How Ekiti PDP Primary Was Won and Lost

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In this report, Victor Ogunje provides an insight into some of the intrigues and horse-trading that typified the outcome of the Peoples Democratic Party primary election in Ekiti State

In a highly pulsating and keenly contested primary, the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Prof Kolapo Olusola, on Tuesday, May 9 emerged the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the July 14 governorship election in the state. In the election conducted under heavy security, he garnered a total of 1,119 votes to defeat the Ex-Minister of Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, who polled 771 out of 1,961 accredited delegates.

The Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, displayed openness and maturity in the handling of the poll that was beamed live by major electronic media in the country. The security arrangements were tight and people were frisked to the pants before gaining entry into the venue. This added credibility to the poll and differentiated it from the chaotic primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The security around the venue was tight as combined forces of the Police, men of the Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) cordoned off all roads leading to the Uncle Eagle Hall in Ado Ekiti.

At the counting of the vote, Fayose, who always boasted to be generalissimo of Ekiti politics, became rattled. He stood up at a time to ward off tension that had suppressed him. His countenance depicted that of a troubled person and he never expected that the victory won’t come easy.
In spite of the transparency of the primary, Adeyeye, who initially lauded the process had resigned from the PDP and promised to announce his next political journey later. However, his dissension seems to be like a lonely voice in the wilderness and his disagreement is gaining little or no traction, because many believed that the conduct of the election was praiseworthy and substantially credible.

Before the commencement of voting, Olujimi had stepped for Adeyeye to make the victory hard for the governor’s candidate, but this could not salvage the situation. The former deputy governor said she decided to collapse her structure for the former minister for the progress of the party.

“For the benefits of our party, I offer myself as a sacrificial lamb to make our party great. I am collapsing my structure for Prince Dayo Adeyeye,” she said.

While announcing the results, Okowa hailed the contestants and delegates for displaying maturity, pointing out that this had again confirmed that PDP was truly a democratic party.
He said: “By the power vested in me as the Returning Officer, I hereby return Prof Kolapo Olusola as the duly nominated gubernatorial candidate of the PDP for Ekiti State governorship election, having scored the highest number of votes cast in this election. I want to congratulate Prof Olusola for his victory. I wish him well,” Okowa said.

Tactically taunting Ekiti APC over the violence that marred its primary and rendered it nugatory, Okowa added: “If you think this exercise was not peaceful, just look back and examine what happened in the past.”

He thanked Fayose for his support, particularly for the security men and members of the panel, saying this accounted for the success of the poll. He also commended him for playing a fatherly role, urging party members to immediately bury the hatchets occasioned by the scramble for the governorship ticket and rally support for Olusola so PDP can retain Ekiti.

With this, it is expected that the outcome will be acceptable to the loser, but this seems not to happen. The outcome immediately elicited dust with Adeyeye firing from all cylinders, threatening to bring the roof down. With the way the former Minister spoke, he had ruled out the possibility of reconciliation or be receptive to rapprochement even from National Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus.

Initially, four PDP bigwigs indicated interest in the primary. They included Prof Olusola, Adeyeye, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi and the immediate past Commissioner for Justice, Owoseeni Ajayi Ajayi.

While Ajayi had quit the race long ago on the premise that he was being cautious not to ruffle feathers with his godfather, Fayose, even though the relationship between the duo, dating back to 2000, when Fayose came to Ekiti as an underdog, seems to have broken down irretrievably.

Ardent followers of Ekiti politics expected that the PDP would be more crisis-ridden than the APC in the primary, taking cognizance of the brash approach Fayose adopted in the choice of his deputy.

Before he took the decision, rumour had it that his former Commissioner for Works, Kayode Oso, who hailed from Ado Ekiti would be adopted by his political group under the acronym ‘Osoko Mass Movement (OMM.). The governor later changed the gear and picked his deputy instead.

The action didn’t go down well with the Trio of Adeyeye, Olujimi and Ajayi and they resolved to fight on, which they did. Though their fight could not avail them victory, they were able to prove a point that an individual could not dictate the choice of governor for the state.

