Fayemi...still counting on performance
With its eyes locked on the future, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Ekiti State has begun the race for the 2014 governorship election, write Anayo Okolieand Ayodele Opiah
With the Ondo State governorship election set to be decided a few weeks from now, attention may have begun to shift to Ekiti State where the gubernatorial election is billed to hold in 2014. Although, many are of the opinion that it may be too early to start talking about Ekiti 2014, the reality on the ground certainly do not support such an opinion. Besides, pundits are of the view that if on the national stable, the in-thing is 2015, then, it might be politically savvy and smart to begin to look ahead of 2014 in Ekiti State.
Ekiti, like the rest of the nation, enjoyed democratic governance in 1999. From when it was created in 1996 and administered by Col. MohammedInuaBawa (rtd.) who was the first Military Administrator of the state, Ekiti politics had always been interesting. As a matter of fact, the politics of the state had caugtht the attention of the nation a couple of times.
Although, not much of this prevalent interest was there when OtunbaNiyi Adebayo of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) came on board in 1999, the state would later have its share of national and global attention when he lost to Mr. Ayo Fayose in 2003. It was not the loss to Fayose that was the issue; it was the controversies that characterised the Fayose administration. He could not complete his tenure following intrigues and keen inter-play of interests. He was however replaced by Gen. AdetunjiOlurin (rtd) who was in power by reason of state of emergency declared in the state by former President OlusegunObasanjo. The emergency era existed between October 8, 2006 and April 27, 2007.
From April 27, 2007 to May 29, 2007, former speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon. Tope Ademiluyi took over as Acting Governor. His major task was to supervise the election. He did and was succeeded by Mr. Segun Oni, who came in as governor on May 29, 2007. Oni would step aside on Feb 17, 2009 when the Appeal Court removed him. He handed over the baton of leadership to Hon TunjiOdeyemi who succeeded Ademiluyi as Speaker of the Assembly. Odeyemi was in the saddle till May 6, 2009.
His principal task, like Ademiluyi was to hold the fort and supervise a re-run election in a few local government areas. Ironically, his tenure was one that most politicians agreed was not very friendly to the PDP in the state.
Oni was again re-elected and was in charge from May 6, 2009 till October 15, 2010 when he lost out in the legal battle to Dr. KayodeFayemi. Fayemi assumed duties as governor on October 15, 2010.
From the foregoing, it is clear that no other governor apart from Adebayo had spent more than four years in Ekiti Government House. Fayose vacated the government house after three years. Olurin, Ademiluyi and Odeyemi were unexpected necessities. Then came Oni, who was sacked by the Court of Appeal after three years in the saddle. The present incumbent would be two years in office in a couple of months.
If this tradition follows through in the state, some are already of the view that there is the possibility that a new governor would occupy the government house in October 2014. Yet, the Ekiti people love tradition. The fact as it stands now is that there has never been a second term for any governor in Ekiti State. Not yet. But this time, it would have to be premised on the backdrop of non-performance against the incumbent whom many have commended for a good job.
Again, this would also be central to the organizational structure of the opposition parties in the state to produce the next governor. Not only that the incumbent, Fayemi, is keen about a second term, his record has so far given him a significant edge, when placed side-by-side with previous administrations. In addition, the incumbent enjoys the support of the people, his party and even supporters outside of the political enclave of Ekiti.
Yet, they are not enough to stifle other parties. For instance, there are quite a number of active political parties in the state, including, but not limited to PDP, LP, NCP, ANPP, APGA, NTP, AD, UNPP, DPP, and CPC. Amongst these however, the PDP appears to have shown as much interests, not only to engage Fayemi and the ACN in 2014 but also to take over the government house. Analysts hold the view that though Fayemi presently holds the ace in Ekiti, 2014 could be anyone’s game if the opposition buckles up.
To achieve this, the PDP is not oblivious of the need to present a common front as against the polarisation it had witnessed in recent times. This, therefore, explains why party elders are handling the issue of who gets the governorship ticket with utmost caution. They said this should not be something that would further implode the party.
Already, party elders from the Ekiti South Senatorial zone had suggested that the governorship ticket be given to a candidate from the zone. And for this, they are said to have the support of the general membership of Ekiti PDP. If this is pulled through, observers believe the PDP may have just begun to clear the coast ahead of 2014 in the state because so far, it is the only zone that had not produced a governor of its extraction.
But some aspirants from the other zones are kicking against this. Only recently, Senator Ayo Arise, was quoted as saying what the PDP needed to do was to present a formidable candidate acceptable to the three senatorial districts and not any zoning arrangement. He added that proponents of zoning of the governorship position were unknowingly preparing the party for a big loss in the election. Arise is from the Ekiti North Senatorial Zone.
Arise, whose body language seems to suggest he was interested in the race, declared, “In Ekiti, zoning is not a straight forward thing, but if that is the position my party is ready to take to field a candidate for 2014 governorship election, I am going to abide by it.”
But the PDP Publicity Secretary, South-west PDP, Mr. KayodeBabade, thinks differently. He said in a statement, after a meeting of PDP leaders from Ekiti South senatorial zone last week that it is only fair that the South be allowed to produce the PDP candidate.
According to him, the agitation was in conformity with the constitution of the PDP that emphasises zoning and rotation of political power.
So far, the South zone is said not to be lacking in the required material for the office. As at the last count, there were about eight aspirants already warming up for the job. They include Chief AbiodunAluko, (Chief) MrsAbiodunOlujimi, Chief BisiOmoyeni and Prince DayoAdeyeye. There are also Dr. KunleFolayan, Captain Ajayi (rtd), Chief RopoOgunbolude and Mr. Bimbo Owolabi amongst others.
Interestingly, the speculated entry of Senator GbengaAluko was believed to have the tone for what presently obtains. Aluko is one individual believed to possess high and also from the South.
Political analysts are quick to point out that when Aluko contested for the senate in 1999, he was the only PDP senator from Ekiti among other senators and the governor elected on the platform of AD. He is also known as a thorough-bred professional who is not in the mould of bread and butter politicians.
This is the point many believed had kept PDP elders in Ekiti doubting whether or not he would throw his hat in the ring. But they readily point to the fact that his present engagement with Chevron Nigeria Limited as a Director could be too lucrative for him to want to let go. However, a very close associate of the Senator, Prince TunjiOlatunde, said Aluko is passionate about Aluko irrespective of whatever he gets from Chevron and might run.
Olatunde who was commissioner during the Oni administration, added that the Senator might make a public declaration of his intention to run in the coming weeks. “Don’t believe those who were saying that the Senator may not be serious about running for the governor under the PDP. As a matter of fact, he had been consulting with party elders and other important stakeholders on this point. He is a sure bet. I can tell you that,” he added.
Thus, should Aluko declare anytime soon as hinted by Olatunde, the move may as well set the stage for the battle for Ekiti in 2014.