I thank you for your letter dated August 14th, 2016 in response to mine of August 11th, 2016. Although much damage has actually been done to current party’s interest in this serious governorship contest, I am grateful for the assurances (a) that Ondo State Governorship Primary will be FREE and FAIR devoid of UNDUE INFLUENCE. With this kind assurance, you may now wish, in the interest of FAIRNESS, to re-direct (i) The APC State Chairman (ii) The Chairman of the Chairmen of LGAs, (iii) The Chairman of Ward Chairmen all of who received the directives at the meeting held with you on 31.7.2016 to now focus on fair play at the governorship primary, instead of the candidate you gave them. Please do note that in keeping with your instruction, they have begun an extensive scheme to ensure that the “Candidate of the Party” that is my brother Mr Segun Abraham whom you directed them to support wins by all means possible.
In short contrary to this new assurance, they are exerting much “UNDUE INFLUENCE” on delegates to favour, unfairly the aspirant you presented to them to the detriment of peace, order and good Party process and leadership and especially the just interest of other Aspirants in Ondo state Now Asiwaju coming to the content of your letter to wit: “In your pursuit of office, you have sought my support and influence. When you sought that support, you thought it proper and democratic to do so. If I had signaled my support for you, I am sure that you would never have written this letter alleging that I was undermining the democratic will of the people. You would have been pleased with me, I suppose.” I must express great surprise at this representation. While a number of Aspirants as it was their prerogative visited or approached you, in this season of politics, perhaps for support, with public celebration and photo-taking in many cases, I have NEVER done so. Further, I observed in your letter that you neither provided details of any, such visit or representation for support such as time or place, mode or manner or your hallowed response to my search for your support such as time or place, mode or manner or your hallowed response to my search for your support as the leader of our Party.
Since 2007 I have only discussed the issue of Ondo State governorship election with you on ONLY Two (2) occasions. The first was when you invited me to your house Bourdillon through Chief Pius Akinyelere (an Ondo State indigene) to release the news of the selection of my friend Rotimi Akeredolu. The second was when I visited you in your freedom House office in 2012 to re-assure you, considering the defeat at the election in spite of all the money you spent. As I noted in my letter of August 11th, 2016 I unequivocably disagreed disagreed with the method of selecting a candidate in the 2012 election as I believed it unfairly and unjustly titled the scale of fairness against all other competitors. As a matter of fact I remember that immediately I left your house I called Mr. Akeredolu the then candidate selected by you, who is at any rate a close friend, to fully brief him on our discussion. I remember saying to him categorically then “if I were you I would reject this selection and insist on fair primary.”
Believe me, if you make me the Party’s candidate before a Primary I will reject such offer. I have never accepted a gain at the detriment of others. I just don’t think it is proper or just to declare one of us in first position among examinees before we all enter the Hall. While I agree that you are entitled as a matter of right to support who you choose in the governorship contest including me, I hold the view that in your esteemed position as an examiner and considering the delicacy of the adventure in issue, especially the demonstrable consequences of electoral failure because of the character of our people in Ondo State, in the case of candidate imposition and especially when one reviews our party’s poor performance on 2012, I would not expect that your personal preference for an Aspirant should be made the Party’s candidate as you did in the meeting of 31.7.2016. I maintain, based on the reliable information of attendees that your meeting with the party leaders go beyond mere “purported meeting” or “assembly and talk” as observed in your letter.
You told them who the candidate of the Party would be and directed them to work for him assuring them of your financial support. I maintain that considering that all Aspirants had all been subjected to the same processes including serious conditional payments, it would have been expected, that as a National leader of the APC and especially as you have at any rate severally assured many Aspirant who came to you, that the Party would guarantee to all, equal protection in the process, you would have refrained from directing the Party to support and Aspirant. Your summoning of party officials to the 31.7.2016 meeting and your instruction to them to work in support of one Aspirant in my humble view, violated the right to fairness. It amounted to undue influence to unjust favour an Aspirant. But we are grateful that you have now, happily given assurance in your letter to me to be fair to all Aspirants. Perhaps I need to add that the confusion in APC in Ondo State at the moment, like it was in ACN in 2012, emanated from the unfair directive you gave to the Party on 31.7.2016.
