Ondo State Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, on Monday, met with the stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress in the state, calling on them to promote unity for the progress of the party.
The meeting came barely three weeks after Aiyedatiwa was sworn in as the seventh executive governor of the state following the death of his predecessor and principal, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Monday’s meeting was the first Aiyedatiwa would hold with APC chieftains after he assumed office as governor.
At the moment, activities towards the governorship election in the state coming up later in the year have started gathering momentum.
Just last week, the APC had ruled out giving Aiyedatiwa an automatic ticket for the election.
The PUNCH reported that at the Monday meeting, many of the Ondo APC bigwigs eyeing the seat of the governor were absent.
At the meeting held at the International Culture and Event Centre, Akure, only one governorship aspirant, Mrs Oladunni Odu, who is Secretary to the State Government, was present.
Some of the governorship aspirants, who did not attend the meeting, were Chief Olusola Oke, Mr Wake Akinterinwa, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, Mr Mayowa Akinfolarin, Mr Gbenga Edema, Jimi Odimayo and Olamide Ohunyeye.
Also, only one member of the National Assembly, Abiola Makinde, attended the meeting.
The National Vice Chairman (South-West ) of the party, Mr Isaac Kekemeke, the Minister of Interior, Olubumi Tunji-Ojo, and the Minister of State for Youths Development, Ayodele Olawande, were also absent from the meeting.
It was gathered that an invitation was not extended to the absentees as the meeting was called at the instance of Governor Aiyedatiwa ahead of the forthcoming primary of the party in April.
Stating the reason for his absence, one of the aspirants, Oke, said, “I received the invitation for that meeting at 2:00 a.m. today (Monday). I saw it on my phone and the meeting is 11:00 a.m. and already, I am in Abuja going to attend an important function.
He said, “I responded to it that the notice came too short and I couldn’t attend, but I had no reason not to attend the meeting. I would have attended if I had been notified earlier. I don’t know if it was sent late deliberately or not.”
Similarly, another aspirant and former member of the House of Representatives, Mr Mayowa Akinfolarin, said he was not invited to the meeting and he could not attend such an event.
“I was not invited to the meeting; my close associates were not invited too,” Akinfolarin stated.
But the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ebenezer Adeniyan, said every stakeholder was invited to the meeting.
“They were all invited through their local governments,” the CPS stated.
Speaking at the stakeholders meeting, Aiyedatiwa urged the chieftains of the party to embrace peace and unity ahead of the coming governorship election in the state, appealing to them to forget the past and move the party forward. He also declared that there was no vacancy in the governor’s office currently.
“We must all come together as one family to work together for the progress of our party knowing for sure this is an election year, an election to the office of the Governor of Ondo State even though the seat is not vacant currently. Let us work together In oneness and in peace so that our party, the APC, will continue to govern this state,” the governor said.
The state Chairman of the APC, Mr Ade Adetimehin, commended the governor for the timely engagement of the party stakeholders, stressing that party leaders must put the past behind them to foster unity ahead of the coming governorship election.
Those present at the meeting included members of the state House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Mr Olamide Oladiji, former deputy governors, Alhaji Ali Olanusi and Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo, a former state chairman of the party, Ambassador Sola Iji, former SSG, Sunday Abegunde, member of the House of Representatives, Mr Biola Makinde, Chief Segun Ojo, Chief Jamiu Ekungba, Mrs. Jumoke Anifowose, among many others.