The suspended Chairman of the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke, in this interview with PETER DADA, blames Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for the lingering crisis in the state
In recent times, you seem to have stayed away from APC activities. What is responsible for this?
I am still the elected chairman of our party. Some of our colleagues did say that they removed me just because I followed the constitution of the party by drawing the attention of the zonal executive committee to an illegal act. I got the response from the zonal executive committee of the party through the national secretary, asking us to maintain the status quo pending the time that the issue will be resolved. That is my position for now. But in the meantime, I am also aware that a letter was written by the National Chairman of my party, appointing my deputy (Ade Adetimehin) as acting chairman. The contents of the letter showed that it was fraudulently issued by certain national officers of the party. It says that the National Chairman is appointing my deputy as chairman pending the time that the National Working Committee will look into the issues raised. In other words, the letter itself stated that the National Chairman is acting unilaterally and there is no where in our constitution where the Chairman has such power. People have asked me why I’m not challenging such thing (in court) and I told them that, I contested the office of the state chairman of the party to make APC win the 2015 election and God used me and other people to build a credible platform. We won the Presidential election in 2015 and the governorship election in 2016. That, to me, was the end of my assignment because I won’t be chairman again until another round of elections. I don’t think that I should cause crisis, get legs broken, arms broken and heads broken because I want to remain as chairman. So, I decided to stay away and keep in touch with my people . For those whose lives’ ambition is to become the chairman of our great party, that is good for them. Apparently, there are a number of people who didn’t want me to be part of what I laboured for, but my reward comes from God and I know He would reward me. Secondly, I didn’t want to be seen promoting crisis within the party, thereby making obscure people popular. People who believe that I should be the reference point of their popularity. I am not going to help them.
You are still the chairman of the party, but you are not on the same page with the governor. Why?
I think the governor is still not happy that I didn’t support his aspiration (to become governor) during the last governorship primary of our party. Of cause, I did not. He wants me to worship at his altar, and drag me on the floor and I didn’t think that that is necessary. I believe that since the primary election is over and he has won, all of us should work together as a family. I have no power to force myself on him and I do not intend to do that. He is the governor of this state. When you find a very powerful man, who do not want to see you, what you will do as a wise man is to stay away.
The governor said there is no crisis in Ondo APC, and that the Tinubu’s reconciliation committee is not needed in the state. Do you agree?
My answer to this is that in politics, you don’t exclude. There have been instances where a single digit vote can make the difference. There have been instances where two votes had made the difference. My appeal to the governor is that he doesn’t need to conquer everybody. He doesn’t need to show that he has conquered. He needs to be thankful to God for what the almighty has done for him, and be humble enough to give the credit to God and accommodate all those who did not work for him. This is what I always said, that except our party wants to be a winner of one election, election is a continuous thing. Another election is on the way. You need all hands to be on deck. You need everybody, even those who worked against you, you will still need them. You will need all of us to work together. I know, not only me, a number of people have been excluded in the government of Ondo State in terms of appointments and patronage and in terms of contracts. He does not expect those people to be singing and dancing around him, saying that there is no crisis. I don’t think that is possible. I think he should see things only from the eye of a governor, he has a lot of sycophants, a number of contractors, a number of lobbyists around him, those who applaud every thing the governor says. If you look at that, you will tend to have an impression that all is well. Surely, all over the state, people know that all is not well. I know of many APC elders who are not part of the administration. The man who came second (in the primary election) is still in court. How then can you say that everything is alright? Everything is not alright. I am still the chairman of the party (in Ondo State). Fortunately, my tenure is coming to an end soon. You don’t except me to be dancing around and clapping that all is well. All isn’t well. If the governor thinks that there is peace in the party, it is because some of us have decided to donate the peace. We are responsible for the peace. He lives in the glass house; we have decided not to throw stones at him in the glass house because we believe that we took part in building the glass house and because we believe that we cannot destroy what we built. We believe that election is not a war, and that another election will come. It can give opportunity to the opposition to destroy us. So, it is not because we are dull, dump or afraid that we remain calm; it is because we have chosen to donate the peace.
What is the implication of the recent Supreme Court ruling on Segun Abraham’s pre-election matter, on the party and the governor?
This is part of what we are saying. It is not good for this party. A situation where 13 months after Governor Akeredolu has been inaugurated and almost 17 to 20 months after the primary election had been held, we still have a case in court. It shows the inability on our part to manoeuvre and to be able to resolve conflicts. It is not unusual for people to contest election results, be angry and go to court. Those are usual things, but the winner should have the ability to ensure peace
Don’t you think that this crisis will affect the party’s chances in future elections?
I think you should ask the governor and all those who are preaching division. I have never seen a place where people celebrate the departure of party members. I have never seen a place where people drive people away to other parties. It is a strange political development. I am praying to God that they would soon see the need for all of us to come together so that this platform that God has used us to build will still be available for others to use for elections.
What has been the intervention of the national body of the party in this crisis?
My problem is that there is no single place that the current National Chairman has been able to resolve crisis within the party; he is part of the crisis. He even ignited the crisis fire in most of the states. He exercises his power against loyal party people and officers. For him, once you don’t have power or you don’t have money, you will be suppressed forever. That is why we have crisis everywhere. There are crises in Rivers, Abia, Kogi, and Oyo states; and he (Oyegun) has not been able to resolve any of them. He is either supporting those who can pay more, that is the highest bidder or those who has power.
There was a disagreement between the NWC of your party and the President recently over tenure elongation. What is your reaction?
I think that the President usually take actions late. The President stopped that party from being turned into the PDP. A number of people don’t have a clear understanding about how the PDP got to where it found itself. How the party made itself so vulnerable. That is what the President stopped the APC from becoming, where a few people want to elongate their tenure, citing very unconstitutional reasons. So, the President saved democracy, saved our party when he clearly instructed or directed that our party should follow strictly its constitution and should withdraw quickly anything that will breach the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have never seen the President coming out so rightly on the issue that affects the party. I think before now what he has done is to leave the party for the National Working Committee to run and face the arduous task of government. I think he found out that if he didn’t intervene like he did, they (NWC members) are going to create more problems for him. The entire tenure elongation is for some individuals in the party – the National Chairman, the National Organising Secretary and a few of them – to organise another primary election to be able to make money for themselves. I think what they are looking at is the money that will come from various primary elections, their ability to manipulate the elections in favour of the highest bidders or the highest payers or the powers that be. I think it’s so nice that our President has strengthened the internal democracy in our party and showed himself as a defender of the constitution of our country.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]