Facts have emerged on how Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s intrigues and brinkmanship in his complex influence peddling within the All Progressives Congress in the South West cost his Ondo State choice governorship candidate, Olusegun Abraham, the ticket in the September governorship primary held in Akure, the state capital.
It will be recalled that Tinubu, a National Leader of the APC and former Governor of Lagos State, supported Barrister Rotimi Akeredolu in the 2012 governorship election in the state. After the senior advocate of Nigeria lost, he kept his structures intact, working with the state executive and in particular with the Deputy State Chairman of the party, Ade Adetimehin, to keep the party intact for the challenge of presenting a party strong enough to take the state from the grips of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The strategy to sustain that goal, the party leadership opined, was through the constitution of a new State Executive Committee of the party. On ground to play leading roles were Akeredolu and his men, notably Adetimehin, who the senior lawyer supported to be elected as the new state Chairman of the party.
But a new member, Isaac Kekemeke, who just defected from the PDP, was preferred by Tinubu to emerge as the state chairman. Akeredolu’s argument was that a man, Adetimehin, who stood with the party in the times of trouble and who understood the inner workings of the party, was in a better position to be elected as the new chairman to build on the strength of the party post-2012 poll.
Tinubu would have none of that and so he had his way, producing Kekemeke as the state chairman of the party, while conceding the deputy chairmanship position to Adetimehin.
Akeredolu’s support for the opponent of Tinubu’s preferred candidate led to a frosty relationship between the National Leader of the party and the senior lawyer, the cold association that refused to thaw even as the jostle for the governorship ticket heightened.
To pay Akeredolu for not supporting his candidate, Tinubu, popularly called Jagaban, vowed to have his pound of flesh, as he stood stoutly against Akeredolu with whom he had a good relationship during the course of building a strong progressive political force in the South West.
In the contest that followed, Tinubu abandoned Akeredolu and chose to support Abraham and the latter was hopeful that the state gubernatorial contest would be an easy run in the race to the Alagbaka Government House.
But unknown to Abraham, Tinubu also had an interest reminiscent of the intrigues that allegedly followed the complex game in Nuhu Ribadu’s bid to be elected the President on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, where Tinubu was also a national leader.
Reports were rife that time about how Tinubu was allegedly conveyed in a chartered flight to Abuja to strike a deal with President Goodluck Jonathan on how to sway support for the latter. While on campaign trail, Tinubu was the most outspoken on the need for Nigerians to vote the candidate of his party, Ribadu, to save Nigeria from the rudderless government run by PDP.
As it turned out, core loyalists of Tinubu in the South West, except for Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, worked according to Tinubu’s scheme. In the results of that election, while Jonathan lost in Osun State, he won in other South West states, including Lagos and at Tinubu’s voting unit.
This time around, prior to Ondo State primaries, Tinubu also had his feet stamped firmly in the camps of two leading members of APC, Abraham and Senator Ajayi Borrofice, while Aregbesola chose Olusola Oke.
With the Bourdillion machinery working on this tripodal political scheme in the same political family that featured three aspirants for the same governorship position, Tinubu’s heart was with Abraham; his wife, Senator Oluremi, stood with Borrofice; while Tinubu’s alter ago, Aregbesola, was working for Oke.
To smoothen Borrofice’s ride to clinching the ticket, Tinubu seconded his trusted media aide, Idowu Ajanaku, to coordinate Borrofice’s media activities, leading to the primary contest. Ajanaku did his best to help Borrofice, but Tinubu’s propping of Abraham had become more pronounced, leading to a slide of fortune for the senator’s push to grab the APC’s ticket. After Borrofice lost, Ajanaku was back to his job in the office of the Lagos State Governor, while Borrofice now remains aloof though his supporters are working for APC’s success. Abraham has gone to court hopeful of retrieving the ticket and refusing to work with Tinubu’s camp that is now working with erstwhile political foe, Ayodele Fayose, to ensure Oke’s victory on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy in order to kick-start the envisaged political realignment that has seen Fayose and Aregbesola exchanging visits and also attending secret meetings across the country.
