Hon. Isaac Kekemeke, chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC in Ondo State has been at the centre of controversy over his alleged inclination towards one of the leading governorship aspirants in the state. The crisis led to his “sack” by two-third of the members of the State Working Committee, SWC of the party, a development that has drawn the national party to intevene.
Kekemeke is accused of collaborating with the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to project the frontline aspirant, Olusegun Abrahams in the contest to the displeasure of all other aspirants.
In this interview, the deep-rooted political operator responds to the issues pertaining to his alleged bias, his relationship with Tinubu and the party’s preparation for the primaries among other issues.Like a cat with nine lives, Kekemeke, in this interview with Vanguard, said he would “never bow to the blackmail and intimidation by these aspirants” who took on him instead of Asiwaju, who preferred Dr Olusegun Abraham above the other 23 aspirants standing for election this saturday.
Excerpts: What efforts are you making to appease aggrieved members of the party?
I think we should move from calling them aggrieved members to desperate members. They have transcended the line of party faithfulness, loyalty and commitment. What we have now are a few people who are becoming so desperate that they will stop at nothing to destabilise the party, debase it and give it a bad name. They have become spoilers and embarrassment to the leadership and teaming members of the party. They have also gone ahead to desecrate the culture and tradition of Akureland in their desperate moves and desire to embarrass the party. I also want to thank on behalf of the party, the Royal Majesty, Deji of Akureland Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi for reacting promptly that what they have done amount to desecration of the culture of Akure people and that everything will be done to make sure that they are brought to book. I want party members to begin to see that this is no longer a joke. It is an attempt by a few individuals to weaken and demonize the party leadership, so that they can leave the party weakened. Unfortunately, I want to assure them all that our party remains strong and we will not be weakened. I deliberately resisted making statements to enable us reconcile these differences immediately after elections. But the more I keep quiet, the more courage they get in their mischief making. They are fighting me for no reason because I am not the one to organise the party primaries. As at today, the process has been taken over by the National Executive Council through the National Working Committee and this is what is done everywhere. They have set up the machinery, the Governor of Jigawa is the chairman of the organising committee and his advance team is here already meeting with appropriate security agencies and sorting out logistics. So, where do I come in? The only thing they are doing now is to try to harass, intimidate and blackmail me to support them and I can never do that and as God liveth, they will never win.
The grouse of the aspirants is that it was your recommendation to the national leader that brought about the endorsement of Abraham?
Most of them that are fighting are people who have put aspirant tag on their heads. I am the only one who doesn’t have aspirant tag on my head. Their action is idiotic. It is Idiotic for anybody to say that somebody of Asiwaju’s status will be overwhelmed by my recommendation or will be dictated to by me. I think they are afraid to fight Asiwaju because they know the consequences, so, they want to fight me. I have decided to hand them over to God to fight them.
One of the aspirants, Rotimi Akeredolu, said that with the vote of no confidence from your colleagues in the exco that you should now step aside
My answer to him is that as former Attorney General, he is my predecessor in office and as a Senior Advocate, the people of Ondo State rejected him in 2012, so, he should not contest again. As lawyer, he knows that he didn’t need to contest because he was rejected in 2012. He was overwhelmingly rejected then why is he contesting again? That is the logic.
Some also allege that you are a mole working for the PDP?
They are the people working for the ruling party. If they are not working for the ruling party, why would they be demonising their national leadership? You demonised Asiwaju, Akinyelure, Kekekeme and all the known leaders of this party. They did everything to seal up the secretariat of the party. So, who is now working for the ruling party? And we will know those who dance with Mimiko anyway! We know them they are fifth columnists in our party. They want to weaken our party after which they will leave and join another party, we know them.
Who are these fifth columnists?
They know themselves and the party members know them.
Many of the aspirants feel that you didn’t support them because they are too big to be controlled by you?
The fact that you are an aspirant doesn’t make you bigger than anyone and I have told them in my various meetings with them that there is none of them that is more qualified than me to aspire to be governor. The mere fact that you aspire does not make you bigger than anybody, more brilliant than anybody or better than anyone.
What in your candid opinion is the solution to this crisis?
We have few disloyal party people, a few uncultured party people, very few of them who are trying to create the impression that something extraordinary is happening here and that there is crisis in our party. I will give an example, we have a 15-member working committee and 11 of them are working with me. We have only three of them who are making all the noise. We have state executive committee, and all the 18 chairmen are solidly behind me. We have a state executive committee where members were saying that their signatures were forged and they are not party to the drama of passing a vote of no confidence. So, where do they get the numbers? They went to court and said they had an injunction, they merely went to obtain a paper at the court registry and I was not even served with the papers. You can see how illiterate and desperate they have become. But I have decided never to get to their level and I think is becoming unbecoming of them.
Akeredolu said that Tinubu couldn’t have endorsed an aspirant from the same area where a sitting Senator comes from and that the whole story was your making?
Was I there when he was endorsed in 2012 and imposed on the party? I don’t like to join issues with him.
Did you actually make any recommendations to Tinubu on the aspirant?
You are insulting Asiwaju and I will never join you to insult him. People must learn to be respectful to other people and to leaders. The aspirants say they fear that there will be no free and fair primaries? They are afraid. I have no place in the entire process of the primaries. Why are they afraid of losing? Nobody is restricting you from accessing the delegates. The delegates are known. You can access them. I have only one vote which I even promised not to exercise. So, what is their fear?
It is alleged that many of the delegates have been “kidnapped” by the aspirants and camped in five star hotels within and outside the state
I don’t know about that. I am a delegate and nobody has kidnapped me and I can’t be kidnapped.
How would you manage the post primaries crisis because some of the aspirants are saying that if the “anointed” candidate emerges, they will not support him?
That means they are not democratic. I do not know about the anointed candidate because if there is an anointed candidate, we will not be talking about voting at the primaries. But there is an endorsed aspirant? There is not one single endorsed candidate, there is not one single endorsement. There are a thousand endorsements. Asiwaju himself has explained himself that he does have a right to endorse. Why are you asking me? He said it that he has the right to endorse and nobody has said he doesn’t have the right. The NEC and NWC of our party said, yes the individual has a right to endorse but the party does not have the right to endorse.
Do you still see APC winning November 26 poll?
I don’t want us to be fixated. The misunderstanding in APC is less than the misunderstanding in PDP you are not saying that. We don’t have Sheriff, we don’t have Makarfi. We don’t have two sets of forms. We are not organising two sets of primaries. PDP has Jimoh Ibrahim and Eyitayo Jegede. Is that not more crisis than a party where the only problem is abusing the state chairman and demonising it’s national leaders?
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/08/apc-aspirants-fighting-cos-afraid-fight-tinubu-kekemeke/