The readmission to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has reinforced his status as a politician of note in the state and strengthened his chances of playing a key role in the 2014 governorship race in the state, writes Toba Suleiman
Barely a year after he made a dramatic return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at his ward in Ekiti State, former Governor of the state, Mr. Ayo Fayose, his readmission by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) has completed his reintegration. The NWC also went ahead to approve a waiver for him, in line with Articles 8 (a) and 17 (2g) of the party’s constitution.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the readmission of Fayose, who has the reputation of a mobiliser and regarded as a political warlord, took effect from September 14. Metuh said the decision was taken at the party’s 35th regular meeting of the NWC held in Abuja, where other decisions were reached on other important matters affecting the party.
Consequently, this may have put paid to series of insinuations, permutations and controversies hitherto surrounding Fayose’s political standing in Ekiti PDP, especially since he had been under intense pressure to return to the party at his Afao-Ekiti country home.
Fayose had left the PDP under controversial circumstances shortly after the 2009 rerun governorship election where he was alleged to have worked against the ousted governor of the state and the party’s candidate, Chief Segun Oni in favour of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He later joined the Labour Party (LP) in the state, perhaps to puncture arguments that he joined forces with the ACN.
However, having made up his mind to finally dump the LP and return to PDP, Fayose had formally resigned his membership of the LP in a letter dated September 12 and addressed to the LP National Chairman, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu. The letter was acknowledged by a top member of the National Working Committee of the LP, Mr. Mohammed Salami.
Fayose who had long hinted of his intention to return to PDP told his supporters about a year ago that as a bonafide member of the party, he has the legitimate right to contest for the national secretary post of his party. Armed with PDP card number 4619857 and ward registration number 841 issued at the party secretariat in Afao-Are ward by the ward chairman, Chief Olaiya Abiola, Fayose declared that he had the grace, sagacity and the political influence to occupy the seat.
“My people took the pains to look for me in Afao Ekiti and Ibadan not minding the risk and I am doing this as a way of reciprocating their gesture. God has given me a rare opportunity and grace to be sought after by my people. I am not God and I will never play God,” he said.
While promising not to further nurse any grudge against his successor, Oni, Fayose said the rebuilding of the PDP would be his utmost priority and that nothing would distract him from the objective. He appealed to all stakeholders to shun politics of acrimony and vindictiveness if they must forge ahead to rebuild the party.
“I see no reason why I can’t work with Oni because now, he is no longer the governor and the ball is not in his court, I can only join hands with him to build the PDP and win Ekiti in the next elections.”
Although, Fayose did not become the national secretary of the PDP as he had thought, that declaration, however, marked the beginning of his struggle to return to PDP. And with his readmission, he may have prevailed over some of the political battles he had waged in the last one year in his attempts to be relevant.
But Fayose is returning to PDP at a time the party is still grappling with internal crisis. This stemmed from the time of the party congress in the state. PDP in the state is polarised along two interest lines: the Caleb Olubolade/Fayose group and the Oni-led faction.
Although, Olubolade was said to have instituted a couple of peace meetings, it did not yield the desired result. While Fayose reportedly attended one of the meetings held in Ado-Ekiti, Oni failed to show up. This had raised insinuations that Oni was not ready to work with Fayose.
But at the meeting held in Ipoti-Ekiti, virtually all the PDP stalwarts in the state were in attendance, including Oni and Fayose, who later embraced each other after the meeting that lasted several hours. There and then, the two leaders agreed to sheath their swords and work for the progress of the party in the state. Unfortunately, the outcome of the congress, which did not favour Oni, finally collapsed the seeming truce.
Much as Oni had sought for a solution in the form of harmonisation of interests as represented in the party, he was said to have vowed never to be a party to Fayose’s readmission.
However, while finalising his case, it was gathered that Fayose’s political influence and acceptability amongst the grassroots as well as his electoral value were factors considered for his readmission. That he was able to install the new leadership in Ekiti PDP was seen as his relevance in the party which the party’s national leadership believed should be encouraged.
But that may not be all that is required to wrest power from the ACN in the state. And given an enlightened political environment like Ekiti, living on past glory is a strategy that could not yield positive result all the time. This is why some believed that Fayose no longer enjoys the kind of support he had with the masses since a greater percentage of it had been frittered away during the period of his political battle.
Yet, this is not an opinion that is accepted across board. There are those who still see Fayose as a major factor in Ekiti politics and hold the view that he only had problems with some of the political elite who were not comfortable with his style of leadership. Those in this school of thought believe that his readmission to PDP would change the face of politics in the state especially that another governorship election is due in 2014.
But loyalists of the ACN disagree with such postulations. A prominent member of the ACN for instance said Fayose’s relevance is limited only to his party.
While it might be counter-productive for the opposition to dismiss Fayose’s influence in the politics of the state, the PDP also can only cause an upset by first putting its house in order.
There is no doubting the fact that Fayose is a grassroots politician and mobiliser who despite all odds still kept his political structure. The task ahead, however, is certainly not one for a one-man squad. And except team spirit is embraced and deployed in future electioneering, the push for PDP to recoup its electoral losses might as well remain a mirage in Ekiti State.