Fayose’s formal entry into the 2014 governorship race in early March this year, by way of clinching the PDP ticket to contest the election, changed the entire structure of the governorship contest. Not many people in the state gave him a chance to win the ticket, given the large number of PDP stalwarts in the state that also showed interest in vying for the election, especially from the Ekiti South district, which many had thought would be the beautiful bride in this political dispensation.
But Fayose and the PDP came through the fierce battle for the ticket successfully and both have been quite a revelation in the overall contest. The ripples of the outcome of the contest for the governorship ticket in his party, were, expectedly looked on by many people in the state as the death knell for the PDP in the contest. But while that may still be felt in minute quarters in the party in the state, it is now largely faint and has paled into insignificance as the most of the major stakeholders in the PDP in the state have openly resolved, and are seen to be working for the success of the party in the election.
And so far, Fayose has made the most of the rare opportunity to re-present himself to the people of Ekiti State. He has harped on the fact the he is now “a changed, more responsible, more responsive, mature and more experienced person,” and from reactions to him thus far in the campaigns, only those that are morbidly opposed to him will disagree.
For instance, all the political parties that are in the contest for the governorship seat along with the PDP have, on more than one occasions, publicly agreed that PDP and Ayo Fayose have not been part of the eerie violence that creeped into the campaigns in their early stages. The talk among the rival political parties in the state and observers of the campaigns is that “Ayo Fayose, the PDP standard bearer in the governorship election has surprised us.”
He, along with the other candidates set out for the campaigns with a promise that they would make it a campaign of issues. But some of them soon digressed and turned against one another through violent attacks. Fayose’s campaign secretariat was not spared and some members of political parties other than the PDP in the state are currently in court being tried for the shootings that took place there.
On making the contest revolve around issues, it is the opinion of many observers of the Ekiti 2014 campaigns that Fayose has also made the most of the opportunity, given his experience as a former governor of the state. The people note that he has all along spoken with and from the vantage position of a man who had been there. In all the wards, Fayose assured workers in the state of better days ahead if he becomes the governor of the state. When he campaigned at Ward 9 in Ado Ekiti Local Government Area of the state on May Day, he told the crowd that the current administration in the state had “placed heavy yoke on the neck of the workers,” but promised that “the in-coming PDP government under Fayose will remove the yoke, heal all your bruises and put smile on your faces.”
While campaigning in the wards in Ijero Local Government Area of the state, he noted that “PDP governments under Segun Oni and Ayo Fayose conducted local government elections, but the AD/ACN/APC governments under Niyi Adebayo and Kayode Fayemi failed to conduct local government elections,” and claimed that “the APC government is full of deceit.” During his stops at Ise/Orun Local Government Area, he contended that “if you workers should return Fayemi, the teachers should expect mass sack through political test, and delay of salary due to zero allocation and or huge debt hanging on our neck incured by the Fayemi administration. When I was governor, I was paying workers’ salary on the 22nd of every month.”
Everywhere he had been in the 16 local government areas, Fayose has always posited thus: “I want you Ekiti workers to vote for me in order to transform all the sectors of the state. I am your friend, your governor, who left the office to chat with you by the roadside, at the restaurant, at palm wine joints and the market. I created the position of tutor-general in order to raise the teachers’ status but Fayemi scrapped it and returned the teachers to pre-Fayose era. I want to appeal to you to go and collect your voter cards and don’t release it to those who have been going about buying cards from unsuspecting people.”
Everyone in the governorship race, except one person, is doing so to unseat the incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Fayose’s campaign of “why APC should not come back in 2104” has seen him tell people in far corners of the state repeatedly that not voting him meant “sentencing the state to permanent slavery, permanent poverty, permanent hunger for workers.” He had claimed in his campaigns to his supporters that “the Fayemi administration did not construct any new road but is spending huge amount to repair the roads he constructed and that he did not “borrow a dime to do all the works he did but Fayemi has plunged Ekiti State into debt that could enslave the people.” One of Fayose’s claims has been that he “left N10.4 billion in the state treasury when he was going and no successive administration has controverted that claim.”
The Fayose campaign has also thrown up the controversial issue of the state’s position in the Nigerian secondary education ladder. The PDP candidate posited that “during the Niyi Adebayo administration, which is a father of the Fayemi administration, Ekiti State was occupying the 35th position in secondary school’s public examinations, but the status changed during my tenure because by 2005, Ekiti rose to seventh position in NECO and eight position in WAEC in Nigeria. However, the results of WAEC exams just released by the WAEC confirmed that Ekiti State has gone back to 34th position, notwithstanding having a PhD holder and a professor as governor and deputy governor of the state.”
On his claims of capital flight in the state, Fayose told his supporters that this could be tackled if the contractors who are Ekiti indigenes and are based in the state “are not relegated to the background.” He has reiterated that “contractors are often brought from Lagos and there are no jobs for the people in the state.”
The Fayose campaign has also taken him to all the palaces in the state. He has been to royal fathers in the state where people thought he wouldn’t tread and has received the traditional rulers’ blessings and moral suasion. He was in Ijan-Ekiti, where the Onijan, Oba Samuel Fadahunsi, spoke on the 10-year-old controversy over the murder of Dr. Ayo Daramola, a former World Bank consultant and chieftain of the PDP in the state. He was also at the palace of the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe and the traditional ruler advised on the need for the candidate to ensure even development of the state, should he clinch the governorship.
Fayose’s wife, Feyisetan, has also been moving through the rural communities in the state to buoy her husband’s chances of emerging victorious in the election. She has been currying the favour of the womenfolk for her husband as the election date approaches.
Will the people buy into Fayose’s arguments? Will the people vote him again for another stint at the Ekiti governorship? Time will tell.
By Sam Nwaoko
This article was first published in the Nigerian Tribune on May 18, 2014.
Last modified: May 18, 2014