Ondo Guber race: Chief Akeju, Ilaje-Ijaw unite for Kekemeke

Compiled by: Oluwatosin Adesola

ONDO 2020: WHY WE ARE SOLIDLY BEHIND YOU, ILAJE-IJAW GROUP TELLS KEKEMEKE

The Ilaje-Ijaw United Front (IIUF) has assured Chief Isaacs Kekemeke of its solid support and promised to contribute its quota to his success at the forthcoming elections in Ondo State.

It gave the assurances during a solidarity visit to the frontline gubernatorial aspirant in Akure on Friday. The group was led by its president Otunba Sylvester Ikuejamoye and its secretary Hon. Jemi Samuel.

Speaking for the group, Otunba Ikuejamoye reminded Kekemeke of the role he played in settling the war-like hostilities between the Ilaje and the Ijaw when he was the secretary to the State Government under Governor Olusegun Agagu.

According to him, “The two ethnic groups had been engaged in an ethnic war leading to the loss of lives and properties. We are aware that you brokered peace by inviting the Agadagba and the Olugbo to Akure and made them to embrace and restore peace. That is leadership par excellence, and we owe you our gratitude for that feat.

“We also recall the unique cooperative loans scheme that you introduced to our womenfolk and mobilized them to partake in. We understand that the scheme has grown from the initial capital base of N2.5 million that you funded free of charge to over N18 million now.

“The scheme has released our women from the hands of burdensome loans schemes with their exhorbitant interest rates to yours of relatively small interest rate. We note your plan to broaden this within our area and beyond it to the State level when you are privileged to assume office as our governor.

“We have made reference to these cases out of several just to let you know that you have legacies among us that refresh our memories, all the time, of your elegant and beneficial interventions in the lives of our people.”

Otunba Ikuejamoye gave a brief background and history of the IIUF and went on to speak on the plans of the former attorney general and commissioner for justice, recalling that his group was represented at his meeting with the people in Igbokoda a few weeks earlier during which he spoke of his plans for the area.

“Looking ahead, we are here also because of your innovative plans for our area in particular and the State in general. Specifically, we are excited by your plan to establish a factory for the processing of our fish and turn them into a foreign exchange earner through exportation.

“We also note your plan to make our coastline a tourist destination by introducing recreational boats and attractions together with appropriate hospitality facilities that will become irresistible to tourists.

“So also are we impressed by your plan to commercialize and export our local cassava product, pupuru and our unique tasty fish soup xxx. Of course we have no doubts that our people will benefit tremendously from your special farming-with-salary programme, entrepreneurship development agenda, as well as your plans to establish cottage industries and basic health centres all over the State.

“Needless to add that your plan for free and compulsory education from primary to the end of secondary school and your promise to cause moderate and affordable fees to be charged in our universities are very pleasing and hence highly attractive to us.”

Continuing Ikuejamoye said, “Sir, you are just one of several aspirants in our federal constituency. But you have stood out taller than the others. You were not only a legislator representing our area, you have served the State meritoriously as Attorney General and commissioner for justice, as commissioner for works, lands, housing and transport, as secretary to the State government, and as pioneer State chairnan.of the APC.

“None of your co-contestants possesses this type of intimidating credentials. Certainly you have been an outstanding ambassador of our area and a great son that has made us proud. As you can see from the foregoing.”

Continued the Otunba, “we have more than enough reasons to throw our weight behind you. Ours is not a light weight as we are well rooted in Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government areas where we have been promoting youth development through academic and sports competitions coupled with scholarship and trophy awards.”

Responding, Chief Kekemeke thanked the group for volunteering its support for him. He expressed his delight that his past contributions to the area were not lost on the people. According to him, “Mine were humble contributions and I am glad to be reminded of their values to the people.

“Of all the aspirants, I am not aware of any that has clearly defined programmes for the people as we have. And quite obviously, you have captured the programmes very well indicating that yours is a highly articulate and intellectual group.

