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Ekiti: Will it be a two-horse race? By Bola Bolawole

Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka
Dr. Kayode Fayemi

The political haze is clearing in Ekiti. The men are already being separated from the boys. On Tuesday, May 8th the people’s Democratic Party chose the deputy governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka, as its flag-bearer in the July 14th governorship election. Four days later on Friday, May 11th, the Chief Olu Falae-led Social Democratic Party chose Akin Aiyegbusi as its own flag-bearer. Efforts by the All Progressives Congress to follow suit the next day ended in a fiasco. In the melee that ensued, ballot boxes and cards were destroyed and hell was let loose. People voted with their legs, giving the APC a very bad image. The party, however, returned to the battle field to re-sit the examination, as it were, last Saturday and this time around, a winner emerged in the person of an ex-governor of the state, now Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi. He defeated a large field, prominent of which was another ex-governor of the state, Engr. Segun Oni. In the interval between APC’s first and second attempt at conducting its primary, Presidential Adviser, Babafemi Ojudu, had quit the contest, making scantily-concealed allegations against Fayemi and the party leadership.

While the PDP primary was surprisingly smooth, it was also not without its own drama. Three aspirants entered the race, with Eleka being the anointed godson of Ekiti State’s Gov. Ayo Fayose. This aroused the anger of the other contenders, chief of whom were Prince Dayo Adeyeye, who had engaged Fayose himself in a mean contest for the same stool four years’ earlier; Senator Biodun Olujimi, and Owoseni Ajayi, who resigned as Fayose’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to pursue his governorship ambition. In the end, it was only Eleka, Adeyeye, and Olujimi that made it to the last stages of the PDP primary. At the venue, Olujimi stepped down for Adeyeye but that did not avert their group’s crushing defeat as Eleka won about 61 percent of the votes cast while Adeyeye had 39 percent. The Fayose group, however, expected a more resounding victory as they never gave all opponents rolled into one a chance of up to 10 percent of the votes cast. Protests votes from the Fayose group reportedly swelled Adeyeye’s votes from about 200 to a whopping 770; meaning that as many as 550 “horses” bolted from Fayose’s stable (even while donning the group’s uniform) and voted for Adeyeye! This must be cause for worry for the Fayose group. Trying to identify who the “traitors” were is important; understanding why they behaved the way they did and nipping the problem in the bud is, however, more important. Mercifully, party primaries are not the same as the General Election; few voters are card-carrying members of any political party and delegates at party primaries may not possess the power to dictate the turn of events as they do in party elections.

Politicians are generally unstable and unpredictable. For instance, while Adeyeye described the PDP primary as free and fair, he has failed to accept its outcome not because it was not credible but because, according to him, he cannot allow himself to be enslaved politically by Fayose. You will better understand Adeyeye if I liken his move to that of Neymar leaving Barcelona for PSG because he loathed to perpetually be in the shadow of Messi. It is still not clear what Adeyeye’s next line of action shall be after his reported exit from PDP. Some reports say he is desperate to contest the July 14 governorship election; under which party may have become public knowledge by the time you are reading this piece because INEC deadline for the parties to submit the names of their candidates and their running mates is Tuesday, May 15th, whereas this piece was scribbled and sent to the editor on Monday, May 14th. Another big fish to watch out for is Segun Oni, who came a distant second in the APC primary. Had the consensus arrangement they parroted worked, the other aspirants coming together would have given Fayemi a run for his money. Recall that Oni was the man who, as governor, fought the bitterest of political battles with Fayemi, then of AC/ACN. Recall also the re-run after re-run over Ido-Osi and how, eventually, the Appeal Court removed Oni as governor and installed Fayemi. Fayose helped Fayemi in that election to uproot Oni. On assumption of office, Fayemi, a practicing Catholic, demonstrated such unprecedented vindictiveness against Oni that he tried everything humanly possible to obliterate Oni’s memory from the consciousness of Ekiti people. He decreed that Oni never ruled Ekiti; removed his portraits from all public places; and refused to pay him his severance package and other entitlements. It took the coming of Fayose in 2014 for Oni’s entitlements and place in Ekiti history to be restored.

Now, will Oni support Fayemi or will he quit APC to pursue his governorship ambition on another platform? Opinion is divided on this. There are those who posit that as a top national officer of the APC, he may not feel like rocking the boat. There is also the fear that he could be persecuted and harassed by the anti-corruption agencies if he proves problematic. On the other hand, there are those who feel that being an Olusegun Obasanjo man, he may join the ADC bandwagon, the same party some said Adeyeye is eyeing, to advance his gubernatorial ambition. Again, by the time you are reading this, the fog would have cleared on that issue. It is then that we will know how many fit-as-fiddle horses will run in the July 14th governorship race in Ekiti. PDP’s selection of a Muslim, who is also an Ado-Ekiti indigene (Ekiti Central), as running mate is seen by many as political master-stroke. For long, the Muslim community has advocated for one of their own to govern the state. The PDP half bread offered to them, some will say, is better than none. It remains to be seen where Fayemi will pick his deputy from. Being from Ekiti North, Fayemi’s emergence as APC’s candidate sets him at loggerheads with Ekiti South that has clamoured for long for the governor’s seat. PDP’s choice of Prof. Olusola Eleka as flag bearer satisfies that yearning. Will Fayemi offer the same Ekiti South half bread in his running mate slot? And will it suffice? Or will he snub Ekiti South, completely conceding it to PDP, and pick his running mate from the all-important Ekiti central, which has the most electoral value in Ekiti state?

By the time you are reading this, many, if not all, of these questions and permutations would have been resolved.

Happy birthday, Leah Shakibu!

Monday May 14th was Leah Shakibu’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday! The authorities may forget you; imbecilic Nigerians may even call you foolish but conscionable persons the world over celebrate your heroics on this occasion of your birthday.

FEEDBACK

Is Nehemiah in the Benue State governor’s bible?  Can you believe that after the terrorist herders’ killing spree, they add insult to injury by occupying the victims’ ancestral land? Yes, you read it right: the killers would raze a village to the ground and then inhabit it with reckless abandon, along with their cows and AK47 guns. Soldiers and policemen look the other way, just like the governors of Benue, Plateau, Taraba as well as church leaders who all remain incredibly and criminally inactive. This is the reason why the murderous herders will continue to run amok across the Middle Belt and beyond. – Sonde Abbah

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