President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja endorsed the candidacy of Rotimi Akeredolu for the Ondo State Governorship election slated for Oct. 10
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the National Caretaker Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mai Mala Buni, confirmed the endorsement after he presented the candidate to the president at the State House.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the endorsement, Buni expressed optimism that the APC candidate would win the October governorship poll in Ondo.
He said: “We are here today to present our candidate to the President being the leader of the party. That has always been the practice. We cannot kickstart our campaign without his endorsement.
“The President promptly endorsed him and commended him for his efforts in the last four years because the President is aware of this transformation and development that he has been able to bring to Ondo State in the last four years.
“APC is the only party that can win election in Ondo not only because APC is the only party but because the Governor there has performed and the people of Ondo are seeing for themselves and have agreed that yes, he is the only man they can trust for the next four years.
“So, the President has endorsed him and that is what we have been looking for; his blessing, his endorsement, his encouragement and support and we have gotten that already.”
Mr Buni emphasised that he was optimistic that Akeredolu would be re-elected because “the product the party is selling to Ondo people has sold itself already by performing very well in the last four years.’’
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is also the Chairman of the APC Campaign Council, also expressed optimism that Akeredolu would scale through because “the people of Ondo have seen his capabilities and have agreed that he is a good product.’’
According to Sanwo-Olu, Akeredolu has delivered good governance and has carried his people along in the last four years.
He said: “We are not taking anybody for granted that is why we are not going to be resting on our oars even when we know that he has done very well.
“We will still go through the entire campaign, ensuring that we go through the nooks and crannies of the state to re-assure them that their Governor, our candidate will continue on the good job that he is doing and also solicit for their votes.’’
On his part, the gubernatorial candidate, Akeredolu, said he was pleased with Buhari’s endorsement, assuring that he would be doing much more for the people of Ondo, if re-elected.
“Let me start by informing you that the President, in giving us his blessings, made one expression.
“He said this time around, he is more comfortable because four years ago he had to be there with us.
“I have always said this over and over, that the President’s support the last time was a clincher and it was important for the President to come out to give us all the support because then we were having a contest with an incumbent, which wasn’t an easy thing.
“So, I want to thank the President for coming to our aid then.
“But this time around, I feel more relaxed to come to the President because I know that he has been to the state twice and he has seen a few of our facilities and has inaugurated few of the things we have put in place.
“We are not taking things for granted and we know that by God’s grace, success is ours,” he said.
The governor pledged that when re-elected, his focus would be on establishing the largest port in West Africa, based in Ondo State.
He also promised to complete all ongoing projects in the state, and solicited for the votes of the people in the forthcoming election to enable him to fulfill the promises he made.
“I have a lot of projects that are not completed. We have had problems in the past that a governor starts a project somebody comes in and abandons it.
“I am appealing to the people of Ondo State to let us see these projects to fruition, Port Ondo, that is a new thing entirely for us.
“Bitumen exploration is a totally new thing, bitumen has been there for years, today we have to extract bitumen, and the federal government has said we won’t be importing bitumen at a point in time.
“So, we need to be there to steer the affairs of state to ensure that bitumen comes on board from Ondo state. That is where you have the largest deposit of bitumen, second largest in the world.
“These are things we are convinced we have to do and that is why we talk to our people that continuity matters so that somebody will not come to truncate all these advancement that we have made getting to port, to bitumen exploration and so many other things.
“So, I have a lot to do differently,” he said.