Monday, April 15, 2024

ONDO APC CRISIS: How Tinubu saved Akeredolu from looming disaster

  • Real forces against Ondo Governor revealed
  • APC NWC, Minister’s connections
  • Why Deputy Governor wrote resignation letter

BY BRIGHT JACOB

More facts emerged at the weekend on how President Bola Tinubu saved the ailing governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, from an impending disaster as his opponents had perfected plans on how to remove him from office this week.

Although it was reported that President Tinubu, late last Friday, waded into the long political feud in Ondo State between factions loyal to Governor Akeredolu and the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, credible sources confided in The Point that Akeredolu’s opponents had almost scored a hat-trick against him before the presidential intervention.

Although there had been conflicting reports on what transpired at the meeting with the President, with some reports indicating that Aiyedatiwa was to be declared Acting Governor, a statement issued on Saturday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, quickly set the records straight.

Giving details of what transpired at the meeting, he noted that the agreements reached followed marathon negotiations between the President, the Deputy Governor, representatives of Governor Akeredolu, federal and state lawmakers of Ondo, officials of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress and other stakeholders.

According to Ngelale, the President advised all opposing parties to bury the hatchet and embrace peace. This means that Akeredolu remains the Governor of the state, Aiyedatiwa remains the Deputy Governor and members of the State Executive Council will continue their respective duties, even as the leadership of the state House of Assembly and the state chapter of the APC in Ondo is preserved.

The man at the receiving end of the heat, Aiyedatiwa, also declared his decision to maintain the status quo and unite all factions, saying, “I want to say that I pledge to all of you that I embrace every one of you. I put behind all that has happened before now. I’ve let go and also let God, just as the President has advised us.”

“Asiwaju was not aware of anything, whereas the minister and his cohorts were misleading the people that they were carrying out the President’s instruction to remove Akeredolu. That was the script sold out to the media and Akeredolu had to reach out to the President”

UNTOLD STORY: APC NWC, MINISTER’S CONNECTIONS

However, beyond the press statements and photo opps, The Point gathered that a minister from Ondo State in the Federal Executive Council (names withheld), is one of those leading the onslaught against Akeredolu because he wants to allegedly take advantage of the governor’s ill health to seize control of the APC structure in the state.

“Lucky (Deputy Governor) doesn’t have a deep pocket and any political structure. The minister simply wants to use the Deputy Governor to hijack the party structure and subsequently dump him (Lucky). He (Deputy Governor) has relocated to Abuja for a long time at the expense of the minister and they have bought over the APC National Working Committee leadership,” a credible source told The Point.

“The APC leadership in Abuja weighed their options. Option One was to hijack the Ondo State APC Exco because they were loyal to Akeredolu. Lucky was told to present the name of a caretaker chairman and secretary. That was their plan to dissolve the state exco and hijack the party structure,” he added.

The source, who is a top stakeholder, added that Akeredolu’s supporters also moved to Abuja “and began to spend money heavily to counter all moves by Aiyedatiwa and the minister.”

He disclosed that Adetimehin was able to penetrate the APC NWC leadership and negotiate with the members to retrace their steps against Akeredolu but that the minister also got the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly to control the lawmakers. He was told to bring his members to Abuja where they were accommodated for weeks at the expense of the minister.

“Consequently, the Ondo State House of Assembly was slated to convene a critical plenary session on Friday, November 24, to deliberate on the state’s political climate, focusing particularly on the executive arm, following Governor Akeredolu’s prolonged absence due to health reasons.

“The lawmakers had planned to address the issue by potentially declaring Lucky as the acting governor. The gathering had received approval from Ganduje and the APC NWC,” the source revealed.

The lawmaker and Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Olatunji Oshati, already acknowledged the scheduled meeting on Friday but refrained from confirming Aiyedatiwa’s potential appointment as acting governor.

“There is indeed such a plan, not necessarily to declare him (Aiyedatiwa) but the House will convene to discuss the political situation as directed by our national leaders. Although there is a likelihood of the House making the declaration, it is not definitive. I prefer not to speculate on the meeting’s outcome. Should it occur, you’ll be informed as well,” Oshati had told journalists on Friday morning.

However, an impeccable source told our correspondent that a security signal was subsequently sent to the Ondo State Commissioner of Police and the state director of the Department of State Services to militarise the Assembly on Thursday night.

“That was the plan to remove Akeredolu,” the source confirmed.

He said that when Akeredolu was informed that his position had been negotiated away, he hurriedly reached out to President Tinubu.

“Asiwaju was not aware of anything, whereas the minister and his cohorts were misleading the people that they were carrying out the President’s instruction to remove Akeredolu. That was the script sold out to the media and Akeredolu had to reach out to the President. The President was quoted as saying that it was not a crime to be sick. That was how the plan was thwarted. That was the end of the plot.

“That was how President Tinubu summoned a meeting on Friday to resolve the lingering crisis in Ondo State. The President also ordered the Police to withdraw from the premises of the Ondo State House of Assembly in Akure,” he said.

