Fayemi: Of a Rising Profile and Disturbed Rivals

Kayode Fayemi

There’s a deliberate movement, although still building up, to challenge the soaring profile of the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, writes Victor Ogunje

This is not the best of time for the Ekiti State chapter of the All Progressives Congress and its face of development, Governor Kayode Fayemi. A curious political follower would ask why? The hitherto peaceful and closely-knit broom party is fast disintegrating and becoming greatly unsettled to clean the political and economic space for a better Ekiti State.

It is no gainsaying the fact that the progressive party and family in Ekiti had been widely respected for its unity since the advent of democracy in 1999. This, they demonstrated under Otunba Niyi Adebayo between 1999 and 2003. It was replicated under Governor Kayode Fayemi in 2010, which makes the current scenarios very astounding to those who were familiar with the party’s history.

To underscore how United the party was, after Adebayo lost to Governor Ayodele Fayose in 2003, none of the party members defected to the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), even up to the time Segun Oni was in the saddle between 2007 and 2010.

The most wondrous of how committed the party members were came to the fore in 2007 after Governor Kayode Fayemi lost the governorship election through a widely condemned electoral heist. The members, including those that are presently virulent in opposition to Fayemi demonstrated unwavering commitment and unity of purpose leading to the reclamation of the stolen mandate through judicial pronouncement on October 15, 2010.

Even despite the cacophony of anger and confusion that trailed Fayemi’s emergence in the March 26, 2018 governorship primary, the APC members did not defect. They stood by the party’s candidate and won the July 14, 2018 governorship poll in defiance to negative predictions and against all odds and landmines in their way.

Looking at all these trajectories and antecedents, the people, particularly, the ardent followers of the progressive politics in Ekiti are becoming bewildered and confounded about the recent happenings in the Ekiti APC. Old friends and allies are fast becoming archenemies with no hope in sight about when the bedlam would be resolved.

The gathering coalition of individuals like Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Senator Adedayo Adedayo, Dr. Wole Oluyede, Senator Tony Adeniyi, Hon Adewale Omirin and other known friends and pillars behind Governor Fayemi in the past, is fast eroding the values of unity and visionary tendency in Ekiti APC. The exchange of verbal tirades by the two feuding groups is quaking the party’s foundation like a tremor and efforts must be intensified to halt the ugly trend if they planned to remain the same.

One would wonder what had actually brought about this bizzare and awkward situation. Perhaps, it was a clear case of the clash of interests ahead of the 2022 governorship election and the 2023 Presidential race.

The news out there is that governor Fayemi might be interested in the 2023 presidential race, because he would have served out his second term as a governor in 2022. Though no official statement has been made regarding this veiled presidential ambition, there wasn’t any official denial coming from Fayemi or any of his allies either. With this, it could be taken that as a politician and Nigerian citizen with requisite qualification, Fayemi reserves the inalienable right to aspire to any position in the land.

But one may ask: are those opposed to him also interested in the position? No! But one thing is sure: Senator Ojudu and Senator Adeyeye are old political allies of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has consistently been rumoured to be interested in the coveted presidential seat.

Presently, Ojudu, who was a member of the Committee of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation in Lagos in 1999 and 2003, is working in the office of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, another Tinubu’s political scion, which further reinforces the bond with the Lagos State political leader. Some reasoned that this clash of interests must have stemmed from this end and could have been one of the undercurrents eliciting dangerous ripples within the Ekiti APC.

One factor must also be considered here, though and it is the fact that the 2022 governorship poll is in the offing and those opposed to Fayemi were determined to wrest power from him. It is a widespread opinion within the party that Fayemi has been elected twice as a governor and also appointed a minister, which some believed only benefited his political cronies and that other power blocks in the party must be allowed to take their turns in 2022.

What the foregoing lucidly indicated was that, Fayemi might not be allowed to present a freewill successor in 2022. Those behind this invidious plot are determined and they had secured the backings of some heavyweights within the southwest geopolitical zone and to an extent, at the national level to prosecute the political war.

Fayemi’s opponents, according to findings, have endorsed one of them as an aspirant that would confront whoever that will be presented by the governor as a successor and fmobilisation fund is being raised to be able to muster financial muscles to win the impending battle.

One of them said: “This is a battle of our lives. How could someone, who never knew how we formed progressive party in Ekiti came and started behaving as a tyrant? We must rise up against dictatorship. We must end this slavery being inflicted on us by those, who have no values to add before APC goes into political oblivion the way they did in 2014”.

But what Ojudu and his backers were requesting for were far from the aforementioned. Going by the tone of a statement jointly signed by Ojudu, Adeyeye and 13 other aggrieved leaders, it was clear that what they wanted to remove is Fayemi’s alleged domineering tendencies.

The group said Fayemi has allegedly polarised the party and only dispensing political favour to his own loyalists at the expense of others. They even accused the governor of giving two appointments to some members while some were languishing in poverty in the same party they toiled to build together.

In his own submission about the festering crisis, Ojudu said he decided to speak up to prevent conflagration in Ekiti APC. He added that there is a great disquiet in the party with fear that the APC might implode if Fayemi’s mistakes were not rectified in due course.

The presidential aide said it was wrong for people to be holding two political positions, while others are being pauperised without patronage.

“How can a governor be using party machineries at the wards to be suspending people in a party without recourse to the constitution? They wanted to do it to me, but they failed. They also failed in their bid to do it to Dr. Wole Oluyede in Ikere. This is a party we all struggled to build.

