The defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN which merged with the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC alongside members from other parties to form the ruling All Progressives Congress has a long history of imposition at the primary level of the party especially in the Sunshine State, Ondo.
Reports have it that the widely-acclaimed ‘hero of democracy’, Tinubu who played a pivotal role in the unseating of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP at the 2015 presidential election is the deity of endorsement you need to bow before for a successful act of imposition in the face of a keenly-competitive forthcoming party’s primary election in the state.
The former Governor of Lagos State and national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Tinubu has been accused of calculated attempts to impose two of the four major contenders of the APC gubernatorial primaries namely Senator Ajayi Boroffice of Akoko North and lately, established businessman, Olusegun Abraham after details of a stealthy meeting with party big wigs on the 31st of July leaked.
This negates the principles of democracy that stipulates a free and fair contest which will fully represent the views and aspirations of the people rather than the interest of a few party elites.
The whistleblower, Dr Tunji Abayomi – a democracy rights activist and legal practitioner who has a long history of political, business and friendly relationship with Tinubu right since the turbulent days of military rule wrote an explosive letter to ‘Jagaban’ titled “The Tonic of Democracy is the Right of the People to Choose their Leaders,” where he described him as a man who frustrates the democratic aspirations of Nigerians through his dictatorial tendencies.
“There are, however, certain principles that I believe form elements of democratic government, which I think you (Tinubu) often violate. Considering that you fought for democracy, I wonder why it has become normative” wrote the lawyer.
But events took a new twist with a prompt response from Tinubu in a mildly stinging letter on Sunday, 14th of August where he exposed Abayomi alleged failed attempt to get imposed by his influence assumably out of the fear outcome of the party primaries that has presented Odunayo Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, Professor Robert Ajayi Boroffice, Olusegun Abraham, Olusola Alexander Oke as the leading candidates to beat.
“You (Abayomi) appear to have been bitten by a bug that often blinds the objectivity of a man. You have been bitten by an ambition that you fear you shall not be able to realize. In your pursuit of office, you have sought my support and influence. When you sought that support, you thought it proper and democratic to do so. If I had signalled my support for you, I am sure that you would never have written this letter alleging that I was undermining the democratic will of the people. You would have been pleased with me, I suppose” Tinubu fired.
Reliable APC Ondo chapter sources who spoke under the condition of anonymity stated that Abayomi’s recent outburst may not be also unconnected to the results of his background research about the current popularity of Odunayo Rotimi Akeredolu popularly known as Aketi who has began to soar high since he declared his intention to run for Governor again after a futile attempt in 2007. Abayomi’s allegations have been further described as a purposeful attempt to discredit the party’s primary election over his premonition of imminent fall behind the pecking order.
It would be recalled that Aketi also enjoyed a recent ‘technical’ endorsement from his political arch-rival and former schoolmate, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of the People’s Democratic Party on his birthday in Owo, Ondo.
The old order of imposition seems set to be abolished within the ranks of the party, APC if the words of Tinubu are to be believed. The prominent godfather has promised to refrain from undue interference in the party’s forthcoming gubernatorial primary election to give the contesting candidates a level playing field according to the dictates of democracy.
“But here I want to give you and others a clear assurance that you may rest more at ease. I reserve the right to support any candidate I wish because no one has the right to take this away from me. However, I will also do everything in my power to ensure the primaries are free and fair and that there will be no undue influence on the process. The candidate who can garner the most support and votes will win.” Tinubu promised.
Abayomi in Tinubu’s letter was finally urged to channel his energy towards slugging it out with his political opponents rather than Jagaban who isn’t eligible to vote by virtue of his state of origin.
Meanwhile, other gubernatorial aspirants under the banner of the APC have maintained a loud silence about the imposition accusations within the party hierarchy except Aketi who has played down the rumours and appealed to his followers to remain focused on the set goals rather than pay attention to mere distractions.
APC is on the march again in Ondo State to select its flag-bearer and the 27th of August, 2016 could be very significant in the history of Ondo as Nigerians and other political enthusiasts watch earnestly.