2022: Fayemi, Fayose’s new-found friendship unsettles Ekiti politicians

The insinuations by political observers that Governor Kayode Fayemi and his predecessor, Ayodele Fayose, may re-enact political history ahead of the 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State through their new-found friendship have kept many pondering on the outcome of the poll next year, writes ABIODUN NEJO

The new-found love between Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, and his predecessor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, who are leaders of rival political parties – the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party respectively–has got the people of the state talking.

The seeming political ‘romance’ is coming ahead of next year’s Ekiti governorship election, even as many continue to show interest in contesting for the exalted office particularly on the platform of the two leading political parties – the governing APC and the opposition PDP.

While both Fayose and Fayemi are not eligible to contest for the position of the governor again after being in office for two terms each, their support for particular aspirants in their parties will go a long way in the determination of the eventual candidates of the parties.

But the newly-discovered friendship between the two rival party leaders at a time their parties are eyeing the Oke Ayoba Government House in 2022 leaves many questions unanswered and brings about diverse projections and postulations in political circles and among the electorate.

Some Ekiti people are viewing things from the background of the rerun election of 2009 when Fayose, as a PDP member, supported and openly campaigned for Fayemi, who was the governorship candidate of the then Action Congress against the PDP flagbearer, Chief Olusegun Oni.

This becomes more interesting as the three rival political leaders, Oni, Fayose and Fayemi, who have had causes to be in the saddle at the Government House, are involved in the triangle, contest once again, thus renewing the rivalry.

Oni’s issue with Fayemi started since the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the former governor (Oni) winner of the 2007 Ekiti governorship election – a decision which Fayemi contested, culminating in the re-election, fresh litigations and eventual ouster of Oni from office by the court in 2010.

The 2018 APC primaries which saw Fayemi, Oni and others struggle for the party ticket was another case in point as Oni challenged Fayemi’s eligibility for the ticket up to the Supreme Court. Fayemi was minister of Solid Minerals Development as of the time the primary held.

A resident, Anthony Alabi, said, “I see the new-found love between Fayemi and Fayose as preparing grounds for a repeat of history. Circumstances in the PDP ahead of the 2022 governorship primaries appear pitching Fayose, through his anointed candidate, Bisi Kolawole, against Oni.

“I am afraid the old rivalry has been re-enacted. Fayose campaigned and mobilised for Fayemi against Oni in 2009 and in 2014, Oni left PDP for APC to support Fayemi’s re-election bid against the PDP candidate, Prof Kolapo Olusola.

“Oni’s return to the PDP and his indication of interest in the 2022 governorship poll have been greeted with loud ovation capable of unsettling any group or individual in PDP. Flowing from that, I can smell a rat in Fayose’s association with Fayemi of recent.”

Alabi spoke against the backdrop of an apparent enmity between Fayemi and Fayose which heightened during the campaign for the 2018 governorship election.

While many residents toed Alabi’s line of argument, others didn’t, saying all that happened between Fayemi and Fayose, which were seen as enmity, and as well the recent development interpreted as political romance, were in order for the health of the state and the polity.

What kept some Ekiti people talking of recent was Fayose’s attendance of the thanksgiving service for the Fayemi administration’s just concluded third anniversary. Less than a week after, Fayemi was present at the wedding of the son of the former governor in Lagos and as well conferred state honours, tagged Ekiti Builder’s Award on Fayose alongside all former governors and military administrators to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the state.

The state government was, however, quick to dismiss insinuations that the conferment of the state award on former governors; Fayose and Oni, being opposition party members, had political undertone. Rather, the state Commissioner for Special Duties, Ayodele Jinadu, said the investiture of the state honours (Oni Uyi Awards) on eminent architects and builders of the state was a celebration of history.

He said, “There is no political undertone in the awards. All the former governors and administrators and even acting governors contributed their quota to the development of the state. What we are doing is to celebrate history. Ekiti had for a long time been in the vanguard of struggle for independence since the Kiriji War days. The combined efforts of the heroes and heroines being honoured and others have transformed Ekiti from its rural docile communities to an aggregate of fast growing, enterprising and a destination of choice for investors.”

Some political watchers have, however, dismissed the explanation of the commissioner, describing it as excuses for the relationship between Fayemi and Fayose to arrive at an expected end.

A politician, Oladimeji Ayodele, said, “The two leaders are getting close to each other of recent for ulterior motives. The calculation is a way out for Fayose and APC but all to Fayose’s gains as the beautiful bride. It is all about who wins the PDP governorship primary.

“Going by the popularity and acceptability of Oni across political divides, both Fayose and APC will not be comfortable with Oni’s emergence as PDP’s candidate for the 2022 election hence the rapport with Fayose in case that happens. So, the APC would want Fayose to join forces with it for the election in case his candidate fails at the primary.

