By Adeyemi Ibironke
With Anambra State gubernatorial election out of way, and the ruling party in the state, and opposition to the party at the centre making a clean sweep at all the local governments, attention is beginning to shift to the next stand alone election in Nigeria, the Ekiti State gubernatorial election.
Ekiti State, a state renowned for educated personalities, used to be called the state that breeds professors, also as fountain of knowledge, once ruled by two academics, both PhD holders, one a governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, now Minister of Solid Minerals, deputised by a Professor, Mrs. Mudope Adelabu. The state then opted for a governor whose academic qualification has remained shrouded in controversy, but seeming to be overwhelmingly preferred if the results of the 2014 election is anything to go by.
The incumbent governor, Ayodele Fayose, controversial and self-styled national opposition leader and bitter “enemy” of President Buhari, going by all his ferocious attacks on Buhari before, during and after the election roundly trounced these academics in an unprecedented landslide election 2014, in what he refers to derisively as 16-0, going by his victory in all the 16 local government areas including the then incumbent Governor, Dr. Fayemi’s local government area.
He claimed the authority in Ekiti politics, adopting what he called the politics of “Stomach infrastructure” or politics of the belly over what he says is the epicurean politics of his predecessor, Fayemi.
He went on to win all the seats at State and National Assembly.
Time had since passed, and the search for the next Ekiti governor has begun with as many as 50 aspirants from the APC, while the incumbent governor has already settled for his deputy, Professor Eleka, a little known political personality, with zero political pedigree, having being picked by Governor Fayose from the Ivory tower.
Already the governor has started building up the support base for the deputy as he boasts that he will repeat the 2014 feat.
That boast may not be as easy granted the different scenario today, some “federal might” assistance to Fayose as it was in 2014 will be missing at the fast approaching 2018 election, there will not be a General Momoh Led federal team made up of Musiliu Obanikoro, then Minister of State Defence.
This federal support structure obviously added in some way to the trouncing of the Fayemi-led government in an election where the Director-General of the Fayemi re-election bid, Hon. Abimbola Daamola, former Member, House of Representatives (2011 – 2015) now an aspirant at the 2018 gubernatorial election, was attacked in a midnight raid, by military men in 10 Hilux trucks as reported, and his then 87 years old father was beaten black and blue.
While his octogenarian father was being manhandled, other members of the family were tortured in the raid including his fiancée who blew the lid on the arrest of her man.
The report had it that Honourable Bimbo Daramola as Director-General of that re- election bid came to the polling unit on the day of the election from the bush, other key actors of the campaign like Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Dapo Kolawole’s house was visited; a local government chairman, Mr. Ogundele was intercepted with money for election at Ifaki Ekiti among other reported cases.
The case of Daramola was exercabated by the leaked tape of a captain in the Nigeria Army, an intelligence officer by name, Captain Koli, whose secret tape recorded what would seem like moment of exasperation, where the present Governor, Ayodele Fayose’s voice was heard alongside that of Mr. Omisore, then gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Osun State 2014 election coming a month after Ekiti, Ayo Fayose, Omisore, Musliu Obanikoro’s voices were heard desperately asking for the arrest of Honourable Bimbo Daramola that night.
With the scenario on ground today, the boasts of Mr. Ayodele Fayose may not be so easy to accomplish.
With the Ekiti 2018 gubernatorial election just about eight months away, the question is whether rambunctious Governor Ayodele Fayose, the self-styled “Peter the Rock” the “Oshokomole” will be able to re- enact the 16-0 trounce feat in 2018, or the victory in 2003 when he defeated a sitting governor, the first democratically elected Governor of the Alliance for Democracy party in person of Otunba Niyi Adebayo.
Ayo Fayose would again boast that as a son of nobody, he defeated the son of a General! Will APC allow Ayo Fayose to boast again? And finally terminate the political careers of many politicians of the progressive bloc? Time and what APC Ekiti and national do will determine.
A lot of people in Ekiti State are worried that it will appear that the Ekiti APC under the leadership of three former
governors starting form octogenarian Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, former Governor of the then Ondo State; His Excellency, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, a former governor, the first democratically elected Governor of Ekiti State from 1999 – 2003, who incidentally lost woefully to Governor Fayose in his first term; followed by His Excellency, Asiwaju Segun Oni who came after the interregnum after Ayo Fayose was removed and emerged the candidate of the PDP through curious machination having come distant third at the 2007 PDP PDP primaries. Asiwaju Segun Oni, was removed from office in 2010 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin, after three and half years of bitter political tussle from re- election to in and out of court tribunal cases, and was succeeded by His Excellency, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the present Minister of Solid Minerals.
Even though Asiwaju Segun Oni joined the APC in 2014 in the run-up to Dr. Fayemi’s re- election he today is Deputy National Chairman (South) of the ruling APC.
