FOLLOWING allegations that Governor Ayodele Fayose is plotting to impose his deputy, Professor Kolapo Olusola, as the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti state for the September 22 governorship election, the state chapter of the party has been thrown into crisis with dozens of prominent party chieftains vowing to do everything possible to stop Olusola’s gubernatorial dream.
The development has seen the party been polarized into groups of those supporting Fayose’s choice and those opposed to it. For a party wishing to defeat the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and cling unto power beyond 2018, not a few analyst have warned that unless the crisis generated by the alleged imposition plot is quickly resolved, Fayose and his party may not find it easy remaining in power beyond the next election.
And just as party faithfuls were hoping for a resolution of the political impasse that is threatening the chances of the ruling party at the polls, following efforts by the national leadership of the PDP to reconcile the parties in the dispute, Governor Fayose during the week, said aggrieved PDP governorship aspirants were free to leave the party and join the ‘camp of the enemy’ if they were not pleased with the choice of his deputy as the PDP candidate.
“We have taken a position. We have no apology for that position. And that position is Olusola Eleka for governor. The Bible says in God we see hope of glory, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka will be governor of Ekiti. It doesn’t matter how many people are barking. If a dog barks, what can it do with the owner? If they want to join our enemies let them do so. This (Olusola) is the next governor of Ekiti State,” Fayose had said boastfully.
Party sources told The Nation that the governor’s latest statement has further enraged many party chieftains across the state and the stage may now be set for a showdown that may tear the ruling party apart ahead of the next gubernatorial election. It was further gathered that a number of the aggrieved aspirants have vowed never to accept any resolution that will see Olusola flying the banner of the PDP as desired by Fayose.
“Fayose made a big blunder with that statement and I can tell you that he is already regretting it. I was privilege to hear from an elderly party chieftain who questioned him about it that he is now saying he didn’t mean the statement the way it is now being interpreted. Coming at a time when we were hopeful a resolution in on the way as promised by the national leadership of the party, the statement threw many of us off balance.
“As we speak, some of the aspirants, largely because of the Governor’s statement that they can leave the party for him if they are aggrieved have vowed to fight to a standstill. They are saying any reconciliation that will mean Olusola will be the PDP candidate will be rejected by them. The implication is that the PDP will go into the election divided. I even hear some of the aspirants are discussing with some people with a view to working against Fayose and Olusola in the general election,” a party source claimed.
The Nation learnt that prominent party chieftains including Senator Biodun Olujimi, who represents Ekiti South in the Senate; former Minister for Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye; Ambassador Dare Bejide; and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Owoseeni Ajayi, among many others, have told their supporters within the party to be prepared for a political showdown with the Governor’s camp.
Similarly, a former deputy governor who is also governorship aspirant, Abiodun Aluko, is said to be mobilizing his supporters across the state ahead of the guber election, to work against the PDP should Olusola emerge as the candidate of the party. Aluko, an erstwhile political ally of Fayose’s, recently quit the PDP citing alleged dictatorial tendencies, harassment and intimidation of governorship aspirants by Fayose as his reasons.
The former deputy governor who accused Fayose of “rewriting the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” by issuing a guideline that aspirants who are 60 years and above in Ekiti PDP cannot contest for governor, according to his close associates, will stop at nothing to see that the Governor’s preferred successor is denied the opportunity of governing Ekiti state after 2018.
“Baba Aluko is a principled politician who is never too selfish to let go anything. He left the PDP because he realized the governor is determined to have his way and install Olusola as the party’s candidate. As a versed politician, he studied the situation in the party and decided to leave. But that is no the end of the matter. The real political leaders of Ekiti will not fold their arms and watch one man become god unto the people,” an aide to the former deputy governor vowed.
Also boiling to stop Fayose’s dream of installing Olusola as governor is another of the former’s close political ally, a former Commissioner in the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Hon. Dele Olugbemi, who was recently fired by the Govenor allegedly because of his political loyalty to another PDP governorship aspirant, Prince Dayo Adeyeye.
Olugbemi lamented that he was victimised by Fayose for supporting Adeyeye as no reason was given in the letter conveying his sack.
“It is true Fayose has removed me as Commissioner in SUBEB because of my support for the governorship ambition of Adeyeye. He thanked me in the letter for my service to the state and party wishing me well in my future endeavour. Adeyeye is in PDP and I am also in PDP, he can’t decide for others who they will support and despite what has just happened, I will continue my support for Adeyeye because I believe in him.
“My sack from Fayose’s government won’t deter me from supporting Adeyeye because the party wants the governorship slot to go to Ekiti South and Adeyeye is from Ekiti South and that is why we are working for him,” he said. Olugbemi was one of the six All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers that defected to the PDP on the day Fayose was sworn in and he was “elected” as “Speaker” by five members of the 4th Assembly who claimed to have “impeached” former Speaker, Dr. Adewale Omirin in November 2014.