The source added that it was agreed at the meeting with the President that Lucky should return as the Deputy Governor and that he should withdraw all legal suits.

“He (Lucky) was made to write a letter of resignation, undated, and give same to the President, not even the Governor. Lucky was told in clear terms by the President that any day the governor complains about him, the letter will be forwarded to the House of Assembly that he had resigned and that a successor would be named.

“Lucky promised not to rock the boat, saying that he had forgiven everyone and that it was all part of politics. In these weeks of drama, about $1 billion must have been spent by both sides to sustain their interests. All the APC NWC members and security agencies cashed out on this matter,” the source alleged.

Asked if the President was happy with the role of the minister in the whole saga, the source said, “You know that the President is a politician. It is not yet time to reprimand the minister. When Akeredolu goes for his next medical trip and returns to Akure physically, he will be able to tackle them.

“What the minister does not understand is that he does not have the power to remove the governor. The minister does not have political experience because he thinks he can become the governor if Akeredolu becomes incapacitated on the principles of doctrine of necessity because he is from the same senatorial district with the governor.

“Unfortunately, Aketi does not have a media team to fight his cause because he has used ethnicity to destroy his media team. The Commissioner for Information is not a media person. The only thing she can do is to reach out on facebook. She does not know anything about information and strategy.

“The Chief Press Secretary is an ND holder who has never worked anywhere in the media. He has only free-lanced for a radio station at Ilesa. But because he is from Owo, Akeredolu made him his CPS. Now that he (Akeredolu) has a crisis, there is no one to fight for him in the media. The governor is too greedy.”

Speaking about the matter on Saturday, the House spokesman and Chairman House Committee on Information, Olatunji Oshati, said the President had done well in wading into the crisis.

He said, “We just have to thank God, the most important thing is peace, and it is a win-win situation, so it’s not as if a particular person has won. The President has designed it in such a way that it is a win-win situation, we give it to him as that is the kind of wisdom we expect from our leaders.

“The state will be calm now and we beg our people to go on with their normal activities and let things move forward because even in the House, we have a lot of things to do, we have budget defence and many more, so we thank God that this is over, and we will move on. Let the Deputy Governor remain the Deputy Governor and the Governor remains Governor.”

Similarly, the state chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin, also declared that the crisis was over, following the intervention of the President.

When asked whether, at the meeting, President Tinubu directed that the Deputy Governor should be declared acting governor by the Assembly, in the absence of Governor Akeredolu, the chairman said it was a party matter that would be resolved.

“The President has intervened as the crisis has been laid to rest, the rest is our family affair,” Adetimehin stated.

TINUBU’S MASTER STROKE

The Point, however, learnt that there were many clauses as part of the decisions reached at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa on Friday night by President Tinubu with major stakeholders in Ondo State.

Aiyedatiwa was reportedly made to sign an undated letter of resignation as the Deputy Governor and transmit the same to President Tinubu.

In addition, he was also told to withdraw all legal cases instituted/instigated by him over the lingering crisis in Ondo State.

According to sources, there were two meetings held at The Villa on the issue. The first was held between the President and top aides of Governor Akeredolu, which started at 5.30pm and ended at 9.30pm, while the second meeting started at 10.45pm and ended at 11.30pm.

The ailing governor, Akeredolu did not attend the meeting, neither did his wife, Betty, who is presently in Turkey. The son of the governor, Babajide, was said to have attended both meetings.

The governor’s aides who attended the meeting included Ade Adetimehin, Chairman of APC in Ondo State; Princess Oladunni Odu, Secretary to Ondo state Government; Wale Akinterinwa, Finance Commissioner; Raimi Aminu, Commissioner for Infrastructure; Dare Aragbaiye, Special Adviser; Gboyega Adefarati, a member of the House of Representatives representing Akoko South East/Akoko South West Federal Constituency; and 15 members of the Ondo State House of Assembly, including the Speaker, Olamide Oladiji, who flew in from London for the meeting.

Senators Jimoh Ibrahim, Jide Ipinsagba and Adeniyi Adegbonmire also attended the first meeting.

The second meeting was an enlarged meeting, which was attended by Aiyedatiwa, the National Chairman of APC, Abdulahi Ganduje, one Awodeyi Apata from Owo and the 11 members of the Ondo State House of Assembly, who are loyal to Ayedatiwa and have been reportedly camped in Abuja for the past four weeks.

In the second meeting, President Tinubu read the decisions arrived at from the first meeting, which included that the status quo must remain in Ondo State for the sake of peace.

He also announced the names of three enforcement officers who will monitor compliance with the decisions reached at the Abuja meeting.

They are the Speaker, Olamide Oladiji; Chairman of APC in Ondo State, Ade Adetimehin and the Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu.

The President emphasised that there must be peace in Ondo State while wishing the governor quick recovery.

CRISIS NOT OVER YET FOR AKEREDOLU – PDP
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the PDP has said the intervention of President Tinubu will not resolve the crisis.

