The political camp of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is in disarray following the emergence of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as the governorship candidate of the party for the November 26 election in Ondo State.
Facts have also emerged on how some APC governors and ministers worked against Tinubu in the decisive primary. Akeredolu won the party’s primary election with 669 votes, defeating his closest opponent, Chief Olusegun Abraham, who scored 635 votes.
Chief Olusola Oke scored 576 votes and Senator Ajayi Boroffice scored 471 votes to come third and fourth respectively. It was learnt that the outcome of the primaries has strained the relationship between Tinubu and his political confidant, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State.Many in the Tinubu’s political dynasty blamed the defeat of the APC leader’s anointed candidate, Abraham, on Aregbesola. As at Friday, Tinubu was confident that Abraham would emerge victorious with 805 votes.
Some of Tinubu’s associates believed that Aregbesola supported Oke with the understanding that Bola Ilori, his Special Adviser on Environment, would be made the deputy governorship candidate. But Aregbesola told New Telegraph that he didn’t work against Tinubu.
Impeccable sources told New Telegraph that there is now distrust within Tinubu’s camp, as many believed that Aregbesola and some others undermined the former Lagos governor in the Ondo primaries. The source said: “On August 22, when it was clear to Abraham that Aregbesola has his own agenda and was supporting Oke with the arrangement that if Oke becomes the governorship candidate, Ilori would become the deputy governor; Abraham had to call Tinubu and told him that everywhere he went he saw Aregbesola working for Oke.
“Also, on Tuesday, August 23, Chief Pius Akinyelure, the National Vice Chairman (South-West) called Tinubu in London that the Osun State governor was backing Oke.” The source said Aregbesola was influential in the party’s hierarchy because by the time they were putting APC together, there was no APC governor in Ondo State and Aregbesola was the one coordinating the state and other South- West states for the party. This, he said, made him to have lots of delegates under his control.
New Telegraph learnt that before the postponement of the primary election to last Saturday, Tinubu called Aregbesola from London and accused him of promoting Oke. But the governor denied the allegation. Despite Aregbesola’s defence, New Telegraph learnt that Tinubu said he did not want to hear anything and that if Abraham loses the primary election, their relationship would be badly damaged if not severed. New Telegraph learnt that it was this sort of threat that prompted Aregbesola to send his Deputy Chief of Staff, Gbenga Akano, to Ondo State.
It was learnt that Aregbesola sent Akano with substantial amount of money to Abraham last week Tuesday and he (Akano) remained until the day of the election. Aregbesola himself was in Akure on Thursday, two days before the primaries to support Tinubu’s candidate.
The governor, it was learnt, returned to Osogbo the same day with Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi who had earlier been on ground to support Abraham. The source alleged that while Aregbesola was working for Abraham, his adviser (Ilori) from Ondo town, was busy working for Oke.
The source added that the division in Tinubu’s camp was the major reason why the APC leader was humiliated in the primary election. According to the source, if Tinubu’s camp had worked together, they would have won the primary election because the difference between Akeredolu, the winner of the primary election and Abraham is 34 votes.
In Tinubu’s political family, the wife of the National Leader, Senator Oluremi and former interim national chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, were die-hard supporters of Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice while Aregbesola was also supporting Oke.
Another source said Akande met and cautioned Aregbesola when the governor was rooting for Oke. The source said what made Oke to score the high number of votes in the primary despite the fact that he was a new entrant into the party was the alleged 115 votes of Ile-Oluji and Ondo, which Ilori delivered to him. But Aregbesola denied supporting Oke.
The governor, speaking through his Director, Bureau of Communications, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, denied supporting Oke in order to undermine Tinubu. According to him, “the insinuation is a strange allegation. I am aware there was a process, which has provided a winner.
The outcome of the exercise is left for those who took part in the exercise to abide by the result or challenge it, depending on what they saw. “Aregbesola is the governor of Osun, the issue of working against the interest of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu does not arise.”
Also, Mr. Temitope Akintunde, a staunch supporter of Ilori, denied the allegation. He said most of the delegates ascribed to Ilori were disenfranchised on the day of the election. The remaining, he said, voted for Abraham.
Besides, the division in Tinubu’s camp, the effort by the Presidency, represented by some ministers, and another South-West governor to undermine Tinubu ahead of 2019 general elections led to the defeat of his candidate.
It was learnt that some forces in the Presidency who saw Tinubu as being too powerful constituted a committee headed by a minister from the North to work and coordinate Akeredolu’s campaign in order to decimate Tinubu in the South-West.
The ministers and some APC governors were trying to create a third force in the South-West so as to influence who becomes the president in 2019, hence the need to demystify Tinubu. It was learnt that some of the ministers and governors funded Akeredolu’s campaign.
“One of the South-West governors, not Aregbesola, was the arrowhead of those who supported Akeredolu. He worked with some of the ministers both within the zone and outside. They provided the logistics for Akeredolu.
Some of them even ensured that other strong contenders did not step down for Tinubu’s candidate. The APC primary election is part of the battles for the 2019. Tinubu cannot continue to dictate the political direction of the zone,” one of those in the opposing camp told New Telegraph.
The source added that if Tinubu’s camp had put their eggs in one basket, they would have been able to win the primaries. Another factor that led to the defeat of Tinubu’s candidate was the way the Chairman of the Electoral Committee and Jigawa State governor, Badaru Abubakar, handled the process of the primary election.
Sources said Akinyelure and the state chairman, Mr. Isaacs Kekemeke, were not allowed to have a say in the conduct of the election. There were allegations that delegates were changed between the accreditation and voting points, prompting some aggrieved aspirants to be planning a joint petition to the national leadership of the party.
It was gathered that the second runner up, Oke, would lead the onslaught against the validity of the result. A petition by Oke would likely be submitted between today and tomorrow at the national secretariat of the party.
Apart from writing petition against the emergence of Akeredolu, the aggrieved aspirants are reaching out to Governor Olusegun Mimiko in order to see the possibility of working with him in the forthcoming election. Mimiko’s former Commissioner for Justice, Eyitayo Jegede, is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.
The aggrieved aspirants, according to a source in the know, said this is to prevent Akeredolu from becoming the governor as that may end their political career. For instance, Akeredolu already has his team and would not need either the party or the aspirants for the election. Some office holders, including senators and a member of House of Representatives, may kiss their return goodbye if Akeredolu emerges as the governor.
A source in the Akeredolu’s camp stated that they are making moves to appease Tinubu. “We know our oga is angry, but if it means all of us will go and prostrate before him (Tinubu), we will do that. Yes, we are aware that people in Tinubu’s camp are planning to work for Mimiko, but we will still make effort to reconcile with him. He is our leader. What has happened is just the beauty of democracy,” the source said.