The thinking of most of the progressives politicians in Ondo State is that Governor Akeredolu habour under his wings conservatives politicians from other political parties and technocrats who are lowly concerned about progressives party politics and such ideal. This is the reason he has to go through a rigorous party primary for his second term ticket, a situation that would not have occurred, if he has totally embraced the progressives rather than the conservatives, who are, much, often, power hungry and conservative in nature.
The second term project of Governor Akeredolu is a quest that must come to fruition and one which requires all party members to participate vigorously by going round the state to campaign for the party and its candidate. This is very important, not only for APC members to continue to enjoy the benefit of a ruling party, but most importantly, for the governor himself to be able to establish his legacy in the state.
Firstly, he needs to play the game the right way this time around as a deft progressive politician that he is and stop handing to people the trust they do not deserve, as well, responsibilities they do not merit.
Some school of thoughts believe that Arakunrin Akeredolu has not given enough patronage to the progressives politicians in the party unlike to the conservatives who joined the party in recent times – to work for him. The school of thoughts believe that if he has transacted via them they would have assisted him to shine the light on all his numerous projects scattered across the state that is not receiving the necessary acknowledgement from members and short of attracting adequate publicity required for the public to celebrate same. To them, the magnitude of these projects does not compare with the shallow and the shody way of the handling the publicity accorded them.
The core progressives in APC Ondo State believe they are being relegated to the background since the party came back to power, eventhough, they will not admit by themselves that they were the architect of their own misfortune, as most of them, visibly, worked against the party in the election that brought in governor Akeredolu. They pitched their tents with the oppositions against the party by working for different political parties in a fierce campaign that turned members against one another in the 2016 governorship election in the State.
My advise for Arakunrin Akeredolu is to continue the present process of reconciliation he has embarked on. He has been magnanimous in victory to call on his co-aspirants to join him in his quest to uplift the fortune of the state. The thinking in the camp of most progressives is that Akeredolu would not have gone through such a vigorous primary or be enmeshed in that type of crisis with his Deputy who worked as an espionage agent within the administration rather than helping his principal to succeed.
The diehard loyalty of the progressives and the cult-like manner they operate would not have allowed for such thing to happen. The tendency for his Deputy to nurse an inordinate ambition without his knowledge is not rooted in the progressives principle.
Now, what should be paramount to the governor is how to sustain his legacy and embossed his name in the state Hall of Fame of the great leaders of Ondo State, and in the heart of the people forever as he secures the second term, Godwilling. He has done enough in term of his achievements in office to earn it. But he still have a litmus test to pass ahead of him in picking his Deputy.
This time around, there is the need for him to be cautious in picking the man or the woman who will compliment his work and deliver on points, be trusted, loyal and stand by him to win. There is no room for error as this could lead to grievous mistakes that could not be rectified. Such errors would jeopardise his legacy.
My prayer for him is for God to lead him in choosing rightly. However, I will not be, absolutely, truthful to myself if I do not make any recommendation in this regard. In the midst of abundant resources of personalities that abound in the party in the state, one reoccurring name that keeps coming to my mind is Ambassador Olusola Iji. I remembered he was the only aspirant besides the Governor that ever visited the State ExCo to inform them of his intention to contest for the position of governor of Ondo State under the party platform.
There is no gain saying it that while the progressive party was in opposition for almost six years of Dr. Olusegun Agagu’s reign and the eight years of the two terms reign of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the progressives rallying point have always been Ambassador Olusola Iji.
Also I could figure out that Ambassador Iji is one jolly admirer of governor Akeredolu. In his address to the party ExCo, when he came, he said, amongst other things about Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, that he has done a lot in the state in the last three and a half years in office. He commended him for the good work of infrastructure development across the state and the beautiful facelift given to the state capital as a worthy cause and a thing of pride to the party and all Ondo State indigenes.
He also used the forum to call for unity, especially, the need for all the party aspirants to close ranks and imbibe the principle of politics without bitterness amongst themselves and be ready to work for whoever emerge as the party flag bearer. This is a testament to a true and loyal progressives party-man whose concern for the party supersedes his personal ambition.
Ambassador Iji recalled he had never said any negative comment about the governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, before and would never do so in spite of them pursuing the same ambition. The governor is his friend and brother whom he has the cause to support his ambition for governor in the past and would do the same thing again if he losses the primary election to him.
To him, he preferred to be in the opposition within the party in government than to allow the party to lose the coming election through anti-party activities and be in the opposition to another party in government.
The Nigeria Ambassador to Benin Republic indeed spoke with a degree of candour about Aketi’s unusual political life. This comments endeared him strongly to me as a fervent supporter of Aketi and I can attest to him as a nobleman. This principle he exhibited throughout his campaign proves it.
While other aspirants utters whatever inanities would get them elected during the campaign, very few of Iji’s likes are actually protecting the sanctity and the integrity of the party.
“Let us say I publicly attack Governor Akeredolu and he eventually wins our party ticket in the coming primary, how would I have possibly paraphrase this opprobrious conduct in the public space to sell his candidacy to the electorate of Ondo State during campaign”, Ambassador Iji said to conclude his speech during his visit to the APC secretariat to inform the party of his intention to contest the party primary.
Ambassador Olusola Iji has been a follower of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu as his most trusted loyalist and support base in the state. His beliefs in the progressives brand of politics is not in doubt and the core progressives in the state who also believed the present calculation has not favoured them since Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu took over the reign of progressive government they fought for and have sustained in the state would be glad to see him being considered.
Though, the ultimate decision lies with his Excellency to choose from the noble persons that abound in our party and there are plenty of them too. But it is also incumbent on members to guide the governor in his shortlisting the capable hands to consider for such position, especially, going by the unfaithfulness exhibited the present occupant of the office under review.
Let me however reiterate here that my motivation to write this piece was not influenced by anyone and for any ulterior purposes whatsoever. I am contented with the little endeared to me and would forever be appreciative of God’s grace over me and my family.
Let me also emphasised that I am neither a sycophant of or a follower of Ambassador Iji, eventhough, I admire his brand of politics. My desire for Governor Akeredolu to succeed in seeing through all his various ongoing legacy projects in the state, in an atmosphere devoid of rancour and distraction against what is being witnessed at the moment as betrayal by his Deputy is avoided in future. The said deputy’s behaviour constituted an embarrassment to our party by his defection and still holding on to the office. Also, it is an unfortunate distraction to the governor himself.
▪︎Steve Otaloro is the Director, Media and Publicity All Progressives Congress Ondo State.