By Olusesan Laoye
Politicians across Nigeria would be on the march again, as all roads would lead to Ekiti State, where the governorship election would hold in just about a year and few months from now.
The election is another opportunity for all the major stakeholders in the politics of Nigeria to display power and intrigues that would determine who is superior to the other.
In Nigeria, there are more than 100 political parties, but today, only two, the People Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are prominent. They have been battling for power both at the centre and in the states since 2015. As a result it is these two that would file out candidates to succeed the incumbent governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi who bows out in early 2022.
From all indications, these two giant parties are battle ready, mapping out strategies and ready to give all they have to ensure that they carry the day. They have even, as it is the game in Nigeria, started engaging in war of words and the usual campaign of calumny to show their preparedness and create awareness.
Despite all these, the snag and the contending issue on ground is the fact that both parties have serious internal crises centred on leadership and trust that could totally disintegrate them, before 2022, if not properly handled.
Right now, both the APC and the PDP have to a large extent, polarised into factions. While the PDP now operates under the leaderships of both the former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose and the current serving Senator Abiodun Olujimi, APC has more than two factions which are led by the incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi, Senator Dayo Adeyeye and Babafemi Ojudu.
Although the Adeyeye and the Ojudu groups are working together to fight Fayemi, it was believed that their coming together may be short-lived as there are many people in the groups who are eying the governorship. But the romance appears to be smooth now.
Ironically, the crises tearing the APC and the PDP apart emanated in 2018 when Fayose was bowing out of government and Fayemi was coming in, for the second time. It all happened during the primaries of the two parties.
Fayose then, as the incumbent governor, was alleged to have manipulated the primaries to favour his deputy, a situation which angered other contestants and the party went into that election as a divided house, which they lost narrowly to the APC.
What is actually causing a big quarrel now is the hold on the leadership of the party in the state by Fayose, which Olujimi is insisting should not be, saying that according to the constitution of the party, a state where it did not have a governor, the most senior elected member should automatically become the leader. But Fayose insisted that his leadership in the state should continue.
It was this that they carried to the last congress of the party which produced two parallel executives of Olujimi’s faction and that of Fayose. What compounded the PDP crisis in Ekiti, was how Fayose dabbled into the leadership of the party in the South West. As it is applicable in the state, it applies in the region too.
While Fayose was fighting in the state, he was also wrestling the leadership of the party in the south west with the Oyo State governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde.
But this was rebuffed by the other leaders like Chief Bode George and some state chairmen, who told Fayose that tbey can’t recognise him because he had his chance when he was the only governor of the PDP in the South West. Makinde is now backing the faction of Olujimi which is solidly behind him as the leader in the South West and this got Fayose more angry and called Makinde names.
He was however dealt with in Edo State, when his cap was removed by the thugs who wanted to beat him. He had to apologise to some of the leaders he had earlier been rude to. A new factor in the crisis and the coming governorship election, is the entrant of the former governor of the state, Engineer Segun Oni who is likely to contest the governorship and whose posters have lined the streets of major cities in Ekiti state.
Although no other aspirants have shown their intentions, it is not clear where Olunjimi would fall to but it is glaring that Fayose just as he did in 2018 would want to sponsor a candidate, which others in the party would resist. The fear now is that if they go on with the present situation, the party is not likely to hold and be as one entity before the election and the plan by the leaders to win back Ekiti would be a non-starter.
The APC is suffering from the same crisis which surfaced in 2018 during the primaries of the party. The likes of Ojudu, the former governor of the state Engineer Oni Dayo Adeyeye and host of others were not pleased with the way the primary went in favour of Governor Fayemi.
As such, despite the intervention of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to calm down the tensed situation, some of the aggrieved members and leaders accepted his mediation while others like Oni did not. It was under this situation that the governorship election was held and Luckily, Fayemi won and there was the need to mend fences.
Although he did reached out to some aggrieved members and leaders, he allegedly sidelined those he was not sure of their loyalties, such as Chief Oni, Ojudu, Adeyeye, Senator Tony Adeniyi, former speaker of the state Assembly, Hon Adewale Omirin, Chief Bimbo Daramola Tinubu’s in-law Oyetunji Ojo, Gbamiboye Adegoroye, Femi Adeleye and their supporters. He was alleged not to have consulted them as promised when the leaders called for peace before the election.
Their followers were not considered for appointments and this made them to write the presidency and the National office of the party drawing their attentions on how they were sidelined and that Fayemi did not solely won the election but due to the collective efforts of all of them.
What further heightened the APC issues in Ekiti was the fact that immediately Fayemi came to power he allegedly put the State Assembly and the party Executives under his control which he was allegedly used to demonised other leaders against him. It was at that stage that Oni left the APC where he was the Deputy National Chairman, back to the PDP, his original party where he governed the state under that platform
These leaders were suspended by the State Exco. Those affected include Adeyeye Ojudu and others. That actually took a dramatic turn when the Ojudu, Adeyeye groups also announced Fayemi’s suspension from the party.
In order to douse the tension, the party’s National office had to intervened and lifted the suspensions on both sides but failed to address the issues of the Paul Omotosho led Exco, which Fayemi was said to be in control.
What the aggrieved wanted was a level playing ground for both sides and that a new congress be held where all the stakeholders, would be involved. The National offices stand, however, further aggravated the crisis up till now and there is no possibility of things becoming normal till the next election.
The fear too, just as it is in the other party, is that the situation portends a great danger for the APC should they go to the governorship election that way. One other factor that is likely to affect the two parties is where they pick their candidates during their primaries.
The argument is that all the other senatorial zones have produced the governor since the state was established in 1996 but only the South Senatorial zone has not. The North had Oni and Fayemi while the Central senatorial zone had Niyi Adebayo and Ayodele Fayose. It is likely that those from the south could kick against any other candidate from other zone and that would be a big problem for both the APC and PDP.
That is why people in the south are lobbying other zones to give it to them this time around, for fairness, justice and equity.
A leader of the PDP who happens to be the leader of Atunse Ekiti, Chief Ayo Omolade said the best way for the party is for all the warring groups to sheath their swords, as not to jeopardise the chances of the party in the coming election, which they are preparing hard to win.
On the Ekiti APC crisis the National Deputy Publicity Secretary of the Party, Yekini Nabena said all the warring groups would come together before 2022 and the party would eventually retain Ekiti. He said efforts are being made to douse the tension in the party, saying, that the new membership registration would do a lot to bring sanity in some of the troubled states.