Asiwaju Segun Oni has declared to run on the platform of the APC at the Ekiti 2018 election, while after several denials it appears Fayemi, who had severally told many people and granted interviews where he said he was either pushing “Ekiti Gate” or that he has a job to do at turning around the Solid Minerals, and not interested in the gubernatorial seat in 2018, seems to have changed his mind and is gradually working under ground.
But undercover findings seems to now suggest that he his eyes are on returning to government house, Ekiti State.
While it is true Governor Ayodele Fayose, is loud, and rambunctious, one thing that cannot be taken away from him is his “street wisdom” and capacity to identify with the down-trodden, he is the self- styled “ore Mekunnu” i.e. friend to the poor.
He remains in touch with the Okada riders, artisans, etc. So what he may not have in federal might he has smartly made up for in daily mobilisation and in your face kind of politics.
While on the other hand, the APC is grappling with daily growing list of aspirants, with some of them sworn bitter enemies.
For instance, how will the APC fare with a “rematch of the titans” like Segun Oni, former Governor of Ekiti State, of PDP extraction now in the APC, and immediate past Governor Fayemi.
It is not wild imagination to say that both Oni and Fayemi rematch will refresh old wounds among their supporters, particularly when the admission of Oni into the APC fold is less than three years.
A lot of members of the APC of the AD, AD, ACN stock still feel that Oni joined from PDP, and his attempt to come back will put the “old” members in jeopardy and they will play a second fiddle in “their own party”in which they have struggled so much.
They have told members of how they fared and fought three and a half years “war” between Oni and his successor, Fayemi.
A scenario where there is a “rematch”of these personalities can only make the APC vulnerable. If the APC goes to the Ekiti election divided, it will be weak and vulnerable against a formidable incumbent and ruling party in the state.
There also is the other issue of “old foes rematch scenario and re-enactment” possibilities.
They include other aspirant gladiators like, Senator Ayo Arise, formerly of the PDP, now an aspirant in the APC and Fayemi. It will be recalled that Senator Ayo Arise was the arrow head of the “Oye – rerun” where 18,000 voters dramatically became less than 3,000, when he was in PDP.
Ayo Arise was the political kingpin of the PDP against the then ACN!
Now can Ayo Arise and Fayemi work for each other after primaries where one of them will lose? Rumours have it that Ayo Arise once manhandled Fayemi during the preparations for the Ekiti re-run election.
Where does this leave the party against Ayo Fayose?
Also, there is the case of Senator Femi Ojudu now Political Adviser to the President, who obviously broke ranks with Fayemi and main stream APC Ekiti, immediately after Fayemi lost the re- election bid in 2014 and led a faction called the Action Group advocating for the dissolution of the state party excos, because he claimed they were offshoot of the Fayemi Administration.
How can these two people work together to ensure the success of the party?
Senator Ojudu and his sympathisers pursued the division of the Ekiti APC so clearly and openly that they were getting attention of personalities like Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State particularly making mockery of the loss of Fayemi in 2014, saying it was expected, in spite of the fact that he is the only legislator out of state and federal legislators who did not seek re-election after a four year term, ostensibly not bold enough because Fayemi and APC had lost power at the state.
Today, it is clear that the relationship between Fayemi and Ojudu is far from cordial and both of them are aspirants today.
How will they work together for the Party to win?
Also is the case of Honourable Michael Bamidele (MOB), who broke ranks with the APC and ran at the 2014 election on the platform of Labour Party against all entreaties even from Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, National leader of APC and former Governor of Osun State and one time national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande.
A lot of people have not forgiven Bamidele today for what they see as a betrayal, and being a contributory factor to why Fayemi and APC lost, even though he got less than 20,000 votes.
After what they refer to as Bamidele’s unholy romance and dalliance with the then Ondo State Governor, Rahaman Mimiko and later President Goodluck Jonathan reputed to have funded him before his alliance with present Governor Ayo Fayose against his former friend, Dr Kayode Fayemi and his party, the A PC.
A lot of Party members of the APC felt Honourable Bamidele’s divorce from the Party made it vulnerable, Today he is also an aspirant.
Today he is also an aspirant.
How will the party fare well considering the animosity between Honourable Bamidele and Fayemi, even Honourable Opeyemi Bamidele and Senator Ojudu too still have not recovered from the brouhaha that attended the contest for the Central Senatorial seat in 2011?
So if there is so much of possibilities of re-enactment of old bitterness among the leading members of the party who are some of the leaders of the party that the Ekiti APC can approach this all crucial election with a formidable team and united front to face a siting governor in Ekiti State?
Unfortunately, the party has not addressed herself to this serious threat to the come-back bid of APC to Oke Bareke Government house, this may just be one of the big threats among others such as mushrooming aspirants of different pedigrees, some of them unknown to the members of the party.
As the days roll by, it stands to be seen how the Ekiti APC will pull the hat trick. Time may not be their good friend as their formidable opponent is not resting on his oars particularly when it is perceived that the Buhari-led federal Government does not have the reputation of deploying all out bully methods like the PDP-led government of President Goodluck Jonathan.