The All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters in their thousands on Saturday defied a heavy rain in Akure to storm the Akure Township Stadium for the campaign flag-off of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who is seeking a second term in office.
By Osagie Otabor, Akure
Also at the rally were the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; APC National Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mai Mala Buni; Governors Atiku Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Babagana Zulum of Borno State, AbdulRahman AbdulRasak of Kwara State, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Sani Bello of Niger State and Abdulahi Sule of Nasarawa State, as well as the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Chief David Onoja.
Transportation Minister, Rotimi Ameachi; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura and former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, were also in attendance.
Speaker after speaker at the rally, including Tinubu, asked voters to return Akeredolu for a second term as a reward for a good performance in his current tenure.
Tinubu said there is no way for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the October election as the party is already dead and only waiting to be buried.
The APC leader, who had earlier in the day commissioned the newly built edifice of the Ondo Internal Revenue Service in Akure, expressed joy that the party was approaching the election as a united front.
He said the situation was made possible by such leaders as Olusola Oke, Isaac Kekemeke, Segun Abraham, Ifeoluwa Oyedele, Olubukola Adetula, Jimi Odimayo, Olaide Owolabi Adelami and Olusola Iji, all of whom he said decided to step down their personal ambitions to support Akeredolu in the election.
He also thanked the former Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Ifedayo Sunday Abegunde, “who came back to us and who agreed to work for Governor Akeredolu’s re-election”, as well as Chief Olanusi and other members of the now defunct Unity Forum for “their commitment to the party and for so firmly believing in what we stand for.”
He revealed that Mrs Jumoke Anifowose and Nat Adojutelegan had indicated their readiness to withdraw their cases from court.
Tinubu told of how he made himself unavailable when some APC leaders in Ondo State sought to reach him before the party primaries to raise questions regarding Governor Akeredolu.
The former Lagos State governor said the move was not meant to hurt or insult anyone but because he knew the depth of character and the high quality of the Ondo APC leaders.
He said: “We are in this battle together. More importantly, we are on the same side of it.
“The fight is not only to ensure the re-election of Governor Akeredolu but to establish a progressive government where we are capable of doing so.
“In this manner we achieve continued progress and development in our country through patriotic and visionary leadership. In this manner, we establish a progressive society.”
Tinubu said Akeredolu, from day one of his inauguration in 2016 “has had his hands on the plough, recording one milestone after another,” including the Internal Revenue Service Building that was commissioned yesterday and the Ore Industrial Hub which was commissioned by President Buhari.
He said: “That industrial hub will bring needed employment and economic development to the deserving people living in the Ore vicinity.
“Step by step, project by project, industrial hub by industrial hub is how we construct the foundation for durable progress and prosperity. Governor Akeredolu has done more than talk development; he has dedicated himself and his government to bringing development to this state.”
Chairman of the National caretaker Committee of the APC, Buni, said the party was now more united.
He urged Ondo people not to allow anyone to truncate the developmental stride of the Akeredolu administration.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who is the Chairman of the APC National Campaign Council, said Ondo State has received first class governance under Akeredolu.
He said Akeredolu has performed well and deserved to be re-elected with a resounding victory.
Fayemi said the Ondo State governor has demonstrated that he is a governor to be relied on. He noted that all the promises Akeredolu made had been fulfilled.
He said the state has witnessed competent and progressive governance in the last four years, adding that the projects scattered across the three senatorial districts of the state were unique and distinct qualities.
On his part, Governor Akeredolu urged the people not to allow the state to slip into the hands of the opposition as he is prepared to do more than he has done now in his second term.
He said it would be wrong to allow those he said would ruin the gains already entrenched get to power.
Business mogul Jimoh Ibrahim and a former Commissioner for Culture and Special Duties, Femi Adekanmbi, led their supporters to defect to the APC.
Also on Saturday, Tinubu met with traditional rulers in the state where he sought their support for Akeredolu.
He said: “We are all united to work for Akeredolu’s re-election so that APC will continue to govern Ondo State and other states in the country.
“We commissioned Revenue House today. Governor Akeredolu has performed very well and he deserves to be re-elected based on his performance and achievements in office in his first term.
“I want to implore all traditional rulers to endorse Akeredolu and work for his re-election. His re-election is in the interest of the people of Ondo State and Yoruba land at large. As the ruling party at the federal level, we should allow continuity in Ondo State.”
The meeting was attended by Akeredolu and his running mate, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa.