Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s, recent declaration of interest for governorship of Ekiti State, writes Victor Ogunje, has changed the political equation in the state
After several months of guessing and political permutations, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, recently hinted at a governorship run in Ekiti State. His interest will undoubtedly alter the existing political equation, particularly in the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of its May 5 primary and the July 14 governorship bout.
Fayemi’s declaration didn’t come as a surprise to many who have been following trends in the state as rumour had been rife that the former governor desired to come back to the Government House in 2018.
Before Fayemi took the plunge, the APC had about 35 aspirants who had declared intentions for the plum seat. The former governor, who was in the saddle between 2010 and 2014, was defeated by incumbent Governor Ayodele Fayose, in a manner that took the people by surprise and made political analysts still ruminating over how an incumbent, believed to have redefined governance in the best way possible, could be roundly defeated in all the 16 local governments by an opposition figure.
Several postulations were adduced for Fayemi’s loss. Some said it was due to alleged rigging through the instrumentality of military and paramilitary organisations deployed by the then federal government. Some said it was due to the inability of the Minister to connect with the grassroots, meaning that he was elitist. Some said it was rigged through electronic means called ‘Photo chromic.’ Whatever reasons the APC brought to the fore to rationalise its position, the fact remained that Fayemi lost the election.
Since last year, party members have been speculating about Fayemi’s interest, which had attracted condemnations among some of the APC aspirants. The scurrilous comments against Fayemi’s personality made the State Chairman, Chief Jide Awe, to openly express worries on the matter and warned that any aspirant hiding under social media or other platforms to perpetrate such would be dealt with.
Fayemi has remained a factor in Ekiti politics. Virtually all the people that have federal appointments in Buhari’s government were through his connections. And many of the APC aspirants eyeing the coveted seat have benefitted from his political structure and were actually hoping to use it for the May 5 primaries until the speculation about his intention grew.
With his declaration of interest, the equation has now changed. Before now, aspirants from the south believed that they could successfully engage those in the contest in a political battle and bring the ticket to the south. But with Fayemi’s entry, the zoning now seems endangered and the songs have changed. The affected aspirants are now intensifying their campaigns to ensure that the ticket doesn’t slip off their fingers, because they were not oblivious of the fact that defeating a former governor like Fayemi in the primary would be an uphill task.
“Let me say this, Fayemi’s interest may make this zoning of a thing to be unrealisable. He has solid structures in APC and being a serving minister, he has enormous connections and strong financial war chest to outsmart us,” one of the aspirants told THISDAY last week.
The aspirant, who is from the south, said though Fayemi’s popularity had plummeted even within the party, this he said had not degenerated to the level that he would not be able to muster at least five delegates in each of the 177 wards to defeat others. With this, he said, it was obvious that the party’s ticket was a done deal for Fayemi.
Fayemi’s interest has been received with mixed feelings. While some people he was too elitist to be elected again, others said the large number of aspirants that had declared their intentions in the party had eroded his support base.
But the declaration held in Isan Ekiti on March 31, 2018 dispelled this erroneous thought. The gathering confirmed how strong and potent Fayemi’s political strength was in Ekiti. Many of the party big wigs were present at the occasion. Even the state Chairman, Chief Jide Awe, who had been out of circulation for some time over an alleged murder case suddenly surfaced.
There is widespread belief, however, that Fayemi is banking on his closeness with President Muhammadu Buhari to outwit other contenders. Even Governor Ayo Fayose had at various fora accused him of plotting with some external forces in APC to rig the election and destabilise the state.
Again, Fayose’s sudden thinking that his predecessor should be probed three years after he assumed office vividly attested to the threat posed by Fayemi to the continuity agenda of the present government.
Virtually all the aspirants from the south and northern extractions, like Dr. Wole Oluyede, Hon. Bamidele Faparusi, Muyiwa Olumilua, Chief Sesan Fatoba and even the Director General of Kayode Fayemi campaign organisation in 2014, Hon. Bimbo Daramola, had advised Fayemi against running. It was a general consensus among them that it would be better for him to remain a leader than to be flexing muscles with his political protégés.
But last week, Fayemi openly shunned this advice and threw his hat in the ring. To the consternation of all party members, He spoke for the first time like a typical politician. He regaled members with slangs and his oratory power shook the land. He gave his people a sign of hope, as he assured that the APC at the national and state levels were resolute to deploy all logistics that would make the party win the poll.
Speaking with journalists in Isan Ekiti, his country home, Fayemi said he had learned a great lesson from his disastrous defeat of June 21, 2014 while seeking re-election, saying this experience and what he did in Ondo would be of great benefit to him in the election.
He said he decided to tarry a while so that he would not breach the Electoral Act and Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) laid down rules, saying he would formally notify his party at the state secretariat of the party anytime from April 14.
He said he was never a coward and not afraid to declare openly for his intention to re-contest despite opposition by some people, saying he is running based on his track records and not out of power seeking venture.
He said: “Yes, I will run for the governorship of our state. As a leader of the party, I am going to follow the due process as laid down by our party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This includes formal notification of the leadership of the party, presentation of letter of intent at the state secretariat and a public declaration.
“I am running based on track records, which you can’t controvert. We will lay it bare for people to see. My government did social security for the elderly, renovated all schools, we established Peace Corps, Youth in Commercial Agriculture, youth volunteer scheme, paid bursary and scholarship, established Traffic management Agency, constructed roads, among others.”