Prior to this, just like Aregbesola did while Tinubu was working for President Jonathan in his first term election, the Osun State Governor was also playing underneath to prop another aspirant, Olusola Oke, who he hoped would make his political associate and close aide, Bola Ilori, emerge the deputy governorship candidate.
Bola Ilori was a local government chairman while Tinubu was governor of Lagos State. As intrigues continued to play out, Ilori was now frequenting Ondo State, parleying with Oke and strategising on how to help Oke emerge as APC candidate. He later emerged Oke’s campaign manager after he shocked the nation that Tinubu allegedly directed him and other aides to defect to AD while still retaining his position as the National Leader of APC.
Tinubu was abroad when news of Aregbesola’s alleged secret plot leaked, which reportedly ruffled his relationship with the Bourdillon.
According to reports, Aregbesola was through Ilori allegedly channeling more of Bourdillon’s funds to Oke instead of Abraham. Oke was now convinced that with money coming from Bourdillon and Ilori working hard to ensure his emergence as APC’s candidate, the coast was clear in what promised a keenly contested primary to ensure his victory.
In a complex interplay of intrigues and shenanigans that followed, Oke assumed that all the delegates in Tinubu’s camp had now come to his side, particularly with the cooperation of Ilori, a core Tinubu/Aregbesola man working with the Ilaje-born politician and former National Legal Adviser of the PDP to enable him clinch the ticket.
Oke was still fresh in APC and so it would be a herculean task for him to get necessary support from APC establishment, particularly the state Exco, to have the required numbers of delegates to help him win in the primary. But with the picture emerging from Tinubu’s camp, confusion reigned supreme within Abraham and Oke’s camps, with the latter more than hopeful that all delegates that Abraham relied upon for support would vote for him.
But at the primary contest after an all-night horse-trading and manoeuvring that depleted Oke’s delegates, he was shocked that those he had relied upon for support gave their votes to Abraham.
This explained why Oke, upon Akeredolu’s victory and after congratulating the winner, openly complained that all the delegates who ought to have voted for him diverted their votes to Abraham, fuelling mutual distrust between two contestants within the same political family.
And contrary to what Tinubu’s loyalists would want the public to believe that the National Working Committee members voted to cancel the primary for a fresh one, it has since emerged that Tinubu’s men in NWC, including Pius Akinyelure, actually opted to uphold the NWC’s decision to confirm Akeredolu’s nomination after the committee discovered that the Appeal Panel failed to follow due process and fairness in its arbitration assignment to resolve the primary brouhaha.
Thereafter, Tinubu tried all the tricks in his political bag to have the primary that produced Akeredolu cancelled, but all the plans were so weak, and so they failed to manifest the intended result. But then that was not the end of Bourdillon’s dream to have control over the South West progressives politics, as new moves began to seek another platform (Alliance for Democracy, AD) to displace APC by working with Oke.
It just then emerged that after the initial anger, that Aregbesola was actually from the beginning playing a complementary role that has now manifested in uniting Tinubu’s political family, as Oke, Aregbesola’s candidate, has now turned the prince of the Bourdillion, becoming handy in the scheme to brighten Tinubu’s chance of controlling the politics of the South West through consolidation and strengthening of AD to serve as alternative platform for Tinubu’s political hegemony.
That was not all; more daring moves that went with blackmail of those Tinubu saw as enemies were initiated to rail-road top politicians in the South West to a new realignment platform that will resuscitate AD where Tinubu will sustain his grip on the South West.
But with Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa’s faction of AD stoutly resisting Tinubu to seize the party and the Legal Adviser of AD in court to challenge Oke’s qualification to contest for the governorship election, it is yet to be seen how Tinubu will succeed in dismantling APC over failed ambition to control the destinies of APC leaders in the South West to raise AD’s profile to a party capable of playing national politics.
As the November 26 governorship election is two weeks away, Abraham has remained in his cocoon while divisions in AD may make Oke’s hope for governorship a pipe dream.
For Abraham, one plus one on the chess board of a political godfather is not always two.
. Culled from Sunshine Chronicle.