Olakiitan Victor, in Ado Ekiti, writes on the sudden breakdown of the widely publicised reconciliation between the Ekiti State governor and his erstwhile political associate
To the bewilderment of many, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and his estranged political godson, Dr. Tope Aluko, addressed a joint press conference on April 3 to announce the end of their faceoff. The disagreements, many believe, centre on political survival and clash of interests, which has shaken the state to its foundation in recent times.
When the peace treaty was signed between the two parties, it was expected that they will sheathe their swords and reconcile. This did not happen. Rather than abate, the crisis has seemed to escalate on a daily basis.
Aluko, the troubled secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State, was a known political ally of the governor. In fact, he unilaterally punctured the zoning and consensus arrangements mooted by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to select the governorship candidate prior to the June 21, 2014 poll, in defence of Fayose.
But suddenly, Aluko, who risked virtually everything, including his integrity, for Fayose to emerge the candidate of the PDP and win the governorship election, began to sing in a different tone.
The embattled PDP secretary had rattled the then pro-consensus state chairman, Mr Makanjuola Ogundipe, and reduced him to a nominal figure in the running of the party. Aluko, according to insiders, compiled the list of delegates that voted at the primaries that gave Fayose the PDP governorship ticket. He feuded with the then Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (rtd.), Prince Dayo Adeyeye, and 19 other aspirants, who were canvassing for consensus and zoning to the South senatorial district.
Several times, Aluko led a team of party supporters to frustrate attempts to push the consensus proposal before members by the state working committee. Practically speaking, Fayose was not in the picture of this arrangement and Aluko saved him from total embarrassment and paved the way for the governor to reignite his already eclipsed political career.
Spilling the Beans
But as things turned out, Aluko played those roles mainly to ride on the governor’s crest to stardom in the politics of the state. The agreement, according to Aluko, was that at the end of the process, he would be appointed the chief of staff to the governor. Knowing full well that Aluko might be a hard nut to crack, Fayose acted in a Machiavellian way and appointed Dipo Anisulowo instead.
Fayose then dangled another carrot before Aluko, promising to sponsor him to the House of Representatives during the 2015 general elections. But all that were mere political gimmicks to keep Aluko in the cooler.
Realising that his political life was fast waning into oblivion, Aluko became enraged and threatened to sever political ties with Fayose. When Fayose seemed unruffled by his unfriendly disposition, the PDP scribe threatened to spill the beans over some underhand practices that facilitated Fayose’s victory at the 2014 governorship poll. He eventually made good his threat.
Few days later, Aluko told journalists at a press conference in Abuja how they used the military to rig Dr Kayode Fayemi, then incumbent governor and Fayose’s opponent at the poll, out of office. It was a revelation that sent jitters down the spines of Fayose.
Since the revelations by Aluko, his relationship with Fayose has broken down.
Aluko did not stop there. He painted a gory picture of how the electoral chess game was played, thereby corroborating what an earlier whistle blower, Captain Sagir Koli, had alleged about how an electoral heist was planned and executed to get Fayose to power.
From the disclosures, it seemed quite clear that Aluko was an insider within Fayose’s political structure. He knew a lot and his statements on oath before Major General Adeyemi Oyebade’s military panel set up to try some officers over alleged involvement in electoral malfeasance confirmed that.
Aluko’s testimony at the military panel led to abrupt retirement of Major General Aliyu Momoh and some other high ranking officers. This fuelled suspicion in Fayose’s camp that reconciliation with Aluko could be a bait to further entrap the governor.
Both Aluko and Fayose have denied ever initiating any peace deal. While Fayose’s camp believes the deal was proposed by Aluko, the latter has vehemently denied the allegation, saying it is part of a propaganda to destroy him politically.
Aluko said the parley was a script aimed at misinforming Nigerians. The former PDP scribe, who recanted his earlier stance that the storm was over, said, “One fact remains clear, there is nowhere that I, Temitope Aluko, refuted anything I have earlier said before Nigerians and the whole world about the manipulations that characterised the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State.”