It follows in my humble view, that as a fair minded human rights activist whom you acknowledged, I should not be ponderous but pontifical in my search for the strength of justice in support of the right of our people and that of the Aspirants especially when as in the case, I am involved. Asiwaju, I am afraid, I see fairness in your personal right to favour anyone you want, including me, but NOT, I regret in moving the Party to do so before a mandatory election Primary established by our Party’s Constitution to raise a candidate among Aspirants. You will agree with me that since the defeat of the progressives in the 2003 governorship election, no one has consistently dedicated his time, intellect, resources to the growth of the Progressive political partying in Ondo State more than me. For one, I am only one contesting and spending money for the contest for Governor for the third time. What often surprises me, however, is the tendency of leadership to leave us to struggle with the Party and when the time of election comes, they unalterably take-over and dictate to us who will be the candidate. So it is certainly not correct, am afraid to say as you claim that “your letter to me is an impetuous display unbecoming of a man of your status and a man seeking highest leadership position in his state.”
There is nothing with due respect, impulsive, hasty or rash in my complaints. They were based on facts and reason, they were meant to save the Party and people of Ondo State from yet another electoral failure judged by the character of Ondo State people. They were not at all “impetuous” Asiwaju, one important attribute you displayed when you occupied the commission of the Governor of Lagos was the courage to stand up for something. I don’t think it will be fair to me to use intimidating words such as: “Instead of fighting me who is but one man with no vote, you should be fighting for votes and support. Your letter to me was woefully misplaced and inappropriate.” I merely raised issues that deeply concern me and others in Ondo State, I mean issues in which you are involved with regard to fair contest in the coming primary. Where is fighting you in all of this? Have you thought it out that with the directive to the party chairmen you have unduly influenced the process and turned the expected primary to mere rituals that has pre-defeated the right of other Aspirants to fair play? I had honestly hoped you will reflect more on the content of my letter before your response. I believe my letter was within fair comment on an important public issue that touches on the right of many, many citizens of Ondo State. It was not with due respect, in my view, “an impetous display” or as noted in your letter “unbecoming of a man seeking the highest office” in Ondo State.
Now Asiwaju, on the issue of 2015 Presidential election as it concerns President M. Buhari you appear to believe I referred to it to enhance myself. Far from it. First, let us not be too anxious to state how unimportant people are. What separates human being is opportunity. Let us also admit that in human evolutionary progression, often, great ideas come from sources we least expect. Having said that, please, I referred to the 2015 election with regard to President M. Buhari, to affirm a great quality I observe in you which I am afraid I find to be absent in “big men.” This is the quality to listen to a totally different opinion. Please be assured that I claimed NOT and need no enhancement from that experience. I never need enhancement beyond the rights accorded me by my achievements all of which are often out of stubborn efforts. I believe history and time have given me the opportunity to live well or poorly, succeed or fail, rise or fall, but in all ramifications I have achieved a high level of contentment through sincere struggle. No wonder I have always been able to take a position. For a human who enters the arena of life at a disadvantage at childhood, from a small community of Okeagbe in Ondo State, to have either served or been rewarded by 4 rated world Presidents, honoured by an ancient American University with world giants such as Prof. Julius Jacobson II (renowned inventor and world father of Microsurgery), Dr. David Liddle (founding father of computer revolution) among 9 world changing leaders in 2005 or enthroned to the Board of major world bodie like Robert Kennedy Center, I should be thankful that I have been beneficially enhanced by time.
Believe me I need no further enhancement through association with anyone, beyond the happiness and well-being of the people of Nigeria and the security of their right against the tempest of pitiless leadership in the land. I do not of course pretend to have influence on you and if I desire it at all, it can only be for the benefit of the people of Nigeria, NEVER, I repeat NEVER for my benefit. I have NEVER, I repeat NEVER sought relationship for personal interest or benefit even when I was close to a strong Nigerian President in good times. That in fact may explain why I have NEVER, I repeat NEVER come to you for support for the only political office of my interest, which is the commission of Governor of Ondo State. Well, I have said enough. We are both democrats. We both struggled for the liberty of our people. I believe an essential part of that struggle is their right to use their only political asset i.e. THE RIGHT TO VOTE in a way most conducive to their happiness.
It is anti-democratic to promote government of leaders by leaders and for the benefit of leaders or to impose the will of leaders on the helpless masses. Moreover, the grievous pains and torment of development that have literally become the sad lot of the ordinary people in Nigeria since independence, have emerged from the dislocation of the common man’s organic rights to every good and right by leadership. I will continue to stand against such dislocation notwithstanding the tempest of seasons and time. After all, I owe the common Nigerian citizen this duty. I was born by some of them. Let us be true, beyond influence, beyond money, beyond process control, beyond directives to the ideals for which we both gave up our freedom in the past. Let us re-dedicate ourselves to the right of the people to freely and fairly constitute government over themselves. Thank you, and may we honor our time and may our time honor us.
Your Friend and Admirer,
OLATUNJI O. ABAYOMI (DR)