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2018: Ekiti in political quandary over zoning

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Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State

The drum of zoning is reverberating once more in Ekiti State, as the 2018 governorship election draws nearer. Though some powers in the state, do not like to hear it, politicians from Ekiti South Senatorial district are closing ranks for a showdown with any political party that jettisons zoning in choosing its governorship candidate.
 
Since 1999 when democratic government returned and three years after the state was created, Ekiti South remains the only district that has not occupied the Oke Bareke Government House in Ado Ekiti,
 
First civilian governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo hails from Iyin-Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun local council in Ekiti Central, same as the incumbent governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who defeated him during his first term (2003-2006).
 
In 2007 election, former Governor Segun Oni from Ifaki, Ido/Osi local council in Ekiti North Senatorial District came in briefly before the Appeal Court Judgement of October 14, 2010 terminated his tenure and brought in former Governor Kayode Fayemi. Fayemi is from Ishan-Ekiti in Oye Local council, also in Ekiti North Senatorial District.
 
By the time Fayose’s second term ends next year, Ekiti Central Senatorial District would have spent 12 years in power, while the north has done eight years, with the south still nursing only hope.
 
Agitation for political office based on zoning, though not peculiar to Ekiti State, has remained controversial. While maginalised groups advocate for all inclusive political arrangement, fairness and equity, the larger group with strong voting strength most times, kick against it.
 
Although the two major political parties in Ekiti State – PDP and APC –  have not made public their positions on zoning, PDP leaders, especially Governor Ayodele Fayose, might have zeroed their minds on presenting a candidate from Ekiti South.
 
Out of 38 aspirants that have so far indicated interest for the APC ticket, no fewer than twenty-five are from the South. Prominent among these are; Hon Bamidele Faparusi, former Commissioner, Funminiyi Afuye, an Australian-based Medical Doctor, Dr. Wole Oluyede, Senator Gbenga Aluko,  Hon. Olufemi Bamisile, Sunday Adebomi and Diran Adesua.
 
APC stalwarts from other senatorial districts that have made public their ambition for the office include; former governor and Deputy National Chairman, Eng. Segun Oni (North), Senator Ayo Arise (North), Hon Bimbo Daramola (North), former governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) who decamped to the APC after 2014 election, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele (Central) and Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu (Central).
  
Former governor and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, is yet to disclose whether to re-contest or not, but recent activities at his JKF Foundation suggest the possibility of his renewing the experience at Oke Bareke.
 
Some of his political allies confided in The Guardian that though the Minister has not instructed anybody to work for him, the belief remains strong that Fayemi was “rigged” out of office, which suggests that “he should be given another chance.”
 
Also, a recent newspaper interview, where the minister referred to “unsettled business in Ekiti” gives indication that Fayemi, might once again, throw his hat in the ring for the governorship contest. It is however speculated that should Fayemi, Oni, Bamidele and Ojudu eventually decide to slug it out, chances for politicians from the South to clinch the APC ticket could be narrow.
 
For PDP that is still embroiled in internal crisis, the Fayose faction is still battling legal hurdles at the Appeal Court to reverse the decision of the Federal High Court recognising the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction. Senator Representing Ogun East, Chief Buruji Kashamu, is funding that faction.
 
If the Appeal Court ruling does not favour Fayose group that has threatened to quit, that sends PDP into political oblivion in Ekiti State because the Ajayi Williams faction can’t boast of one percent of PDP membership in the state, as it draws its membership only from Omo-Ilu Foundation.
 
However, if the legal fireworks and political calibrations in the party favour Fayose, the dream of Ekiti South to produce the next governor would become brighter. Even as PDP has not zoned the ticket to the senatorial district, all the political moves by Fayose point in that direction.
  
A source close to Fayose told The Guardian that; “barring any unforeseen circumstances, the governor has made up his mind to ensure that his successor comes from the South, to address the issue of maginalisation and allow all senatorial districts have a sense of belonging.
 
“Everybody in the party knows this and that is why aspirants from other senatorial districts are not jostling for the PDP ticket.” The source further disclosed that the three prominent possibilities in Fayose’s mind are his Deputy, Dr. Kolapo Olusola from Ikere Ekiti, former Minister of State for Works and spokesperson of Makarfi Caretaker Committee, Chief Dayo Adeyeye (Ise-Ekiti) and Bisi Omoyeni, also from Ikere. Of recent, Senator Biodun Olujimi, who is believed to have proved to be a great grassroots mobiliser, featured.
 
Not a few people would be surprised if Fayose is considering his deputy to succeed him, because he had once promised that he and his deputy will leave office at the same time, the core reason he did not pick a politician as his running mate.
 
Said the source: “Yes, the Governor said that and you must know that he said that based on his experience at that time, but having worked with the man for over two years now, that decision is changing. I can confirm to you he is seriously being considered by the Governor. But anything may happen but he is among the major three close to his heart.”
 
The issue of zoning has polarized politicians of APC in the state. While some aspirants have intensified campaigns that it is the turn of the region, aspirants from other districts have dismissed their argument as the product of lazy political calculation, devoid of democratic tendencies.
 
Faparusi, who described zoning as a “child of necessity” said the time has come for the APC to deploy support for the ‘South Agenda’ the way it did for the North Senatorial District under the Action Congress (AC), prior to the 2007 governorship election, leading to the election of both Mr. Segun Oni and Dr Kayode Fayemi.
 
He said zoning had become a child of necessity and veritable weapon for his party to dislodge Fayose and put his succession plan in disarray.
 
Faparusi advised his party not to toy with the agitation that is gradually gaining grounds, stressing that; “any party that jettisons zoning should forget the election. In 2007, there was what we called the North Agenda and we all embraced it. Both Oni and  Fayemi were beneficiaries of that and it was possible because we all supported the idea and time has come to reciprocate this for the south.” 

Oluyede, who is an indigene of Ikere-Ekiti,  urged the party to be fair in its consideration of zoning, describing the agitation as a child of necessity that would not only inject equity and fair-play in the distribution of elective positions in the state, but would make it easier for  APC to win the poll.
  
Another prominent member of the party, who served as a Chairman of Moba Local Government Area, during Fayemi’s tenure, Chief Dolamu Adeniyi, lambasted critics of zoning, describing them as self-centered and egocentric individuals, who only profit from lopsidedness within the system.
 
Adeniyi said: “All the aspirants that had signified intentions so far from the South are well qualified to occupy the coveted seat. They said many of them were mere local champions, this I believe was a product of ignorance on the parts of these people.

  
However, a former member of House of Representatives, Bimbo Daramola, has described the agitation as illegal and portrays those canvassing for such as political lightweights.

Daramola, who was the Director General of the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation during the 2014 poll said: “The issue of zoning is arrant nonsense.  In a civilized clime, what the people always clamour for is good standard of living as reflected in the economy and not where the person who governs comes from.
 
Daramola warned Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee against breaching the party’s constitution, by overtly supporting zoning in the party.


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Ayodele Fayose

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