A fresh battle is reportedly brewing in Ondo State between Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa over the nomination of candidates for the party ahead of the forthcoming primaries in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was gathered that aside from the Deputy Governor, some cabinet members and aides of the governor from Ilaje Local Government Area are presently working for aspirants different from those the party leadership and the governor have perfected as ‘anointed’ for specific areas owing to the peculiarities of the areas.
A reliable source in the party who spoke with our correspondent yesterday on the condition of anonymity revealed that a meeting was held last Thursday at the Governor’s Office where preferred candidates of the party were chosen.
The meeting, which was said to have been at the behest of the Governor, was attended by members of the State Working Committee (SWC) led by the state chairman, Ade Adetimehin, and prominent leaders of the party in the state.
Others who attended the meeting included the Deputy Governor and the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Gbenga Ale, just to mention a few.
Sources also informed that at the meeting, the Governor and the leaders agreed on candidates for the House of Assembly election, House of Representatives, and the Senate.
The party leadership and the governor, it was reliably informed, had agreed to give the son of the Olugbo of Ugbo, Abayomi Akinruntan a return ticket to the Assembly to pacify him to step down for former Information Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, who is contesting for the Ilaje/Ese-Odo House of Representatives seat.
A leader of the party in Ilaje, who was not at the meeting but expressed support for the resolution of the meeting held at the Governor’s Office, bemoaned the Deputy Governor for working against the choices made at the meeting.
There are also indications that the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Banji Ajaka, and Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Mr Sam Erejuwa, are also working against the choices of the party in Ilaje.
Both of them are said to be backing Idowu Mafimisebi from Ilaje, for Reps. Ajaka, who is a close associate of the Mafimisebi family was said to have vowed to work tirelessly for Mafimisebi’s emergence as the party candidate.
It was gathered that Erejuwa and Ajaka have held meetings and campaigned publicly that an Ijaw man is not fit to go for the House of Representatives in the Federal constituency.
But the APC chieftain who does not want his name in the print said, Aiyedatiwa invited them for a meeting immediately after the meeting held with the Governor at the Cocoa Conference Hall and informed them that the governor rejected all his recommendations as regards candidates in Ilaje and Ese-Odo.
“As things stand now, there are moves in Ilaje and Ese-Odo by the deputy Governor. He expressed disappointment that the governor rejected his candidate in Ilaje constituency 2 who was his Personal Assistant, Segun Iwalokun. There are many meetings that have been held between Thursday and now.
“As party leaders, we have received the directive of the party and the governor. On the Senate, we have the party directive to work for Jimoh Ibrahim. Despite the directive and the fact that Mr governor was part of that resolution, the deputy governor is presently mobilizing for another senatorial aspirant.
“Besides that, despite the Governor’s directive that we should all work for the former information commissioner, Ojogo, the deputy governor is campaigning and working for one Goke Ayara from Apoi. Aiyedatiwa has held two meetings against Ojogo’s aspiration at his house in Akure. I was part of one.
“But we are particularly disturbed on the issue of the Assembly where the deputy governor is selling a dummy to us that his recommendations were jettisoned by Aketi. In the next few days before the primary, we will make to see Oga (Governor) because we are tired of all these stories.
“What we are saying is that all these countermoves are confusing the stakeholders. Maybe the governor should call the stakeholders in each local government and hold meetings with us. In Ilaje and Ese-Odo, the deputy governor is confusing us,” the source revealed.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor, it was also gathered, is at loggerhead with the chairman of the party, Adetimehin, who was also at the meeting where Aiyedatiwa’s Personal Assistant was edged out.
Although, sources at the meeting disclosed that the Deputy Governor agreed to the resolutions of the meeting without raising any objection.
Aiyedatiwa, who may have played the ostrich at the meeting, immediately summoned a meeting with some of his key loyalists at his residence where he reeled out the resolutions with reservations.
A member of the State Working Committee who attended the meeting accused Aiyedatiwa of spreading lies against the Governor in Ilaje, particularly in Constituency 1, saying “The Governor made it clear that Aba (Olugbo’s son) should be given the return ticket.
“The Deputy Governor did not make any objection. I was surprised when we found out he was still rooting for one Sunday Erukubami and propping him to obtain form and contest against the Olugbo’s son.
“If the Deputy Governor wants to fight his boss, he should be courageous enough and show it. All this underground work will not get him anywhere. We are going to hold a meeting soon. And we will request an audience with the Governor after the meeting.
“If the Deputy Governor wants to make himself an emperor over the governor and the party, he should be bold enough and come out. This party is one. We have only one leader which is the Governor. The state working committee is also very significant in the scheme of things.
“Aiyedatiwa is not bigger than the state working committee or the governor. We shall mobilize and resist every attempt to unilaterally destabilize our party. We shall resist it. We will follow the decision of the party and the Governor. We are resolute about that,” they said.
But the Deputy Governor refuted the allegations against him, saying “That is not true. How can I be in disagreement with the Governor when we have one administration and one government.
“Who held a meeting. What nonsense is that? Not me. That is lie from the pit of hell. The meeting we had with the party executives in Mr. Governor was the last meeting I attended. Let them show the video of where I attended a meeting.”
He disclosed that “I have been attending all functions of party faithful. Where did I have the time to attend such meetings. Once the leadership decides, that is it. The leader of this party is Mr. Governor.
“Any candidate who feels he or she can win elections should go to the open field. There is no imposition on anybody. We have prepared a level playing ground for those who feel they can win election.
“That does not mean Mr. Governor does not have flair for candidates. I did not disagree with Mr. Governor in anyway. How can I? I am wired that way. Mr. Governor and I are on the same page on many of these issues.”