As the race for this year’s governorship election draws nearer in Ekiti State, Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan, takes a look at the state of the opposition parties in the state and reports that their vision of dislodging Fayemi seems to be a far cry
Ahead of the governorship election in Ekiti State later this year, political activities in the state is upbeat with the opposition parties, particularly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP), seeking to unseat the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration led by Governor Kayode Fayemi.
The quest by the opposition parties to dislodge Fayemi, according to pundits, is expected, given that the governor’s original party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), only returned to the Ado-Ekiti Government House about four years ago, after nearly eight years in the cold.
The Alliance for Democracy (AD) had produced Niyi Adebayo as governor of the state in 1999. But the party lost in 2003 to Ayo Fayose of the PDP to commence an era of PDP’s domination of Ekiti political landscape. Even in 2007, in spite of Fayose’s failure to get re-elected, the PDP still found a way of getting its candidate, Segun Oni, into the Government House.
But in 2010, Fayemi, then of the defunct ACN, reclaimed his mandate through the courts to signal the return of the progressives to power in the state. And with his first term of four years gradually coming to an end, Fayemi has announced his desire to seek a second term while the opposition has also vowed to stop him.
Consequently, the stage appears set in Ekiti for what analyst called an interesting political drama. For Fayemi, his performance in the last four years will be a major reference point. For the opposition, their preparedness to offer the people of the state a better deal than Fayemi’s will be the issue.
Like in 2007, when the people of the state rejected the PDP and voted for the progressives en masse, the mood in Ekiti today, according to political analysts, is that of a people seeking to take their state to the next level. The implication of this is that the 2014 election is most likely to be about issues and not personalities.
“Ekiti is all wired up for the 2014 governorship election as we speak. The people are interested in what is about to happen. They see the next election as another opportunity to further take their destiny in their own hands. Just like they did in 20107, the people of Ekiti want to determine who will be their leader based on issues and not personalities.
“The beauty of the current situation is that our options are many and the people are willing to choose from the available options, the very best in the interest of the future of Ekiti State. The era of tele-guided and stage managed electoral process are over here. We ended that with our decision to reject dubious politicians in 2007,” Ayo Ariwi of the Ekiti Mandate Group (EMG), told The Nation.
There are also those who fear that the forthcoming election may turn violent. Their fear is premised on what analysts called the unusual desperation on the part of some politicians to change the current administration in the state at all cost.
Recently, senior citizens in the state, under the aegis of the Ekiti Council of Elders, cautioned politicians against setting the state on fire. The elders argued that with the way some politicians are going about their preparation for the 2014 election, the state is beginning to witness some unusual descent into violence.
“The election is still a few months away and we are already hearing of violent attacks and movement of arms and ammunitions into the state. It is our view that the politicians seeking to get political power on the strength of violence and illegality should give some thoughts to the effects of their actions on the overall wellbeing of the people they seek to rule.
“It should be noted that it is God that gives power. We call on relevant authorities to be prepared to protect the lives and properties of Ekiti people as we march towards this forthcoming election,” the council said.
THE PARTIES, THE ASPIRANTS
The APC appears to have made up its mind to re-present Fayemi as its governorship candidate later this year. This decision seems to have doused all forms of agitation for the ticket within the party, especially with the exit of Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, the only person from the party to have declared intention to contest the party’s ticket with the governor.
Recently, the South-West interim Chairman of the party, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, endorsed Fayemi for a second term, declaring he has lived up to expectation.
“I know the person I will vote for in 2014. I, Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, will vote for Fayemi. I will go round Ekiti and mobilise and canvass for votes for him. My successor in office is John Kayode Fayemi. He is manifesting the vision of the progressives; the vision of those who love Ekiti”.
Also, the Ekiti State chapter of APC is not hiding its support for the governor’s candidacy. State Chairman, High Chief Jide Awe, recently reiterated the stance, which the party had earlier taken. Awe said the declaration, earlier made by former Governor Niyi Adebayo remains valid, adding that Fayemi has represented the party well in his first tenure as governor.
Awe said Fayemi has vigorously run the Government of Ekiti State in line with the people-oriented programmes of the ACN and has redefined governance, with all the key sectors of the state’s economy transformed. The party boss commended the governor for rescuing the state from the ruins of “recklessness” he met it.
“You have put the name of Ekiti positively in the mouth of people both in Nigeria and international communities. We are really proud of you. Your Excellency, politics has started already but I don’t want you to exercise any fear because we are solidly behind you.
But if the APC can be said to have found a way to resolve the issue of who will fly its banner, the same cannot be said of the opposition parties. The rancour currently being generated by attempts by the two leading opposition parties in the state, the PDP and the LP, to narrow down on their flag-bearers is confirming the position of pundits that they may be unable to upset Fayemi after all.
To douse the tension created by insinuations that one of the numerous aspirants seeking to get the ticket of the PDP in the state has been anointed by the presidency, the National Working Committee of the party recently said there was no anointed aspirant in the forthcoming governorship primaries of the party, assuring all aspirants of a level playing field.
The assurance was given by the national leadership of the party when it met with stakeholders from the Ekiti State chapter at the national secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Abuja. The meeting, which lasted for about an hour, was held behind closed door.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the national secretary of the party, Professor Adewale Oladipo, stated that the party had to address grey areas in the state party administration.
“We used the opportunity to listen to them on what is happening in the state. We have asked them to prepare for the 2014 governorship election. We have also assured them that there would be a level playing ground. Mr. President has not adopted anybody. He will not adopt anybody as a preferred candidate of PDP in Ekiti. The NWC will also not adopt anybody as candidate. Due process will be followed. The consensus committee is illegal and must be stopped. It is the duty of the national leadership to conduct primaries for candidate to emerge,” he said.
