Twists and turns of Olusola’s emergence as Ekiti PDP guber candidate
The journey to the choice of the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Prof Kolapo Olusola as the flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming July 14 gubernatorial election began in September 2017 when a section of the party, under the aegis of PDP critical stakeholders, adopted him as the sole candidate.
Olusola, who is from Ekiti South senatorial district, became deputy to Governor Ayodele Fayose by accident. His octogenarian father was the one approached by Fayose for the position but the old man declined on account of his age and requested that his lecturer son be picked instead.
The professor of Building Technology at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, therefore became the running mate to Fayose and they jointly won the 2014 governorship election. However, Fayose have been quoted several times and at different fora saying he will quit office in 2018 with his deputy. This was why the decision of the governor to adopt his Deputy as his successor came to people as a surprise. Before the dramatic u-turn, Fayose had assured party members that he would impose no candidate.
A source disclosed that the governor decided to play a fast one because of information available to him that Prince Adedayo Adeyeye who was then the spokesperson of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP Caretaker committee was already pulling the string in Abuja to replace Fayose.The source said that when the governor got winds of Adeyeye ‘s plot, he quickly mobilised for the endorsement of Olusola by calling for a meeting of the party’s stakeholders at the Government House.
The stakeholders were invited to the parley on a different agenda that was announced on Radio but Fayose got them to endorse Olusola as the sole candidate. When he learnt of the adoption, Adeyeye described the ‘imposition’ as a nullity, having infracted the party’s constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 and he specifically accused Fayose of allegedly working with external forces to ruin the PDP.He assured the party that the endorsement of Olusola will not stand saying the National Caretaker Committee of the party under Senator Ahmed Makarfi would conduct a free, fair poll to elect a credible candidate.
Speaking on behalf of other aggrieved aspirants at another forum, Adeyeye said, “Governor Fayose said he was directed by God to anoint his deputy, but the Bible says woe betide a man who is saying when he had not been directed by God. I want to see that someone is trying to place a curse on himself here.“What the governor did was a flagrant breach of the constitution and the Electoral Act and it can’t stand. Fayose is a governor and whoever occupies such a position must learn how to protect the law. He should not take any action that will make him irresponsible.
“PDP in Ekiti is in a delicate position. We have no federal might behind us. We are not in control of the Army, police and others. Again, we are no longer enjoying the popularity with which we came into office in 2014. If you do opinion poll today, it does not favour us because of the actions and inactions of this government.”
Although at the beginning of their struggle, the aggrieved aspirants were four including Adeyeye, Senator Biodun Olujimi, former Attorney General of the State Owoseeni Ajayi, former Ambassador to Canada, Dare Bejide but Bejide and Owoseni eventually left the party.Adeyeye and Olujimi petitioned the party’s NWC to wade into the crisis and warned that PDP risk losing the governorship election if the leadership did not step in to arrest the drift.
Learning from the mistakes of the past, when impunity and lack of internal democracy led the party to a crushing defeat in 2015, PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus immediately set up reconciliation committee led by former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark to wade into the matter.The Mark committee was able to calm frayed nerves and reassured the combatants of a level playing field in the scheme of things. The committee held meetings with the party’s stakeholders including Fayose in Abuja and Ado Ekiti to extract commitment from them that they will not rock the boat.
The committee, which was also saddled with the delegates’ election, ensured that it conducted a hitch-free exercise and provided the promised level playing field. Olujimi and Adeyeye applauded the committee for a job well done and also expressed their satisfaction with the conduct of the delegates poll.But in spite of the assurance of a level playing field, the governor never minced word by continually reemphasizing his support for his deputy without foreclosing the primary election where everybody will have a chance to prove his or her mettle. However, both camps took their time to strategize by wooing the delegates.
The governor’s camp allegedly saddled the chairmen of local governments to take charge of mobilising delegates in their areas. This explained why the delegates wore different unform attires to the venue of the primary election. In fact many people have concluded that the uniforms was an indication that their votes would go to Olusola. On the other hand, Adeyeye was said to have greased the palms of the delegates with cash for them to vote for him.
