Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, a former Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association and the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in 2012 Ondo State governorship election has once again taken a swipe against the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, saying he would be shocked today at the result of the party's gubernatorial primary billed to hold today in Akure, signalling the crisis rocking the Ondo State chapter of the party seems to have no known end over the purported endorsement of Dr. Olusegun Abraham by Tinubu.
Akeredolu in a fresh interview with Punch Newspaper preempted the party's primary election where a candidate will be elected when he said that Dr. Olusegun Abraham, a candidate believed to be been endorsed by the National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will come as far as fifth position in the race.
The former NBA chairman enraged when Punch Newspaper's Peter Dada mentioned a purported gang up against Tinubu's Man, Abraham. He said
"What do you mean by gang up? I am not ganging up against anybody and I don’t know whether some people are ganging up against anybody. What I know is that I am running for governorship and I am running to win the primary and I will win the primary."
"Gang up for what? Gang up against somebody who has no vote, somebody who is not known, somebody who cannot win, somebody who has no structure? Wherever it is he comes from, he cannot win. We don’t need to gang up against him; he would come in this election a distant fifth with all the support he gets. Even with every support they give him, he would come a distant fifth."
"All I know is that I am working to win and I would win the primary.".
On his recent outburst against Tinubu, Akeredolu did not mince word to reiterate that he was never endorsed by anybody, even Tinubu.
"I don’t know those who are saying so; I don’t know what they mean by endorsement this time around. There was never a time that I was endorsed by anybody. I keep explaining it to anybody that cares to listen that there was no time I was endorsed by anybody. We had a process that every candidate submitted to in 2012. That process is called caucus team. The caucus of the party interviewed and interacted with all those who had interests in being governor and by unanimous decision, the caucus team picked me."
"There was no issue of endorsement. I have never sought anybody’s endorsement. I have never asked anybody to endorse me. But I have informed the leaders of the party that I am running. I informed Asiwaju, I informed Baba Bisi Akande and I informed the President of the country. I informed virtually all the leaders of the party including all the governors."
"I did not ask them to endorse me. I only went to inform them. That was what happened. If I had sought for endorsement, I would have been disappointed. But since nobody endorsed me, there is nothing like disappointment."
"I will not say Asiwaju (Tinubu) supported me, many people will think he did. I knew in 2012 that he mentioned to me that he was the one that asked Olusegun Abraham to contest, so if in 2012, he brought Abraham, his friend, because they are close, then I don’t think I have to say more than that.
"The possibility is there for anyone to think that since he (Tinubu) asked somebody to contest, maybe he was persuaded then and had to be part of the collective decision. I want to believe that Asiwaju must have been persuaded by our leaders. So I went into the 2012 election with the belief that Abraham was his candidate but like I said, it was possible for him to have been persuaded at the meetings when the committee took the decision. If the opinion of the committee favoured me, then there was nothing anybody could have done. We have leaders who can testify to this that Tinubu did not impose a candidate in 2012, it was the decision of the committee."
On he emerged as the party party candidate in 2012, Akeredolu said;
"Let me start from 2012. We operated under the Action Congress of Nigeria and the party in 2012 did not say it was going to conduct primary. In the ACN in 2012, nobody paid money for expression of interest but here, all aspirants have paid N2m each, except the lady among us who paid N1m. In the ACN, nobody obtained any form but here, we have all paid N5.5m each to obtain form to run this election except for the lady, who got it for free. When I say that I was not imposed or endorsed by anybody in 2012, I stand by it."
"I remember the operation and all of us who contested know it too. We attended meetings, not once, twice, three times or four times with the leadership of the party then; that was the style in the ACN. The leadership of the party formed a committee headed by Chief Akande and included all past governors like Tinubu, Niyi Adebayo, Segun Osoba, and probably Lam Adesina and governors of the ACN then."
"So the committee needed to get a consensus candidate, so it was not one person that imposed the candidate. Tinubu couldn’t have imposed me; he couldn’t have endorsed me because like I said, there was a process and it was one that all of us submitted ourselves to."
"In an interview, I said there is a law that says that you cannot complain of an injury when you have voluntarily submitted yourself to the process. In that process all along, if not all the time, the committee usually asked us if we were all prepared to abide by its decision and accept whoever was chosen among us and everybody said yes. So, I know for a fact that in the meetings, because it was not just one meeting, people argued in support of different aspirants."
"If by consensus in that meeting, I was endorsed or chosen to be the candidate, then it was not one person choosing me as the candidate. So it was not one person that imposed Akeredolu on others. I am sure if you ask Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, he will tell you that he did not impose Akeredolu on others. What I’m trying to get at is that after I emerged as the consensus candidate, as a predominant leader of the party then, Asiwaju Tinubu engaged other aspirants and told them why the committee picked Akeredolu. And as the leader of the party then, he spent a fortune to assist us in the election in the state and nobody can take that away from him."
"So when anybody comes around and says that Akeredolu was imposed on others, I always take pains to explain that I was not imposed on others. All of us who contested agreed to abide by the decision of the committee and not that Asiwaju said this is the candidate. In this particular case, Asiwaju had told all of us to go and run for the primary, and then, he came out to say he was endorsing a particular person, when all of us had spent money to obtain forms. There’s difference in the two cases. People must try to understand and many of us should be able to say the truth."
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