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Ondo poll: Absence of Tinubu at rally immaterial – Lalong

I'm not joining APC – Mimiko

Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Ondo State campaign committee and Governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lalong, has observed that the absence of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, from the grand finale campaign of the party in the state made no difference.

Speaking to State House correspondents after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday, he said Tinubu was absent at the event due to ill health.

Governors of Lagos, Ogun and Osun States, Akinwunmi Ambode, Ibikunle Amosun and Rauf Aregbesola, respectively, were also absent at the rally which was attended President Buhari on Saturday.

Tinubu is thought to be upset over the backing received by Rotimi Akeredolu from the APC hierarchy as candidate of the party for the election.

“To the party, their absence did not make any difference. If a leader was not there and he has said he was not there because of ill health, we have prayed that God will heal him,” Lalong stated.

He added: “There was not a problem. We explained their absence. They sent in their apologies. You heard what happened there.

“As far as we are concerned, the President who is the leader of the party was at the rally. The national chairman was also there, as far as we are concerned, everybody was there.”

The governor said the APC has concluded its campaign in the state and was confident that it would win the election.

“We have finished our campaign. You saw what happened at the grand finale. We are not in doubt that APC will win the election in Ondo,” he said, adding that, “It is other parties that are scared of the APC and not APC being scared of other parties.”

Also speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with Buhari, Ondo State governor, Olusegun Mimiko, denied that he planned to dump the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling APC.

Responding to questions on his seeming frequent visits to the Villa which had been interpreted as preparing the grounds for his defection, he said there was nothing like that.

He said he also received the president on Saturday for the APC rally in Akure because he needed to extend courtesies due to the president’s office.

He said: “What is frequent? This is my second visit to the villa since this crisis in our party started.

“Like I said, as the chief security officer of my state, if there is any credible threat to security, I owe the responsibility to Nigerians to apprise Mr. President of what is going on in the state.

“Mr President was in my state to campaign for his party. I extended to him the courtesies of receiving him at the airport and seeing him off as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not as APC.

“I understand that people have speculated that this means I am going to APC. There is nothing of such. I only extended to him normal courtesies that protocols demand.

“As a governor and security of the state, if the president is visiting, no matter the party he belongs, it is only appropriate for me to extend the courtesies to him. That was what I did in Akure.

“And I have also come to brief him about the security situation in my state.”

On the lingering PDP crisis, he said he was just concentrating on the case of the party in court which the Supreme Court is expected to rule upon on Tuesday.

He said Ondo State will erupt in joy if the PDP gubernatorial candidate for the state, Eyitayo Jegede finally gets the nod to contest.

“The whole of Ondo State will erupt in joy and it will be so self-evident,” he declared.