Barely two days to the presidential election, the Ondo State deputy governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, has dumped the Peoples Democratic Party to the rival All Progressives Congress in the state.
The development came barely five days after the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Mr. Tele Ikuru, dumped the APC for PDP.
In a swift reaction to Olanusi’s defection, the Ondo state government said it wished the deputy governor well.
The state Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, in a two-paragraph statement, said, “The state government just received the news of the defection of Alhaji All Olanusi, the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, to the All Progressives Congress.
“Though it came as a surprise, the government acknowledges his right to determine his political affiliation and wish him well.”
Announcing his defection on Thursday, Olanusi, in a statement, said, “While still being in place as the democratically-elected Deputy Governor of Ondo State, I have decided to lead my teeming supporters and well wishers in the state into the All Progressives Congress where we can find justice, fairness, equity and democratic liberty, a party to which majority of our kith and kin in Yorubaland belong.
“I have taken this decision at this critical time, in the best interest of peace, stability and good governance of our dear state and for the overall development of the South-West and the nation.”
The deputy governor noted that as a result of the unfolding political development in the country, particularly in Ondo State, it was clear that he needed to chart a new course for majority of his followers who looked up to him for direction and leadership.
“They (his followers) have watched helplessly in the last six years the untold marginalisation and total exclusion from the government they laboured to put in place,” he said.
The APC in the state, which received the news with delight, stated that the development signalled victory for the party in the coming elections.
The Publicity Secretary of the party, Omo’oba Adesanya, said the party welcomed the deputy governor into the party, saying more PDP members would be joining APC before the election.
He said, “We welcome him into the fold of the APC. It shows that the wind of change that is blowing is across board.
“Olanusi understands the political rhythm and he is dancing to it appropriately. Change is imminent and victory is certain.”
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker of the Ondo State House Assembly, Dare Emiola, has dissociated himself from the Olanusi’s action.
Olanusi and Eniola are both from the Akoko South-West Local Government Area and had hitherto been strong political allies.
Eniola, in a statement in Akure on Thursday, asserted his continued membership of the PDP in spite of Olanusi’s defection.
He said, “I want to use this opportunity to dissociate myself from the actions of the deputy governor, Alhaji Olanusi, who dumped the PDP for APC.
“All the honourable members of the Ondo State House of Assembly are still full-fledged members of the PDP to which I belong.”
He also said the PDP would sweep the polls on Saturday despite the defection of the deputy governor, calling on all supporters of the party to remain steadfast.
The traditional ruler of Supare Akoko, hometown of Olanusi, Oba Adejoro Adedeji, also on Thursday described the deputy governor’s defection as “a rude shock and embarrassment to the Supare community.”
The monarch said this in a chat with journalists in Akure.
Adedeji, who noted that the defection was of no effect, said the decision of the deputy governor was unilateral as he never informed any member of the community before he defected.
“Olanusi is on his own,” he said.
Also on Thursday, the PDP in Ondo State said Olanusi was never a member of the party going by the last re-registration exercise conducted in the party.
A statement by the party’s Publicity Director, Ayo Fadaka, stated that the deputy governor was not registered both in his ward and local government by the party.
The Ondo PDP spokesman said, “It is however pertinent for us to underscore the fact that Alhaji Olanusi is not a member of the PDP in Ondo State as he was not re-registered in his ward and local government by the party.
“While admitting that he attended two party functions recently, he was a passive observer at such functions and his attendance does not in any manner confer membership on him.
“By his latest political gymnastic, it is obvious that he had been a clandestine member of the APC and a mole in the government of Governor Olusegun Mimiko and has just received the order to declare openly for them.”
He noted that Olanusi’s action was intended to serve as a response to the declaration of Ikuru in Rivers, adding that “both are however not in the same cadre, while Ikuru possess the power and influence to inflict devastating damages on APC in Rivers State, same cannot be said of Ali Olanusi of Ondo State.”