Former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose was recently in the news over claims that he was planning to dump his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). ALO ABIOLA writes on the intrigues and unresolved issues in Ekiti PDP
The rumoured plan by the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, to dump People Democratic Party (PDP) for another party did not came as surprise to many, since it was not the first time such would be heard about him.
Similar issues always come up concerning him whenever an election or any political event, which he may have vested interest in was about to happen.
Over a week ago, trending news on social media suggested that Fayose had threatened to leave his party to join All Progressives Congress (APC) over the forthcoming PDP congress in the state.
The report quoted Fayose as saying that if his anointed chairmanship candidate for the PDP congress, Chief Bisi Kolawole did not win in the congress, he would leave the party.
Kolawole was commissioner for Environment during Fayose-led administration and PDP House of Representative candidate for Efon/Ekiti West/Ijero federal constituency.
He is jostling for the PDP chairmanship position alongside two other prominent members of the party in the state, which are a former House of Representative member, Hon Kehinde Odebunmi and Mr Tope Aluko.
The senator representing, Ekiti South, Biodun Olujimi, who is the party leader in the state, was said to be favourably disposed to Odebunmi to be the next chairman of the party in the state.
Fayose was quoted to have said “If Bisi Kolawole is not elected as chairman of Ekiti PDP, I will go and join APC,” on social media.
Similar report was also circulated ahead of the 2018 governorship election in the state which he then denied.
With the tone of the report, it is clearly not unconnected with the state congress of the PDP which is tentatively scheduled to hold on April 2, 2020 and other political activities that may follow.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State chapter of APC has reacted to report advising Fayose, to perish the thought of defecting to the party.
The state’s publicity secretary of APC, Ade Ajayi, in a statement issued in Ado Ekiti said the party was not a dumping ground “for failed politicians,” adding that Fayose was not wanted in the party because of his antecedents.
Ajayi described the APC as “a disciplined, refined and integrity-inclined type which would not tolerate people like Fayose,” adding that “Fayose is not qualified to be a member of the APC in the state.”
The party, which was reacting to a statement allegedly credited to Fayose to the effect that he would defect to the APC if his ordained Peoples Democratic Party state chairmanship aspirant failed in his bid for the job.
To this, Ajayi said, “We will not welcome him to the great and decent family in the state.”
But Fayose in his response, described APC as a Coronavirus infected party that someone of his status and pedigree can never join.
In the statement by his media aide, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said, “it is funny that the APC in Ekiti State lied and went further to react to its own lies.”
He said; “as I write, Fayose is presently in a meeting of major stakeholders of the PDP in Ekiti State in the house of Senator Clement Awoyelu.”
Olayinka, who admonished the APC in the state to focus its attention on its non-performing government, described the report of Fayose’s threat to join APC should his adopted candidate for the State chairmanship of the PDP, Hon Bisi Kolawole, fails in the forthcoming state congress as figment of the imagination of those peddling it.
“The story of Fayose’s threat to leave PDP for the APC is one of the lies from the APC factory of lies and it is even more childish that the party in Ekiti State went ahead to react to its own lies,” he said.
Adding that, “What is there in the APC to attract someone like Fayose, who is known for his stand in support of the masses of Nigeria that are being made to suffer more hardship by the APC government?
“They can continue to hallucinate about everything Ayodele Fayose, while he continues with his task of to rebuild the PDP in Ekiti State with a view to returning to power I’m 2022.”
While the issue of Fayose rumoured plot to dump PDP for APC may not be divorced from coming PDP congress, the relationship between former governor and Senator Olujimi and fight for the soul of the party as leaders must also be reassessed.
Fayose and Olujimi, are renowned stalwarts of the PDP before events leading up to the July 14, 2018 governorship election in the state caused major disagreement between them.
Olujimi was one of the top governorship aspirants who participated in the gubernatorial primaries on the platform of the PDP in Ekiti State ahead of the poll.
Olujimi had contested against Professor Kolapo Olusola, who was at that time the state deputy governor and favourite of the former governor, Fayose in the party’s primary election.
The decision, Olujimi and former PDP national publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye to exercise their franchise by participating in the governorship primary did not go down well Fayose, which eventually led to the polarisation of the party in the state.
Despite Olujimi’s withdrawal from the race to back Adeyeye, Professor Olusola went ahead to win the PDP primary and clinched the party ticket.
Adeyeye later dumped PDP for APC where he was offered APC Ekiti South senatorial ticket.
Olujimi who remained in PDP was later declared the leader of the party in the state and South-west by some party stakeholders which further fuelled her disagreement with former governor Fayose and his loyalist.
She, however, won the party ticket for Ekiti South senatorial district alongside some incumbent national assembly members from the state.
Having won the Ekiti South senatorial district ticket of their respective political parties, Adeyeye and Olujimi had slug it out under different platforms for a senatorial seat.
During the National Assembly election held on February, 23, 2019, Adeyeye was declared winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial district poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But Olujimi later reclaimed the seat after a court of appeal in Kaduna declared her authentic winner of the election.