Owoseni Ajayi, the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, was known in Ekiti for years as Fayose’s close political confidant. But today, he is up in political arms against his erstwhile leader. He argues that the imposition of governorship candidate could open way for the opposition APC to grab power from PDP in the 2018 Ekiti poll, and as such, is determined to fight the governor to a stand still.
“PDP aspirants are all working together; save for the one that was adopted. All other aspirants, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Ambassador Dare Bejide, Bisi Omoyeni and myself are all working together to ensure that there is no imposition of any candidate in PDP in this state. Because when one of us becomes the governor under a peaceful, free and fair atmosphere, there will be no problem for our party members and there will be no crisis in our state and it will not be possible for APC to defeat us.
“Impunity, imposition of candidates, lawlessness and recklessness by those who suppose to know the rules in our party must stop. These were responsible for the loss of our party in the 2015 general elections. We don’t want our state to be taken over by APC; we don’t want impunity, imposition and lawlessness in our party again and that is why we are demanding a free and fair primary,” he said.
To add to the numbers of prominent members of Fayose’s political family now working against his choice of successor, a notable aide and loyalist of the governor, Segun Akinwumi, few weeks back, resigned his appointment in the administration after serving for more than three years. Akinwumi served as Director General/Special Adviser on Procurement Matters, and later Special Assistant on General Matters, before he threw in the towel.
Giving reasons for walking out on Fayose, he accused the governor of playing god by sidelining other party stakeholders in the choice of the flag bearer for the 2018 governorship election. Akinwumi, who is also a former Chairman of Ilejemeje Local Government, claimed the governor had personally directed him to work for the governorship aspiration of at least two aspirants before coming up with the idea of his deputy recently.
He argued that hew will not support the governor’s choice but will remain in the PDP. He recalled that Fayose had promised to leave the Government House along with his deputy when he was sworn in. “What I don’t understand is the reason for his change of mind. Olusola as PDP candidate will not work in 2018. It is somebody we know within the party that we want,” he said.
More threats from the opposition
And while the PDP is unable to put its house in order ahead of the September election, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, with over 25 aspirants showing interest in its ticket to run for the governorship election, says it has all it takes to defeat Fayose and his troubled party. The opposition party says the present administration’s poor performance is enough reason for the people of the state to reject the ruling PDP.
According to the state Women Leader of the party, Dupe Bakare, 25 contenders for the APC ticket had officially notified the party of their intent to run for the governorship seat, although reports have it that about 50 aspirants are currently in the race. She says the APC parades people with track records and antecedents better than those of anybody in the ruling party.
Notable among the aspirants now jostling for the ticket of the APC are former governor Segun Oni, who is also the Vice Chairman South West of the APC; Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu; former senator, Gbenga Aluko, Adebayo Orire, 2007 governorship candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the state, as well as a former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Olufemi Bamisile
Also reported to be in the race to run for the governorship on the platform of the opposition party are former Chairman of the Ekiti State Hospitals Management Board, Bamidele Faparusi, and former Labour Party candidate, Opeyemi Bamidele, Dele Okeya; former Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as former governor and Minister of Mines and Steel, Kayode Fayemi.
According to Ojudu, the APC is ready and prepared to take over the leadership of the state from Fayose and the PDP. He insisted that the state had suffered too much under the PDP administration and the people will definitely vote out the ruling party in September. “Ekiti sons and daughters at home and abroad are all tired of the ridicules these government is exposing our dear state to and will waste no time in changing the status quo during the next election,” he assured.
This is just as the Accord Party in the state has said that its candidates would emerge winners of the September election. Dokun Babarinde, the National Vice Chairman of the party in Southwest, made the declaration recently. According to Babarinde, who insisted the people of the state are looking for fresh ideas, the performance of Accord Party in the elections would shock the two major parties: PDP and APC.
“Accord Party is winning followership every day because people have identified the party as the alternative to APC and PDP. The might of the PDP and APC had been tested and both failed the electorate, so there is no doubt that the voters will reject them and opt for a party that is ready to savage them. Accord Party is the only alternative that is set to liberate the people from the shackles of the two major parties,” he said.
But it appears Fayose is not afraid of the multiple battles ahead of him. “The question is: Is APC still in Ekiti State? The answer is no. They can have 1,000 aspirants, but we are not bothered because the party does not exist here, though it is public knowledge that one of the aspirants already has the ticket in his pocket. “In 2014, the PDP defeated an incumbent governor, who worked with two former governors. We will do that again in 2018 in a free and fair contest,” he boasted in defiance.
And at a recent PDP rally, January 29, in Ado Ekiti, declared that God directed him to support his deputy to succeed him. He said, “Olusola never said he wanted to be deputy governor, but God instructed me to pick him. I said we will go together after our tenure, but God said I should allow him to stay; that what I said was my own opinion. The PDP has taken a position which we think is in the best interest of the state; we shall not be distracted by those opposed to this step.”