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The Ondo State governor-elect,
Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, on Wednesday, said he did not acknowledge a national
leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in his victory
speech on Sunday because it was not expedient to do so.

He said having acknowledged
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the recognised national leader of the party,
and the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; it was safe to infer that
he had acknowledged all the party’s leaders.

Akeredolu said this while answering
State House correspondents’ questions shortly after he and his deputy, Mr.
Agboola Ajayi, met Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

They were led to the meeting, which
was their first after their victory, by the Chairman of the All Progressives
Congress Campaign Council in Ondo State, Governor Simon Lalong.

The governor-elect, who said the
relationship between him and Tinubu was cordial, explained that mentioning the
name of the former Lagos State governor specifically would have amounted to him
mentioning the names of about 37 other leaders of the party.

He said, “On the names that were
mentioned in my speech when expressing gratitude and that I didn’t specifically
thank Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I thanked the President and the leader of our party
profusely for the leadership which he showed leading to this election.

“I also thanked our indefatigable
chairman for standing by the truth and for his position on this matter that led
to this election. I have no reason to do otherwise.

“Party structure, to the best of my
knowledge, is very clear. You have the leadership of the party and that is
represented by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

“After an election, a chief
executive emerges, he becomes a leader of the party, you don’t have to
personalise and be looking for leaders all over the place.

“If we have to do that, then I will
have to mention 36 or 37 leaders. So, I believe the leadership as represented
by the President covers all leaders and that tells me it would include Chief
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it would include even Baba Akande, (Ogbonnaya) Onu, and so
many leaders.

“But President Buhari is the leader
of the party. So, that is my position there.”

Akeredolu, however, added that
Tinubu remained one of the leaders of the party, noting that he (Tinubu) had
since sent congratulatory message to him after he won the election.

“For me, as a person, I believe he
is one of the leaders of the party and I don’t see any strained relationship
between us. And you would observe that he has sent in his congratulatory
message after the election, so what else do you expect?

“I mean all of us see this as a
victory for the APC, not for Akeredolu, not for us an individual but for the
party as a whole. I believe he is a member of the party. Mr. Femi Adesina had
issued a release but you journalists just want to put words into our mouths,”
he said.

Akeredolu also said despite his
decision not to probe the administration of the outgoing governor, Olusegun
Mimiko, he would not close his eyes if he stumbled upon established cases of
wrongdoing in the course of carrying out his responsibilities as governor.

He explained that what he said on
the matter was that he would not deliberately go out to probe Mimiko’s
administration.

He said, “At the centre, the
government of President Buhari said we must look back in order to move forward,
he has been there for over a year now, has he instituted a probe?

“Looking back is not a probe and I
maintain that I will not probe any administration. This is responsible
leadership and I am elected to lead the people.

“The task ahead of us is enormous
than for us to start instituting probes. My own is not to institute any probe
against the last administration and that is what President Buhari has done.

“But if we find out that wrongs
were committed, we have enough laws of the land to take care of people who have
committed wrongs.

“As we start our work, as we go
ahead, if there is any semblance of ‘Dasukigate’ in the state, the law will
take its course. That is different from probing. We will follow what Mr. President
is doing at the centre.”

The governor-elect also promised to
implement his manifesto in line with the reality on the ground.

That, he said, did not mean that he
would not deliver on all the five cardinal programmes he promised the people.

On Senator Yele Omogunwa who left
the PDP for the APC, Akeredolu said the lawmaker had joined his campaign trail
and that he only formalised his defection on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

He said it would have been wrong
for the lawmaker to remain in a factionalised party like the PDP.

Lalong had earlier said that he was
in the Presidential Villa to present the governor-elect and his deputy to the
President.

He said he would also be visiting
the national headquarters of the APC to do the same thing to party leaders.

The governor-elect again said the
APC was not responsible for the confusion over the candidacy of the PDP ahead
of the election.

He said, “It was not the APC that
went to court neither was it the APC that gave the judgment, all we saw was friction
or conflict between the PDP and the PDP.

“If that judgment was going to help
the APC, so be it. But we were not parties to the case for somebody to even
assume that the APC was responsible for denying somebody.

“The APC is not the court; the court
is a separate arm. I am saying that as far as we are concerned, the APC was not
responsible for denying anybody the right to contest that election.”

Meanwhile, Akeredolu on Wednesday
pledged his loyalty to Odigie-Oyegun, whom he said he owed a debt of gratitude.

Akeredolu said this at the APC
national headquarters, Abuja, where he presented his certificate of return to
the leadership of the party.

Akeredolu also promised to work
towards ensuring that the party repeats the same feat during the next governorship
election in neighbouring Ekiti State.

He said, “I owe you, my national
chairman, a lot. You have done well, I will be loyal. I remember during my
campaigns; I said that immediately we win Ondo, we will move en mass to win
Ekiti.”

Responding, Odigie-Oyegun urged the
governor-elect to ensure prompt payment of outstanding workers’ salaries as
soon as he resumes duty.

Odigie-Oyegun said, “People who
work deserve their pay and I hope that would be your first priority.”

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