Fayemi’s Tortuous Path to Victory

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Victor Ogunje traces former Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi’s bumpy road to clinching the ticket of the All Progressives Congress for the July 14 governorship election
Former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi navigated a winding, bumpy and thorny road to become the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the July 14 poll.

The victory, even within his own party didn’t come easy. It was a war-like political struggle to many of the governorship aspirants. It was a time when old friends became foes and old foes found allies in themselves.

The coalition of forces against Fayemi by some aspirants and brazen display of enmity underscored how ruptured the APC has become in Ekiti. The manner by which the May 5 primary was disrupted by irate party members, had taught Fayemi a lesson on the need to improve on his relationships with party members if his dream to stage a comeback must come to fruition.

Before he joined the fray, there was a rumour about his intention to contest but party members promptly dismissed it as imagination. But it later dawned on them that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development still had his eyes fixed on the governorship seat.

From there, outpouring of invectives began. Some of his protégés, who had earlier sought his blessings before entering the contest became disappointed and felt betrayed.
They were shocked by his refusal to groom one of them to occupy the seat. Though, Fayemi , a dogged and resolute person had his own conviction. He took those open abuses and jibes with equanimity. He quickly rolled out underground campaigns within the party by reaching out to the delegates. The rest is history.

It wasn’t a victory that was got on the platter of gold despite claim that Fayemi was in control of the APC’s structures in the state. Before he declared, some his friends and those who benefited from him in the past had pledged loyalty to other aspirants and they chose decided to stick to their guns.
It took the minister time, resources and legworks to be able to convince his patriots in APC to vote for him.

The botched primary election further strained Fayemi’s relationships with his old friends.
Special Assistant to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu was clear in his allegation that Al-Makura was under strict directive from Chief John Oyegun-led National Working Committee to pervert the will of APC delegates. But Fayemi quickly dismissed this accusation and insisted that his goodwill in the party would do the magic for him and it worked out perfectly.

A Fayemi’s close ally, Mr Samuel Abejide on the day the first primary was disrupted said the minister had been the one oiling the party’s structures since 2014 across the 177 wards in the state with little or occasional contributions from other party members.

He said no matter how unpopular Fayemi might have been in APC, that he still held the ace. And this statement proved right by the outcome of the election as the minister garnered 941 votes to defeat his closest rival and former governor Segun Oni, who polled 481 of the 2, 327 valid votes.

The minister’s victory could be predicated on many factors. Fayemi’s generosity, strong financial war chest, doggedness and the general belief among APC delegates that he remained the only person with the charisma and right connections to face Governor Ayodele Fayose.

Some reasoned that for Fayose to have realised three years ago that his predecessor must be probed, lent credence to the fact that the present PDP Government was afraid of Fayemi.
In the white paper presented by the Justice Silas Oyewole-led judicial commission set up by Fayose to probe Fayemi, it was recommended that the former governor should be barred from holding political office for 10 years. This further reinforced the view that the minister was being persecuted. This won him some sympathy.

Fayemi had been widely taunted for the colossal and historical defeat he suffered in Fayose’s hands in 2014. He was determined to redeem his political image and it could have been disastrous if he had lost the primary. The former governor realised this and that must be the reason why he took the battle as that of life and death.

To show how terrifying the election was, bigwigs in Ekiti politics astonishingly fell on the way side while the seeming neophytes made surprising showings. An engineer and a new comer in Ekiti politics, Mr. Kayode Ojo came third in the poll with 281 votes. Other results declared were: Hon Femi Bamisile 179, Dr Oluwole Oluyede 110, Senator Gbenga Aluko 86, Hon Bimbo Daramola 28, Hon Bamidele Faparusi 23, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who had stepped down got 10 votes, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele 8, Dr. Mojisola
Yaya-Kolade 4, Senator Ayo Arise 2 and Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua polled 2 votes, Oladipo Ogunkoyode 8, Kola Alabi 14, Bisi Aloba 7, Sesan Fatoba 45, and Victor Kolade 16.

