The national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu, was conspicuously absent at the grand finale rally of the party’s candidate for the forthcoming gubernatorial election of Ondo State.
The rally, which was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, was also boycotted by the governors of Lagos, Oyo and Osun states, Akinwunmi Ambode, Isiaka Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola respectively.
At the governorship primaries conducted in Akure on September 3, Akeredolu defeated Segun Abraham, who was believed to have been endorsed by Tinubu.
Ambode, Aregbesola and Ajimobi are perceived as APC governors in the South-West that are loyal to Tinubu.
At the rally held at the Democracy Park, Akure, President Buhari said he was happy with the primaries that produced Akeredolu, describing it as transparent.
The president presented Akeredolu as the party’s gubernatorial candidate and canvassed votes for him.
He thanked the party’s faithful for “coming out even in the sun and standing for hours. It shows the level of commitment that you have for the party.
“I have confidence in the gubernatorial candidate of the party and I was happy with the transparent way the primary election was held.”
The rally was attended by Senate President Bukola Saraki and the APC national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, as well as the governors of Imo, Plateau, Kano, Kogi and former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole.
Earlier at a meeting with the gubernatorial aspirants, APC elders in the state and national officers of the party, Buhari had commended the aspirants for their loyalty to the party and supporting Akeredolu.
The president stressed that the unity of the party was crucial for the outcome of next Saturday’s gubernatorial election in the state.
“I am very pleased that those of you who lost the primaries are still very much in the party. That you lose election doesn’t mean you should walk away, you keep on trying. I went to the Supreme Court three times in my bid to become the president of Nigeria. I like your high spirit and your commitment to the party and I hope your constituencies are taking note of that,’’ he said.
He assured Nigerians that determined, steadfast and patriotic people in the APC-led government would transform the nation’s ailing economy, which, he said, was run aground by the party that governed Nigeria for 16 years.
In his remark, the representative of the aspirants, Tunji Abayomi, assured Buhari of their resolve to deliver Ondo to APC.
“No single aspirant left the party after the primaries. Those who left the party were not party members; they returned to where they belonged,’’ Abayomi told the president.
Also speaking, the chairman of the APC Elders Council, Ondo State, Sen. Olorunnimbe Farukanmi, said Akeredolu was eminently qualified to lead the state.
“We have fielded an experienced, informed, hardworking and capable legal practitioner to work with President Buhari to carry out massive industrial development, job creation, eradication of poverty and massive economic improvement in the nation,’’ he said.