The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has reacted to allegations that he was in cahoots with some governors of the All Progressives Congress to remove the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomole.
While denying any involvement in any attempt to remove the former Edo State governor, Mr Akeredolu accused Mr Oshiomhole of exhibiting incompetence in the handling of the party’s recently concluded primaries across the country.
In a statement by his Senior Special Adviser on Special Duties and Strategy, Doyin Odebowale, Mr Akeredolu said APC primaries exposed the incompetence of Mr Oshiomhole. He described the exercise as a “political charade” and a revelation of “a shocking proclivity towards banditry and impunity.”
He asserted that recent events had justified his opposition to Mr Oshiomhole’s election as party chairman.
A group of party members staged a protest at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja on Tuesday alleging that Mr Akeredolu and other “conservative” governors were planning to remove Mr Oshiomole and scuttle the efforts of the party towards winning the 2019 general election.
The group pointedly described the Ondo State governor as a mole in the APC, whose recent actions could result in Buhari losing Ondo State.
The crises in the APC followed the outcome of the conduct of the governorship and national assembly primaries across the country, where the National Working Committee seems to have undermined the powers and influence of the governors.
A number of governors protested against the final list of candidates approved by the Oshiomole-led NWC, and had called on President Buhari to intervene to reverse the trend.
Mr Akerdolu is particularly livid over the failure of some of his preferred candidates to make the list of candidates to be fielded by the party in the Senate and House of Representatives, despite being in firm control of the party machinery in the state.
Mr Akeredolu said those who feel aggrieved deserve the right to demand justice, including calling for Mr Oshiomhole’s removal.
The governor, however, restated his commitment to work “assiduously” for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election, who he said is loved by the people of Ondo State.
Referring to the protest in Abuja on Tuesday, Mr Akeredolu described the organisers of the protest as “opportunists,” and denied that he led governors of Ogun, Kaduna Adamawa and Ekiti States against Mr Oshiomhole’s leadership.
He said he found the report laughable and distracting, adding that as a fiercely independent personality, he was not about to change his attitude to please any person or a group of persons.
“There is no truth in the whole contrivance. The governor has been pre-occupied with matters of governance in Ondo State for which he was elected,” the statement said.
Mr Akeredolu recalled his “noble interventions” as Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president at critical moments in the cause of the “progressives”, including in restoring Mr Oshiomhole’s stolen mandate.
“The governor had expressed preference for someone else during the contest for the office of the Chairman of the Party,” the statement further read.
“He did not hide his opposition to Mr Oshiomole’s aspiration for the simple reason that the leadership of a party, especially the one just emerging from a merger, should distance itself from egregious and inherently destructive narcissism.
“Recent events seem to justify this position as prescient. Only sycophants will fail to see the obvious. Mr President would not have expressed worries over the crises in the party if everything had gone on smoothly.
“The handlers of the mob strive in vain to set the President against certain government functionaries considered antagonistic to their pernicious scheme for dominance.
“Their devious plot to outsmart those perceived as opposing their expansionist tendency compelled them to take desperate measures. Anyone endowed with an attitude of sobriety should have seen the need for calm.
“Rather than retrace their steps and display genuine contrition, their desperation pushes them to embrace measures capable of not only hurting the party, but, regrettably, the president, whom they pretend to love so much.”
Mr Akeredolu said it was ludicrous that anyone would consider him a conservative.
“Those who collected varying and humongous amounts as fees from aspirants during the last grandiose charade called primaries and submitted names dictated to them by a cabal, notorious for capturing political power for unbridled pillage, should be bold to explain their real motives to the people. They should be honest enough to deal with the issues,” the statement added.
“Events, which took place across the country during the political charade, have exposed not only sheer incompetence on the part of the national leadership of the party, but painfully, it has revealed a shocking proclivity towards banditry and impunity.
“It is becoming clear, increasingly, that party leadership at that level is seriously challenged in terms of capacity for serious engagements.
“Arakunrin Akeredolu, SAN, does not need to move from ‘North’ to ‘South’ to collect signatures from victims of electoral heist. He was in Ondo State throughout last week.
“He was at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, to deliver a lecture on restructuring a few days ago. He is at presently in Canada on a working visit.
“Only the mob and their hirers can explain the imagined movement from North to South. However, those who feel aggrieved reserve the right to demand that justice be done. If this includes the removal of Mr Oshiomole, so be it.
“May we seize this opportunity to reiterate the fact that the people of Ondo State are favourably disposed to the second term bid of Mr President.
“Our people are unique; they are unwavering in their support for justice. They alone determine what is in their best interest at all times. The President is loved by the people of Ondo State.
“All of us shall work, assiduously, for the President’s victory at the polls next year. We do not need any band of mendicants ready for hire to remind us of this sacred patriotic duty.”