With this victory, Fayemi will slug it out with Deputy Governor Kolapo Olusola, who had picked the ticket of the PDP and it is expected to be an exhilarating and issue-based campaigns, because the duo are accomplished scholars.

Fayemi, in his acceptance speech, spoke like a man with genuine penitence. Applying sagacity to diffuse the erroneous notion that he was arrogant, he immediately apologised to Ekiti people for the mistakes of the past. With this statement, many said Fayemi had made the job of campaigning easier, The people of Ekiti believe in the axiom to err is human, to forgive is divine.

Fayemi advised other aspirants to forget whatever division the primary must have caused by focusing attentions on the coming election and how best to make APC relevant in the state, saying “No one including myself is greater than the party”. He appreciated the roles played by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande, Aremo Segun Osoba and Otunba Niyi Adebayo for their contributions to the success of the election.

He said: “Ekiti people should be rest assured that I am not on vengeance mission. In the course of ruling as a governor, I must have committed some errors by omission or commission, I hereby apologise to those who must have been adversely affected by our policies. I thank my co-contestants, we are in this journey together and we must be committed to the struggle to reclaim Ekiti and banish poverty from our land.”

He had already taken some steps to foster unity by visiting key leaders of the party and other aspirants who contested against him. Surprisingly, he visited them with APC Chairman in Ekiti, Chief Jide Awe, who was alleged to have vehemently opposed to his aspiration.

He also cautioned his supporters against attacking other aspirants. The APC candidate noted that the activities of all the aspirants in the past few months had
further strengthened the party, adding that any of the aspirants would have made a better governor than any candidate the PDP could present.

“We are one big family. We cannot all win in an election. But one thing I know is that all the contestants are eminent Ekiti sons and daughters who are qualified to govern the state better than the present occupier of the office.
“Therefore as we go into the election, we must see ourselves as members of the same family who deserve mutual respect. No more socialmedia and verbal attacks henceforth. Our only enemy is the PDP”, he said.

Strong contenders in the primary had also set aside their differences to help the minister succeed in this new task. The duo of Opeyemi Bamidele and Mr. Kayode Ojo, have promised that they would work assiduously to ensure that Ekiti joins the progressives government under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Bamidele said he would work hard with other like-minds across the state to ensure that the minister triumph in the election, which he described as a reclamation battle to ensure the people are freed from the pangs of poverty, deprivation and bad governance.

“The APC is set to give Ekiti people a new lease of life through prioritization of time-tested policies capable of transforming the economy and provision of opportunities for wealth creation, social welfare, healthy living and food security.
“Dr Fayemi in the full glare of everybody had apologized to the teachers, civil servants, artisans and those who might be affected by his policies as a governor, I beg our people to accept his apologies.”

Ojo, who polled 281 votes to come third in the primary , said he had no reason to blame Fayemi for joining the fray to contest for the governorship ticket in APC, saying it was his constitutional right. He added that he had accepted the outcome of the primary and had resolved to work with Fayemi to make the party triumph in the coming election.

“Dr Fayemi had visited me and I have accepted wholeheartedly to work with him in the interest of our party. I believe the APC is supreme to all of us and we must not do those things that will sabotage our efforts in this coming election. Though, I did not win the primary, but I have no regret contesting because members of APC in Ekiti are great people.

“I am seeing a bright future for Ekiti APC going by the spirit of sportsmanship our people have displayed. Other parties have been calling me to come and get the ticket but I resisted them. I will work with APC with my teeming supporters for us to win this election and I charge other aspirants to imbibe the same spirit”, he said.

Even the runner-up in the primary, Oni didn’t hide his feelings that he was ready to work with Fayemi. But he raised serious objection to allege victimization being meted out to his supporters by Fayemi’s loyalists, threatening 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 would not be accorded any recognition if Fayemi won.

Oni appreciated Fayemi’s gesture and respect by immediately visiting him barely six hours 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.

He said: “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 won’t tolerate.
“We 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.

“We 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.

“But 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”.
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Fayemi had already taken some steps to foster unity by visiting key leaders of the party and other aspirants who contested against him