But contrary to initial calculation by the Olusola camp that votes would be divided among the three aspirants, Olujimi stepped down for Adeyeye. Before her decision to step down, the accreditation of delegates being conducted from a building opposite the Eagle Hall venue of the primary election was already ongoing, but the announcement of her withdrawal came shortly before the commencement of voting. This unexpected decision threw the governor and his anointed aspirant into unease.
Olujimi, whose action elicited a loud applause, said she decided to collapse her structure for Adeyeye for the progress of the party. But to many, her decision was a masterstroke that was intended to upset the camp of Olusola and sway votes for Adeyeye.
Immediately, Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who conducted the process, asked Olujimi and her agent to step down from the stage where they sat. He said that her withdrawal had reduced the aspirants to two, noting that 1, 966 delegates were voting to elect the party’s flag bearer. During the sorting and counting of votes, the atmosphere was tensed up as the outcome of the exercise became unpredictable. The governor, his deputy and Adeyeye left their seats and remained standing throughout the counting. However, Olusola polled 1,190 votes to defeat Adeyeye who polled 771 votes. The announcement of the result calmed the atmosphere.
But because of the strategic decision that delegates should vote and go, the announcement didn’t create any scene or caused any mayhem within and outside the voting venue. Although Adeyeye left the venue before the official announcement of the results, Okowa said that he had accepted the result in good fate.While announcing the results, Okowa hailed the contestants and delegates for displaying maturity, pointing out that this had again confirmed that the PDP was truly a democratic party.He said: “By the power vested in me as the Returning Officer, I hereby return Prof Kolapo Olusola as the duly nominated candidate of the PDP for Ekiti State governorship election, having scored the highest number of votes cast in this election. I want to congratulate Prof Kolapo Olusola for his victory, I wish him well.”
Tactically taunting the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state over the violence that marred its primary election of Saturday, Okowa added, “If you think this exercise was not peaceful, just look back and examine what happened in the past.”Okowa thanked Fayose for his support, particularly for the security men and members of the panel, saying this accounted for success of the poll. He also commended him for playing a fatherly role, urging party members to immediately bury the hatchets by rallying support for Olusola for the PDP to be able to retain Ekiti.
In his reaction, Fayose said, “I appreciate God and thank the committee for doing a good job. I thank Prince Adeyeye and Senator Olujimi for their courage. In journeys like this there would be a divide. They are leaders of the party irrespective of what has happened before this primary. They should join hands with the party to win the ultimate, which is the July 14 election. I commend the entire delegates for exercising their civic rights.
“I urge all the political parties to emulate the PDP in organising a peaceful, credible, free and fair primary. I will reach out to Prince Adeyeye and Senator Olujimi and personally visit them. I appeal to them in the overall interest of the party to work for our common goal.”In his acceptance speech, Olusola said “I appreciate the entire team that made this primary election possible. Today is historic. It has rekindled our hope. I humbly appreciate those that have contributed to this feat. I commend the doggedness of my brother, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye. I am obliged to extend my hand of fellowship to you. There is no winner, no vanquished.
“All hands must be on deck to develop Ekiti economically. We are assuring our people of transparent governance. We are not unaware of some meddlesome interlopers who are loaded with evil intention. Whether they like it or not we will record 16-0. I thank Governor Fayose for standing by me. I thank our national leadership for the conduct of this election and Governor Okowa for the conduct of the transparent primary. I affirm readiness as the candidate of PDP in July 14.”
Given the events preceding the exercise and the seemingly neutral position taken the NWC, many are of the view that reconciling the losers of the primary election may not be too difficult to achieve.
Besides, even if Adeyeye and Olujimi rebuffed entreaties from the governor, the option open to them is narrow because going by INEC timetable, it would be a herculean task for them to realise their ambition in other platforms.The opposition APC is at a crossroad as the party is battling to meet the deadline for nomination of candidate. To an analyst, the choice before Adeyeye and Olujimi would be putting the past behind and working for the PDP to win the governorship election.
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