President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to lead some members of his cabinet to Ondo State on Thursday to flag-off the All Progressives Congress campaign ahead of the November 26 governorship election.
The party’s candidate, Rotimi Akeredolu, and his supporters believe that Mr. Buhari’s presence at the rally will be a game changer for the APC and improve its chances of winning the election.
Mr. Buhari’s visit was earlier scheduled for November 4, but had to be postponed due to his busy schedules.
The Publicity Secretary of the party, Abayomi Adesanya, in a statement on Wednesday, said apart from Mr. Buhari, other APC leaders expected at the event include Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chairman John Oyegun, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and party leader, Bola Tinubu.
Despite the party’s statement, PREMIUM TIMES check reveal Mr. Tinubu is not likely to attend the event.
The former Lagos governor was opposed to Mr. Akeredolu’s candidacy and publicly accused the party of manipulating the primaries. His favoured candidate, Olusegun Abraham, is still challenging the result of the primaries.
An aide to the Lagos politician, who confirmed the latter would not be attending, said Mr. Tinubu was out of Nigeria.
“You are aware that he (Tinubu) is presently abroad and may not be back before the event,” the source said.
Like the former Lagos governor, another APC leader and Mr. Tinubu ally, Rauf Aregbesola, is also expected to be absent from the event.
Mr. Aregbesola, governor of neighbouring Osun State, is believed to favour another candidate in the election, Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy, AD. Mr. Oke also defected from the APC after the controversial primaries where he came third behind Mr. Akeredolu and Mr. Abraham.
Mr. Aregbesola’s aides would not comment if he would attend or not. The PDP in his Osun State had also accused him of funding Mr. Oke’s campaign, an allegation he denied.
Like Messrs. Tinubu and Aregbesola, all eyes will also be on Vice President Osinbajo and the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. Both men, loyalists of Mr. Tinubu, have not commented on the Ondo APC crisis since the controversial primaries. Their absence in Thursday’s rally would be a confirmation that the party is yet to settle its crisis and Mr. Akeredolu still does not have Mr. Tinubu’s support.
However, Mr. Adesanya, the Ondo APC spokesperson, said on Wednesday that activities were in top gear to host the president and all expected dignitaries, including Mr, Tinubu, would be part of the rally.
The November 26 election is expected to be a three-horse race between the APC, AD, and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state.