Expressing displeasure at the purported reconciliation meeting, he said, “I was shocked to see Governor Fayose walk into the meeting. At this point, I won’t want to bore you with the drama and faceoff that ensued between me and Governor Fayose during the meeting.
“It is, however, worthy of note that it was at this point that my wife barged into the meeting to inform me that she noticed the presence of pressmen downstairs and said ‘there is a problem’ but it was Fayose that interrupted her saying, ‘Madam, there is no problem.’”
Aluko added, “At that point, I became enraged and decided to leave the place but I notice Governor Fayose rushing after me downstairs in a Gestapo manner. My wife was already fidgeting and almost crying and suddenly I could not find her around me. I immediately realised that I needed to oblige to his (Fayose) instruction of facing the press because of the safety of my family.”
Aluko appealed to Nigerians to disregard the peace treaty because it was a tactical error on his part. According to him, “I will like to apologise to all Nigerians that, perhaps, accepting the invitation was a tactical error.
“However, I wouldn’t have accepted to attend the meeting in the first place if I had known that Ayo Fayose will be in attendance. I only chose to attend in order to honour the party leaders’ invitation. I will also like you to know that I am dealing with a master fraudster who is always full of mischief. You will all recollect how he announced the purported death of Hon. Afolabi Akanni; the purported arrest of four m members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly that later resurfaced; the invasion of Ekiti House of Assembly that never took place; the unfounded $1 million bribe offer by DSS and, recently, his announcement that I brought in policemen from Abuja to Ekiti State to unleash mayhem.”
In his reaction to the peace deal, Fayose’s special assistant on public communications, Mr. Lere Olayinka, called Aluko a man of unstable character. Olayinka said the meeting in Lagos between Fayose and Aluko, who had been on each other’s throats over the conduct of the June 2014 governorship polls, had vindicated his position that “Aluko can make a 360 degree turn around and return to the same Fayose he accused of rigging election, because he lacks integrity.”
Olayinka stated further, “Being the person that faced Aluko on television interviews where he told all the lies that he told against Governor Fayose and the people of Ekiti State, I am constrained to make my position known on this new development.
“I did say on Channels Television that given the right situation or after Aluko must have concluded his scamming of the APC and its gullible leaders, he will return to Governor Fayose and recant everything that he had said.
“Today, I have been vindicated because Aluko has done just that and I wonder how he will feel when he comes face to face with the people that he has destroyed. I wonder how he will feel when he comes face to face with those fine military officers that he went to Kaduna to lie against and made them to lose their jobs.
“I wonder how those who funded him will be feeling now, having failed to listen when I was consistently saying that they were being duped. I wonder how the Department of State Services (DSS) men who took Aluko’s lies and acted on them by invading the state House of Assembly will feel now that they have integrity problem because of what he (Aluko) made them to do.”
Professing to be opposed to the alleged reconciliation between Fayose and Aluko, the state government described it as mere personal arrangement between them. The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Owoseeni Ajayi , said the state government would not withdraw the case of perjury it had instituted at an Ado Ekiti High Court against Aluko, in spite of his perceived rapprochement with Fayose.
The state government had instituted a case of perjury against Aluko shortly after his open confession that the election that brought Fayose into government was massively rigged, after serving as the principal witness at the election petition tribunal.
Lambasting the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, for his refusal to carry out the arrest of Aluko, Ajayi said the state would file for an order of mandamus to compel the IGP to carry out the order in due course.
The Attorney General stated, “The apology of Aluko to Governor Fayose was personal. We can’t because of this interventionist apology collapse all our cases, government is not run that way. We can’t abandon our responsibilities as a state just because someone apologised to our governor on a case that was already pending in court. They are not fresh cases and we will pursue it to a logical conclusion.”
But more revelations later emerged regarding the alleged peace deal between Fayose and Aluko. The immediate past speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon. Dele Olugbemi, disclosed that he actually brokered the peace deal.
Olugbemi said Aluko could not deny that he reaffirmed that Fayose remained his mentor, leader and father, and that all his previous actions were the devil’s work, which he carried out under spiritual attack.
