By Emmanuel Aziken
The normally acrimonious stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress, APC put aside their differences to fight off the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP with a consensus to retain the party flag in the Government House in Akure.
The move by the party chieftains who have in the last few years fought one another to the extent of not holding regular party meetings, it was gathered, is, however, a temporary truce. But it was a truce achieved in the common interest for self-preservation diverse sources said yesterday.
Senior party chieftains who spoke ahead of today’s election affirmed that after the loss of Edo that the party could not afford to lose Ondo.
“Losing Ondo would mean a loss of geographical balance as it would mean that the PDP would have more than 10 states in the South,” a party chieftain who also serves as a director-general of a Federal Government parastatal said.
Credit for the unity was being laid at the feet of the late chief of staff to the president, Mallam Abba Kyari who it was gathered, first led the initiative for the unity that translated into today’s common goal.
It was gathered that Kyari had cemented an arrangement last March that would have allowed Godwin Obaseki and Akeredolu retain the party’s flag for the elections in Edo and Ondo States. In exchange the combatants against Adams Oshiomhole were to stop the fight against him.
“Adams grudgingly accepted the deal especially that relating with Edo since he could not do anything about it at that time,” a source said.
However, once Kyari died the deal as regarding Edo collapsed, but that dealing with Ondo was sustained. What helped to secure that deal it was learnt was the fact that the former national vice-chairman, Southwest, Mr. Bankole Oluwajana who was before then in the anti-Oshiomhole camp started fully supporting Oshiomhole.
Governor Akeredolu was also said to have immersed himself in unusual political reconciliation. The governor who had for years had suspicious relationship with the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu made peace with him.
But even after making peace with Tinubu, Akeredolu it was gathered, was still suspicious and was said to have been behind the disqualification of Tinubu’s close associate, Segun Abrahams ahead of the Ondo APC primaries.
“Though he went to make peace with Bourdillion, but Akeredolu didn’t want to take any chances especially when it concerned Abrahams and that is why we saw that last minute disqualification.”
With Abrahams disqualified the remaining contenders with Akeredolu many of who were also Tinubu’s loyalists were easily vanquished by the governor.
Even more, the APC was helped by the governor’s rapprochement with his former sworn enemies including former party chairman, Isaac Kekemeke, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, Chief Olusola Oke among many others.
Ahead of the election today, one enthusiastic APC stalwart cited the case of Chief Oke who for the first time is not contesting the governorship election since 2012.
“You know Oke is dogged in the South and has been contesting and making good impressions with his strong foothold in the region, but this time he is fully backing Akeredolu,” a party stalwart privy to the peace in the party said.
Even more, party officials also said that unlike in Edo where many governors and national political office holders were uncommitted, that the same was not the case in Ondo.
“You saw that we could not even draw governors and others to a final rally in Edo, but that was not the case in Ondo because we do not have boundaries in Ondo,” the party chieftain said.
The import of a possible APC victory in Ondo it was gathered would, however, make minimal impact on the political profile of Tinubu, it was also gathered.
Despite making great sacrifice in making all his troops in Ondo including Kekemeke, Boroffice, Oke among others to back Akeredolu, party insiders say that the sacrifice would translate little in boosting Tinubu’s chances ahead of 2023.
One source said that even more than Tinubu that Governor Kayode Fayemi who is a potential rival to Tinubu in the 2023 race may get more of the credit given the claim that he has been buried in the campaign with Akeredolu in projecting the second term aspiration of his neighbour.
“Fayemi has spent more of his time in Ondo than anywhere else and if anything will come out from this towards 2023 he is bound to benefit more,” one party source said yesterday.