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AKEREDOLU, DEPUTY SPLIT OVER 2020 GOVERNORSHIP RACE
Reconciliation between Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and his estranged deputy, Agboola Ajayi, has hit the rocks, it was learnt on Tuesday
Party elders, who expressed worry over the sour relationship, lamented that there was no end in sight to the acrimony.
According to party sources, the bone of contention is the struggle for the governorship ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. The election will hold next year.
It was gathered, however, that the camp of the governor is not pushing for Ajayi’s impeachment by the House of Assembly because of his perceived popularity with majority of the lawmakers.
Akeredolu handpicked Ajayi, a former House of Representatives member, as running mate in 2016, shortly after emerging as the APC standard bearer.
The deputy governor is from Ese Odo Local Government, in the Southern part of the state, where Akeredolu’s mother hails from.
Ajayi, who learned politics at the feet of Chief Olusola Oke (SAN), is popular in the South Senatorial District, where he had held political positions at the grassroots.
According to sources, Akeredolu often relied on him for strategic advice as a grassroots actor, adding that his loyalty endeared him to the governor.
The governor, it was learnt, is believed to always concede to him the privilege of taking decisions on political matters relating to the affairs of the South district.
“Ajayi is an astute politician. Since he enjoyed the confidence of his boss and because the governor usually delegated political responsibilities to him, he became the darling of the political class, which perceived him as the door to the governor and the administration,” another party source said.
However, having realised that his boss lacked deep knowledge of the political terrain, the deputy governor has often capitalised on the gap and taken the shine off his boss.
Crisis started brewing when the deputy governor was alleged to be making some decisive moves to position himself, following the suspension of Akeredolu by the party.
“Maybe he thought the suspension would not be lifted before the primary. He was thought to be setting up independent structure for the governorship race. The move may have enraged the governor, who is the state’s party leader,” the source added.
Associates of the deputy governor have denied the allegations.
The rank of party elders is also polarised by the crisis.
A section of APC Elders Forum is at loggerheads with the governor, who they accused of not carrying them along in governance.
But pro-Akeredolu elders have criticised the deputy governor for alleged impatience because they previously perceived Ajayi as the likely successor to the governor, at the expiration of his second term.
Following the escalation of the crisis, the deputy governor, it was learnt, is being gradually sidelined in government activities.
Also, the governor’s aides and commissioners are keeping a distance from the deputy governor, unlike before when he was their de facto boss.
An APC chieftain said: “The deputy governor is gradually being isolated. People don’t want to interact with him publicly to avoid incurring the wrath of the governor.
“Things are no longer the same. The two brothers are fighting. Gone are the days when the governor would bring Agbo into confidence. But, we are still hopeful about reconciliation.