The bickering surrounding the unilateral endorsement of the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Prof. Kolapo Olusola by his boss, Governor Ayodele Fayose as the governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2018 governorship election, ought to have been an internal affair of the ruling party.
However, some concerned citizens of the state, particularly those in the opposition political parties, were of the view that there was more to the development than meets the eye, while others considered the move as a mere political strategy deployed by Fayose to retain the state after his exit next year.
Although, it is rare in Nigerian democracy for an incumbent governor to endorse his deputy as successor, Fayose’s decision is being taken with a pinch of salt, as some described it as having a dangerous political undertone that is capable of creating problems in the state.This school of thought believed that what Fayose had done suggested he is neither ready to play by the rule of democracy or may have made up his mind to deprive the electorate of free, fair and peaceful election.
However, contrary view suggested that as long as endorsing his deputy does not contradict either the constitution of the country or that of his party, “the governor might only be deploying a radical tactic to ensure that his choice candidate emerge as his successor in 2018.”Speaking on his aspiration, a stalwart of the Lagos PDP, Otunba Segun Adewale, an indigene of Ipoti-Ekiti in Ijero Local Government Area, said irrespective of Fayose’s action, the people would be the ultimate decider through their votes.
Although, he refused to join issues on how Olusola’s endorsement by Fayose might affect the PDP in the election as he harped on his resolve to lead in the rebuilding efforts of the state, Adewale said, “I am interested in Ekiti politics to lead the repositioning effort of a state with potentials great enough to determine the future of Nigeria.”
Despite having concentrated his political efforts in Lagos over the years, Adewale said he has supported the political aspirations of friends and family in Ekiti, saying, “I was hoping they will do what is best for the people but the situation kept deteriorating in the state. I believe in giving back to the society, Lagos to a large extent contributed to who I have grown to become, hence my investment in my immediate environment. It is time to replicate what God prompted me to do for those around me in Lagos in Ekiti and the Southwest in general.”
He said his expectation was that the big names in Ekiti politics would have answers to the challenges of the people “but they seem not to understand how to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people. Rather, our people are getting poorer from one administration to the other. For over 10 years I resisted efforts by my kinsmen who persuaded me into joining Ekiti politics. Two years ago, I reluctantly agreed to reconsider my stand and reappraise the situation in my home state.”
While Adewale was evasive on the endorsement of Olusola ahead of the governorship primary of the PDP, a youth leader in the Ekiti PDP, Mr. Babatunde Oyedele called on organs of the party and state’s indigenes to support the candidature of deputy governor.Oyedele who spoke with The Guardian said his support for Prof. Olusola as the PDP flag bearer for the 2018 governorship election was borne out of his (Olusola) ‘impeccable’ track records in public service. Said he, “I am aware the party is trying its best to ensure the interests of various stakeholders are protected but for the sake of our state’s development, I call on well-meaning indigenes of our state to support Olusola.
“I also applaud the brilliant act of Governor Fayose to nominate a honest, diligent, visionary and intelligent man like his deputy to be the sole candidate of the party. There cannot be a better time to have a man like Prof. Olusola to be the next governor of Ekiti. This time is important to us because we are in dire need of a transparent, open minded and focused man like him to manage the resources of Ekiti.”
But to the likes of Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the immediate past spokesperson of the PDP National Caretaker Committee (NCC), the action of Fayose was tantamount to selling the state to the opposition ahead of the election. Adeyeye said the development was a breach of both the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the PDP.
Those that shared similar view with Adeyeye said there was no way Fayose’s decision would not rub off on the PDP, like it happened in the last Ondo State governorship election, when former governor, Olusegun Mimiko, under a tailored primary, foisted his Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede as the party’s candidate, which was one of the factors that cost PDP the state in the last governorship election.
The fear is that with what Fayose had done, there is the possibility for the PDP to again lose Ekiti State to the opposition.However, Fayose may not have been completely naïve of the consequences of his decision but on the positive and negative side.Although, the governor had explained that Prof. Olusola’s selection was through God’s direction, not many people would agree with Fayose that God is a politician neither is he interested in politicking. “Such explanation is best told to the marines,” said one of the contestants.
On another aspect, the incumbent governor might also be preparing to take advantage of the imminent crisis awaiting the governorship primary of the major opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti going by the number of contestants that have already indicated interest to run on its platform.From what The Guardian gathered, if the APC itself fails to manage its governorship primary appropriately in Ekiti, there is the possibility of Ondo APC governorship primary saga, which Mimiko failed to take advantage of repeating itself in Ekiti when the time comes.
However, one of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the APC, Mr. Bimbo Daramola dismissed the insinuation of Fayose’s mastery of Ekiti politics as well as the fear that the governor might take advantage of incumbency to ensure his deputy succeeds him.
Although Daramola agreed that the governor has the advantage of time and money, he said, “I have said it that Fayose has political mastery working for him but he lacks political mystery, which would be very key in determining who wins the next governorship election in the state. According to him, “There is nothing mystical about Fayose because he has elevated the political mastery to the level that whenever or wherever his name is mentioned, people are afraid. His policies have not really been of benefit to his fans and the people of the state.
On the fear that Fayose might likely take advantage of the numerous aspirants on the platform of the APC, Daramola said, “About five months back, I wrote a letter to well meaning leaders and elders of the party that there is no way 46 people will be running around themselves in a state of about two million people and we won’t have to deal with the backlash. Some people went to town saying the large number of aspirants is good for democracy. They said people have a constitutional right to aspire.
“We should situate our rights on the reality in a state where you have a governor with a strong personality, like Fayose. I tell you, 80 percent of these aspirants are just knowing that there are 177 wards in Ekiti State. Some of them are moving around with exercise books, writing the names of wards and how to get there and even the names of personalities to meet.”