who is not favored by power that be). Former Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode was a victim of direct  primary in 2019 Governorship election.

Now, the question is how and who will help Governor Akeredolu secure a indirect primary to enable him repeat his 2016 magical victory?

Though, he did it in 2016 without the support of the acclaimed national leader of APC, former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Can he do it again even if none of those power brokers in APC will want to help him?

This is where Akeredoku has to put all the new skills and tactics he learnt on the job to practice; firstly, he has to put his house (Ondo APC) in order in preparation for the primary. This is where the factional chairman, Idowu Otetubi comes in. Secondly, the need to reach out to the national headquarters of APC in Abuja to curry it favour for the unpopular indirect primary poll.

On Otetubi and Unity Forum, Akeredolu and his team believed that with the recent success it recorded by  forcefully dragging Otetubi back into the team and making the later renounced his membership of Unity group and at the same time, discontinued the lawsuit against the leadership of Ade Adetimehin State Executive committee at the Federal High Court in Akure, the State capital, the coast is clear for the conduct of indirect primary poll in July.

The next huddle was the Abuja connection where it was thickly rumoured that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu went to Abuja last weekend  with a whooping sum if N850 million as gift to members of National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. 

A source who claimed to be in the know, confirmed that Akeredolu dropped the bribe in cash last weekend for his trusted people at the party's headquarters to compromise members of the National Working Committee of APC to settle for the option of indirect primary for Ondo State Governorship Election.

The source also revealed that part of the bribe was meant for selected individuals at the party's headquarters to execute some dirty jobs for Governor Akeredolu which included; silencing all the vibrant opposition voices to the aspiration of Akeredolu within the APC in Abuja and Ondo State, while a separate huge funds was kept aside for some selected journalists to embark on an aggressive campaign for the adoption of indirect primaries by the National Working Committee of the APC. 

"There is nothing in the constitution of APC that states that the party can only adopt direct primary when there are factions in the party. A certain Otetubi and his co travellers that sold the idea to Akeredolu are only living in a fool's paradise. It should be noted that Lagos State adopted direct primary in 2019, yet there were no factions within the Lagos APC,"  the source concluded.

Otetubi on the other hand, was rumoured to have collected the sum of ten million naira from Governor Akeredolu before he resigned as chairman of APC Unity Forum to declare support for Akeredolu.

It was confirmed that Barrister Bankole Oluwajana, the Southwest vice chairman of APC who informed Akeredolu that the decision of the National Executive of APC on Edo state primary election was because their exist two factions in Edo state APC. Therefore to avoid direct primary in Ondo state, Bankole prevailed on Akeredolu to do everything to bring the other faction to merge with Adetimehin faction.

That was how the governor was said to have contacted Idowu Otetubi to discuss with him and bring him on board.

However, a lawyer and one of the thirteen  plaintiffs in the Otetubi led legal battle  against the Adetimehin led State Exco, Tolu Babaleye has disabused the minds of members of the Unity Forum in the State over the action of the forum factional chairman, arguing that the case is still on course despite Otetubi action.

"As much I respect the rights of Hon. Idowu Otetubi to withdraw his support for anyone or pledge his support for any other person at anytime, he should also respect the rights of others to press home with their political rights and entitlements moving forward.

"I wish to state it categorically that there are 13 Plaintiffs who are suing in Representative capacity for and on behalf of all the 203 wards Excos, 18 LG Excos and State Executives of the APC faction of the Unity Group in Ondo State.  Idowu Otetubi and Gani Muhammed are just two out of the lots. Otetubi has the right to withdraw his name but he cannot discontinue the suit without the consent of other Plaintiffs (Claimants) in the suit and those who gave them consent from all the 203 wards and 18 councils in Ondo State."

Babaleye said the reason "why those holding sway in the State are desperate at buying anybody buyable is the fear of Direct Primary. We are aware of all the undercurrents and quest for Indirect Primary. Let me assure our teeming supporters in the Unity Group in Ondo State that the case is still on and alive in court. It is adjourned to June 11 at the Federal High Court Akure. A new Acting Chairman and Secretary would be appointed to replace Idowu Otetubi and Gani Muhammed soon."

Other aspirants contesting the party primary with the incumbent had collectively and individually, rejected the indirect primary been fraudulently pushed forward by the governor's team, including all the six aspirants from Owo, Akeredolu's hometown. They are: Jimi Odimayo, Mrs. Jumoke Anifowoshe, Dapo Adelegan, Olusola Oke (SAN), Ife  Oyedele, Pastor Segun Abraham, Olayide Adelami, Isaacs Kekemeke and Ambassador Olusola Iji.

As the fifteen aspirants go to the party primary poll in July this year to pick the party flag bear for the October, 10, 2020 Governor Election, suffice to say that APC may not be so lucky again as it did it 2016 if that bad scenario reoccurs through a poorly conduct of party primary. The Adams Oshiomole led national working committee must put this cogent point to consideration when adopting a primary for Ondo Governorship poll.

YEMI AKINTOMIDE wrote from Ireakari Estate 2, Orita-Obele, Akure. 08069304292