The crisis rocking the Ondo State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) took another dimension last week when the Senator representing Ondo North, Ajayi Boroffice accused Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of polarising the party. ‘YOMI AYELESO takes a look at the whole issue and the danger it portends for the party ahead of the 2019 general election.
The last may not have been heard on the disagreement between the Ondo State Governor and Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and the Senator Representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Ajayi Boroffice, a professor.
The trouble began after the September 3rd 2016 governorship primary of the APC, where Akeredolu emerged as the candidate of the party and eventually became the sixth democratically elected governor of the state. Boroffice, who came fourth in the primary election, expressed dissatisfaction with Akeredolu’s emergence as candidate of the party.
And following Akeredolu’s victory at the governorship poll, loyalists of the governor accused the two-term senator of working against the interest of the party. He was alleged to have directed his supporters across the state to work and vote for the then candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Olusola Oke (SAN) who left the APC to contest the election. Oke has since returned to the APC.
One year after his inauguration as governor, Akeredolu, while speaking with journalists during the Unification Rally of the party as part of activities marking the first year anniversary of his administration on February 24, 2018, declared that the duo of Senator Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo Central) and Senator Yele Omogunwa (Ondo South) were the two senators in the APC from Ondo State.
Three days later, the commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi refuted the comment credited to the governor, saying the governor was only explaining that the duo of Alasoadura and Omogunwa were the only two senators supporting the government since its inception.
On Monday 12th March, 2018, Boroffice, reacting to the comment of the governor,
revealed that all was not well with the state chapter of the party because of the alleged manner Akeredolu was handling issues in the party.
In a statement made available to journalists in Akure by Kayode Fakuyi, his media aide, the senator said the governor is threatening other leaders of the party who hold contrary opinions with expulsion rather than embrace them in the interest of the party.
“Today, the attitude of the governor to other party leaders in Ondo State, who do not see issues from his perspective, has unfortunately polarised the Ondo State chapter of the party and alienated a critical mass of the party leadership and supporters as well.
“Based on the above referenced developments, Senator Boroffice is of the view that all is not well with All Progressives Congress in the Sunshine State. Rather than embrace the challenges of leadership and reach out to every leader of the party in Ondo State, the governor preferred to run the government of Ondo State and the party with his trifling followership. He continues to erroneously lay claim to the ownership of the party. He continues to threaten other party leaders with threat of expulsion from the party,” he said.
The senator said that he had not received any invitation from the state government attending any state event or party meetings in the state.
He specifically said that he had rallied his colleagues in the Senate to support the governor on his two private communications to the upper house for confirmation of appointments in the interest of the people of the state despite the underlying differences.
“Setting the records straight, the governor has sent two private communications to the Senate since his inauguration as Governor of Ondo State on the 24th of February, 2017, in respect of confirmation of appointments from Ondo State. In the consideration of the governor’s requests, Senator Boroffice, despite the underlying differences, rallied his colleagues to support Governor Akeredolu’s position in the interest of the good people of Ondo State. Therefore, the suggestion that Senator Boroffice is not working for the upliftment of Ondo State is false and misleading.
“The Distinguished Senator wishes to place on record that the governor has not extended any invitation to him to attend any meeting since the inauguration of the governor. Therefore, the issue of turning down any invitation does not arise.
“Despite the controversial emergence of Governor Akeredolu as the candidate of All Progressives Congress in 2016, Senator Boroffice worked tirelessly for the victory of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, during the governorship poll which held on the 26th of November, 2016. The voters at his polling unit are living witnesses to this assertion.
“The Distinguished Senator wishes to place on record that the governor has not extended any invitation to him to attend any meeting since the inauguration of the governor. Therefore, the issue of turning down any invitation does not arise,” the statement read in part.
Boroffice, while expressing confidence in the Bola Tinubu’s reconciliation committee to resolve the lingering crisis in the party, called on the party leadership to intervene as the party prepares for 2019 general election.
