Ekiti governorship: Race heats up as Fayemi returns

  • Minister set to face Fayose’s candidate
  • APC, PDP in war of words

The return of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the current Minister for Mines and Steel Development, who formally joined the Ekiti State governorship race at the weekend, has set a new tone for ongoing campaigns in Ekiti State, especially in his party, the All Progressives Congress.

Fayemi, a former governor of the state, who was ousted by the Peoples Democratic Party’s incumbent, Governor Ayodele Fayose, suffered total defeat as Fayose did not only trounce him in the 16 local government areas, but also later secured the 26 seats in the state’s House of Assembly for the PDP.

However, a new Fayemi arrived in Ado-Ekiti, the state’s capital at the weekend, to a tumultuous welcome, where he declared his governorship ambition in what observers described as a revenge mission, to wrest power back from the PDP.

 

The present PDP-led government in the state is a disaster. It is the worst thing to happen to any people. It was as if they came from the pit of hell, to steal and destroy the values of the people and leave them in abject poverty

 

But to bear the party’s flag, Fayemi has 35 other aspirants to contend with in the APC. One of them is Engr. Segun Oni, the man he ousted as governor through a court-declared victory, in 2011. Oni, who was a PDP governor then, is now the National Deputy Chairman (South), of the APC

Some analysts believe that Fayemi’s antecedents as a former governor, and his present status as minister in the country will go a long way to boost his chances, both in the May 5 APC governorship primary, and the July 14 general election.

Already, the former governor who had met with leaders of the party both at the national and state levels, over his ambition, believes that he has all it takes to come back to the office.

While meeting our correspondent on the development, Fayemi recently said, “I will run for the governorship of our state. I am running based on track records, which you can’t controvert. We will lay it bare for people to see. My government did social security for the elderly, renovated all schools, we established Peace Corps, Youth in Commercial Agriculture, youth volunteer scheme, paid bursary and scholarship, established Traffic Management Agency, constructed roads, among others.”

Away from this, political analysts have said several huddles have already lined up for Fayemi to cross with few months left before the race.

For instance, Adeleye Habib, a member of the party who spoke with our correspondent, said, “Already, other aspirants are not happy that Fayemi is coming back because they initially believed he would not contest but serve as leader, to back up the party in the race. But now that he has declared, they are feeling disappointed and in such a situation, you know what follows. But I hope our chairman, Chief Awe, will be able to put things in order before the election.”

 

We do not need to argue with the APC because APC in Ekiti is a drowning party that is looking for anything to hold on to. APC in Ekiti has lost popularity and as a result, they have resorted to lies and propaganda to drive home their campaign

 

THE FAYOSE FACTOR

Before Fayemi’s declaration, the incumbent governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose, had vowed that he was ready to ensure that APC suffer the same defeat they saw some four years ago. The governor had long endorsed his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, to succeed him, and has already been adopting strategies to ensure that his dream become true.

In his comment to the APC ahead of the coming election, Fayose said; “I want to remind you that they said that the 16-0 of 2014 was photochromic, while others called it militarised election. This time, they are the owners of INEC, Army, Police, Civil Defence, DSS and others; we should make it expressly clear that despite these machineries in their hands, we can defeat them like we did in 2014, if not more.”

With the manner at which the incumbent governor has taken the race seriously, political watchers have opined that Fayemi may need to do more this time round.

Already, Fayemi, in a message by his media aide, Yinka Oyebode, and made available to our correspondent, has said he is now mature politically, having more experience to deal with Governor Fayose.

He added that he had learned a great lesson from his overwhelming defeat of June 21, 2014, while seeking re-election, saying this experience and what he did in Ondo State would be of great benefit to him in the election.

“My mission in public life, which has always centered on transforming the material conditions of our people, has always revolved around these three imperatives: breaking the yoke of ignorance that keeps our people down; liberating them from ill-health and other limitations that restrain them from achieving their potentials; and breaking the stranglehold of poverty which keeps people from living full creative lives.

“In practical and policy terms, this, for me, has always meant prioritising social investments in education, healthcare and other social interventions that reduce the cost of living, while raising the quality of life.

“Public office is too serious to be left to charlatans and when men and women of good conscience that are committed to the ideals of social justice and the common good turn away from politics, we pave the way for unprincipled opportunists to take power.”

BATTLE OF ZONING ARRANGEMENT

Another issue which is considered as germane in the political calculus is the zoning arrangement, which some politicians in the state are rooting for. Though the state’s APC had said it would not zone the governorship position, some aspirants from the Ekiti South senatorial district believe that it is their turn to produce a governor.

Before now, aspirants from the South believed that the governorship slot would go to their zone, but with the arrival of Fayemi, a former governor, the equation may have changed. Fayemi is from the North senatorial district, same as Oni. Former Governor Niyi Adebayo and Fayose are from the Central District.

The South, which some of its natives claim has been marginalised, has not produced a governor since Ekiti was created, but once had a governor while in the old Ondo State, in the person of Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua. Septuagenarian Olumilua, whose son is currently a governorship aspirant in the APC, hails from Ikere. However, Fayose’s political godson, Deputy Governor Olusola-Eleka, whom the governor had endorsed in the PDP to succeed him, is also from Ikere.

But some APC members in the state believe that the situation on ground in the state has gone beyond the zoning arrangement, as the party needs a candidate who can wrest power from the PDP.

“Fayemi’s interest may make this zoning of a thing to be unrealisable. He has solid structures in APC and being a serving minister, he has enormous connections and strong financial war chest to outsmart other aspirants,” a party member said.

Meanwhile, the APC in Ekiti also at the weekend said that with Fayemi’s declaration for the governorship race in Ekiti, the PDP had become jittery. It said the party was putting strategies in place to displace the PDP government. An enthralled APC chairman in Ekiti, Chief Jide Awe, said the party was already heading back to the Government House in Ado-Ekiti.

APC, PDP IN WAR OF WORDS

However, Fayemi also said the PDP in Ekiti was already afraid for his return, promising to make his marks in the coming election.

The minister, who stated in a text message to our correspondent, through his Media Adviser, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, said, “I think PDP the people are jittery already. And the reason is simple. The present PDP-led government in the state is a disaster. It is the worst thing to happen to any people.

“It was as if they came from the pit of hell, to steal and destroy the values of the people and leave them in abject poverty. So the people are tired of their misrule. The Fayose government will be uprooted by the people’s might.”

In his response, the spokesman for Ekiti State’s PDP, Mr. Jackson Adebayo, said, “His (Fayemi’s) declaration is a welcome development for the monumental defeat that will come upon APC when the election is held. To us in the PDP, we do not see his declaration as a threat.

“We are not bothered about his declaration. We are putting our strategies in place and the PDP is the only party on ground in Ekiti State.

“We do not need to argue with the APC because APC in Ekiti is a drowning party that is looking for anything to hold on to. APC in Ekiti has lost popularity and as a result, they have resorted to lies and propaganda to drive home their campaign. It is the PDP that is on ground in Ekiti; that is in power. We do not have much to engage with the APC because the APC is no match to the PDP in the coming election.”