This assurance came to douse tension over controversy surrounding the alleged push for a consensus candidate, which has polarised the party in the state. It would be recalled that the Ekiti Renaissance Group had petitioned the PDP NWC on the activities of the state chairman, Mr Makanjuola Ogundipe, while some members of the State Working Committee also petitioned the national leadership of the party over alleged partisanship of the leadership.
But in spite of the assurance and many more afterwards, the internal crisis rocking the PDP in the state is yet to abate giving the impression that the party may not be united enough in its quest to dislodge Fayemi.
The LP is not faring better. Rather than be a blessing, the movement of Hon Bamidele into the party appears to have created a problem as it is tearing the party into factions. Few weeks back, there was chaos at the Ado-Ekiti office of the party as old members and loyalists of new entrants clashed over control of the party’s structure.
Bamidele was accused of selecting his cronies into sensitive positions, barely two weeks after he joined the party. To protest what they described as his attempt to take over the party, old LP members stormed the State Secretariat at Ajilosun, engaging one another in a free-for-all.
The party’s Secretary in Ado Local Government Area (LGA), Tayo Adedamola, accused Bamidele of bringing injustice into the party, which according to him, was against the LP’s motto. He said Bamidele was invited many times for discussion by party leaders, but he shunned them. He vowed that old members would not allow him to hijack the LP’s structure.
Adedamola said Bamidele was free to return to his former party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), if he could not abide by the LP’s rules. Also, an LP governorship aspirant, Mr. Olutayo Ogunyemi, alleged that Bamidele planned to hijack the party’s governorship ticket without following the laid down principles.
Ogunyemi said he had been on ground for long and would not “allow anyone to come from nowhere and use money to buy the conscience of party members”. He alleged that members of the Ekiti Bibiire Coalition (EBC), Bamidele’s campaign organisation, were after his life and urged security agencies to come to his help.
And in spite of several efforts to resolve the impasse, the political rivalry between Bamidele’s men and the old order within the LP is yet to abate, creating the impression that it will also be very difficult for the party to present a common front when it eventually goes to electoral war against the ruling party.
THE ODDS AGAINST THE OPPOSITION
Meanwhile, some close watchers of Ekiti politics are of the opinion that it will be difficult for the opposition in the state to stop Fayemi’s re-election bid citing his performance in office as reason for their submissions.
“Opposition is what makes politics interesting. We cannot all share the same thoughts. If there was no opposition, there possibly would be no development. If there were no such challenges, the party in government would be complacent and that could hamper development. So, the issues of Bamidele and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are keeping the government on its toes and now, we have a lot of development to campaign with. If the government had not performed, what would we have campaigned with? The development in all parts of Ekiti State is the reason everybody, including myself, want him to go for another term,” Adekunle Esan, a chieftain of the Egbe Omo Yoruba in the United States of America (USA) and Canada, said.
Esan, an indigene of the state, while rating those aspiring to unseat the governor, said Ekiti people will only reject Fayemi at the poll if they find someone with the likelihood of performing better.
“Bamidele served in the government of a former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, for eight years and also served for four years in that of incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola. Today, he is a member of the House of Representatives. I know him and I doubt if Bamidele can perform better than this government is doing if he were in the saddle.
“We know his limitations. On the other hand, we know what Fayemi stands for. We know his democratic antecedents and he is just about completing his first four years in office. So, I think it is out of place for somebody from nowhere trying to rub shoulders with him because of some petty personal issues that don’t hold water in political arena,” he argued.
Similarly, workers in Ekiti State during the last Workers’ Day celebration, predicted a second term victory for Fayemi in the 2014 governorship election based on what it called his “laudable achievements” since assuming office.
The state TUC Chairman, Kolawole Olaiya, made the declaration in his address to workers at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, venue of the celebration, just as Fayemi advised any civil servant interested in politics to opt out of public service and declare his intention rather than compromising what he called “the hallowed position of trust”.
The TUC chairman stressed that the achievements of the Fayemi administration in the state are unprecedented. He pointed out that Fayemi’s regular payment of salaries, payment of minimum wage, as well as the restoration of vehicle, housing and other related loans, will win him re-election in the 2014 poll.
Olaiya said the TUC has identified many achievements recorded since Fayemi came to power, which included the Social Security Scheme for the aged, purchase and distribution of laptops to teachers and pupils in public schools and renovation of dilapidated public schools. The TUC boss also identified free health services, reconstruction of Ikogosi Warm Spring to a world class tourist centre, construction of 5-kilometre roads in the 16 council areas and merit-based appointment of permanent secretaries as achievements capable of securing the second term for Fayemi.
On his part, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayodeji Aluko, praised the job creation scheme of the Fayemi administration, which has helped reduce the involvement of youths in criminal activities. Aluko also appreciated the governor for approving the promotion and advancement of eligible officers recently carried out in the state civil service.
While thanking Fayemi for regular payment of workers’ salaries and improvement in the e-payment system, the NLC chief expressed hope that the 2012 and 2013 promotions will be carried out before the end of this year. The governor, in his address, also expressed the commitment of his administration to the restoration of the Teachers’ Peculiar Allowance as soon as it is possible for the state’s lean resources to accommodate it.
If the mood in Ekiti and the internal situations of the opposition parties in the state remain as they are now till the time the people will file out to decide who would man the ship of state in Ekiti for another four years, analyst are of the opinion that Fayemi and his ruling APC will be on their way back to the Government House in Ado-Ekiti for another term.
This article was first published in The Nations on Sunday, January 12, 2014
Last modified: January 12, 2014