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By: Ade Adeleke
The alleged move by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to dump his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the major opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the wake of internal political wrangling confronting the ruling party in Ondo state, has started blowing gaskets among major actors.
SUNSHINETRUTH gathered that whilr the state Chapter of APC described the allegation against the governor as unfounded and strategy by the opposition party to cause disaffection among its members, the South west chapter of PDP said it would welcome the governor to its fold without any special treatment.
It was rumoured that Akeredolu allegedly on April 29, 2019 started negotiation with the National Working Committee of the PDP in Abuja for a soft landing as alternative platform to run for second term in 2020 if his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) fails to field him as the party’s candidate in next year gubernatorial election in the State over his alleged suspension for anti-party activities.
The source said the strain relationship between Akeredolu and the National chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and his rift with the National Leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are serious major factors the governor considered to quit the APC for PDP so that what happened to governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State who was denied second term ticket by the APC would not happen to him.
Some of the demands allegedly listed by the PDP include Formal declaration to join the PDP with due process at ward level, no Automatic Ticket as the governor was told to pass through primary election to fly the party’s flag even if the leadership of the party would rally support for him.
A Source also told our Correspondent that other demands included dissolution of his cabinet to accommodate PDP members with at least 40% appointments given out to PDP, no collapse of party structures for Akeredolu as the existing structures will be maintained pending their constitutional dissolution which was confirmed to be this year.
The source further confirmed that the PDP also demanded for the slot of the Deputy Governorship Candidate. According to him, the deputy governorship candidate must be a member of the PDP from Ondo South.
Speaking on the rumour in a Statement on Monday, Ayo Fadaka, the Zonal Publicity Secretary, PDP declared that anyone including the governor who wishes to join the opposition Party will be welcome into its ranks provided such a person or group recognises the fact that no special privileges will be accorded him/them upon defection.
PDP said, “thus should Governor Rotimi Akeredolu desire to join our Party today, he will be welcome as a fresh member with no special privileges of any kind”.
Fadaka noted that, “It is common knowledge that Gubernatorial election holds in Ondo State next year and prominent members are already getting prepared to take a shot at becoming the Party’s flagbearer, the Party shall at the fullness of time organize a primary election to pick whoever will become our candidate in that election”.
In the Statement tagged “RE AKEREDOLU’S RUMOURED DEFECTION PLANS”, “Our attention has been drawn to rumoured defection plans by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to PDP. This rumor is predicated on the recurring challenges the Governor continues to encounter in his Party, APC”.
“It will be recalled that this development is responsible for his hijack of AA as a platform which some of his candidates who were denied ticket in APC used to contest the last election”.
“We however wish to state most unequivocally that the PDP in Ondo State remains cohesive, solid and vibrant through hard work and commitment of leaders and members of the Party and as such is not primed to be taken over by anyone, irrespective of his status”.
Fadaka said, “We also declare that anyone who wishes to join our Party will also be welcome into our ranks provided such a person or group recognises the fact that no special privileges will be accorded him/them upon joining”.
“It is common knowledge that Gubernatorial election holds in Ondo State next year and prominent members are already getting prepared to take a shot at becoming the Party’s flagbearer, the Party shall at the fullness of time organize a primary election to pick whoever will become our candidate in that election”.
Fadaka opined that, “It is important to again underscore the fact the Party will maintain the tradition of picking its candidate through a free and fair primary election that will be rancour free. In conclusion, the hoopla surrounding Akeredolu’s desire to join our Party remains a rumor and currently not an issue within our Party”.
The South west PDP said, “we therefore enjoin our members in Ondo State to disregard the rumor and continue to promote and extend the frontiers of the Party in their various communities”.
Reacting to the rumoured defection of Akeredolu, the State APC Publicity Secretary, Alex Kalejaye, said the governor had no plan or link with the opposition party.
In a Statement tagged, “AKEREDOLU HAS NO LINK WITH THE PDP”, the the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Ondo State said the speculation that the State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, is hobnobbing with the Peoples Democratic Party, with a view to defecting to that the opposition ahead of the next governorship election was not true.
APC considered the rumour as wicked and a complete lie, and urged the public to disregard it.
“Though we would have preferred to ignore this irresponsible rumour, it is however expedient to dispel the rumour, so it will not pollute the minds of our members, and mislead the public.
Kalejaye said, “the Governor has never contemplated joining a party of the conservatives, let alone contesting election on its platform. He hails from the bedrock of progressives in the State, and has always been a progressive”.
“It is also imperative to inform the rumour-mongers that Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, invested so much into the development of APC in Ondo State. Today, he is well respected and appreciated in the APC, and therefore has no reason whatsoever to flirt with another political party”.
APC said PDP is jittery and intimidated by the sterling performance of the Akeredolu-led administration, and are planning to distract him through whatever means.
Kalejaye noted that, “this is a mission in futility. The government is not perturbed about this or any other ploy. The revolution in the infrastructure development will be sustained; massive investment drive won’t slow down; commitment to workers’ welfare remains a top priority”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the good people of Ondo State, who are the ultimate beneficiaries of these initiatives have consistently maintained that they are comfortable with the present administration, and will always support it”.
“The Ondo State APC is confident that the party will continue to fortify its strength, and support the government in its development drive, building of the party and its members. The party appeals to its supporters to disregard the baseless and misleading publication, and consign it to the dustbin of history, where it rightly belongs”.
Reacting in a telephone interview with SUNSHINETRUTH, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Segun Ajiboye described the PDP statement as unfounded and mere plot to gain cheap publicity.
“PDP leaders are living in fool-paradise, the governor is a committed, reliable and undisputed leader of APC in Ondo state, why would he be thinking of leaving the party. PDP leaders are fooling themselves. The rumour is a mere plot to give themselves (PDP leaders) cheap publicity”.