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Ondo APC splits as two aspirants reject elders’ endorsement of Aiyedatiwa

Ripples Nigeria 2024/4/12

The All Progressives Congress (APC), in Ondo State, has been divided into groups after party elders, under the aegis of Ondo APC Aborigines, yesterday, endorsed Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa as their preferred aspirant.

This decision was greeted with anger and rejection by the campaign organisations of two other frontline APC governorship aspirants, Wale Akinterinwa and Olusola Oke, in the forthcoming April 20 governorship election.

At their meeting held in Akure, the state capital, on Tuesday, the APC elders said they have settled for Aiyedatiwa because he rated highest among the Ondo APC governorship aspirants.

Recall that the group had last week announced that it had screened the over 10 APC governorship aspirants down to three. They added that it would finally narrow down to one, based on set criteria.

It was learnt that Aiyedatiwa, a former Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa; and another strong party stalwart, Dr Paul Akintelure, who unfortunately died last week, were being considered by the group.

The group’s chairman, and former Ambassador to Togo, Sola Iji, while speaking with newsmen after yesterday’s meeting announced their choice of Aiyedatiwa.

Iji asserted: “We resolved in our first meeting to commit ourselves to a unanimous goal in the forthcoming governorship primary of the APC in the state. We consider this as a necessary step towards asserting our true worth in the party.

“Nevertheless, during our second meeting, we unanimously agreed to set up a nine-man committee headed by Honourable (Mrs) Christy Olufowose to identify the various aspirants jostling for the ticket of our party; assess them, using some well-thought-out criteria, and present three of them for further consideration by the leadership of the group.

“In our last meeting, the committee submitted their report wherein Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Honourable Wale Akinterinwa and Dr Paul Akintelure were recommended.

“Furthermore, the group mandated its leadership to have further consultation and deliberations in arriving at the choice of our preferred aspirant. Consequently, the leadership of the group met, reviewed the report of the committee and considered the three recommended aspirants qualified and worthy.

“However, in contriving the choice of our preferred aspirant, the leaders believed that it is normal and conventional to offer the right of first refusal to His Excellency, Honourable Lucky Aiyedatiwa as a sitting governor.

“On the whole, having been satisfied with the conduct and performance of His Excellency, Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, we are pleased to inform the general public that he is our preferred aspirant in the forthcoming governorship primary of APC in Ondo State.

“By this decision, we are determined to deploy our numerical strength and resources to ensure the victory of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa at the primary. It is our fervent belief that Governor Aiyedatiwa’s candidature will position our party for a resounding victory at the general election and engender good governance in the state.”

The Wale Akinterinwa Campaign Organisation, however, described the action of the elders as biased.

They added that some of them had earlier declared support for Aiyedatiwa openly.

In a statement titled: ‘Who is fooling who?’, the spokesperson for the group, Segun Ajiboye, described the decision of the APC elders as warped.

Ajiboye said: “If the discussion for endorsement of an aspirant were a matter in the court of law, these set of elders would have been asked to recuse themselves. Both Ambassador Sola Iji and Senator Ajayi Boroffice (members of the Aborigine) were conspicuously present when Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa declared his intention to contest the election.

“How could these elders have been fair to other aspirants when they, indeed have before now declared their support for Aiyedatiwa?”

Also, the spokesperson for the Olusola Oke Campaign Organisation, Ojo Oyewamide, dismissed the endorsement by the APC elders.

Oyewamide said: “The truth is that the aborigines are well-known supporters of Governor Aiyedatiwa. They had openly endorsed the governor before now. What they have just done is no news to us. Their choice does not amount to that of the party.

“The aborigines are not superior to other members in terms of membership. We know those who have made great contributions to the development of the party in the state. When the chips are down, we know who is always there for the party and its teeming members.

“We reiterate our belief that Chief Oke will clinch the ticket of our great party at the shadow poll slated for April 20. Our belief is erected on his popularity among members of the party occasioned by his great contributions to the party, experience and capacity.

“We also believe that he will secure the mandate of the people of Ondo state at the November 16 governorship election in the state. To us, that will be the real and greatest endorsement.”

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