Olugbemi said about Aluko, “Even when the governor told him to sit down, he prostrated and I also prostrated along with him to beg the governor for total forgiveness. The governor asked Aluko four questions: whether he knew the implication of his coming to him; why he behaved in that manner; how old he was; and whether he wanted the reconciliation to be total or partial and he (Aluko) replied that he knew the consequence of coming to him and that if he did not want total reconciliation, he would not come to see the governor.
“At this point, Aluko stood up again, saying my mentor, my leader, my egbon, I am your boy, you know, I am your boy. Whatever step I have taken before now, forgive me. Aluko and myself prostrated again.”
Narrating how the meeting was arranged, Olugbemi said, “Before we agreed to meet in Lagos, I first suggested that the meeting should take place in Ekiti State Government House after the wedding of the niece of Governor Fayose, but Aluko said he was not comfortable with the arrangement because of fear that he might be arrested.
“I re-assured him that the intention of the meeting was not to arrest, embarrass or humiliate him, rather to reconcile with Governor Fayose, whom he called his mentor. In the morning, Sunday, April 3, we agreed to meet in Lagos and I left Ekiti for Lagos. I got to Lagos at 12 noon; I lodged in a hotel at Magodo area of Lagos.
“At 1pm, Aluko called me to confirm my hotel room number and I gave it to him. Aluko called me back and promised to be with me within 20 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, he called me again, and I told him that I was barbing my hair at a salon in Magodo. I told Aluko but he was not comfortable with venue of the meeting. He said if the meeting was about reconciliation, it should hold elsewhere and not the governor’s residence. I pleaded with the governor that the meeting should hold elsewhere as demanded by Tope Aluko, which the governor obliged. All these I was doing because I wanted the crisis to be totally resolved.”
The All Progressives Congress said the purported reconciliation between Fayose and Aluko will not alter anything in the revelations on the probe of the June 21, 2014 governorship election fraud. The party’s reaction followed insinuations that the peace meeting between the duo was a blow to the military probe into the election.
APC’s state publicity secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, said, “This is purely an internal matter within PDP and so APC has no hand in it. The reported meeting between Fayose and Aluko brokered by PDP leaders has proven conclusively that the latter is a full member of PDP. It is that recognition by PDP that made its leaders to invite the duo to a peace meeting, and contrary to Olayinka’s insinuation, it is on record that Aluko had always insisted that his revelation at the probe panel was in response to APC’s petition against him on the controversial election in which he had to make restitution through confession to clear his conscience.
“We must note that Aluko swore to an oath before making his testimony at the probe panel, and so his statement remains sacrosanct till the last is heard on the matter to ensure justice in the resolution of Ekitigate.”
When Fayose and Aluko addressed the media, their rapprochement sounded convincing. But right from the second day, it was clear that the backlash would be dire for Aluko, with the barrage of criticisms coming from Fayose’s political allies.
But a source within Aluko’s camp told THISDAY in confidence that he was put under pressure by Fayose to attend the peace parley. The source said what they intended to achieve was to make Aluko recant his earlier position on how the 2014 governorship election was rigged, in return for the withdrawal of the perjury charge against him.
The source said the PDP scribe did not acquiesce to any of the propositions before attending the meeting. He said Aluko’s account did not also confirm the fact that such deal was sealed at the meeting.
According to the source, “Aluko didn’t seal any deal with Fayose before attending the meeting. Even if he had an interest in reconciling with Fayose, the booby trap set for him was enough to dissuade him.
“He was not only tricked to the venue of the meeting, he was forced to jointly address the press with Fayose even when it was meant to be a secret parley. So at that moment, Aluko decided to fight on.
There is a groundswell of suspicion in the public regarding the real motive of the meeting between Fayose and Aluko, particularly, considering the government’s decision to hurl attacks on Aluko shortly after the alleged deal was brokered. A school of thought believes the whole reconciliation deal is predetermined. They compare it to how former Speaker Femi Bamisile, another close ally of Fayose, was invited to a peace meeting that was later aborted. To those who hold this view, Aluko may have been tricked to cause him a credibility crisis.
Whichever way it goes, Aluko may likely be the bigger loser in this battle of wit, as he may be accused of double standards. He would have to work hard to clear himself of this accusation.