The decision of the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose to endorse his deputy, Kolapo Olusola, as his successor caught other aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party napping and is threatening to tear the party apart, writes Victor Ogunje
The intrigue playing out in the Ekiti State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)Â Â over who will succeed Ayodele Fayose as governor ahead ofÂ Â 2018 governorship poll is getting more and more interesting by the day.
Fayoseâ€™s unpredictable natureÂ Â has further worsened the matter and has turned the state into a rumour mill, with all sorts of permutations making the round.
Fayose had always known that he faced a herculean task in determining who would succeed him. With heavy weights like a former Minister of Works, Dayo Adeyeye, the Senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District and Deputy Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi both scheming to take over from him, Fayose knew he had to thread softly in anointing a successor.
While speculation was rife that the governor had preference for his deputy, Prof Dolapo Olusola, some of the governor’s loyalists said this was not so. Others said he preferred Olujimi and at a time, some people speculated that the governorâ€™s body language suggested that he was rooting for his former works commissioner, Mr Kayode Oso. With this state of affairs, the governor succeeded in keeping the public guessing.
ButÂ Â on Wednesday, September 8, 2017,Â Â the governor damned the consequencesÂ Â when he deceitfully arranged critical stakeholdersÂ Â within the PDP to adoptÂ Â Olusola, who is from Ekiti South Senatorial District, as the preferred candidate of the party.
At the endorsement meeting were the state PDP chairman, Gboyega Oguntuase, the Secretary to the State, Government, Dr Modupe Alade, the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Hon Kola Oluwawole, 16 council chairmen, PDP and ward leaders among others.
The strength mustered by these stakeholders conveyed a vivid impression that it was a case of the biblical hands of Esau and the voice of Jacob. The meeting did not leave anyone in doubt as to who was behind it.
With this, It became quite clear to other contenders that Fayose had a hand in the endorsement despite initial claim that he was not aware of the meeting. No one could have put such a gathering iin place without the goveror’s approval.
Olusola, who hails from Ikere Ekiti ,Â Â is a professor of Building Technology from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State.
The communique issued after the meeting reads; â€œAfter due consultation, without prejudice to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), we formally endorse His Excellency, Prof Kolapo Olusola (the current deputy governor), from Ekiti South Senatorial District, as our preferred aspirant/candidateâ€.Â Â It was signed by Hon Anifowose Mustapha, for Councillors, Alhaji Amuda Sunmonu, for ward Chairmen; Hon Femi Bamisile, for local government party chairmen; Hon Dapo Olagunju, for Local Government Chairmen (ALGON); Senator Bode Ola, for Chairmen of Board and Parastatals; Dr Modupe Alade (Secretary to the State Government), for State Executive Council; Rt. Hon. Kolawole Oluwawole, Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the State Chairman of the party, Chief Gboyega Oguntuase.
Some of those who attended the meeting said they were only invited for a training at the newly established Osoko Political Institute situated within the government house only for them to get to the venue and met a different agenda.Â
Fayose’s decision to endorse his deputy was contrary to the promise he made at his maiden press briefingÂ Â on June 22, 2014 after his victory where he stated that he would leave the government house with his deputy upon expiration of his tenure. The game had changed and Olusola may end up spending another four or eight years if he is able to win the governorship election.
Sensing that such action had fore closed their ambitions, the quartet of Adeyeye, Olujimi, Bejide and the immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Owoseeni Ajayi reacted angrily, describing the action as a flagrant violation of section 50 sub sections A and B of the partyâ€™s constitution, which made it a matter of imperative for the conduct of primary when consensus canâ€™t be reached for any elective positions.
To further vent his anger, AdeyeyeÂ on ThursdayÂ resigned as the Chairman and Pro-Chancellor of the Governing Council of the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti. Fayose immediately replaced him withÂ Â a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), Deacon Dele Adesina, Many believe that the battle line has bee drawn between the governor ad other aspirants.
In order to douse tension, the PDP state chairmanÂ Â quickly exonerated the governor from the allegation that heÂ Â arm twistedÂ Â them to take such step. He said thatÂ Â the endorsement still needed Fayoseâ€™sÂ Â blessing, even when it was in the public domain thatÂ Â the governor clandestinelyÂ Â initiated the action. OguntuaseÂ Â saidÂ Â the adoption would not preclude any member of the party that is interested in the governorship ticket from contesting, adding that open and transparent primary election would be held in accordance with the rules of the party.
Beyond this, an insider in the PDP said Fayose, a politically savvy individualÂ Â decided to takeÂ Â a spontaneous action because of information from Abuja that Adeyeye was allegedly using his influence to sway the PDP Caretaker Committee Chairman, Ahmed Makarfi to his side.
