Ekiti State Gubernatorial Election, scheduled for July 14, is the cynosure of attraction in the Political scene as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) battle for supremacy in a State that would not have been high on political priorities, but for the exuberance of its Governor and a few other factors.
Since the emergence of both Party’s candidate, there has been war of words and allegations of plans to rig, from both parties.
Speaking at a flag-off ceremony of PDP’s Local Government election campaign Rivers State, Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus said there would be “crisis” if the Ekiti State poll is rigged.
“We are bold to say it because you cannot take the peoples rights, you cannot deny them of their votes and we are saying and we want APC to say the same that it will be one man, one vote, one woman, one vote, one youth, one vote.
“We warn that if you attempt to rig Ekiti, it will be a recipe for crisis and we don’t know whether there will be Nigeria or not.”
Ekiti State Governor, Peter Ayodele Fayose, makes the same claim saying
“They are planning to do this because they know that in a transparent and credible election, the APC cannot win in Ekiti State. We are popular and our Party, the Peoples Democratic Party, is popular because of our performance in Government and my brand of politics.
“Ekiti people will resist rigging. They will resist the Federal Government or the Independent National Electoral Commission rubbishing their votes. The people’s might is greater and potent more than the Federal might.”
But while speaking ahead of the Election, President Muhammadu Buhari said his Party should ensure the People’s vote count as what brought Fayose into power in 2014 was “Hanky-Panky”
“This is crucial because I remember the hanky-panky that attended the last Gubernatorial Election in Ekiti State in 2014. I recall the firsthand account I received from some of the dramatis personae in that unfortunate saga.
“We must do everything to ensure that we do not allow any subversion of the will of the people this time round.”
Enmity by Proxy
After an initial primary that was disrupted by thugs, the rescheduled event saw Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi emerging as APC flagbearer ahead of the elections.
He cruised to victory with 941 votes, defeating his closest rival, Segun Oni who amassed 454 votes.
Speaking after the victory, Fayemi said he is not on a revenge mission, but on a battle to rescue the State from bad governance.
“Without a doubt, Ekiti is in urgent need of rescue. It is imperative that we commence the task of purging ourselves of the bad reputation we have earned in recent years and restore good governance to the State.”
PDP on its part is fielding the Deputy Governor of the State and an anointed candidate of Fayose, Professor Kolapo Olusola, who floored former Minister of State for Works, Dayo Adeyeye in the Party’s primaries.
Olusola scored 1,190 votes to defeat Adeyeye, who could only muster 771votes.
Fayemi was Governor of Ekiti for one term and lost to Mr. Fayose who, at the time, was Governor for a term earlier. Despite conceding defeat, a lot has happened since the show of sportsmanship.
Of today, Olusola Vs. Fayemi is considered Fayose Vs. Fayemi and the actual final lap of the battle between both men who called themselves brothers until Fayose changed tone.
Breaking Promise, Throwing Stones
While being sworn in, Fayose made a promise to leave in 2018 and appeared to suggest his Deputy Olusola, will not succeed him. Nigerian Governors are known to not support their Deputies succeeding them but Fayose was the first to publicly so suggest when he said
“I have chosen a deputy governor and I have told him from the beginning that the two of us will pack our load and leave the Government House because I don’t want a deputy that will start playing politics behind me when we are in government and will be distracting me. I don’t want that again.”
While visiting Fayemi, Fayose had said
“Fayemi is the leader of our state as of today. He has conceded defeat. He is my brother and forever will remain my brother. He has contributed his quota, he has done his best like every other governor that has served and we must continue to give him the necessary respect that he deserves,”
Soon after, Mr. Fayose started throwing words at Fayemi including making accusations over cost of projects and claiming the Governor is paying contractors with workers’ salary while owing workers. Fayemi on his part repeated refused to talk about Fayose, claiming it would dishonour his brother and the Governorship seat of Ekiti for him to do so.
“You have tried as much as possible to make me talk about Mr Ayo Fayose and I have tried as much as possible to avoid desecrating the office because there is no way I am going to talk about him or some of the remarks he makes that I would not have course to question the extent of his readiness for the office he wants to occupy.” Fayemi told a Journalist who kept asking about Fayose’s attacks a month after the election.
But Fayose was not done.
All out attacks, Media sensation
In October 2014, during his inauguration, Fayose accused Fayemi and the APC led Government of emptying the treasury and distancing itself from the poor. He also complained about how the Education sector went down during Fayemi’s reign and how his predecessor made bad decisions in the months after the election. He ordered the reversal of promotions made after the election.
The attacks continued from here on. These attacks soon evolved into attack on the then APC Presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. In one instance Fayose was reported to have said Buhari wears pampers whereas what he did say was that the then Presidential candidate was too old for office and “many people over 70 wear pampers”. What he said about his mother was “I don’t have anything against General Buhari. He is my father, anyone the age of your mother is your father”, but this was widely reported as “Buhari wears pampers”.
But in January 2015, Governor Fayose took out the front of Punch Newspaper to publish an advertorial in favour of then-President Jonathan using the argument that leaders from the North West always die in office and adding a Bible verse. He suggested that President Buhari may die in office.
By February, a certain Captain Sagir Koli released audio recordings and a sworn affidavit that he led PDP politicians plotting electoral fraud in Ekiti State. It was alleged that the then Nigerian state minister of defense, Misiliu Obanikoro was mandated by President Goodluck Jonathan to liaise with the army to rig the election in Ekiti and Osun states for candidates.
Obanikoro denied that such meeting happened but the then Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, who was also at the meeting, admitted that the meeting actually took place, yet said it was not exactly as recorded.
Fayose’s criticism of Buhari continued as the former General became President. The Ekiti Governor kept lambasting the Government on practically every issue, so much so it went as far as complaining that the President did not call him on his birthday.
Banned from Public Office
In January, 2018, the Ekiti State Government barred Fayemi and former Commissioner for Finance, Dapo Kolawole, for 10 years, from holding any political office in the State or anywhere in Nigeria, based on reports by the Ekiti Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which indicted them over alleged mismanagement of the State’s finances, between October 2010 and 2014.
While it was a general notion that this was laughable and had no effect, ETN24 did an analysis which showed how this can be legally argued to be valid. How much of these arguments will surface should Fayemi win is unknown just yet. But in a white paper announcing the ban, the Government declared them unfit to hold any public office in the State saying,
“The Judicial Commission of inquiry set up by Ekiti State Government to look into the financial transactions of the state under the administration of Dr. Fayemi had said that the former Governor must refund a sum of N2.75 billion allocated from the N25 billion bond obtained by the Government for the execution of contract for the construction of Ultra-Modern market in Ado Ekiti, which was never executed.
“Their disrespect to the constituted authority and the undignified roles they played in the whole contracts saga were obviously against the interest of the state they were supposed to protect. They are banned from holding public office in Ekiti and any part of Nigeria.”
These events made Ekiti a ground for showing political might as a lose for Fayemi will not speak well of the popularity of the Federal Government and will question the allegation of rigging against Fayose. On the other hand, a lose by Fayose’s deputy will say the opposite of these two and, even more, expose Fayose and the alleged co-conspirators to prosecution. A situation that can go as high as former President Jonathan.