“The last election that brought Governor Fayemi, he didn’t win, because of his popularity or personal effort, it was a collective victory. All of us worked for it and no one can solely claim to be behind this, so there must be mutual respect”.

In a boastful manner, Ojudu claimed that some members of the House of Assembly, where Fayemi thought he had absolute control were feeding him with information and documents about the governor’s financial dealings. If this was true, it confirms that the web against Fayemi was wide and dangerous.

But those on Fayemi’s side perceived Ojudu and his ilk as bunch of renegades and betrayers in the party. They insisted that no governor has been so magnanimous in victory like Governor Fayemi since the inception of progressive government in Ekiti in 1999.
The trio of APC Southwest Publicity Secretary, Hon Karounwi Oladapo; a member of the House of Assembly, Hon Adeoye Aribasoye and the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Inter-party Relations, Sam Oluwalana, had risen in the defence of the Governor, describing him as someone who appoints based on merit, rather than political consideration.

They descended heavily on those describing Fayemi as a despot in Ekiti APC. They said dragging the APC to a court of law without first resorting to internal party resolution mechanism constitutes anti-party and that, they said justified the suspension plot against some of those in opposition against the governor.

Tracing Ojudu’s political history in Ekiti, Adeoye Aribasoye, said the present role being played by the Senator had always been his long-standing tradition of working against every sitting governor.

“Go and check your history, Senator Ojudu worked against Otunba Niyi Adebayo. He did the same to Governors Ayodele Fayose, Segun Oni and now Fayemi. We are not in any way surprised at his action.

“Governor Fayemi is a man that is passionate about the people. He looks after his supporters. He loves them even after winning election. But Senator Ojudu has a tradition; he always dumps his followers after getting what he wants. He did it as a Senator in 2011.

“Someone like me won’t be following Fayemi if I have realised that he was dictatorial. He is a democrat, who respects the rights of everyone, whether you belong to him or not”.

Also defending the governor, the APC Southwest Publicity Secretary, Hon Oladapo Karounwi, said about five aspirants, who contested against Fayemi during the 2018 primary were appointed into strategic positions in government, saying this remains a potent democratic action that can’t be exhibited by any politician.

“The current Commissioners for Health, Dr. Mojisola Yaya- Kolade; Information, Muyiwa Olumilua and Public Utilities, Hon Bamidele Faparusi, were governorship aspirants in 2018. They contested against Fayemi and today they are his appointees.

“Even Hon Femi Bamisile, who also contested is now in the House of Representatives. Hon Sesan Fatoba is now a Commissioner at the Federal Character Commission. What could have been more democratic than this? What else do they want the governor to do to make him look democratic?”

Karounwi hinted that the party would not tolerate any act of indiscipline from party members, saying this remains the best way to prevent the APC from sliding into chaos and anarchy.

The State Publicity Secretary, Hon Ade Ajayi, expressed surprise at the action of the leaders, saying it was wrong for them to have accused Fayemi of dictatorship even without verifiable evidence to prove that.

“All those who are against the party had at one time or the other benefited from it. Senator Ojudu had been Senator and now a Special Adviser to the President. Honourables Bimbo Daramola, Oyetunde Ojo and Robert Ajiboye had been members of House of Representatives. Hon Adewale Omirin had been Speaker, House of Assembly, why should they now want to destroy the party that had given so much to them?
“But as leaders and umbrella body for everybody, we are still appealing to them to tread softly and respect the party’s constitution. No one is bigger than a party that produced him. We should surrender to the party and make sure we do those things that will stabilise it, rather than the ones that will disunite,” he said.

Curiously, those backing Fayemi have been able to adduce reasons why the governor should not be vilified. They even substantiated further how his benevolence had helped his traducers achieve high political feats in the past. The question reverberating on the lips of some neutral APC members is, what exactly do they want with those vitriolic attacks being launched against the governor?
“Governor Fayemi is the leader of the party and we believe he must be respected no matter how we felt about his action. He remains our face and the best contact at the national level for now,” one of them stated.

One thing was clear about the opponents’ agitations: they said the governor was becoming high-handed, which some party leaders had also punctured. The stroppy issue now is, how would the warring parties reach a consensus on this disagreement with these push and denial?

Going by the party’s organogram, Fayemi is the leader of the party in Ekiti, which confers on him some legitimacy and political endowment over others. Have the aggrieved leaders also taken cognisance of this sacred fact? This question is fundamentally apposite, because the aggrieved leaders in their demands never craved collegiate leadership, which signposted that they believed in Fayemi’s headship in Ekiti APC.

No one can underrate the powers of the governor in Nigeria’s political setting, APC inclusive. If this practice remains in situ, Ojudu and other aggrieved members will continue to be losers, except they resolve the crisis with Governor Fayemi in their own interest and that of the party. The recent ordeals faced by the immediate past National Chairman of the party, Com Adams Oshiomhole corroborated this realistic assertion.

Conversely, the suspension meted out to Oshiomhole by his ward 10 at Estako West local government of Edo State, when there was widespread belief that national officers of a party and serving and former governor could only be suspended by National Executive Council was also instructive that nobody can be underrated in politics. Everyone is relevant to the survival of the party.

This notwithstanding, Fayemi too must tread cautiously and toe the path of reconciliation to further dissuade those having the impression that he was sectional and one-sided in Ekiti APC. This won’t diminish his political figure in anyway, but further denote him as a leader and father to all.