By OLUSESAN LAOYE
The recent defection of the former governor of Ekiti State Engineer Segun Oni from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), back to his original political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has somehow changed the political landscape in Ekiti state. Hitherto, the permutations of who takes over from the incumbent, Governor Kayode Fayemi in 2022 has been thrown over-board as his presence in the opposition now changes the entire situation.
Before his new decampment to PDP, which he left during a political turmoil in 214, he was a prominent figure in APC both in the state and at the Federal level. He was the Deputy National Chairman of the party who helped to boost its clout, especially in Ekiti state and the south-west. He defected after the party instigated by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, tipped Senator Abiola Ajimobi, former Oyo state governor to replace Oni in the party hierarchy.
Oni who only ruled the state for just three years before he was removed through court orders for Fayemi in 2010, according to his supporters, has always been a victim of political manoeuvring and power game which always led to his victimisation wherever he pitched his political tents.
His supporters were of the views that his finesse and gentility are his weakness politically adding that he is a straight forward ma and this is the reason they likened his politics to that of the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo whom he regards as his mentor.
Oni’s exit from APC has brought a new game plan to both the party where he just left and the PDP where he is now. It has made the two political parties go back to the drawing board and fashion out what the future portends for them. Although the APC has declared that his departure does not affect the party, at the same time, they are not giving any chances because they know the antecedents of Oni who is known to have the support of the peasants and the civil servants; more importantly, he is respected for his electoral values in whichever political party he belongs.
Also in PDP, his coming to their fold has started changing their earlier plans for 2022 and the leadership of the party. Some party strategists believe that his present romance with the new leader of the party, Ayodele Fayose, may not last as they move toward success in the state over who controls the party and the flag bearer in 2022. Generally, whoever controls the party machinery determines who gets what for elective positions.
Although Fayose was said to have been in support of Oni contesting the governorship in 2022 and to pair him with his former deputy and defeated the candidate of the party in the last election, Professor Kolapo Olusola however, his emergence as the flag bearer and his subsequent victory would eventually threaten Fayose’s leadership of the party, which is even currently being attacked, by Senator Remi Olujimi. It is the entrant of Oni in the party that has now doused the tension arising from the primaries.
From the look of things, Ekiti is in a fresh political awakening brought by Oni. The calculation before in PDP was that Professor Olusola who was the party’s flag bearer in the last governorship election in 2018 and lost narrowly to Fayemi who came back to run, would still run on the platform of the party, backed by Fayose. With Oni’a presence Fayose, realising the electoral value of Oni, now prefers him to Olusola because he believes that Oni may be the only person who has the clout to fight the APC and whoever may be the anointed candidate of Fayemi.
But the snag now is the consideration for the political spread of where the governorship should go this time around. The intense agitation is that Ekiti South which has never produced the governor should be considered and that is why some people in the state are rooting for Olusola from Ikere not to stand down for Oni who is from the North, the same Senatorial zone where Fayemi who is bowing out is from. Many are saying that a person from the North cannot again become the governor when a particular zone has not produced the governor since 1999.
What this means is that both leading political parties would have to keep calculating and shifting grounds from now till the final period when the actual nominations would take place. It was said that the APC which wanted as well to rely on the South for its candidates, is now weighing the option of picking a very strong candidate from Ekiti central who could politically challenge Oni if he eventually gets the ticket of the PDP.
Political analysts say that a neutral person should come into play because, since 1999, the governorship of the state has always been between four people from only the North and the central. With the first slot coming to the centre in the person of Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, who never had the opportunity of ruling twice and was followed by Fayose from the same central who was later impeached, then Oni from the North, followed by Fayemi from the North, later Fayose, from the central and now Fayemi from the North.
From the foregoing, the central had ruled for eleven years, while the North too would rule for the same eleven years when Fayemi leaves and if Oni contests and wins the election again in 2022 and spend four years the north would have ruled for 15 years, all at the expense of the South.
Also what has come to play is the fact that if Oni emerges again he would be having the same records like Fayose and Fayemi who went and came back to complete their eight years mandated by the Constitution. In Ekiti politics, today Oni is now the beautiful and a man described as a game-changer.
In his reaction as to why he left the APC, he said that he went back to PDP to accede to the request of the people and supporters and that he and his supporters were not happy about the ways they were treated by Governor Fayemi in terms of appointments and party patronage.
“At a stage, I was suspended in my town and as the Asiwaju of the town no one had the effrontery to do that and when that happened I knew there was the problem and it could not have directly been from my ward which I financed from time to time.”
“The whole thing is not about Segun Oni but about my people and supporters in the 177 wards of the state who felt we have had enough and it was time to go back to our former party”.
The Publicity Secretary of APC, Hon Ade Ajayi said that the party would not lose sleep over the defection of Oni from the party. He said the former governor was ungrateful to the APC because he got more than what he bargained for from the party. But one of Oni’s aides said Fayemi betrayed Oni with his coming into the governorship race at the last minutes after he had already told him that he was not contesting.
.Meanwhile Chief Falegam has said that the PDP would benefit from Oni because of his political assets and the love the people of the state has for him.