By Rotimi Ojomoyela
IN Ekiti State, since the middle of this year, governance has taken a back seat and every action and policy of Governor Ayodele Fayose has been geared towards 2018 governorship election in the state, calculation and agenda on anointing a successor was pushed to the front burner.
Dummy: Like a seasoned and experienced battle hardened political general, Fayose sold a dummy to his followers and opponents alike, by declaring his intention to contest for the 2018 governorship election, this according to him, would enable him to complete his truncated first term tenure which was aborted through illegal impeachment in 2006.
He raised a legal team to approach the court and seek for legal redress over his aborted first tenure and enforcement of his right to re-contest in the gubernatorial election in 2018. Fayose also got those nursing gubernatorial ambitions in his cabinet and within the party to drop same, in deference to his political ambition.
In late July, six aspirants, which include current Deputy Governor, Kolapo Olusola, Bisi Omoyeni, Sikiru Tai Lawal, Owoseni Ajayi, Bisi Komolafe and Kayode Oso publicly announced the suspension of their gubernatorial aspiration pending the determination of the matter in court.
According to political watchers and analysts, unknown to these people, the governor has launched his succession plan. The first sign that an intrusion into the governor’s succession plan by anybody would not go unchallenged by him was the dissolution of his cabinet in July this year and the removal of those with governorship ambitions.
The first casualty was the former state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Owoseni Ajayi, a man, hitherto described as the leader of Fayose’s kitchen cabinet and who had felt that his contribution to the political survival of his boss could easily earn him the succession as the next governor. He, however, failed to realise that his boss could be nurturing another plan.
In a bid to launch his governorship ambition, Ajayi had started consulting surreptitiously and openly among members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and other critical opinion moulders in the state, including the traditional rulers who are presumed to wield massive influence in the state, but Ajayi never bothered to study the body language of his boss, the rug was pulled from under him, he was sent packing from the cabinet, leaving his gubernatorial ambition hanging by a thread.
Another casualty of the succession plan was Hon. Falana Ojo-Ade, representing Ekiti East Constituency 1 in the State House of Assembly. His offence was hobnobbing, loyalty and helping to promote the gubernatorial ambition of Senator Abiodun Olujimi, the PDP deputy minority leader at the red chamber of the National Assembly.
Olujimi was declared persona non grata in the state PDP secretariat and was immediately ostracised from the political fold of Ayo Fayose.
Not yet done, Dayo Adeyeye, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, became the next victim, his political affiliates serving under Governor Fayose were sent out, notable among them was the former Speaker of Ekiti State, who was appointed as Commissioner 2 at the State Universal Basic Education Board, Dele Olugbemi.
Olugbemi and five other decampees from the All Progressives Congress helped Fayose to set his administration on a sound and smooth footing when he had problems with the APC dominated Ekiti House of Assembly. In every sense, Olugbemi, an adopted son of Fayose, could be regarded as one of the major players and stabilising factors in the early life of this administration.
Though Fayose has never failed to impress it on his followers and aides regarding where the pendulum of his choice for the succession plan would swing, the twin most populated towns of Ado-Ekiti, the state capital and the adjunct town of Ikere-Ekiti have been dancing on his lips for very long but how soon the announcement of the individuals was shrouded in the dark. He has always said he would allow God to choose.
The Voice of God and the hand of Esau: As if goaded by unseen hands, all the functionaries of PDP in all the 177 wards in Ekiti state, including Councillors, wards Chairmen, 16 local government party Chairmen, 16 local Council Chairmen, state executive council, and members of Boards and Parastatals, State Executive Council, State House of Assembly members, serving and former members of the PDP state working Committee, among others, gathered at the government ground and endorsed the Deputy Governor, Ishola Kolapo, a recently promoted professor in Building by Obafemi Awolowo University, as the sole candidate of the party for the 2018 governorship election.
The development was seen by many in the state as the foreclosure of gubernatorial ambition of Abiodun Olujimi, Dayo Adeyeye, Dare Bejide, Sikiru Lawal and Owoseni Ajayi. Though, the chairman of the party in the State, Chief Gboyega Oguntuase, told newsmen that the endorsement would not preclude any member of the party that is interested in the governorship ticket from contesting, open and transparent primary elections will be held in accordance with the rules of the primary.
But the deal on who succeed Fayose had been signed, sealed and delivered, according to a political watcher in the state, who prefers to be anonymous, “when you have such numbers of office holders and former office holders who are automatic delegates in any party primary endorsing a candidate under the very nose and active supervision of the sitting governor, then the battle is won and lost.”
Pre-emptive action: Many experts in war and political strategy have held that the best form of defence is to attack, this move by Fayose may be interpreted to mean a calculated and deliberate pre-emptive move to forestall some noticeable steps and surreptitious overtures by Adeyeye to make the Ahmed Markafi led caretaker committee to endorse him (Adeyeye) as the flag bearer of the PDP in the 2018 election.
Indications that Markafi might yield to the idea was real, at least as a way of compensating Adeyeye for his role in edging out Ali Modu Sheriff.
President Goodluck Jonathan, under whom Adeyeye served as Minister and some national leaders of the party are already being consulted for this purpose. Fayose, Vanguard gathered did not want to be caught unawares, before the pressure starts coming, he wants to have a ready made response that the situation is already beyond him and that the party members and leaders have already made their choice and changing it would be an unthinkable thing to do.
Unhappy with the sudden endorsement of Fayose’s Deputy, Adeyeye resigned his appointment as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti. In a statement by his political movement, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye Movement, PAAM, described Fayose’s action as a breach of the PDP constitution and the provision of the electoral act. “See Sections 50(1), Section 50 (2) and Section 50 (2b) of the PDP Constitution (2012) as amended.
The statement stated further, “it is important to note that PDP as a political party is bigger and larger than an individual, no matter how much highly placed he or she may be as to override the rules and regulations of the party which are sacrosanct in the election of any candidate for elective position. I reject the purported the purported adoption of a sole candidate in its entirety as there are many other aspirants for the governorship race in 2018”, Adeyeye said.
Gone with the wind
Indications are that the dust raised by this adoption saga may take sometime to settle. While some described the governor’s action as a complete negation of the party constitution and anti-democratic, others say that Fayose has reneged on his promise that his Deputy would vacate the seat with him.
He had told his party faithful, workers and artisans in the state that they would be party to the selection of his successor and that God will be final determinant of who succeeds him, but all these promises appeared to have gone with the wind as the governor has made his choice.
Less than 24 hours before the adoption of his deputy, Fayose had held meetings with the top PDP hierarchy urging them to wait for God’s direction on issues bordering on the party’s candidate for the all important 2018 poll. At the meeting, Fayose gave reasons why he would not pick Kayose Osho, who has been acting as governor in training in the state.
“If I were asked to pick a candidate to succeed me, I would have picked Kayode Oso straight off. But I have called him into the room and told him to allow me seek God’s consent concerning it,” the governor said. I have called my deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, I have also called Bisi Omoyeni into the room and asked him to allow me seek God’s consent.
“Whoever God chooses, we will support among the aspirants. Whoever that is not the one, the spirit of sportsmanship should be embraced. I have nothing against Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, I have great respect for him, from ministerial appointment to chairmanship at Ekiti State University and then his recommendation to the party at the national level, I have always stood by him. I wouldn’t have done that for someone I don’t love, so mischief makers had better looked elsewhere to play their game.”