Governor Olukayode John Fayemi
The endorsement, some weeks ago, of Governor Olukayode John Fayemi of Ekiti as the Action Congress of Nigeria candidate in next year’s governorship election by some leaders of the party in the state may have set the tone for the election, writes Toba Suleiman
As far as the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Ekiti State is concerned, the 2014 governorship election in the state is an assignment that cannot be handled with levity. Coming from the party’s thrashing at the October 20 governorship election in Ondo State, the need to sustain its hold in other parts of the South-west region where it presently holds sway has become challenging and must therefore, go all out to seeing this through by first putting its house in order.
As a result, political activities have continued to gather momentum. This began quietly during the week long celebration of the second year anniversary of the present administration under the leadership of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, in October last year. There have since been several other activities that are indicative of preparations of other political parties in the state for the 2014 election.
While the ACN has upped efforts on how to consolidate power, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still battling with multi-faceted internal crisis that is currently tearing it apart. This, notwithstanding, opposition still viewed the second year anniversary celebration which Fayemi had used to showcase his achievements as needless.
Recognising the magnitude of political fireworks that lie ahead, ACN leadership in the state surprised many recently, when it openly adopted the incumbent, Fayemi, as its candidate for the 2014 election. The adoption which is now described as ‘Iyin Accord’ signified the climax of several clandestine meetings of the party elders and other prominent leaders on the 2014 governorship project.
THISDAY reliably gathered that the action of the party elders was meant to pre-empt others who might want to create hiccups in the party, by also indicating interest in the race.
The ‘Iyin Accord’ said to have been at the instance of the first executive governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, held at his Iyin-Ekiti country home, however saw most prominent members of the party including top government officials, women and members of the youth wings across the 16 local governments areas of the state, speak glowingly about the governor’s achievements.
Sources also hinted that whereas, the event that was initially designed as a mere social gathering for the leaders, later turned out political gathering as party leaders took turns to discuss the future of the party and the state, with suggestions on the way forward. Majority of the speakers endorsed Fayemi for another term, citing his developmental strides in the last two years.
Among the prominent speakers were Adebayo, Senator Tony Adeniyi,( Ekiti South senatorial district), Hon Ife Arowosoge, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Dr. Adewale Omirin, Hon Dapo Karounwi, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ganiyu Owolabi, and Chief Ronke Okusanya, among others.
Adebayo sided with Fayemi’s endorsement because the administration had impacted positively on the lives of the people of Ekiti since he assumed office some two years ago.
“The government of Dr. kayode Fayemi, has done a lot to move the state forward and his developmental strategies and strides are quite laudable. I also think he deserves a second term, just as our people are clamouring,” Adebayo said.
Chairman of ACN in the state, Chief Jide Awe, also explained that the rationale behind Fayemi’s adoption was due to his achievements in two years of assuming office.
Awe, who had played host to the governor at the party secretariat, Ado-Ekiti, said the Iyin Accord was not by accident but a deliberate attempt to show appreciation for what the governor is doing in the transformation of the state, and in the delivering dividends of democracy to the people of the state.
He described the endorsement by party members as an acknowledgement of his good works in the area of infrastructural developments, especially in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, which he said now wears a new look.
The party chairman said though the declaration has not foreclosed others from nursing ambition, however said the party would not leave behind its candidate that is doing well to support others still aspiring.
Warning members against taking any action that could distract the governor because of the 2014 ambition, Awe told all intending aspirants to come to the party secretariat and declare their intentions to contest the governorship election, rather than make side comments that could cause disaffection.
“The endorsement which I called a declaration came to the fore because the party is proud of the Governor’s achievements. ACN is not a lawless party and whoever has interest can still make his intention known, but this should receive the authority of the party leaders.
“We believe in our leaders, we believe in what they are doing. Come rain, come shine, Dr. Kayode Fayemi will be our flag bearer. We have resolved to choose him again. The people have spoken. The leaders of our party have spoken, the people on the streets have spoken also in clear terms, and all they are saying is that the Governor has performed and should be given a second term. I also endorse this position, because I can see the difference the Fayemi administration has made in the state,” Awe said.
But some members of the party view Fayemi’s endorsement differently. This became obvious when a member of the party in the House of Representatives member, Hon Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, described the endorsement as not the popular view of majority of the people of the state. He, therefore, said the endorsement does not foreclose others from nursing their ambition.
“The endorsement of the governor by a section of our party is a step that is allowed in politics. But I want to say that other party members who are interested in the position can still show interest. ACN is not a lawless party. It is a party that believes in the rule of law and democratic tenets, so, I am confident that the rules will be followed strictly under this circumstance,” Bamidele said.
Fayemi who spoke to journalists at the weekend, however, confirmed Bamidele’s position when he said the lawmaker was correct because the endorsement of the party leaders was mere expression of their opinion and not binding on the party which has procedures and processes through which such activities are carried out.
But shortly after the New Year celebration, the governor came out with yet another shocker, as he dissolved his cabinet for the first time since he came on board in 2010. Sources hinted that the development which caught the 32-member cabinet napping came as a huge surprise to most people, as well as the commissioners and the SAs, who least expected such from the governor, especially in the New Year.
It was learnt that the action of the governor was part of strategies to achieve results as the race towards 2014 election inches closer, hence the need to re-jig the cabinet and bring in those that can deliver on the election. It is also clear through some of the governor’s comments, after the hurricane that swept all the commissioners that some of them apparently performed below expectation and were deserving of such treatment.
Information has it that most of the sacked commissioners had no connection or bearing with their communities as most of them stayed most time outside the state, and sometimes when they were around, stayed in the hotels. Many indigenes of the state noted with dismay that virtually all of them do not have electoral value that could be of any assistance to the re-election ambition of the governor if he has any.
Fayemi, therefore, likened himself to a football coach that is inclined to review the performances of his players at the end of a half time and determine those with the stamina to continue and those who could not continue. In essence, Fayemi’s comment indicated that most of the sacked commissioners were not likely to come back, if government must achieve its set goals.
Meanwhile, political observers in the state have warned the ACN not be too complacent with its achievements, but to continue to do more by delivering on dividends of democracy. They also urged the party to first put its house in order before going out for the primary election because it might be its undoing.
But whatever is the original intention behind the Fayemi endorsement, the development has obviously set the stage for the shape the election would take next year. And more instructively, political activities will assume full swing as governance may begin to recline to the back seat as this year advances.