Victor Ogunje writes former Ekiti State Governor, Chief Segun Oni has made clear his intention to switch political party loyalty from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party to register displeasure about how his supporters and himself were ostracised from all engagements in APC
Though, the rumour has been rife since his suspension last year from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State that former Governor Segun Oni will be returning to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), what many thought was a dream has started to manifest after a few months of conjecture. The covert political games have been finally been unmasked with the imminent political events of the present times .
Several reasons were adduced for this political move. Some close associates said Oni mooted the idea following his suspension from the APC at his ward in Ifaki Ekiti for alleged anti-party activities. Rumour also had it that pursuit of his future ambition among other issues prompted the defection that has been brought to the fore as this issue gains traction and forms the kernel of discourse among interested parties.
Oni, after his defection to APC in 2014, had held the coveted position of Deputy National Chairman of APC and still remains Chairman of a federal board being an appointment offered him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Apart from the issue of suspension, Oni was said to have been rattled and felt betrayed by the way Governor Kayode Fayemi came like a Tsunami in the March 26 , 2018 governorship primary of APC and trounced all the 33 aspirants in the keen and pulsating contest. Oni came second in the election.
What fuelled such feeling of betrayal was that, Oni was said to have got assurances from Fayemi, who was then a Minister that he won’t be contesting the governorship. That made his dream look good, but he eventually got a forlorn and botched hope with Fayemi’s last minute interest in the race.
Most worrisome to Oni was the fact that he was well positioned among the aspirants to clinch the ticket before Fayemi suddenly plunged into the race and altered the political equation in a manner that was deleterious to his political future. The forner governor is still licking the wound of that epochal defeat.
Putting it in the right perspective, this must have propelled Oni to go to court to challenge Fayemi’s eligibility for the primary. Oni claimed in his originating summon that Fayemi ought to have resigned 30 days to the primary as a Minister to be eligible to participate. But he got unfavourable verdicts from the High court up to the Supreme court.
In actual fact, Oni’s proposed defection has automatically altered the political permutations for the 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State. Aside from that, the decamping has also elicited surprises that have made some pundits to be gaping about the development and confirmed the agelong axiom that politics is about interest with no permanent friend or foe.
The present reorganisation and realignment has brought foes to be friends and friends and known political allies are gradually turning into enemies, thereby making the scenario look more convoluted and exhilarating.
From 2003 when Governor Ayodele Fayose suddenly forayed into Ekiti political hemisphere and captured everywhere like a whirldwind, he and Oni have never hidden their hatred for each other. Throughout the three and half years Fayose superintended over Ekiti before his illegal impeachment, Oni , though a member of the PDP was the leader of opposition against Fayose . He also contributed financially, physically and mentally to Fayose’s abrupt ouster on October 16, 2006.
The acrimony was taken to the highest pedestal in 2014, when Oni had to defect to APC to help Governor Kayode Fayemi secure a second term , after Fayose controversially clinched the PDP ticket to seek reelection.
Today, the same Fayose that was perceived as an arch rival is preparing a solid ground for Oni to return to his party. This is a replica of the event of 2009 rerun election, when Fayose, a PDP person had to work with Fayemi, the then candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria against Segun Oni of the PDP.
Like a repeat of history, in the 2022 election, Oni will be forming alliance with Fayose to wrest power from Fayemi like the saying goes “what goes round comes round.”
The permutation among political gladiators in the PDP is that, Oni will be offered the governorship ticket on account of his popularity among the rural dwellers and civil servants. Fayose’s former Deputy, Prof Kolapo Olusola, who narrowly lost to Fayemi in 2018 governorship contest will be prevailed upon to take the deputy governorship slot.
The feelings among those arranging the chess game is that, Oni will be 68 years in 2022 and the likelihood of recontesting will be low,having spent three and half years as a governor before being hammered by the Judiciary on October 15, 2010.
As of now, agitation for the governorship slot is becoming deafening among the politicians of the Ekiti south extraction. The Senatorial district has not produced the governor since 1999. Since Oni is from the North, some PDP influential members opined that it would be easy for Olusola, who is from Ikere Local Government to take up the baton of leadership in 2026.
The altering of the political calculus is not limited to PDP with this defection, APC too might be affected. An insider in APC told THISDAY that it would be suicidal for Fayemi and his party to underrate Oni , if given the ticket.