He said: “The national leadership of our great party cannot forget in a hurry the road we had to travel to reach where we are; it is our collective will and unity of purpose that have taken us this far. To destroy the legacy is to destroy the great bond that binds us together as members of the All Progressives Congress.
“It is our unshakable article of faith that moral justice is an armament of political and socio-economic progress. There can be no justice when someone appropriates our common wealth and violates our common law (APC Constitution, 2014 as amended) that binds us together.
“We therefore, call on the National Leadership of our great party to urgently intervene in the crisis plaguing the Ondo State chapter of the party. We cannot afford to sweep under the carpet issues polarising the APC in Ondo State as we move into another round of congresses and general elections.
“It is for this reason that Buhari has called for reconciliation of leaders and resolutions of disputed issues. This is the wise road to travel and we cannot dissent. Therefore, Senator Boroffice wishes to express full confidence in the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led presidential committee. We fully support our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on this course.”
But the APC in the state has fired back at the senator, saying Boroffice’s allegations were untrue as Governor Akeredolu didnot in any way intervene in the affairs of the party which is solely done by its leadership led by Engr. Ade Adetimehin.
In a statement, Steve Otaloro, director of Media and Publicity to the governor, said it was the figment of Boroffice’s imagination to have claimed that people were leaving APC when politicians are defecting to the party in droves everyday to the point that “the entire party fabrics of the opposition in the state has more or less collapsed into the ruling party.”
He stressed that Oke had disclosed at the unification rally held by APC in Akure recently that if not for the magnanimity of Akeredolu, his return to the party would not have been possible.
“The National Chairman of our party, John Odigie-Oyegun also confirmed this stance of the governor on ensuring unity amongst the party members when he commended him (Akeredolu) at the unification rally in Akure to mark his first year in office on his home-grown reconciliatory efforts of unifying all interests groups within the party in the state,” Otaloro said.
He alleged that it was no longer a secret that Boroffice was not only currently sponsoring meetings against the APC but already on his way out of the party.
The APC further said: “It would baffle any member of the party in the state to hear Boroffice claiming to have worked tirelessly for the governor to win the election when he never at anytime appeared at the electioneering campaigns of the governor.”
“This is a senator who is at National Assembly on the platform of APC, yet he’s fighting the governor and the party chairman in the state, Engr Ade Adetimehin, as well as contravening the decision of the national leadership of the party led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. One wonders what he really wants,” Otaloro further said.
According to him, “It beats one’s imagination if Senator Boroffice could be referring to the governor as a controversial candidate after one year in office and still claims to have worked tirelessly and voted for him. It also remains irreconcilable why Boroffice who sent a congratulatory message to the governor through the media after his victory at the poll did not attend the inauguration ceremony of the governor.”
He said that Boroffice knew he had a slim chance of winning the next primaries to return to the senate for the third time due to “his depleting popularity among the people of the northern senatorial district.”
“It is ironic that Boroffice, who has been docile in his legislative duties and wasted away six good years playing mere politics due to his personal ambition could be criticising a governor who has creditably performed in his first year in office to the delight of the people of the state,” Otaloro added
Less than eleven months to the general election next year, analysts have said that if the duo of Akeredolu and Boroffice fail to sheath their swords and settle all grievances between them, the APC may be preparing for defeat.
A member of the party, Victor Olawale, who spoke with BDSUNDAY, advised the two leaders to consider the interest of the party and reconcile before it gets out of hand.
“If both of them have the interest of APC at heart, I expect them to have resolved this issue for long. I want to plead with them as they are our leaders, to embrace each other and come together for the betterment of the party and development of our state,” Olawale said.
“How do we explain it now that election is just few months away and the two leaders are not on the same page? I am afraid if this will not spell doom for Ondo APC in 2019,” he further said.
Olawale called on President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders of the party in the country to intervene by inviting the two leaders for settlement.