Her surprise return to the National Assembly has seen some members of the State working Committee of the PDP in Ekiti State throw their weight behind her leadership even though sizeable number of members of the party still recognise Fayose as their leader.
Both Fayose and Olujimi have been holding meetings with leaders and members of the party across the state ahead of party congress.
The meeting was to rally the members to strategize on how to bring in people who share their vision to take over the leadership of the party in the state
Fayose who first held such meeting sought understanding and genuine reconciliation among all leaders and members of the party in the state in the interest of repositioning the party for future elections.
The reconciliation meeting which has party members and leaders including former political office holders, former and present party officials from ward to state levels was held at Fayose residence at Afao Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun local government area of the state.
Fayose said, “The PDP in Ekiti State needs repositioning. We need unity to forge ahead.”
The PDP in the state has for some time been polarised over leadership issue between Fayose and Olujimi.
The former governor said, “What is crucial is for all of us to come together in the interest of the party. I am not contesting any election again, but I do not want the ladder that brought us up destroyed. I want us to reclaim the governorship. It is my duty to ensure that the party does not fail.
“Senator Olujimi, Senator Faseyi and Chief Oguntuwase should not be angry. I am sorry if I had offended them. I do not have to fight for the leadership of the party. Majority of those people dividing this party do so for selfish reasons. They do so for the purpose of what they stand to gain from the leaders.
“We are on a mission to reposition the party because truly we need a new attitude as members of this party. We must tell ourselves the truth that there is nothing to share in failure and we must join hands to achieve something tangible.
“I know some persons are aggrieved and I know we are humans. I apologise to all those that I have offended. Let us come together in unity for this our party not to die in this state. That is my priority as a leader.
“I am doing this one year after I left office just to allow the present All Progressives Congress government to display what they have for the people and you can all see for yourselves. I am not here for my selfish interest but just to ensure this party does not fail.
“Everybody should come back to the party. I am open to reconciliation. If Senator Biodun Olujimi calls you for a meeting tomorrow, go there and listen to her. All of us are leaders. Don’t let us factionalise this party. I am congratulating her and I don’t have any issue with her and I am sorry for what happened in the past,” he said.
Fayose who said vibrant, viable and competent members were free to contest for party offices in the congress, advised that it would be better for those who were financially stable to occupy the leadership positions in the party.
The former governor, who said the PDP ought not to have participated in last local government election in the state, said, “I told the party not to participate in the local government election. The All Progressives Congress had not been participating in such.
Among the PDP leaders at the meeting, who appear to be in different camps, Senator Olujimi; former National Assembly member, Duro Faseyi; and the PDP state chairman, Chief Gboyega Oguntuwase.
Others include former deputy governor, Prof Kolapo Olusola; a former PDP deputy governorship candidate, Deji Ogunsakin; a former commissioner for environment, Chief Bisi Kolawole; and former House of Assembly Information Committee chairman, Dr Sameuel Omotosho.
Olujimi while conveying message to members of PDP in a statement advised them to elect State Working Committee (SWC) members who will unify the party at the coming Congress.
She said such will help the party achieve success in the state in the 2022 governorship poll.
The former Senate minority leader said the best way for the PDP to become stronger in Ekiti ahead of the election is by adopting the collegiate, rather than a centralised leadership, to fortify the party and bring sense of belonging to every member.
Olujimi added that it would be a great disservice to the party’s teeming members, who are yearning for good, focused and committed leadership, for anybody to contemplate what she called “imposed leadership” at this time against the wishes of the teeming loyal party members.
The senator and her estranged godfather, Fayose, had been locked in protracted leadership battle in the state which had created cleavages within the party .
In the statement to PDP members in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday, Olujimi said: “As the Congress draws near, we must work together to install a strong, passionate, honest, vibrant, fair, loyal and committed party man, who will unite and not divide us, as chairman.
“Our sole agenda will be Ekiti first, PDP next, any hidden agenda to perpetuate undemocratic and punitive tendencies in PDP will be resisted.
“I urge that we all work together to restore the glory of our party because it is crystal clear that God will only install whom He pleases.”
Speaking about her recent judicial victory, where she was installed as a senator, Olujimi said, “I have been in the system long enough to know that anything is possible where there are ungodly people who don’t bat an eyelid in the quest to divert the truth. Thank you for allowing God and justice to prevail.”
She however expressed appreciation to former Governor Fayose for tendering public apology over the former governor’s open campaign against her candidacy in the 2019 election, saying it was rare for a man of Fayose’s standing to admit guilt under such circumstance.
“To those who are bitter about the judgment for one reason or the other, please find it in your heart to accept that only God gives power. Your time will also come when your enemies will push you to greatness. I bear no grudge.
“I believe in the PDP and its ideals. There might be differences but it’s the best party. I am happy to be a member and I promise to do all within my power to strengthen and reposition it for greater opportunities in Ekiti and beyond,” she said.
She continued, “For me, I don’t intend to manipulate or maltreat anyone, I believe leadership is earned by hard work and commitment, not by fiat.”
Genuine or not, political watchers are of the view that the truth of the matter would unfold soon as politicking hots up across political divides in the state.
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