As Ondo State preparing for governorship election slated for October 10, 2020, things has fallen apart between Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Agboola Ajayi.
The governor is seeking re-election. The disagreement centres on the deputy governor’s governorship ambition. Will Agboola run against his boss at the primary, the Nation reporter asks
It is no longer news that Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi is no longer in the know on how Ondo State is being run. Things have fallen apart between him and his boss, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN). As a result, Ajayi is no longer seen at public functions.
The two of them are at loggerheads over an alleged betrayal of trust on the part of the latter. Ekiti State’s Governor Kayode Fayemi has tried to intervene without success. Since their quarrel was made public, Ajayi has however kept sealed lips, the Nation reports.
He has refused to speak on the matter. His refusal to state his own side of the story seemed to have caused more trouble for him, as many of his loyalists are drumming for war.
Indications emerged recently that the deputy governor planned to defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as his campaign posters and jingles, flooded the social media and some areas around Akure metropolis.
But, Ajayi disowned the posters and video bearing his name and picture, saying they did not emanate from him. Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Babatope Okeowo, Ajayi said he is still a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and has not declared any governorship ambition.
He said the poster and video were the handiwork of some characters that are bent on creating disharmony in the political space of Ondo State.
Ajayi said: “Recall that a WhatsApp’s group titled ‘Agboola Ajayi 4 Sure 2020’ was created last year by Omobone Tunde to champion the governorship ambition of the deputy governor.
“The man in question has denied having anything to do with the WhatsApp’s group. The deputy governor has also said these characters who see blackmail and propaganda as legitimate tools would paste his governorship posters. Once again, the deputy governor did not authorize the purported video or any poster that may emanate from these people.”
Last week, the political camp of the deputy governor was enmeshed in crisis of confidence as some of his associates discovered that many of them were possibly deceived to support his candidacy.
About five of them uncovered that the deputy governor promised all of them that he would make them his running mates if he clinched the party’s ticket ahead of the October 10 governorship election.
Those who spoke said Ajayi also approached a top member of Governor Akeredolu’s cabinet and promised him the deputy governorship slot.
The sources named others approached by Ajayi to include a former Commissioner for Urban Planning, Solagbade Amodeni, who was sacked last year by Akeredolu, a former member of the House of Representatives members, Abiola Makinde amongst others.
They claimed that many of the deputy governor’s associates were unhappy over his alleged romance with the PDP and his inability to inform them about it what they said angered them most was the report that he prostrated to beg Governor Akeredolu at the instance of Governor Fayemi.
Another aide said Ajayi has told some of his allies and aides that he would not run with Governor Akeredolu for a second term in office over irreconcilable differences.
The source said: “The matter is now worrisome. It is now an open secret that the deputy governor had promised too many political associates the deputy governorship slot in order to elicit their supports in his political battle against Akeredolu.
“As at now, the issue of running mate, if not properly managed, may leave the camp thoroughly fragmented. His political associates, who he had secretly assured the deputy governorship slot at different occasions are now mindful of future dealings”
Also, some of Ajayi’s supporters might have drawn a battle line with him over “political misconception issues”.
It was gathered that Ajayi’s supporters were shocked when they learnt that the deputy governor, last weekend, attended a reconciliation meeting with his boss at the instance of Governor Fayemi where he was said to have prostrated and sought forgiveness from Akeredolu.
The source said: “It appears the deputy Governor is not telling us the truth about happenings between him and the governor; many of us are rattled to be informed by someone who attended the meeting that he actually prostrated to beg Aketi.
“Again, a close political associate of our boss(deputy governor) who is always with us attending meetings secretly was said to have suggested the issue of impeachment move against him yet, he keeps on relating with him for reasons we don’t know.
“What will now be the fates of those of us now labelled as anti-Aketi? The impression he gave was very wrong after the meeting; and on several occasions, he had given the impression that the governor was the one begging him. We are confused as to the real situation of things because he has always told us Fayemi is the one Aketi sends to beg him.
“Our problem with him is that he is too secretive. He believes so much in the political ideology of keeping the master plans to his chest. I must confess to you that we are going back to the drawing to come out with a new strategy.
“What if Akeredolu forgives his deputy governor and decides to pick him as his running mate, what would be our political futures? These are the questions raised by some of us.
“Let me confess to you that another major controversy in the camp presently is that Ajayi has failed to open up to us about his romance with some PDP leaders both in the state and at the National level. He may be nursing the fear that some of us may refuse to join him to PDP.
“Our initial plan was to work with all aggrieved groups in the APC to deny Akeredolu the return ticket. In our camp, Ajayi is our choice to replace his boss and we are very sure that with all our political strategies, he will surely clinch the APC ticket but with the way things are now, Ajayi’s political move is unpredictable.”
The source also added that some of the young minds in their group were behind the campaign video and posters of the deputy governor which littered the social media recently.
He said those young minds must have, out of anger and desperation to pressurised him to move on, deliberately leaked the video which the deputy governor had directed them to keep till the appropriate time.
The source added that the uncertainty and the clandestine move of Ajayi were what informed the action of those who leaked his campaign videos and poster when the rumour of his reconciliation meeting with the governor was turning out to be true.
Ajayi could not be reached for comments. His Chief Press Secretary, Babatope Okeowo, could not also be reached for comments. Another aide who pleaded anonymity described the allegations as tissues of lies.