INVESTIGATION: The battle to succeed Fayose in Ekiti 2018 guber election

by AljazirahNigeria | December 6, 2017 12:30 pm

Although the Ekiti State governorship election is still some eight months away, the political thermometer in the state is glaringly hot and the water is boiling at an alarming rate.  The political gladiators in the two big parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are not leaving any stone unturned to outwit one another to occupy the Government House Ado Ekiti, AljazirahNigeria investigation reveals.

The tenure of the incumbent governor, Ayodele Fayose expires next year and expectedly the issue of horse trading, political equation and bargaining power is the order of the day.  Series of nocturnal meetings are going on in the two parties with each aspirant having the belief that he is better than the other. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on October 4, 2017 announced July 14, 2018 as the date for Ekiti governorship poll.  The national commissioner in charge of information, Solomon Soyebi while briefing journalists at the INEC headquarters in Abuja said the electoral body arrived at the dates in line with provisions of section 178 (1) and (2) of the 1999 constitution as amended, and section 25 (7) and (8) of the electoral act, 2010. Political campaigns according to INEC would commence on April 15 and end on July 12, while the collection of forms by political parties for issuance to candidates would come a day after.

Apparently not to be caught in the web of indecision and to hold his grip on the political turf in the state, Governor Fayose has endorsed his deputy, Professor Olusola Kolapo to succeed him come 2018. In a swift and deft move that left other aspirants in awe, Fayose in September 2017 announced Kolapo as his anointed successor. Kolapo, a Professor of Building Technology from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife hails from Ekiti South Senatorial District. The endorsement ceremony was attended by 177 councilors, 177 ward chairmen, 16 local government party chairmen, 16 local council chairmen and members of boards and parastatals, members of the state executive council, House of Assembly members, serving and former members of the PDP state working committee, among others.

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Hon Anifowose Mustapha (for councillors), Alhaji Amuda Sunmonu (for ward chairmen), Femi Bamisile (for local government party chairmen) Hon Dapo Olagunju, for Local Government Chairmen (ALGON), Senator Bode Ola (for chairman of board and parastatals), Dr Modupe Alade (SSG) for state executive council, Rt. Hon. Kolawole Oluwawole, Speaker of the State House of Assembly and Chief Gboyega Oguntuase the state chairman of the party signed the communique that endorsed the deputy governor.

Giving reasons for adopting his deputy, Fayose said, “Constitutionally, my deputy is at liberty to run and I am at liberty to support anyone of my choice. Above all, other aspirants have nothing to fear if they have the capacity to defeat him as the primary election is ahead. The adoption (of Olusola) does not mean there will be no primary. Even for sole candidates, there must be a no or yes answer, so the primary must hold.”

The endorsement as expected threw off the balance other prominent contenders like Senators Dayo Adeyeye and Abiodun Olujimi who are also eyeing the coveted seat. Adeyeye and Olujimi, the PDP national spokesman and Senate deputy minority leader respectively have boldly challenged the governor saying he has hijacked the PDP in the state treating it like a personal estate. In anger, Adeyeye resigned as the chairman, governing council of Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti. “It is important to note that PDP as a political party is bigger and larger than an individual no matter how highly placed he or she may be as to override the rules and regulations of the party which are sacrosanct in the election of any candidate for an elective position. I reject the purported adoption of a sole candidate in its entirety as there are many other aspirants for the governorship race in 2018”, the former minister stated.

In her reaction, Olujimi who was Fayose’s deputy during the governor’s first tenure and from Ekiti South Senatorial District accused Fayose of unilaterally taken decision that contradicts the constitution of the party while she appealed to the leadership of the PDP to intervene in the matter “before it is too late”. “The party has a constitution and it must be followed. I will describe the adoption by some members of our party as a child’s play. We shall all contest in the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State,” Olujimi said.

The APC is also facing its own battles as not less than 21 aspirants have signified interest to contest the governorship primaries. AljazirahNigeria recalls that the APC ceded power to the PDP in 2014 when Fayose defeated the then governor, Kayode Fayemi during the governorship election. However, AljazirahNigeria can authoritatively report that Fayemi is weighing his chances to go for another shot at the poll. An unconfirmed report has it that the Minister of Minister of Solid Minerals Development is under intense pressure from stakeholders to recontest. A radio programme monitored by our correspondent quoted the Minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr Yinka Oyebode as saying: “The Minister has not given any indication that he is contesting the Ekiti Guber next year, though he is eminently qualified to contest. He is under intense pressure to contest because of his past records in the state but for now, he is still consulting.”

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Other APC bigwigs eyeing the governor seat include the special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Affairs, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, former Governor Segun Oni and Opeyemi Bamidele who contested under the platform of the Labour Party in 2014.  The trio, highly cerebral and focused, has set machinery in motion to convince the Ekitis. No doubt, the foursome of Fayemi, Ojudu, Oni and Bamidele wield influence in their capacities but the best option for the APC is to settle for a candidate that will be widely accepted by the electorates. Each of them according to stakeholders must subsume personal interest and work for party interest.

Fayose has the record of resounding electoral victory in Ekiti State and has boasted to take the APC to the cleaners again in 2018. Fayose has defeated two incumbent governors in the state. In 2003, he defeated a sitting governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and in 2014, floored Fayemi in the governorship poll of that year. Fayose has a full grasp of Ekiti politics and understands the political terrain like the palm of his hands and these factors are likely to count for him again.

However, it remains to be seen how Fayose will align the political equations in the state PDP and how the APC will manage its primaries and support whoever emerges as its governorship candidate.

Apparently, there are rivers to be crossed by the two parties as Nigerians wait with bated breath to see where the pendulum swings with some months to the election that will shape the future of the state christened ‘Fountain of knowledge’. 


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