“In canvassing the programmes, our objective is to fight hunger, poverty, unemployment, insecurity and decayed infrastructure. I dare say that you should hold me accountable for this when I get into office. But for me to get there, you must work and work among our people to encourage them to deliver their votes to us, first at the primary elections and then at the general elections.”

He reminded them that in addition to the programmes that they had mentioned, he planned to internationalize fishing and swimming competitions in the area.

ONDO 2020: KEKEMEKE IS THE ONLY ASPIRANT THAT CAN UNITE THE PARTY – CHIEF ERASTUS AKEJU

A top elder of the All Progressives Congress in Ondo State, Chief Erastus Akeju, has declared that of all the gubernatorial aspirants in the party, only Chief Isaacs Kekemeke is best positioned to unite the party on being elected the Governor of the State. He therefore appealed to party members to vote massively for him during the forthcoming primary elections. He spoke during an interaction with reporters after a stakeholders meeting of the party in Akure on Friday.

82-year old Chief Akeju has been a frontline leader of the party since the days of Alliance for Democracy. He served as the State commissioner for works during the administration of Governor Adebayo Adefarati.

He has since then remained a highly respected and revered leader of the progressives within and outside Ondo State.

Chief Akeju recalled that what later became known as the Unity Forum started in his Akure home with Kekemeke as a prime mover and facilitator.

According to him, “The group was then known as Concerned Elders Forum. Our objective was to provide an informal forum for those of us who were not in the government to interact and continue to remind ourselves that we are still of the same family.”

“What really happened at that time,” he continued, “was that the Governor was dealing exclusively with those who supported him at the primary election, those who became known as members of Aketi Team.

“Remember that the Governor won with less than twenty-four percent of the delegates at the primary election. By implication, over seventy-five percent of the party membership did not support him. But instead of bringing everyone on board, he concentrated on his Team.

“Ironically, he marginalized some members of the Team also. By that time he had stage-managed the removal of Kekemeke as the State chairman of the party.

“That increased the number of disaffected members so that by the time we started the Forum, the marginalized and hence the aggrieved members of the party could not have been less than eighty per cent. It was this large majority of party members that the Concerned Elders decided to mobilize and give a sense of belonging.”

According to him, when the former deputy governor Alhaji Alli Olanusi joined the group, the meeting was shifted to his house in Akure to honour him as the highest political office holder and also as a member of our party’s board of trustees. He became the chairman while Kekemeke was made the co-chairman by reason of his position as former chairman of the party.

Continuing, Chief Akeju narrated that, “With time, some of the members began to manifest their gubernatorial ambition. They, of course, saw the group as a platform that they could use.

“Their idea was that the group would eventually choose one among them as its concensus candidate. Kekemeke was one of the aspirants but he did not believe in that idea. He preferred that the aspirants should pursue their ambitions outside the platform. What he did next was to opt out of the group to start work on his ambition.

“As a matter of fact, that was a fateful decision as it later put him far ahead of the others in the field. It was not until a few weeks ago when the concensus arrangement crumbled that they started rushing out to set up their structures, and that was over one year of Kekemeke’s establishment of his own structure.

“One thing that is unique about Kekemeke Is that all that time, he was not hostile to the group , neither was he unfriendly with the Governor. For example, when our leaders led by Tinubu came to broker peace in the State, and a decision was taken to set up a leaders council to implement the decisions of the meeting, Akeredolu who was to be the chairman of the council personally nominated Kekemeke to serve as his secretary.

“Today, both sides, the Governors side and the Unity Forum, respect him very much, first as a former chairman of the party and second as a moderate who has continued to relate very well with everybody. If we want somebody, a governor, who can unite the party then, Kekemeke is it.

“Remember that he was at the forefront in forming the party in the State. You also remember that he emerged as the pioneer state chairman. It was under his leadership that the APC won the elections during Buhari’s first coming. So, you are talking of someone that has worked closely and successfully with party members.

“In fact, many still see him as their chairman as they were not happy at the way he was removed. To them, his removal was like changing a winning horse. If he speaks today, therefore, they will listen to him. No other aspirant has that kind of leverage. No other aspirant can unite the party except him. That is one reason why most of us who are elders of the party are behind him.”

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