APC woos aggrieved Ondo aspirants with all-inclusive govt slots

The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday proposed an all-inclusive government in Ondo State as a solution to its post-primary crisis.

The terms of reconciliation initiated by the National Working Committee (NWC) included the reconstitution of the State Executive Council and appointment of local government caretaker committee to reflect diverse interests.

At a reconciliation meeting held yesterday at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, the national chairman, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, it was learnt, urged the aspirants who lost in last week’s governorship primary election to work with Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa to ensure the party’s victory in the November poll.

But the NWC ruled out the cancellation of the shadow poll, contrary to the request by two of the former aspirants, sources said.

The party source said Aiyedatiwa and 14 aspirants who participated in the primary attended yesterday’s parley.

The source listed them as Chief Olusola Oke (SAN); Senator Jimoh Ibrahim; Wale Akinterinwa; Prof Francis Faduyile; Dr. Funmi Waheed-Adekojo; Dr. Soji Ehinlanwo; Samuel Akinfolarin; Okunjimi Odimayo; Olugbenga Edema; Gen. Olamide Ohunyeye; Morayo Lebi; Garvey Iyantan; Ifeoluwa Oyedele and Judith Omogoroye.

Akinterinwa, who was not there at the beginning of the meeting, joined midway into proceedings.

Only Isaacs Kekemeke, who is the party’s National Vice Chairman (Southwest), was absent.

Aiyedatiwa was declared winner of the direct primary by the Governorship Primary Committee chaired by Kogi State Governor Usman Ododo last weekend.

No fewer than five aspirants have forwarded their petitions to the Governorship Appeal Committee, citing irregularities and urging the party to cancel the results and conduct a fresh poll.

The report of the appeal panel, led by former Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar, would be considered by the NWC today, the source added.

Giving an insight into what transpired at the reconciliation meeting, the source said none of the aspirants made any specific demand from Aiyedatiwa as a condition for truce.

He said after members of the NWC pleaded with them to sheathe their swords, many of them agreed to work for victory of the candidate and the party during the election.

However, two of them insisted that the primary should be cancelled due to some irregularities.

According to the source, the NWC has resolved to continue to engage the aggrieved contenders because reconciliation is a continuous process.

The source further explained: “The NWC proposed that Aiyedatiwa should run an all-inclusive government, that his government and the setting up of local government caretakers should reflect the diverse interests in the party. All the shades of opinion will be accommodated.”

Urging the aspirants to bury their grievances, Ganduje said it would be in the interest of the state to remain in the progressive family.

Describing them as “important, tested and knowledgeable personalities,” he advised them to put the shadow poll behind them.

Ganduje said: “Since we are all democrats, we should be used to ups and downs of politics. The purpose of this dialogue is to appeal to you. This dialogue is not to dwell on what has happened, or what did not happen, what is correct and what is not correct during the primary.

“If we dwell on that, it would lead to what we can call too much analysis, which will lead to paralysis. Our own is to appeal to you. The party belongs to you and only you. Our prayer is that our party should be the ruling party in Ondo State. It is already a ruling party. Our prayer is for it to continue to be a ruling party in Ondo state.”

Recalling how he eventually became Kano State governor after 16 years of waiting, Ganduje appealed to the aspirants to remain hopeful of actualising their aspirations in the years ahead.

He said: “We are all practitioners in this game. I recall that I contested for governor of my state in 1999 and lost. I couldn’t become governor until 16 years after. So, I cannot call you losers. You are aspirants that would be successful tomorrow.”

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Duro Meseko, confirmed to reporters that the NWC proposed an all-inclusive government for Ondo State.

He said: “It was agreed at the meeting that because of the outcome of the primary and the complaints that trailed the outcome of the primary by some of the aspirants, there is the need for the party to continue dialogue with all the aspirants, individually and collectively, to be able to have a common ground for the forthcoming election in the state, to be able to work together as a united family.

“It was also agreed that Governor Aiyedatiwa should immediately work towards instituting what is called an inclusive government in the state by involving all the other aspirants.

“Of course, most of the aspirants will not be able to participate in his government, but they have people that will participate. They should allow them to make inputs. He should work with them to be able to move the state forward.”

The chairman of the party in Ondo State, Ade Adetimehin, said Aiyedatiwa and the chapter will reach out to all the aspirants and ensure that the party goes into the November election as a united family.

He said: “As said by the DNPS, after two hours of deliberations, we agreed on the two points. We agreed that the all-inclusive governance must commence immediately. Ondo is APC state. We won all the Senate seats, eight out of nine House of Representatives and 22 of 26 House of Assembly seats.”

Adetimehin said Kekemeke was absent with permission that he had a function earlier scheduled before the meeting. It was not a situation of shunning the meeting because he called to inform our national chairman, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, that he would not be available for the meeting.

“So, our deliberations are fruitful with almost all the aspirants, including our governor, in attendance,” he said.

Aiyedatiwa calls for unity

Aiyedatiwa called for unity, saying that all party members belong to the same political family.

He maintained that the primary was conducted as scheduled, contrary to claims by some aspirants that the exercise was marred by irregularities.

Acknowledging some complaints about the process, the governor said the aggrieved people should provide evidence to proof their allegations of irregularities.

In a chat with reporters at the State House in Abuja, Aiyedatiwa said: “Election actually took place. I went to my own ward and I was counted, and the election took place in my ward. I cannot speak of other wards.”

Protesters demand cancellation

Protesters were at the national party secretariat, calling for the cancellation of the primary.

The leader of the protesters, Kolawole Johnson, appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other leaders of the party to prevail on the NWC to cancel the primary and appoint a new chairman of the primary election committee to conduct a credible poll.

<<The Nation>>