President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday formally presented Rotimi Akeredolu to Ondo voters ahead of next weekend’s governorship election, declaring that the controversial primary that produced him was credible and transparent.
The President, whose presence at the All Progressives Congress’ campaign rally attracted a huge crowd, appreciated the party leadership for ensuring transparency during the primary which held on September 3 in Akure.
“We thank the party for conducting a transparent primary election which produced the candidate,” the president said.
“I can assure you, on Saturday we are going to win God willing.”
He raised the hand of Rotimi Akeredolu, urging the people of Ondo State to vote massively for him on Saturday.
The president’s assertion negates the opinion of aggrieved members of the party who protested the outcome of the primary after alleging irregularities.
The APC appeals committee had also invalidated the primaries, alleging irregularity.
But the APC National Working Committee led by Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun ignored the appeals committee and validated Mr. Akeredolu’s election.
The decision of the NWC created apathy among supporters of Ajayi Boroffice and Olusegun Abraham,
top contenders at the primary; while another aspirant, Olusola Oke, left the party for Alliance for Democracy, AD, after the issues were unresolved.
The aggrieved candidates described the choice of Mr. Akeredolu as lacking in transparency and democratic principles.
A national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, who publicly expressed his displeasure over the choice of Mr. Akeredolu, failed to attend an earlier campaign rally and was not also present on Saturday along with his allies, Governors Rauf Aregbesola and Akinwumi Ambode of Osun and Lagos respectively.
Mr. Tinubu and his allies in the south-west are said to be subtly backing Mr. Oke, whose recently revived Alliance for Democracy is gathering a lot of support across the state.
The absence of the aggrieved south-west APC leaders did not, however, deter the attendees at the rally from rallying support for the candidate.
The Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha, while speaking at the rally, said efforts were made to stop Mr. Akeredolu from emerging as candidate, but that the primary turned out in his favour.
“I want to tell you that we tried to stop Akredolu from emerging as the candidate, but because God’s hand was on him, he emerged,” he said.
“So what God has done, no one can put down.”
The Imo State Governor also called on the people of the state to ensure that Ondo becomes an APC state in order to attract direct developmental impact from the federal government.
While trying to justify the absence of Messrs. Tinubu, Aregbesola and Ambode, the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Abayomi Adesanya, said it was not possible to have all the 23 APC governors in Akure all at one.
He claimed that Mr. Tinubu and the absentee governors were not opposed to Mr. Akeredolu.
“If we have the President here, we have all the party leaders already,” he said.
“If we have the President, the Vice President, the national leader and all the 23 governors in Akure at once, then we will ground the entire country.
“Nothing will work and the country will be at a standstill if we have everybody here.”
Mr. Adesanya said he was not aware if the absentee leaders wrote or gave any reasons for their absence.
The Chairman of the party, Isaac Kekemeke, on his part, said the party was “united and indivisible.”
He assured that with that unity, the party would deliver the state to APC next week Saturday.
Efforts to get formal reactions from Messrs. Tinubu and Aregbesola were not fruitful as their aides could not be reached on telephone at the time of this report.