Mass defection is imminent in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ondo State chapter due to seething wounds that refuse to heal after the primaries.
This is bad omen for party and chances of reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari. Over 3000 party members have left the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
That move took place last week in Idanre, the headquarters of Idanre Local Government Area of the state and hometown of the APC state chairman loyal to the state governor, Engr. Ade Adetimehin.
Leading the large decamping members, Mr. Lanre Olurakinse, who claimed to be the party leader in the council, alleged that the APC was being governed like an occultist group.
The Guardian gathered that the development was the remote effect of the controversial 2016 governorship primary election and the immediate cause was the crisis-ridden congresses and primary elections across the state.
But Adetimehin dispelled the defection as mere rumour, claiming it was a political hype by the opposition party to peddle lies about its popularity and acceptability in the state.
According to him, some unscrupulous politicians are cashing on the electioneering activities in the nation at the moment to deceive the public and politicians who are gullible.
He added that Olurakinse “is not a member of APC. The total number of politicians in Idanre all together, we are not up to 1,000. He is not a member of the APC, you can check yourself. Before the general election of 2015 and the gubernatorial election in 2016, he worked for AD; he has never worked for the All Progressives Congress, you can find out,” Adetimehin said.
But Olurakinse explained that the former APC stalwarts chose to desert the ruling party because it had been balkanised and have no positive impacts on the citizenry of the state.
“The APC lacks internal democracy, that is why they are fractionalized. Since they came to power, they have not integrated many members of the party. They are operating the party like an occult group. We can’t stay in such a party any longer.
“Also, they have brought more hunger and hardship to the state, all the projects left by the previous administration had been abandoned. The party has lost its popularity in the state. We have to look for better alternative, “he said.
Meanwhile, the state Coordinator of Atiku Independent Volunteer Movement (ATIVM), Mr. Abiodun Atanda, who declared that more than 50,000 APC members would soon join PDP, lauded them for taking bold steps to restructuring.
According to him, “a vote for PDP and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a vote for the restructuring of Nigeria. We are moving and canvassing support across the 203 wards of the state. Enough is enough for this draconian government.
“In our next move to the South Senatorial District, more than 30,000 thousand card-carrying members of the APC will join PDP in all the six councils in the district.”
It was also learnt that about 2,000 members of Zenith Labour Party, which has the immediate past governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko as its Presidential candidate, also ditched the party for PDP.
The state PDP chairman, Mr. Clement Faboyede, welcomed the new members to the party and assured them that “the umbrella of the PDP is wide enough to accommodate more defectors.”
Faboyede, who was represented by the PDP chairman in Idanre LGA, Mr. Bolu Ogunmolu, urged all members of the party to continue working in order for the party to achieve success in the forthcoming general elections in the state.
At the moment, the Governor has lost out in the bid to secure senatorial tickets for his candidates, save Senator Tayo Alasoadura, who got a return ticket, while Prof. Ajayi Boroffice and Yele Omogunwa secured return tickets for Ondo North and South Districts respectively, to the chagrin of Akeredolu.
And in the Federal House of Representatives, out of nine candidates, the faction loyal to Akeredolu and Adetimehin was able to clinch four tickets, while five slots were given to arch political rivals.
Taiwo Odidiomo, a political analyst in the state, noted that “more bad days await the ruling party as the its candidates across the state at all levels have fundamental issues.”
He said: “Those who must stay will stay in the party and rock the boat of APC. How would anybody convince the Governor to work for candidates who emerged against his will? Will he support people like Senator Ajayi Boroffice or Akin Olowookere, who outsmarted his chosen candidates for Akure Federal Constituency?”
This became evident on Thursday at Ore, the Headquarters of Odigbo Local Government Area of the state as hundreds of APC members in the South Senatorial District protested the candidature of Senator Omogunwa.
The aggrieved members besieged the party secretariat as early as 8:00am to reject the return ticket given to the Senator, saying it will spell electoral woes for the party ahead of next general elections.
They warned that the return ticket given to Omogunwa by the National Working Committee (NWC) would not only lead to massive failure in the six councils but also lead to the failure of President Buhari’s re-election bid.
The embittered members lamented that the NWC shunned the party primaries and other aspirants like Morayo Lebi, Odunayo Akinrinsola, Olatunji Felder, Lucky Ayedatiwa and Engr. Feyisola Ebisola to give the ticket to Omogunwa who joined the party less than two years ago.
The leader of the protest, Olatunbosun Okungade, the Welfare Secretary of the party in Odigbo, complained that Omogunwa performed woefully in his first term and giving the district poor representation.
“He did not do well in the four years, he cannot lay claim to two bills. He is a wall of Jericho to us, we are not pulling him down but we want to reject him.”
Other leaders of the party from Ileoluji/Okeigbo and Ilaje councils, Bashir Kuteyi and Komolafe Egbonwon respectively, said the senator shunned the 18 senatorial meetings held in the district since he joined the party in 2016.
Similarly, Egbowon, the immediate past APC Publicity Secretary in Ilaje LGA, Egbonwon, warned that; “if the party should go ahead with Omogunwa to the election, APC and Buhari will lose 2019 general elections.”
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Hausa Community, Usman Shehu, who mobilised Hausa/Fulani indigenes for the protest, rejected the candidature of Omogunwa.
Shehu said: “Omogunwa is anti-Buhari and a member of PDP; we cannot trust him with the party ticket as he has instructed his boys to vote against APC in the Presidential election and for PDP, the party he was coming from,” they said.
Though Senator Omogunwa had acknowledged his flaws in a recent publication (not The Guardian) and pledged to correct his mistakes in the Ninth Assembly if reelected, he alleged that his co-aspirants were behind the protest against him.
Meanwhile, there are speculations that Chief Olusola Oke has concluded plans to lead his supporters and loyalists out of APC.
This is happening less than 10 months after Chief Oke, the governorship candidate of PDP and Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 2012 and 2016, returned to the ruling party.
A reliable source who pleaded anonymity revealed that Oke’s supporters blamed him for leading them back to APC and threatened to abandon him if he refuses to lead them out to another party.
Rising from a meeting at the residence of Oke on Thursday evening in Akure, they expressed frustration with the crises and maltreatment meted on them in the party.
They expressed regret for their return to APC in January 2018 after the unity rally in Akure, lamenting that party members loyal to Governor Akeredolu and Engr. Adetimehin-led executive are hostile to them.
The loyalists, who mobilised across the 203 wards of the state, said they were tired of being marginalised by the leadership in the state. They have decided to re-brand into Ondo State Vision Group (OSVG), which they said is a political refuge for all politicians in the state.
Oke, who apologised for leading them back to APC, stated that he also faced a lot of challenges in the ruling party and other situations aimed at humiliating him.
According to him: “I regret taking you back to the APC. I want to sincerely apologize to you. It was not my fault. There is no humiliation I have not been subjected to in APC. There is nothing that has not been done to reduce my political relevance. I have decided not to keep quiet again. I don’t care what anybody may say. If you push a goat to the wall, it will fight back.”