By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A former governor of Ekiti State and runner-up in the just concluded All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in the state, Mr. Segun Oni, has threatened that he would leave the party if members of his political family are intimidated by any caucus. Oni expressed regret that he had got reports about how his supporters were being allegedly harassed with threat that they wonâ€™t be accorded any recognition if the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, wins the July 14 poll.
Oni appreciated Fayemiâ€™s gesture and respect by immediately visiting him barely six hours after the election result was declared, saying unity of purpose and friendliness could only be sustained if the minister could rein in his supporters to engender cohesion within APC. The party chieftain stated that he would only return to his former position of APC National Deputy Chairman (South) if leaders of the party ask him to take up the challenge. In the keenly contested primary, Fayemi polled 941 votes to defeat other 32 contestants, with Oni coming second with a total votes of 481. Speaking with journalists in Ifaki Ekiti on Tuesday, Oni said he was ready to change the mindset of Ekiti politicians that defection remains the only option after losing an election as a popular and acceptable politician by staying put in APC. â€œI am still in APC, we are loyal party men.
I decided to contest to give our party the probability to win. The contest was not about me. Our people must learn a new lesson that when you enjoy goodwill and you lose a primary, the next thing is for you to move to another party, with a thinking that you will win. â€œEven if you enjoy goodwill, it is not good to expend it that way. So, we are not leaving APC, but I have a responsibility to protect my supporters. But this habit of winners take all and what we are hearing that Segun Oni boys will be in the cooler for four years if APC wins is what I wonâ€™t tolerate. â€œWe are approaching a windstorm, which is the election and I believe we need to take caution on both sides.
As much as we are ready to work with the winner, they too must be receptive and be trusting. â€œWe are not scavenging, neither are we scavengers. We have been receiving pressures from different parties that we should come for the tickets, but we said no, because we want this to be an example and become a new thinking that when you lose the primary, you must stay in your party even when you are popular. â€œBut if they continue to harass my supporters, I may quit the party, because I have responsibility not only to protect them but ensure that they are not taken for a ride,â€ Oni stated. On the level of money that was involved in prosecuting the primary election, Oni revealed that money played prominent role in mobilising the delegates for the highly pulsating poll.
The former governor suggested option A4 in electing the partyâ€™s candidate, describing it as being more representative and inclusive than the delegate system. â€œMoney played a prominent role in the election and virtually every aspirant was guilty of it. But let me say, our party wonâ€™t tread this path again, because a situation whereby few people are allowed to elect a candidate and see it as opportunity to maximize their profit is dangerous. â€œAny serious political party must guard against that. So, I believe that every member of a political party must be involved. This will make it more representative and more inclusive than allowing few individuals turned themselves into opportunists and avenue to make money,â€ he said.