Chairman of the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Ade Adetimehin, in an interview talked about the unfolding developments in the state’s political scene as the governorship primaries and election draw nearer
The Ondo State chapter of the APC has been enmeshed in internal crisis ahead of the governorship primary, what are you doing to end the disputes, especially among the aspirants?
As for the (high) number of aspirants within the APC, it is normal. Before the APC came on board as a ruling party four years ago, more than 27 aspirants jostled for that position. Today, they are not up to 10 aspirants from my record; that shows the APC is a popular party. If a political party is not popular, nobody will jostle for its ticket. This shows the party is a good organisation that can be used to achieve aspirations and that is what is happening. There is synergy among the aspirants and I can assure you that the party will give them a level-playing ground. In other words, everybody will know that nobody is blocking anyone. After the primary, the party will emerge stronger.
What are you doing about the Ondo APC Unity Group which has said that it will not work with the mainstream?
You said it; it is called Unity Group, and not Unity Party. In a bigger political party like this, you can have small groups but the only thing is that the party must not allow the small or splinter groups to derail it. That is the only thing that can cause friction between them. I have said it on several occasions that this type of group is alien to Ondo State. It is only in Lagos State that we heard of that. There, you have Unity Group, Mandate Group and so on like that. But I want to quickly remind you that about three weeks ago, the APC in Lagos State banned all these groups because they were not registered. The only thing recognised by law is the APC and God in His infinite mercies gave me the mandate to head it in Ondo State, and I can tell you that we are doing well.
Since we have many aspirants, is there any plan by the party to pick a consensus candidate like what happened in Edo State?
Whether you call it consensus or primary, there is still going to be affirmation as contained in the party’s constitution. Concerning the one you referred to in Edo State, although many people stepped down for the leading aspirant, they still conducted the primary and did affirmation. As for Ondo State, I think it is good for every aspirant to show his or her popularity. There is nothing bad in that but you must bear it in mind that the party is bigger than individuals. You must guide your party jealously; otherwise, other political parties may capitalise on that and take away your victory. But all the aspirants within this fold as of today are men and women of integrity. I know that after the primary, we will all come together to join hands to win the October election.
During the last primary election, some aggrieved aspirants who could not get the ticket left the party to contest on another platform. Are you not worried that such a thing could repeat itself this time round?
I don’t think such a thing can repeat itself because we have learnt our lesson. Now, we are better positioned than the other time. I can assure you that after the primary, we will all come together and work for whoever wins the primary. Whenever progressives govern this state, there is peace and progress in terms of infrastructural development, education and health.
Recently, the deputy governor resigned from the APC, how do you view this development?
For me, it is a sad development. Why? When we were in the trenches, this young man promised that we would be together. Having left us today, I can assure you that the party is not shaken. You cannot compare other political parties to the APC. But before he left, a lot of the PDP members had joined our party. So, I don’t think we will miss him. But we have said it that it is normal and good for his own fundamental human rights. However, we have said that if he decides to leave the APC, he must leave honourably. Since he has resigned from the APC, he must equally resign the office of the deputy governor; because that ticket belongs to the APC. It is not a joint ticket between the APC and the PDP. It is clearly stated in our constitution. It is a ticket on the platform of the APC. We have told him that you are a comrade in the APC but if you are leaving, don’t go with our property, drop all our belongings. But as we said, we wish him well in his future endeavours and if he still decides to come back, we will absorb him with open hands because our party is a party of principles, ideology and integrity.
Your have asked him to resign but he has said he is not going to resign. Are you not bothered he may use what he knows about your party against it during the election?
We are not bothered. I have said it before that he has not told us that he will not resign. We have sent him a letter to the effect that the onus is on him to give us back what he owes us. It is not a joint ticket between the PDP and the APC. The ideologies are different. I have told you that in the APC, we believe in integrity and honesty as our core values. People are saying that he is not going to resign but I know that he will not do that. He is somebody that is very close to me. I know him, he is a man that will do the needful. He will resign.
We understand the deputy governor may be picked as the candidate of the PDP which means he will contest against the candidate of your party. Are you worried about this?
That question will be answered in two folds. One, I don’t know the workings of the PDP. I have never been in the PDP since I joined politics. If the PDP picks him, good luck to them but I can assure you that any candidate picked in the PDP to face the APC candidate will be defeated. The election is a walk-over
Has the party in Ondo State written to the national secretarial on the mode of primary?
These are the internal workings of the party. We are not writing to all Nigerians but to the party. It is the internal workings of our party and I appeal that you should leave that for us. It is for the party to handle.