As Ondo Election Fever Catches Ekiti

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Political gladiators in Ekiti State are currently on the edge following the likely implications of the outcome of the recent Ondo State governorship election on the state. Victor Olakiitan Ogunje writes

The Ondo State governorship poll has come and gone, but the outcome has started to have a ripple effect on Ekiti politics. Most rattled by the outcome of the Saturday, November 26 election was Governor Ayodele Fayose’s political family, within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that is now mulling several political options in the bid to prevent being caught in the web of electoral defeat in 2018.

In actual fact, the victory recorded by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Olurotimi Akeredolu has started redefining the politics of Ekiti State in many ways. One, it has changed the political strategy within Fayose’s camp for the 2018 governorship poll. Two, it has emboldened the already disarrayed APC in Ekiti, whose voice was only being heard through occasional statements issued by its Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun to start musing the impression that Fayose’s days are numbered.

Grapevine sources within the PDP confided in THISDAY that what Fayose, the well-acknowledged generalissimo of Ekiti politics wanted to do to outsmart the APC is to get a candidate from Ado Local Government in Ekiti Central Senatorial District.

Thus, the name of a former Commissioner for Works, Mr. Kayode Oso, was being touted as a likely candidate in this regard. But immediately the Ondo issue came up, the governor is said to be having a change of heart and what remains on his card now is his preference for a candidate from Ekiti South senatorial district, which has not produced the governor since 1999. This, according to feelers was a fast game to avoid stepping on the banana peel.

In Ondo State, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who is from Ondo town in Ondo central fielded Eyitayo Jegede from Akure, situated in Ondo Central. This among other issues was considered as the greatest undoing of the party. This tendency considered to be a technically wrong political strategy was said to have fueled the electoral revolts in Ondo South and North respectively.
The results of the Ondo election gave a bizarre lesson that picking somebody from the state capital may not actually sway votes in a party’s favour. Akeredolu polled 25,797 to trounce Jegede, who got 25,005 in Akure Municipal Council.

Fayose, an ebullient and deeply rooted politician understands the dynamism of politics, particularly the one that has to do with Ekiti. His winning two incumbents at different elections in the state confirmed his political wizardry and ingenuity. Fayose trounced Otunba Niyi Adebayo in 2003 as an underdog and repeated same feat in 2014 against Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Having contested various elections and well groomed in the art, Fayose must have swiftly grasped the import of the Ondo election. He must have understood that having cut down the big Iroko tree (Mimiko) in Ondo, the APC will surely push to get the PDP out of Ekiti. Besides, the involvement of Fayemi, the Minister of Solid Minerals, in the Ondo project had sent a vivid signal about the former governor’s interest to take a pound of flesh against Fayose.

Feelers from the ex-governor painted a picture of something similar to reprisal in 2018. Fayemi, according to many of his confidants, has not forgotten how Fayose derisively ousted him from office and his becoming a minister in Buhari’s cabinet has conferred on him the privileges to pay Fayose back, even above his own coin.

Learning from this, Fayose, according to many of his handlers may not favour Ado Ekiti for the poll and he was said to have started reaching out to those that matter within and outside the PDP to be able to wriggle out of the impending doom staring him in the face.
As a crafty politician, Fayose has Plan B and the option is to pick the candidate from the South and deputy, probably a Muslim from Ado Ekiti. The second option is quickly gathering momentum going by information from the PDP and taking cognizance of the Ondo debacle. Like a prophet, Fayose had the premonition that the PDP would crash out of the race in Ondo.

Before the election, Fayose had accused the APC of conniving with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the election in advance. The harsh statement the governor issued to condemn the outcome of the poll confirmed that he realized his position was gradually becoming more vulnerable.

The governor didn’t spare Justice Okon Abang, who gave the verdict that led to the replacement of Jegede with that of Jimoh Ibrahim.
Fayose branded the judge as notoriously noted for doing hatchet job for the ruling party, describing him (Abang) as dangerous to the integrity of the country’s democracy.
“As just as I would have loved to congratulate the winner, Mr Akeredolu (SAN), because in every contest, there must be a winner and a loser, the role of INEC in awarding victory to him in the election left much to be desired.

