By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
The National leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who had been scheduled to attend the South-West APC Stakeholders’ meeting was conspicuously absent.
The former Lagos governor, who was said to have returned from the United Kingdom because of the meeting on Thursday, was said to have put a helicopter online to arrive in Ibadan before he suddenly developed stomach upset.
According to the former interim chairman of the party, Tinubu’s absence was due to a slight illness he developed before the APC meeting.
The former governor of Osun stated that Tinubu had put in place all travel arrangements to be at the Ibadan meeting before the development came up.
“Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu arrived yesterday morning from the UK to attend this meeting and put a helicopter online to arrive in Ibadan this afternoon, but took a bit ill,” Akande said.
Corroborating the statement of Chief Bisi Akande, Media Aide to Tinubu, Alh.Tunde Rahman, stated that Tinubu did not want to risk traveling with stomach upset, hence his decision to stay at his Lagos home.
Rahman assured that Tinubu was in support of the meeting and would attend subsequent meetings.
“He didn’t want to risk traveling with stomach upset. He doesn’t have any problem attending the meeting. He would have been here. There will be other meetings which he will surely attend,” Rahman said.
Akande also explained that Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola excused themselves from the meeting due to a national assignment.
On the issue of restructuring being clamoured for, Chief Akande disclosed that the party did not promise to restructure the country during its campigns.
He further informed the gathering that there was no section of the party’s manifesto where restructuring could be found.
Akande, however, remarked that devolution of powers is what Nigerians should be demanding for instead of restructuring.
“Restrcturing is not our language, go and ask those people shouting restructuring. What is the definition of restructuring? What we are saying us devolution of powers,” Akande emphasised.
The former governor of Osun mentioned that the descision of the meeting was to advise the country to allow the states that have lands to farm.
He, however, commended governors on the platform of the party, saying they have done excellently well.
Earlier in his welcome address, the host governor called on his colleagues, party leaders and other public office holders under the APC to sacrifice their self interest and work more towards surmounting developmental challenges confronting the region.As the countdown to 2019 beckons, Ajimobi said it had become imperative for the leaders to engage in some introspection to identify what could have been done differently, and if necessary, go back to the drawing board to proffer agreeable methods on the way forward.Ajimobi said, “Let me state here that as leaders, it is incumbent on us to brainstorm and forge a unity of purpose which will be beneficial to the people who have put us into these leadership positions.
“Our past leaders, wherever they found themselves, used to exhibit such attributes as vision, determination, selflessness, courage, steadfastness and passion for the emancipation of their people.
“We must, therefore, renew our resolve to re-enact these qualities in order to bring back the lost glory of our region and reposition it for our people, in order that they may enjoy the full benefits of entrusting our party with their destinies.”
In the last three years, he said that the party had recorded tremendous achievements worthy of celebration, noting, however that there was the need for the APC to focus attention on agriculture to boost the country’s economy.
According to him, the region had comparative advantage in agriculture, given its vast arable land, highest concentration of agric research institutes, clement weather and the location of Ikere Gorge Dam, which has the capacity to irrigate the entire region, in Oke Ogun area of Oyo State.
Ajimobi said, “We must become the food basket of Nigeria through integrated farming and value addition. In this regard, the completion of Ikere Gorge Dam, which has multidimensional benefits to agriculture, water supply and electricity, is imperative.
“We must ensure speedy completion of the ongoing expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan Express way, the rail projects and other infrastructural development. Our representatives at the national assembly must be ready to support the region if and when it decides to show interest in who runs the planned concession of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
“On the political front, the gubernatorial elections for Ekiti and Osun are fast approaching. All hands must be on deck to ensure victory for our party.”
Apart from the Chief host, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, other stakeholders at the meeting include former governor Of Oyo State, Otunba Alao Akala, Deputy Speaker Of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Lasun Yussuff, former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba.
Others were Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State Gov., Sen. Olusola Adeyeye, Chief Pius Akinyelure, Barrister Adebayo Shittu Min. of Communication, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, of the State of Osun, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Mineral Resources , Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.