A party loyalist closed to the governor told our correspondent that â€œFayose heard that Adeyeye wanted to send Makarfi and other national leaders to Fayose to adopt him . Two, he also heard that the former ministerÂ Â may also use his influence to pad the PDP delegatesâ€™ list forÂ Â the primary. So, he decided to play a fast one.”
There are those who hold the views that the game had not ended with Olusola, because Fayose had at different times said he had many games up his sleeves. These who hold this view opined that the governorÂ Â Â might beÂ Â using Olusola to test the waters because his deputy is not particularly popular in the politics of the state. Those who belonged to this school of thought said the governor might eventually settle for Oso, whose relationship with him predated 2003 when the governor first ruled the state.
But far from this, the governorÂ Â was said to have made it clear that he adopted his deputy because of his loyalty and in compliance with the zoning of the ticket to the south district,Â Â which has not produced a governor for the state since 1999.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved aspirants, led by Adeyeye have been making efforts to rubbish the process leading to Olusolaâ€™s emergence. A statement by Prince Adedayo Adeyeye Movement (PAAM) dismissed the
development as not posing any threat to hisÂ Â ambition to become the party’s flagberarer during its primaries in March 2018.
“Any caucus of the party can adopt any candidate, whether the choice of Olusola by his caucus has Fayose’s backing hold no water as no one can impose a candidate on the party. This would not stop me from emerging the party’s governorship flagbearer .But people are patiently waiting for how far they will go in this reprisal attackâ€, he said.
However, Olusola too is not keeping quiet. At a special prayer organized by the Ikere community to support his ambition, he said his endorsement by the party for the 2018 poll didnâ€™t flout the partyâ€™s constitution. TheÂ Â deputy governor posited that the party would conduct primary for all aspirants and boasted that he would trounce other contenders with the support of Fayose and other critical stakeholders.
He promised to remain loyal to the governor forÂ Â adopting him even as he called on other aspirants to give peace a chance.
He also gave an assurance that the bad blood generated by his endorsement would be resolved.
He said: “it is normal for a candidate to be adopted by a caucus of a party. But mine adoption is far beyond a caucus arrangement.
â€œWhat I mean is that all the state local government party chairmen, all serving state commissioners, councillors and ward chairmen and who is who in the party have come together to adopt me as their preferred candidate, it is a noteworthy development. So, we appreciate our party leaders and everyone for finding me worthy as their candidate.
“My emergence does not fore close other aspirants from contesting. We still have the party primaries ahead. We have a constitution that is to be followed. However, I am very sure of emerging the party’s overall candidate at the primaries because I have the support of all the leaders and members.
“The truth is that when two or three people are contesting for a post, it will definitely get to only one person and others may not be happy initially. But as time goes on, everything will be settled. I want to encourage other aspirants that they have the opportunity to contest and there is no bad blood.
â€œWhat we have done is not unconstitutional because we have not said this is the final candidate, it is just an adoption by a wide range of stakeholders who would actively take part in the primaries. That simply means I have a large base of support.”
The opposition All Progressives Congress is also meddling. A chieftain of the party, Hon Bamidele Faparusi had advised Adeyeye and other aggrievedÂ Â critical stakeholders in the PDP to stopÂ Â Fayose from becoming an emperor in the party. He said for the survival of democracy, those whose rights were allegedly abridgedÂ Â by Fayoseâ€™sÂ Â â€˜despoticâ€™Â Â action must ensure that internal democracy thrives in the PDP.
He saidÂ Â it was so shocking that the sameÂ Â Fayose, whoÂ Â had brandedÂ Â the more cautious President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s government as being â€˜despoticâ€™Â Â for arresting those who allegedly looted the treasury after getting a courtâ€™s order, is now the one flagrantly muzzling his partyâ€™s constitution just for his candidate to emerge.
He said: â€œThe imposition of Olusola as the PDPâ€™s sole candidate is not entirely an internal problem of the opposition party, because it has Started generating ripples and crisis that may threaten the already fragile peace in our dear state. It sounded so unfathomable that the same Fayose who had constantly been posing as a vanguard of the constitution now negated the constitution of his own party, just to Implant his stooge in Ekiti to cover his tracks.
â€œIn the buildÂ Â up to the 2014 election, Dr Goodluck Jonathan preferred consensus candidate in the PDP in a bid to avert internal crisis, the same Fayose, as an interested party foiled the arrangement. He fought for primary and now he is averse to primary election.”Â