The opposition party, through its Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Peretei, described the nocturnal meeting as mere window dressing, stressing that if Akeredolu does not return to the state, there won’t be any meaningful resolution of the crisis.

Also, an Ondo State All Progressives Congress pressure group, Ondo Solidarity Forum, in a communiqué issued by its acting chairman, Femi Ogunleye, and publicity secretary, Kayode Fasua, on Saturday, applauded Tinubu for his well-timed intervention in the political logjam in the state.

The group said that it had become vindicated by its stance that Aiyedatiwa should continue as acting governor, following Akeredolu’s absence.

It added that “the crisis between the Deputy Governor and a section of the Ondo State House of Assembly is the handiwork of a few persons in the state cabinet, who are best described as the cabal; because they individually want to succeed Akeredolu as the next governor of Ondo State.”

Also excited by the development, a group, the Progressives Mandate Renewal, at the weekend, hailed President Tinubu for his intervention.

The group, in a statement, affirmed Tinubu’s status as a leader of the people and a compassionate figure who values loyalty.
The coordinator of the PMR, Samson Ogunyemi, said the President’s intervention effectively curbed the arrogance and pride exhibited by those allegedly posing to destabilise the state.

Ogunyemi said, “The target of the Deputy Governor’s group is to declare the Governor incapacitated and oust the Governor.
They were fervently rooting for the Governor to be disgraced out of office. While the meeting was going on, the Deputy Governor’s group was already jubilating on social media. They thought the outcome of the meeting would be in their favour.

“For the Deputy Governor and his group, this is a defeated expectation. Their wishes and expectations have been dashed and defeated. The people of the state can now see the true nature of the Deputy Governor. We are particularly happy that the President has ordered that the status quo should remain. This is the right step towards ensuring peace and understanding in the state.

“We will continue to appreciate President Tinubu and assure him of our commitment and undying support.”

However, some chieftains of the APC in Ondo State have expressed concerns over the intervention of the President, saying the state may not achieve the desired peace unless the Deputy Governor is empowered to serve as acting governor in accordance with constitutional provisions.

“Lucky promised not to rock the boat, saying that he had forgiven everyone and that it was all part of politics. In these weeks of drama, about $1 billion must have been spent by both sides to sustain their interests. All the APC NWC members and security agencies cashed out on this matter.”

The party chieftains, under the aegis of Ondo APC Progressives Stakeholders, decried the continued absence of Akeredolu from the state, emphasising the detrimental impact it has had on the state’s economy and governance.

In a statement issued after their meeting, which was signed by the Chairman of their group, Afe Olowookere, a former member of the House of Representatives; and Secretary, Raman Rotimi, a former Secretary of the APC in the state, the stakeholders urged the House of Assembly to empower Aiyedatiwa to function as the acting governor,
According to them, this step is crucial to effectively address the economic challenges faced by the state.

Aiyedatiwa, after the meeting with the President, had said, “I want to say that with no offence, no guile in my mind whatsoever. All that has happened is politics. Impeachment is part of politics. If you survive it, it is also politics. It has come. I’ve survived it, and every other thing is in the past.

“It is one big family and our father has intervened to bring all the children together to remain under the same family and with the position that I occupy, I will carry every one of you along in every decision that needs to be taken and in everything that we do, we will work together; the executive and the legislature will work together to ensure that governance is on the right track.”

He pleaded with all members of the State Executive Council to rally around the governor and himself to “bring the dividends of democracy” to the people of Ondo State.

“All the Executive Council members, I want to plead with all of you to cooperate with me, with the governor, so that we can bring the dividends of democracy to our people.

“We should respect one another regarding the offices we occupy and our age differences. So, it’s going to be mutual respect.
“And I want to assure the party structure that we will work together because the party is supreme. We will always give you your due respect,” the deputy governor pledged.

The Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Oladiji Olamide, who read the details of the resolution, said, “Our resolution is that one, we shall embrace peace. Secondly, there would be no more dissolution of the cabinet, and the Deputy Governor would maintain the status quo as far as the House of Assembly leadership is concerned.

“We will maintain the status quo as far as the party leadership in the state is concerned and maintain the status quo as far as the leadership of the State House of Assembly is concerned. Thank you, Mr. President.”

On her part, the Secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu, stated, “Our father, the President, has taken the trouble to settle our rancour in Ondo State. We owe you all the gratitude, Sir. We will not disappoint you. We have taken every word you said. And we are going home as one united family under the party, APC.”

In his remarks, the Ondo State APC Chairman, Ade Adetimehin, expressed delight at the outcome of the deliberations, affirming that the party would remain a watchdog to ensure that the new commitments are adhered to.

“Today is my happiest moment. And I know sanity has come to Ondo State. So, on behalf of the teeming supporters of our party in the state, we appreciate our leader, Mr. President.

“PDP has crumbled in the state; virtually, they decamp every day. The only problem we have is the one you have solved for us today. And that problem has been resolved permanently,” Adetimehin stated.

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