Following months of sustained acrimony and mutual suspicion between the Ondo State deputy governor Agboola Ajayi and his principal, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Ajayi eventutally defected from the ruling APC to the PDP. MARY AMODU, in this report, traces background of the frosty relationship, the anticipated defection and matters arising
Ondo State deputy governor Agboola Ajayi on Sunday resigned from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and picked up membership card of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his Apoi Ward 2 of Ese-Odo Local Government Area of the state.
The crisis of confidence between Akeredolu and Ajayi, bothering on political ambition had come to some pundits as a surprise. For a deputy who seemingly enjoyed freehand in the administration, it was intriguing that he would seek to contest the position against his boss
However, to show his popularity, former deputy speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Aderoboye Samuel, led his serving colleagues and political appointees to purchase the APC expression of interest and nomination forms, for the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu SAN.
Samuel who led the team to the National Secretariat of the APC in Abuja, said they were impressed with the incumbent governors’ track record of performance and decided to pay the N22.5m and obtain the forms to enable him seek re-election.
However as the relationship deteriorated further, Ajayi opened talks with the PDP stalwarts promising to defect along side some state assembly members.
The defection of the deputy governor, came hours after a video emerged where he accused the state Police Commissioner, Bolaji Salami and his team of restraining him from going out of the government house in
Alagbaka, Akure, a claim which was rubbished by the state government as untrue.
Still, the drama set the stage for his eventual defection.
Speaking after his defection, Ajayi’s said “I am here’s to officially announce to you that as from today I am ceased to be a member of the APC, I came to tender my resignation letter to the the ward chairman.
“The reason I am taking this action is known to all of you. I listened to the advise from all supporters across the state. The Ese Odo Local Government will continue to witness peace and progress.
“It is a painful thing that I’m leaving the APC, but there is time for everything. As a Nigeria, I have the fundamental freedom to belong to any party or group”
Ajayi who was accompanied by his supporter, later moved to the PDP secretariat in the same ward where he announced his return to the party and collected his party card.
“Like I said earlier, everybody all over the world knows why I left the APC. Some hours ago you all know what happened to me at the Government House but I am a man of peace,” he stated.
While receiving him back into the PDP, the ward chairman, Hon. Festus Oboro, said Ajayi’s coming back to the party would further strengthen the PDP in the state.
He later presented the membership card of the PDP to the deputy governor.
While receiving the deputy governor, the party’s ward chairman in Apoi, Ward 2, Mr Festus Oboro said the the coming of Ajayi would further strengthen the PDP in the state.
However, while speaking after his resignation from his former party, Ajayi disclosed that he would not resign his position as the deputy governor of the state.
According to him, “my people that voted for me did not ask me to resign, so I remain the deputy governor of this state. I was duly elected as a deputy governor.”
The deputy governor also denied a report that he has been adopted as governorship candidate by the PDP NWC.
Ajayi, in a statement issued by his chief press secretary, Babatope Okeowo, described the news as a lie from the pit of hell which does not reflect the minds of the leadership of the PDP.
The deputy governor said he will not fall into cheap blackmail by agents of government trying to create enmities among members of the PDP.
According to him, the PDP has not imposed candidate on the party in Ondo State and the party is also not interested in imposition of candidates for elections.
Nonetheless, the deputy governor’s defection to the PDP appears to have heightened anxiety among party leaders, especially governorship aspirants, as he was said to have single handedly nominated the chairman and all the members of the committee to conduct the party’s governorship primary in the state.
The Ajayi/PDP NWC deal to have his men to conduct the primary and ‘deliver him’ after efforts to pacify all governorship aspirants to step down for Ajayi failed.
It was however, gathered that all the governorship aspirants, especially those who have obtained nomination form, refused to step down, insisting to go on with the primary.
“It’s a welcome development that he is coming to our party; but one thing is clear, the NWC will have us to contend with if they accept his proposals on the primary committee and go ahead to deliver him as they have plotted in Abuja.
“Here is a man who was in charge of the politics of the Government after the governor delegated undeserved privileges to him. To us in the PDP, we cant trust him.
“How can he now come to our party and insist on running as sole candidate to the extent of nominating the chairman and members of the primary committee. Or is it the reason he hired an aircraft for the NWC members that will come tomorrow to receive him. It’s the height of insults.