One can’t contest the fact that he has enormous ties with the grassroots and well loved by civil servants. Putting it succintly, Oni enjoys the support of those that can produce the swing votes and even the sympathy of some APC members, who can decide to stay inside and rock the boat.
The source said the best way to launch a counter move by APC , is to pick an established politician from either Ekiti Central or South as governorship candidate , rather than narrowing the choice down to the south alone, since Fayemi is from the North.
The realignment has thrown confusion in the ranks of APC and triggered suspicion about the loyalty of some Fayemi’s appointees. As of now, Oni’s strong allies are still holding positions in government . Though, some might decide to shift allegiance , but their loyalty will be doubtful because of Nigeria’s variant of politics that perceives every politician as chameleonic.
Because of the high moral standing accorded the former Governor in the scheme of things, he has been trying hard to justify his action and rationalise the reason why he decided to dump APC.
In conduct and deeds, people respect Oni for being above board. He doesn’t act like a typical Nigerian politician and for this reason, he would have to try hard to convince the populace that he has not joined the bandwagon of politicians who scout for greener pastures desperately.
Oni said he had commenced the process of rapprochement with critical stakeholders in the Ekiti PDP, like ex-governor Ayodele Fayose and Senator Biodun Olujimi about his resolve to return to his former party.
Rationalising his position, Oni said he took the decision to return to the PDP as a way of acceding to the request of his people, who were desirous of taking the political step.In a brazen manner, he expressed displeasure about how himself and his supporters were being ostracised from all engagements in APC, including appointments and privilege to contest elections.
“You all knew the kind of treatment I have been getting. As we speak, none of my supporters was allowed to get appointment or contest elections in APC. If the APC gives me the whole world, I won’t be happy seeing integral part of my political life, I mean my supporters being treated badly.
“At a particular time, I was suspended in my ward at Ifaki Ekiti and nothing was said about it. I am the Asiwaju of this town , if someone could have the effrontery to do that to me here, you could see it had sent a signal that there was a problem.
“It is not about Segun Oni, my people and supporters are the main issue. We have taken a decision and we are at the process of joining the PDP. We are going to set up implementation committee to work on our programme of actions. Our joining PDP is not something that won’t take three months.
” I am not that kind of a politician that will rush at things, we can’t just go back that way. There must be proper planning. We are carrying out local government by local government counting of those that will follow us.
“Those who took the action were my supporters across all the local governments and 177 wards, who felt bad about the whole scenario in APC. But the major thing is that, we are moving, we have taken a decision to go back and on that we are working on”, he said.
Despite the danger poses by Oni’s departure, APC seems unruffled by this political development. The party said it was neither troubled nor surprised at the imminent defection of the former governor to PDP.
The party’s State Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ade Ajayi who responded to the issue, said the former governor refused to attend his ward meeting when he was suspended to explain himself this he said was affront to the party and its leader.
The party spokesman added that the party never gave him any unfair treatment, rather he was accorded the necessary respect and recognition when he joined the party from the PDP in 2014.
“We are not surprised that he is going back to PDP where he came from, but I don’t know the shabby treatment that made him to defect to PDP.
“He was suspended from his political ward because he offended them and instead of him to attend the ward meeting to explain himself, he refused. Don’t forget the constitution of the party stipulated that anybody, no matter how highly placed can be disciplined by the party.
“If he is now accusing the state executives or leaders , I will rather say he is an ungrateful soul because the party gave him the patronage he does not deserve. I want to say goodluck to him,” he said..
It is no gainsaying the fact that Oni has enormous political electoral asset, but his sudden removal from office through judicial means had eroded his fortunes and made him vulnerable. He also has a lean purse which cannot do maximum damage to Fayemi’s political machinery.
However, the 2022 gubernatorial election will be a clear testimony to whether he will rise to stardom or sink deeper into the abyss of obscurity in the politics of Ekiti state.
After his defection to APC in 2014, One had held the coveted position of Deputy National Chairman of APC and still remains Chairman of a federal board being an appointment offered him by President Muhammadu Buhari. Apart from the issue of suspension, Oni was said to have been rattled and felt betrayed by the way Governor Kayode Fayemi came like a Tsunami in the March 26 , 2018 governorship primary of APC and trounced all the 33 aspirants in the keen and pulsating contest. Oni came second in the election