The race to the Ondo Government House may have further increased the internal crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State.
The APC appears to be in crisis and efforts to settle the rift by both the leadership of the party at both the state and national levels have proved abortive.
The current crisis rocking the party may not be unconnected with the ambition of some leaders of the APC to contest in the 2020 governorship election in the state, Daily Sun reports.
Two major factions exist in Ondo State chapter of the APC and the two factions parade array of political bigwigs interested in the governorship contest.
Leaders of the two factions are: Ade Adetimehin, the state chairman of the party recognised by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, and Mr Isaac Kekemeke, the former past chairman of the party.
The crisis, Daily Sun gathered, started during the 2016 governorship primary election which produced Akeredolu against the wish of some members of the party led by Kekemeke who was alleged to be working for the national leader of the party, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Although it was rumoured that Tinubu was in support of Dr Olusegun Abraham who also contested the primary, some loyalists of Tinubu including the former governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola and former Osun State Commissioner for Regional Integration, Mr Bola Ilori supported Olusola Oke.
However, Oke later contested the election on the platform of the Alliance of Democracy (AD) and lost to Akeredolu of the APC, but later returned to the ruling APC shortly after the election.
He was appointed the Director General of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation in the South West before the last presidential election and he coordinated the campaign of Buhari in the South West.
Although Buhari lost in Oke’s home state of Ondo due to what political observers attributed to internal wrangling in the party, he won in other states of the South West. The defeat of Buhari in Ondo State, observers also say, might be as a result of the defection of some loyalists of Governor Akeredolu to the Action Alliance (AA).
Many of them, including a senatorial candidate of the party and chairman, Governing Council of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr Tunji Abayomi defected to the AA.
In fact, Abayomi, said to be a close friend of Akeredolu contested for the senatorial election but lost to Senator Boroffice of the APC.
As a result of the development, Governor Akeredolu was alleged of anti-party activities, a development which earned him a suspension from the party.
The leadership of the party ordered the suspension of Akeredolu for alleged anti-party activities, though he denied the allegation and also claimed not to be aware of his suspension.
The development in the party has no doubt widened the differences among members of the party, with different factions pledging their loyalty to their leaders. This is even as the interest and ambition of many of the party’s leaders are causing disaffection within the party.
Unarguably, the incumbent governor, Akeredolu is said to be interested in second term, so also some individuals in the party including Oke, Abraham and others are also rumoured to be interested in contesting the 2020 governorship election in the state.
While some members of the party in the state are in support of Akeredolu, it was learnt that some others including Kekemeke, Boroffice, Ilori and Alhaji Alli Olanusi, a former Deputy Governor of the state among other notable leaders are against Akeredolu and they are allegedly rooting for Oke.
Also, it was alleged that the national leader of the party, Tinubu was not in support of Akeredolu. He was said to be in support of Oke. However, it was gathered that Governor Akeredolu had been to the Lagos and Abuja residences of Tinubu to apologise to him for his past mistakes and solicited for his support.
An impeccable source informed that Akeredolu was led to the house of Tinubu by former National Vice Chairman of the party in the South West, Chief Pius Akinyelure.
In spite of Akeredolu’s efforts, findings revealed that the faction loyal to Governor Akeredolu claimed that Akeredolu remains the leader of the party in the state, while the other faction led by Senator Boroffice claimed that Akeredolu can no longer lead the party having been allegedly suspended by the NWC for alleged anti- party activities. This is even as some factional leaders of the party have continued to trade words over the suspension of Akeredolu from the party.