The kind of aura around Fayose and his enigmatic posturing about the politics of the state made the results of the PDP primary looked so surprising to many people. Some thought Fayose had a very firm grip on the party and expected Adeyeye to be caged to the extent that he would be unable to garner 100 votes.

However, many factors accounted for why the primary was tension-soaked. One, Adeyeye was resolute to prove a point that he was a factor in Ekiti politics. Again, Fayose being a-no-nonsense politician wanted to prove that he had the dexterity and mass appeal among the grassroots. These divergent views created bad blood between the two camps and made the game more intriguing.

Again, a few minutes before voting commenced, Senator Olujimi stepped down for Adeyeye and commandeered his delegates to vote for him. This, of course, helped in stemming the number of contestants and narrowed down the margin between the two contenders.

Added to these was the fact that zoning being agitated by those from the Ekiti South senatorial district. This also complicated the issue. Coincidentally, the duo of Olusola and Adeyeye are from the region. But one thing worked in Olusola’s favour, he hailed from Ikere, the second most populous town in Ekiti State. The number of delegates from the local government was overwhelming and this helped in the actualisation of the hard-earned victory.

Fayose was also smart to the extent that he gave those who were in his camp in all the 16 local governments branded dress called Aso Ebi. This, by those who were opposed to the idea, was meant to isolate those that were not in the camp and the strategy worked out.

The PDP constitution also helped Olusola in no small measure. Fayose is governor twice. And since serving and former elected officials of the party would vote, large percentage of them voted massively for the deputy governor and this paid off.

The visibly elated Olusola could not hide his joy as this was clear in his response after his victory.

“I humbly thank all our party stalwarts who made this victory possible, particularly, Governor Ayodele Fayose. I want to thank the doggedness of my co-contestant, Prince Adeyeye. History will have it that he put in his best for a better Ekiti.

“I am determined to move Ekiti forward by sustaining those legacies that were started by our amiable governor. We are aware of the plans of the interlopers, who wanted to grab power through the backdoor. Whether they like it or not, we shall give them another 16-0 again with the support of Ekiti people,” he said.

Reacting to the victory, which he believed had again confirmed his dominance of Ekiti politics, Fayose jokingly recommended Okowa to APC for the conduct of the rescheduled primary in Ekiti, saying “APC is worse than the PDP in every aspect”. He said he would reach out to Adeyeye and Olujimi to assure them of relevance in the party. The credibility of the poll notwithstanding, the dust generated by the primary is yet to subside. For instance, Adeyeye had descended on the governor, threatening to ensure that his anointed candidate fails in the July 14 election.

To show that he meant business, he immediately resigned his membership of the PDP. He also warned Fayose and other emissary he had been sending to him to desist, saying he was determined to bring down the governor for allegedly skewing the primary in favour of his preferred candidate, using all forms of subterfuges. Adeyeye said he was moving to another party to seek the votes of Ekiti people to develop the state.

The former PDP national spokesman promised to reveal the platform he would use to contest for the governorship. He said he would consult widely with his supporters before taking any step. He alleged Fayose’s agenda was to do a third term in office by installing Olusola in a bid to perpetually corner Ekiti’s commonwealth.

According to him, he would have won the PDP governorship primary “if not for the way Fayose intimidated delegates by forcing them to wear aso ebi to the venue.”

He revealed that Fayose allegedly coerced the delegates to same on local government basis to monitor how they voted which intimidated many of them. Adeyeye said many of the delegates voted against Olusola despite being put on surveillance, which he said attested to the level.
He claimed that the governor who had boasted that he would not get up to 50 votes was shocked that he got 771 votes, which allegedly made him to embark on an investigation of those who voted against his candidate, Olusola.

He accused the governor of stealing Ekiti funds and using same to acquire property while a majority of the people wallows in poverty. The former minister claimed that Fayose has wasted N8 billion Ekiti funds on chartered flights in the last three and a half years while the flyover project was jerked up from N5 billion to N17 billion.

Now that Adeyeye has declared a no retreat, no surrender war on the governor, threatening to bring Fayose to ridicule on July 14, Fayose on his part has described the threat as mere empty boast. But as it is, only the election can confirm who has the upper hand between the two political juggernauts.