Southwest All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders held yesterday a “crucial” meeting in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
They resolved to:
- unite and press for more dividends of democracy for the region; and
- defend the legacies of the zone as the centerpiece of the progressive political ideology, which gave birth to a new Federal Government during the 2015 general elections.
At the Southwest Stakeholders and Elders’ Meeting, which was chaired by the former APC Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, the leaders also agreed to shelve personal differences and project the interest of the region under the progressive banner.
APC chieftains at the meeting included Governors Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun); Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, APC National Deputy Chairman Chief Segun Oni, National Deputy Vice Chairman Chief Pius Akinyelure, former Osun State Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Ogun State Governor Olusegun Osoba and his Ekiti State counterpart, Otunba Niyi Adebayo.
The six ministers from the zone—Mrs Kemi Adeosun (Finance), Adebayo Shittu (Communication), Babatunde Fashola (Works, Power and Housing), Prof, Isaac Adewole (Health), Prof. Cladius Daramola (Minister of State for Niger Delta ), and Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Solid Minerals) -held a four-hour closed door meeting with the governors and APC leaders.
The Southwest National Assembly Caucus was represented at the meeting by Senator Sola Adeyeye and House of Representatives Leader Femi Gbajabiamila.
APC National Legal Adviser Dr. Muiz Banire and Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is from Kwara State, Northcentral Zone, were also invited to the meeting.
A source close to Ajimobi, who hosted the leaders at the Agodi State House, said 23 leaders were invited to the “crucial” meeting. However, only House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Lasun Yusuf, who is out of the country, was absent.
Akande, who shed light on the meeting on telephone, said: “The purpose of today’s meeting is to let the Southwest office holders at the state and federal levels; the governors and ministers; to meet face to face with the leadership of the party and assure the Southwest people of what they will benefit from the APC-led Federal Government.”
He added: “The Southwest is the home of the progressives and the thinking about the merger started from the Southwest and we want to make sure that positive change will come to the Southwest from the APC Federal Government. That is the motive.”
He dismissed insinuations that the meeting was summoned to reconcile some of the leaders, saying that the elders were not aware of any rift among the stakeholders.
Akande maintained that what was paramount was the unity of the progressive leaders on the platform of the APC in the zone and how the functionaries could attract the benefit of welfare to Yorubaland.
Osoba told reporters, shortly after the parley, that “critical issues affecting the Southwest in the APC” were discussed at the meeting, stressing that the leaders wanted to build a more formidable front to command strength and respect in national affairs.
He said the meeting did not discuss the 2019 polls, saying that the agenda was restricted to the unity of the zone and the need to resolve its developmental challenges.
The former governor said: “We met principally to discuss all the things that may be affecting Southwest and we have come out with a resolution to show that in the Southwest APC, there is unity of purpose and that the leadership is one.
“We have resolved on all the issues that may be affecting governance of this country and what should be the role and influence that we should exercise as a group in the interest of this county and for the progress of this country.”
Osoba said the party leaders had fruitful discussions with the governors and ministers, adding that the interface will be a continuous exercise.
He stressed: “We have examined the government that we were all involved in bringing about and we have resolved all the issues and all those that will be taken to Abuja will be taken to Abuja by those concerned. We have related with our legislative members, leaders at the party level and we have related with our governors.
“I can assure you that, from now on, there will be total harmony and consultation among our governors for the progress of the Southwest. The Southwest is the leader of progressives in this country and we are determined to reassert our influence in the progressive politics of this country for the betterment of Nigeria.”