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Ekiti guber: After primaries now the race proper

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Kayode Fayemi


By Tuesday May 15, 2018, when the deadline for political parties to submit names of candidates for Ekiti State governorship election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expired, it dawned on most of the parties’ leadership that things had fallen apart, not only among aspirants but also among members.

And the challenges of managing the post primary conflicts have been giving them sleepless nights.Although 40 political parties had approached the electoral body with their list of candidates, analysts have not ruled out possibilities of coalition.

However, all eyes are on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) because of the intrigues and verbal “wars” that characterised their primaries.

While 33 aspirants jostled for the APC ticket, three contested to become the PDP flag bearer.It is also instructive that both parties at national and regional levels are working round the clock to heal wounds and broker a rapprochement among contenders.

While the APC is believed to have recorded a level of success in this regard, the same cannot be said of PDP because of the hard stance of former Minister of State for Works and Housing, Prince Dayo Adeyeye and Senator Biodun Olujimi.

While Olujimi is said to have adopted a lukewarm attitude, Adeyeye acted like a bad loser by not only quitting the party, but also allegedly cursing Governor Ayodele Fayose, whom he accused of masterminding his defeat.But that was not the case in APC, as it was less than seven hours after the declaration of Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as winner that he went visiting and shaking hands with other aspirants in their homes, while publicly urging his supporters to respect them.

The APC candidate said activities of all the aspirants in the past few months had further strengthened the party, adding that any of them would have made a better governor than any candidate the PDP could present.He said: “If you really want us to succeed in the quest to form the next government in the state, I urge you all not to carry over pre-primary hostilities in your relationship with my co-contestants and their supporters.

“We are one big family. We cannot all win in an election. But one thing I know is that all the contestants are eminent Ekiti sons and daughters, who are qualified to govern the state better than the present occupier of the office.“Therefore, as we go into the election, we must see ourselves as members of the same family who deserve mutual respect. Henceforth, no more social media and verbal attacks. Our only enemy is the PDP.

“Note that the opposition tried all tricks to cause maximum damage to our inter-personal relationships, but they failed to achieve their aim, as manifested in the success of the primary. I want to plead with you not to help them to achieve their aim.“We have a big job to do to reclaim our state and that should be your focus, so that we can succeed in the restoration of our dignity and provide good life for our people again.”

Besides, the hosting to a dinner of the 33 APC aspirants with party leadership in the Southwest by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa is also seen as a masterstroke that will assist the party to forgive and forget tantrums before the primary.

In the spirit of sportsmanship, which is unusual in Nigerian politics, all the contestants, including the former state governor, Chief Segun Oni, Special Advised to the Vice President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojodu and Hon. Bimbo Daramola, Senator Ayo Arise, Senator Gbenga Aluko and Hon. Femi Bamishile “smiled” out of Aso Rock with determination to work for their party.

At the meeting, Buhari challenged Southwest caucus of the APC to return Ekiti State into the fold, by ensuring electoral victory for Fayemi in the forthcoming governorship elections.

The President said party members must work together in the state to ensure that the people’s will was not subverted.He said: “I know Ekiti fairly well. Ekiti people are well known for their forthrightness, candour and integrity. All of these values seem to have been lost and we must restore these values and return Ekiti to its pride of place in the comity of states.”

Among those at the dinner were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, National Leader of the APC and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Segun Osoba and the National Chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun.

Governors at the meeting included Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) and the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, who was the chairman of APC Ekiti Governorship primaries committee.Some members of the National Assembly, Ministers and stakeholders from the Southwest were also in attendance.

But the PDP is yet to execute such fence-mending parley. Fayose’s efforts to persuade Adeyeye to accept Prof Kolapo Olusola’s candidature are yet to be successful. Few hours after the primary, Fayose said: “Few hours after the primary, I called Prince Adeyeye twice and on each occasion, he rained curses on me and would not even listen to what I had to say. He said I should never call him again. I am not afraid of the curses, because I know I have not done anything to warrant that or for the curses to have any effect on me.

“By our party’s constitution, I have the right to support anybody for any position, just like I have the right to vote for anybody during elections. I did not hide my preference for my deputy among those seeking to succeed me as governor. So, I was surprised at his reaction.“If it was him I supported for the position, would he have done that? The process through which our candidate emerged followed due process. I did not interfere with the process and I did not manipulate anything in favour of anybody.

“How many state governors have supported their deputies to aspire to be governors? I have nothing personal against anybody and Olusola has been loyal, effective and committed as my deputy and I cannot repay him in a bad manner.”

However, Adeyeye has denied cursing the governor, saying he only told him not to call his line again.While addressing his supporters in Ado Ekiti, Adeyeye announced his defection from PDP to a yet to be announced party.He said though he was satisfied with the conduct of the primary, he couldn’t work with the governor’s evil continuity agenda.

He explained that about five political parties have approached him after the PDP primary to pick their governorship tickets.He said as a democrat, he would consult widely before deciding on which platform he will realise his ambition.Interestingly, the fence mending in APC cannot be said to be complete, as some members that supported Oni at the primary.

Oni expressed regret that he got reports about how his supporters were being harassed, with threats that they won’t be accorded any recognition, if Fayemi wins the July 14 poll.He said: “I am still in APC. We are loyal party men. I decided to contest to give our party the probability to win. The contest was not about me. Our people must learn a new lesson that, when you enjoy goodwill and you lose a primary, the next thing is not for you to move to another party, with a thinking that you will win.

“Even if you enjoy goodwill, it is not good to expend it that way. So, we are not leaving APC, but I have a responsibility to protect my supporters.“We are approaching a windstorm, which is the election and I believe we need to take caution on both sides. As much as we are ready to work with the winner, they too must be receptive and trusting.”A source close to Fayemi said Oni’s allegation was being addressed by the governorship candidate, who has expressed desire to work will all party members without discrimination.Meanwhile, the APC and PDP candidates will still have to slug it out with other 38 candidates, whose names have already been submitted to INEC.


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INECKayode Fayemi
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