Ministerial nomination tears APC apart in Ondo
THE nomination, by President Muhammadu Buhari, of Professor Claudius Omoleye Daramola as a minister in the yet-to-be-constituted Federal Executive Council representing Ondo State is causing more than a ripple in the ominously still waters of the internal politics of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Daramola, a native of Ode-Aye in Okitipupa local council of the state and a Professor of Sociology of Education from the University of Ilorin whose only claim to visibility in the party seems to be his participation in the election into the state chairmanship position last year, was never a hot contender for the ministerial position.
Among those much more favoured for the position, at least in the public domain, were Rotimi Akeredolu, former President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and 2012 gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Chief Pius Akinyelure, the South West Chairman of APC, Chief Olusola Oke, the 2012 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who is now in the APC and Chief Muyiwa Ogunleye, a chieftain and financier of the party.
Others were Diran Iyantan, former State Commissioner, Ife Oyedele, Ondo coordinator of Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) and the State Chairman, Isaacs Kekemeke.
Expectedly the nomination of Daramola, who reportedly didn’t lobby for the position, has aggravated the estranged relationship among members of the APC in the state.
The State Working Committee (SWC), under the leadership of Kekemeke, suspended Adesanya Abayomi, the State Publicity Secretary of the party over his congratulatory messages to the nominee.
Adesanya had hailed Buhari for nominating Daramola as a Minister but at the SWC meeting last week, Kekemeke argued that Adesanya should be suspended.
The State Secretary of the party, Rahman Rotimi and Youth leader, Omolayo Babalola; signed a statement issued on the suspension while sources at the meeting disclosed that Kekemeke said Adesanya’s reaction was contrary to the stance of the party on the nomination of Daramola.
It was gathered that Kekemeke, who allegedly spent one month in Abuja trying to secure the nomination for himself was not happy about the outcome and therefore joined forces with others to protest Daramola’s nomination.
A source who is a member of the SWC and pleaded anonymity, said “at the beginning of the meeting, you would know that the issue of the Publicity Secretary was the basis of the emergency meeting. The chairman was so embittered that the Publicity Secretary commended President Buhari over the choice of Daramola.
“He believed that the Professor is a wrong choice. But some of us imagined how it became wrong for the Publicity Secretary to commend what the President has done in choosing Daramola.”
Despite the internal wrangling and enmity against Daramola’s nomination, the Ondo State Peace Support and Development Forum (OSPESADEF) has described his choice as a round peg in a round hole.
The group in a statement jointly signed by its chairman, Adegoke Adewinle and the Secretary, Oluwasegun Adeoye, described Daramola as a grassroots politician and a seasoned educationist who has the required experience to serve the nation in that capacity.
Adewinle, a former Chief Press Secretary to the wife of late Governor Olusegun Agagu and Adeoye said the people of Ondo State are solidly behind Daramola’s nomination and advised his critics to turn a new leave by supporting the popular and most credible choice.
The duo argued that the nominee is a foundation member of the APC in the state and noted that his wealth of experience in the academics and politics will add credence to his nomination.
They therefore urged the Senate to clear the nominee, expressing unfailing hope that his appointment as a Federal Minister will bring more development to the State and enhance the chances of APC in the coming governorship election.
Although Adesanya claimed he had not received any letter suspending him from office, he argued that the SWC has no power to suspend an officer. He added that since a committee has been set up to look into the matter, he would not comment further pending the outcome of his appearance before the committee.
In a statement issued by the party and made available to newsmen, “the SWC also noted the continuing gross misconduct of the State Publicity Secretary and suspended him from office and set up a disciplinary committee to look into his activities which have of recent embarrassed the party”
But Dr Tunji Abayomi, a former governorship aspirant of the party, protested in a social media platform saying, “APC Constitution does not allow discipline before fact-finding that allows fair hearing. Moreover the grounds for discipline are set out in the Constitution, which in my view excludes whatever ground the Ondo State now uses.
“The Chairman of the party is a lawyer. He should be true to his profession. The other issue is this. We must ask whether those who complain about the congratulatory message also lobbied to be minister.
“If they do, how are we sure they are not reacting to President’s decision to pick a neutral gentleman who did not lobby for office. The SWC should tell us how the Publicity Secretary embarrassed the party by his forward looking comments on political affairs in the State please.”
Another chieftain of the party, Elder Kunle Eko-Davies, said “In my own view the purported suspension is more embarrassing than the forward looking statement of Adesanya. It is either the executive is not on the same page with our party or there exists a ministerial lobbyist among them.
“Professor Daramola, a perfect gentleman is well known to us in the progressive family. The maintenance of ‘party man’ status in the glaring factionalism madness is not an offence. I hope they will not suspend the state chairman when further appointments are made public.
“I advise the SWC to be more proactive than entertaining petty issues. Disciplinary action can only be respected after proper investigation and fair hearing.”
It would be recalled that the rift between Kekemeke and Adesanya became noticeable when the latter was suspended on August 7th, 2015, for alleging that the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh was on the payroll of the governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.
Kekemeke had reacted furiously against the allegation, maintaining that Adesanya put the party to disrepute by his publication. But in his response dated August 15th, 2015, Adesanya accused the Chairman of an unholy alliance with the PDP government of the state and alleged deliberate muffling of APC’s information department.
Anytime Kekemeke was contacted on the issue, his response has always been, “I cannot comment on that in the press,” an action that has been blocking information flow on the crisis within the party.
However, in the grand finale of the reconciliation moves across the 18 local councils of the state last weekend in Owo, Chief Jamiu Ekungba, a leading chieftain of the party, noted that the crises within the platform would soon be over and set the party in a better balance to win the next election.
Ekungba, who has been contesting for the governorship ticket of the party in the state, warned against continued disunity and political bitterness in the party, stressing that if not stemmed, it could rob the party of the golden opportunity to win the 2016 election.
“It is the belief of our leaders that unless we are united, it will be difficult for us to win. It is the responsibility of everybody, especially mine, as member of the Board of Trustee, to go round and beg everybody because what we have at stake is more than the petty things they are fighting for.”
He affirmed the importance of the reconciliatory measures saying, “What I now intend to do, is going round again meeting all the leaders. If I need to prostrate, I will prostrate; beg them and let them see the big picture. What are they fighting about? The only way everyone can have his dream fulfilled is getting to Alagbaka Government House.”
Ekungba disclosed that a more effective measure has been employed to resolve the crises within the party, revealing, “in strategy, we call something ‘top-down, bottom-up.’ So we are starting from the bottom now. I am not talking to even the leaders at the local governments, but to the ward officers; let them see reasons why we must be in Alagbaka.
“And they saw it and you see my response in my visit to them. Once the bottom has agreed they want to work together, any leader that does not fall in place will just find himself thrown away.”