Ondo State governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Wednesday, said he did not acknowledge a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu because the recognized party hierarchy does not have him at the top of the pyramid.
Chief Akeredolu said having acknowledged President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the recognised national leader of the party, and the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, he had thanked the foremost leaders within the party.
Akeredolu said this while answering State House correspondents’ questions shortly after he and his deputy, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, met Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
The governor-elect, who said the relationship between him and Tinubu was cordial, explained that mentioning the name of the former Lagos State governor specifically would have amounted to him mentioning the names of about 37 other leaders of the party.
Rotimi Akeredolu said:
“On the names that were mentioned in my speech when expressing gratitude and that I didn’t specifically thank Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I thanked the President and the leader of our party profusely for the leadership which he showed leading to this election.”
“I also thanked our indefatigable chairman for standing by the truth and for his position on this matter that led to this election. I have no reason to do otherwise.”
“Party structure, to the best of my knowledge, is very clear. You have the leadership of the party and that is represented by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.”
“After an election, a chief executive emerges, he becomes a leader of the party, you don’t have to personalise and be looking for leaders all over the place.”
“If we have to do that, then I will have to mention 36 or 37 leaders. So, I believe the leadership as represented by the President covers all leaders and that tells me it would include Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it would include even Baba Akande, (Ogbonnaya) Onu, and so many leaders.”
“But President Buhari is the leader of the party. So, that is my position there.”
“For me, as a person, I believe he is one of the leaders of the party and I don’t see any strained relationship between us. And you would observe that he has sent in his congratulatory message after the election, so what else do you expect?”
“I mean all of us see this as a victory for the APC, not for Akeredolu, not for us an individual but for the party as a whole. I believe he is a member of the party. Mr. Femi Adesina had issued a release but you journalists just want to put words into our mouths”
It will be recalled that Senator Bola Tinubu was visibly absent at all the governorship rallies and campaigns prior to the Ondo election, this was seen by many observers as a show of his displeasure for the process that threw up Akeredolu as the party’s flag bearer.
Tinubu had strongly backed another candidate at the primaries, but when it became clear that the party machinery from Abuja preferred Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, he retreated to lick his political wounds.
This will be the first time a candidate not favoured by the strong man of South –West politics will emerge as a Governor of an APC controlled western bloc.