“The real game will start soon after he joins, let’s wait and see as events unfold because we are not fools in this party,” a chieftain of the PDP who roots for an aspirant told a select team of journalists, soon after Ajayi’s event at Kiribo, his hometown.
Meanwhile, the deputy governor’s denial that he isn’t scheming to emerge the sole aspirant, came after an aspirant Eyitayo Jegede rejected overtures to be Ajayi’s running mate ahead of the election.
In a statement issued by his campaign office, Jegede averred he was more experienced to lead the state than Ajayi.
The statement reads: “The attention of Eyitayo Jegede SAN campaign Organisation has been drawn to a sponsored story in the Nation Newspaper (via its online platform) written by one Osagie Otabor and posted on the 14th of June 2020 which alleged that arrangements have been made for Mr. Eyitayo Jegede SAN to run as a Deputy to Mr. Agboola Ajayi, a member of the APC.
“The fake story, where a reference was also made to an unknown southwest officer of the party is nothing but a product of a wicked figment of the writer’s imagination.
“For the records, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede SAN has been a loyal member of the PDP whose dedication to the party is without fault and does not intend, either now or in the future to become a Deputy to Mr. Ajayi.
“The aspiration of Mr. Eyitayo Jegede SAN predates the emergence of Mr. Ajayi as a Deputy to the incumbent APC governor and is an aspiration that carries the spirit of every PDP member who has remained loyal and has laboured for the continuity of this party against the consequences of the actions of those who worked against our party’s victory in the last election,” he said.
Hours after, Ajayi suffered his first post-defection shock as majority of the members of the APC in Ese Odo Local Government Area refused to follow him to the PDP.
Secretary of the APC, Ese-Odo LG chapter, Ajayi’s own local government chapter, Hon. Tob Loko, dissociated himself and his people from what he described as ” …betrayal of leadership and attempt to undermine the government.”
Hon. Loko said he rebuffed the monetary and material entreaties offered by the defecting Ajayi to lure the unwilling members of APC in his local government chapter to follow him to his new party.
Loko told Agboola Ajayi that himself and other good members of the APC in the local government who had tolerated him for this while will not join him in his way to political destruction.
In a related development, a former Head of Service of Ondo State, Mr. Ajose Kudehinbu came hard on the embattled Deputy Governor of the State, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, saying he is the least qualified to rule the state.
Kudehinbu, who dropped this bombshell as a comment on a pictorial post on the facebook page of the Deputy Governor Special Assistant on New Media, Mr. Allen Sowere said Ajayi lacks the intellectual capacity to govern the state.
The former HOS narrated how Ajayi, a former local government chairman of Ese-Odo, lied against him that he was behind the leaked classified documents to the political opponents during late Governor Olusegun Agagu’s government.
Kudehinbu, who was the permanent secretary (Cabinet) during Agagu’s administration said the most serious objection to Ajayi’s aspiration is his penchant to harm the political careers or interests of other people around him.
“We do our beloved State great harm when we promote the political ambition of anyone, for no other reason than blood relationship or ethnicity. You may be the next victim of his atrocities.
“Let me make my stand unambiguously clear: your candidate is the least qualified to aspire beyond the political level Providence has honoured him with.
“However, those of us outside the immediate confines of government, see and are able to identify his footprints, even in an uncharted environment that should attract his honest attention in the resolution of problems and conflicts, especially in his part of the State. I had made allusions to this in some of my previous posts.
“This is the story of someone who wants to preside over the affairs of the State, of an opportunist, who has no clear vision of society and counts his gains not in terms of personal or collective contributions, or of even elementary notion of loyalty but in Naira and Kobo. Such a man shouldn’t be entrusted with our destiny,” he said.
In a response, Special Assistant on New Media to the Deputy Governor Allen Sowore, fired back. He lampooned then elderly man for lambasted his boss. He said “Yesterday, I posted a clean picture of my direct boss, Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi with the nugget ” The Big Idea” to which many liked and made pleasant comments. But it’s election year in Ondo State and it’s expected that many people also read political meaning to it.
“Surprisingly, I thought I had undermined the excruciating pains the picture of the diminutive Deputy Governor with gargantuan achievements can cause. I had torpedoed the political tremor his “mere” picture can cause in the Sunshine State. So, they sent an elder after me to write epistle and attack the picture; a .man whobis envious of the achievements of younger ones.
Politically, the Deputy Governor is like “Streambank Erosion. He’s facile and affable but yet can move mountain,” he said.
The battle in the coming days will be intriguing.
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