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.