“To sustain the ‘see and buy’ strategy and legalise money politics, the APC-led federal government deliberately created poverty in the country so as to continue to enslave the minds of Nigerians with peanuts to get their votes on election day,” saying, “Dibo ko s’ebe (vote and collect money to cook soup) was the slang used by the APC in the Ondo State election and that only worked because the APC federal government had put Nigerians in abject poverty.
“Even though INEC allowed what appeared like a free and fair atmosphere on the Election Day, the election had been won and lost before it was held. For instance, INEC that witnessed the PDP primary election that produced Mr. Eyitayo Jegede succumbed to pressure from the APC cabal to replace him with Jimoh Ibrahim, who did not take part in any primary election known to the Electoral Act.

“What could anyone have done under 72 hours in an election that was
heavily monetised by the APC? The whole process was a deliberate
sabotage by INEC, which has totally bastardised the electoral process.
Obviously, all these shenanigans are geared towards turning Nigeria to
a one part state by weakening all opposition parties ahead of the 2019
general election but I can assure Nigerians that this will not last
because the people’s will, will always defeat tyranny.”

As frightening and asphyxiating as the political climate has been for the PDP since Ondo election was conducted, politicians have a way of down-playing situations, even the most terrible of them. The PDP Publicity Secretary in Ekiti, Mr. Jackson Adebayo, said the party was never disturbed by the tide being made by the rampaging President Buhari’s boys in the South-west.

Adebayo said though Ekiti and Ondo have similar political culture, he however restated that losing Ondo State to APC may not translate to automatic loss in Ekiti. He said many indices must be factored in into what will shape Ekiti politics in 2018. One, according to him is the robustness of each party.

“As we speak now, the PDP is very solid in Ekiti while the APC is in shambles. We have one solid family in the PDP under the leadership of Mr. Ayodele Fayose. We are solidly behind him and the nucleus of the party is intact. Even those who formed a faction under Senator Buruji Kashamu have started retracing their steps and considering all indications. The PDP will approach the election as a united party,” he said.

Adebayo pointed out that Ekiti APC has over four factions with each
paying allegiance to different godfathers.
“The APC is torn between the Buhari and Tinubu’s boys in Ekiti. Even those who are sitting on the fence are more than four groups. So, APC will never settle in Ekiti to gather enough strength to wrest power from Fayose”.
He added that the judgment of Appeal Court, which nullified the Ali Modu Sheriff-led National Working Committee (NWC) has already bridged any crack the APC can use to burrow into the party, exuding confidence Fayose won’t go down the way of the PDP in Ondo.
But a member of the seventh House of Representatives and Chieftain of the APC, Hon Bamidele Faparusi, said the defeat suffered by the PDP in Ondo would be a child’s-play to the fate that would befall it in Ekiti.

Congratulating Akeredolu , Faparusi described the landslide winning as a an indication of the popularity of the policies and programmes of President Buhari’s government among Nigerians. He said nothing is playing out to suggest that Ekiti APC is polarised into factions. He said the theory of Buhari and Tinubu’s boys, which he said was contrived by the PDP has no place in Ekiti APC.
Faparusi said the APC won because of its doggedness and the
popularity of Buhari’s policies and programmes among Nigerians. He
added that Ondo joining the ranks of progressive party was a signal
of good things to come for the entire people of the South-west region
and that Ekiti can’t be an exception.

He thanked President Buhari and other members of the team that
worked for the success recorded in Ondo for their unflagging loyalty
to the party in spite of the bedlam created by the primary election,
saying this had attested to the fact that APC has become a household
party in Nigeria.

“The fact that Governor Fayose has refused to pay over six months salaries of workers gave a pointer to the fact that impending doom awaits him. Ekiti is a civil service state and this is the main reason the economy has been stagnated under him. Nothing is happening. Ekiti is retrogressing rather than progressing, so Ekiti has nothing to vote for in Fayose and the PDP.
“All the moribund investments like Ikogosi Warm Spring, Ire Burnt Brick Industry, Ikun Dairy Farm and Orin farm settlement which the administration of Governors Fayemi and Segun Oni had revamped had died again. What else can Ekiti vote for in Fayose and the PDP? They have ruined our fortunes and there is nothing they can do to prevent this coming defeat,” he said.
Now, both the APC and PDP are flexing muscles on what will be the outcome of Ekiti election in 2018. But the people are patiently waiting on whether Fayose will go the way of Governor Mimiko or survive the onslaught and become a lone voice in the wilderness in a manner reminiscent of how former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu survived the 2003 tsunami that swept the AD away in the Southwest.

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The results of the Ondo election gave a bizarre lesson that picking somebody from the state capital may not actually sway votes in a party’s favour…As frightening and asphyxiating as the political climate has been for the PDP since Ondo election was conducted, politicians have a way of down-playing situations, even the most terrible of them