Mr Steve Otaloro
Recent self-declaration by a group of party stalwarts in Ondo State declaring themselves as “authentic APC” appeared to have raised some dust in the party. FISAYO AKINDURO accosted the spokesman of the party, Steve Otaloro, to shed more light on the true picture of the situation.
What was the genesis of the rumblings in your party, especially with a serving senator partaking in this?
It is shocking that a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic, Senator Borofice Ajayi who was elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress would team up with some people against the party. It is ridiculous to see someone of his calibre to be sponsoring some individuals who are obviously against the party to bring disrepute to his own party.
The senator is being unfair to the party that gave him the mandate to represent it in the Northern Senatorial District at the Upper Chamber of the Senate.
Senator Borofice cannot deny that he wasn’t aware of the letter written by the National Secretariat of the party suspending Hon. Issacs Kekemeke as the State Chairman of the party. He is also aware of the letter issued by the same National Secretariat appointing Engr. Ade Adetimehin to take charge of the State Secretariat as Chairman in acting capacity pending the determination of all the allegations leveled against Kekemeke.
Some of the allegations border on his activities during the governorship election in the state last year. It was alleged that he worked against his party during the election.
Looking at the issue critically, just before the election, all the party machineries including the youth wing, the women wing and the elders’ forum were against Kekemeke.
They all passed vote-of-no-confidence on him judging by the way he conducted himself before the party’s primary. Party members were angered by his conduct as they alleged him of supporting a particular aspirant, using the party machinery against other aspirants. Although he has a right to support an aspirant of his choice, but using the party machinery as the chairman to do so to the detriment of other aspirants was where he got it wrong.
The people then declared him suspended but he resisted, saying it was only the National Secretariat of the party that has the constitutional power to do that. Now the national body has suspended him and he’s resisting, claiming that he remains the party chairman which is an absolute affront to the national body of our great party.
This is the same Kekemeke who once said that no one can fights, a constituted authority when he was suspended by the various party organs before the last party primary.
It would baffle any sound mind person why he is assuming this pedestal because he was only suspended and not expelled from the party pending the determination of all the allegations leveled against him. He had the opportunity to defend himself. Thank God, this is a party that believes in fairness. He has not been found and declared guilty. At least the national body has not given verdict on the findings submitted to it by the fact-finding and disciplinary committee constituted by the state-Exco that was set up to look into the anti-party and other allegations.
Was Hon. Kekemeke given a fair hearing by the panel?
Yes indeed, he was treated with utmost respect by the panel. When the Omoba Adesanya-led panel was sitting, Kekemeke was invited but ignored the panel. He refused to appear before the panel to absolve himself of all the allegations levelled against him. Let’s even leave Omoba Adesanya’s panel out of it now. It is expected of Kekemeke to go before the National Secretariat to defend himself rather than putting on the defeatists toga, declaring himself as the authentic state chairman of the party before pressmen.
His aim, anyway is to distract the Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, but that strategy won’t work.
Has the Governor intervened in the issue?
Even before individuals came up with this strategy of crying wolf where there is none, the governor has charged that everyone who had for one reason or another been inactive in the party should come back to the fold. This is a reasonable opportunity offered by the governor essentially to those who went on sabbatical due to their mistakes, misunderstanding and disagreement. In politics, we disagree to agree.
Even people from opposition party have seized the opportunity to defect to APC. Quite a number of bigwigs from Peoples Democratic Party, Alliance for Democracy, Social Democratic Party and other parties have joined APC with their followers and supporters.
This development is the outcome of the smooth operations of the Acting chairman, Engr. Adetimehin. Though he doesn’t like making noise about his operations, but he’s a goal-getter. We expected everyone who made mistakes to admit their faults and return to the party. On more than eight different occasions, new defectors have been received by the chairman into APC including those who were known to be critics of the governor.
To avoid controversy, the Acting chairman didn’t constitute openly a committee to reconcile the aggrieved persons, but we have started seeing the results of the efforts of the committee. As I speak, a lot of people who left APC for AD are now back in the party.
Then what do you think is the cause of this?
To be blunt about this development, individuals are seeking a way to retrace their footsteps. Having seen the trend, Kekemeke and his cohorts were jittery and adopted the distraction strategy to get the attention of the governor who is busy working on repositioning the economy of the state for the benefit of the people.
Perhaps they saw the handwriting on the wall because they have been feeding the people with unfounded claim that our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the governor were not in good terms, but were shocked when the governor played host to the national leader in Government House during his last visit to the Afenifere leaders in Akure. They both went to visit the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti in company of other Afenifere leaders including Chief Olu Falae and Chief Seinde Arogbofa.
They claimed to be authentic, is your party now factionalised?
There’s no faction in our party, but for every unruly behaviour, there’s bound to be sanctions. They have seen the party becoming stronger that’s why they adopted the commando style of distracting the governor to hijack the leadership of the party but it was a dead-on-arrival gimmick.
What is the effect of this on governance?
The governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu remains undistracted and unperturbed by the noise of the attention-seeking individuals as he is focused on delivering dividends of democracy to the people of the state. He has embarked on massive agricultural revolution in which no fewer than 10,000 youths are being engaged.
In his drive to boost value chain and introduce new dimension to agric business in the state, a chocolate factory is currently under construction at Alade-Idanre. This would stem the trend of exporting our farm produce in raw forms and at cheaper price only to buy back at higher price same products after processing into beverages, chocolate and others and brought back into the country.
A lot of memoranda of understanding that would empower the state economically have been signed by the governor with foreign investors and companies. Among these is the MoU signed with NNPC on production of 65 million litter biofuel per annum in the state and ensure unimpeded fuel supply. This is expected to generate over one million direct and indirect jobs with the construction of the plant and the production of cassava feedstock.
Arakunrin Akeredolu is not playing politics with the future of the people. He’s focused and undistracted.
To know how focused he is, he didn’t reveal the financial status of the state until the need for it to tell the newly sworn-in commissioners so as for them to braize up and ready to work harder for the good of the state economy.
Inspite of the huge debt he inherited from the immediate past administration, he’s still able to carry out some capital projects and pay workers salaries regularly. By next year, the agric sector would have boomed as a results of the programmes being embarked on.
What’s the leadership of the party doing now to resolve the crisis?
The party has offered an olive branch to all members who we described as being on sabbatical leave to return. Not as new members but as old members. The governor is set to embrace all of them.