“Since it happened once that Fayose campaigned for the opposition against his party’s candidate, Fayemi is ever-persuaded that such can always repeat itself. That is the foundation that has already been laid with all the relationship you are seeing. Fayose has his huge support base which cannot be wished away by anybody.”

However, Lere Olayinka, the Director of Publicity of Bisi Kolawole Campaign Organisation (Fayose’s anointed PDP candidate), dismissed insinuations that Fayemi and Fayose were getting close for any ulterior motive.

Olayinka, who said those coming up with such insinuations were only exhibiting ‘political drunkenness’, queried whether the attendance of a state function by a former governor or a sitting governor’s honouring of a predecessor’s social engagement had made them members of a political party.

“The PDP candidate for the governorship election coming up next year is going to be Bisi Kolawole. The indices are there. Where will Segun Oni get the ticket from? We are no longer in 2007. Political power is not served a la carte. You have to work for it, you have to merit it, you have to struggle to get it and all these Kolawole is doing.

“In the forthcoming PDP governorship primary, people will vote in two directions – vote for Fayose, vote against Fayose. The analysis is clear. Those voting for Fayose will be voting for who he is supporting, Bisi Kolawole, and those who are voting against Fayose will be voting for seven or eight other aspirants. The result will be clear victory for Fayose,” Olayinka said.

But the Director of Publicity, Segun Oni Campaign Organisation, Lanre Ogunsuyi, said the country’s democracy would be more deepened if leaders across different political parties work together as there would be less acrimony within the political system. He said Fayose’s support for any aspirant or candidate would be a good thing as a two-term governor, hence the Oni camp would continue to cultivate and enlist the former governor’s support ahead of the PDP governorship primary.

“Don’t forget that Governor Fayemi won the election in 2018 without the support of former Governor Fayose. It means that it is possible to win elections in Ekiti without the support of Fayose, even when you are running against Fayose’s candidate as done in 2018,” Ogunsuyi added.

Describing Oni as the people’s preference, he explained that with Fayose’s support or not, Oni, who he described as the people’s preference, would surely win the primaries. “That is why we are in the race. Don’t forget that Segun Oni was given the senatorial ticket in 2018 by Fayemi, but he declined and gave it to Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi.

“It is the people who are asking (former) governor Oni to come and govern Ekiti. The people are bent on returning him to the Government House because his antecedents put him in a very good stead. I don’t have any doubt that the PDP will pick Oni as the candidate and that Fayose will work with him,” the former commissioner said.

However, APC chieftain and former member of the state House of Assembly, Segun Erinle, who said the permutations over Fayemi and Fayose were too hasty, added that he would not see anything yet in the development until after the APC, PDP primaries would have been contested, won and lost.

Erinle, who said he would not see Fayemi or Fayose’s presence in state or social events as entreaties for the latter’s support for APC candidate, said, “I won’t look at it that way. Fayemi, being a democrat, will always align with everybody. Fayose has a candidate in the person of Kolawole in the PDP. I don’t see Oni winning the primary. Will Fayose leave Kolawole to support Fayemi’s candidate in APC? All these innuendoes can come after the primaries have been concluded when we see where the swing goes.

“In the 2009 rerun, Fayose supported Fayemi against Oni, Fayemi lost before the court reversed it. In 2014, Segun Oni supported Fayemi against Fayose and Fayemi too lost. That has equalised the situation. In 2022, Fayemi is not contesting, but definitely, he has a say in who becomes the next governor of the state.

“In politics, you look for support everywhere, but the insinuation that APC needs Fayose to win election is not correct. APC and PDP have yet to conduct their primaries; so, I cannot see Fayose leaving Kolawole to support APC. All those things are standing as innuendos,” Erinle said.

Speaking on the matter, the state APC Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe, who said there were no personal differences between Fayemi and Fayose, but ideological and party differences, added, “As regards the relationship between Fayemi and Fayose, you will know that circumstances will always bring leaders together at any point in time.

“For instance, if the 25th anniversary of Ekiti State is being celebrated, can you wish away anybody who has governed the same state for two terms? Can you avoid him? Can you throw him out in the name of politics? If the same person has invited the governor of his state to the wedding ceremony of his child, will the governor not oblige?”

The APC spokesman, who faulted insinuations that the party needed Fayose to win the forthcoming election, said, “We don’t need any Fayose to win, but if Fayose decides to support us because there is no PDP in Ekiti, so be it.”

In his contribution, the state acting PDP Chairman, Lanre Omolase, dismissed speculations that Fayose was romancing with Fayemi for purported support for APC governorship candidate, describing it as ‘unfounded and baseless’. According to him, “It is an attempt to blackmail Fayose.”

Omolase said, “They are blowing that incident out of proportion because I don’t know how you can link Governor Fayemi’s presence at the marriage ceremony of Fayose’s son with politics. Both Fayemi and Fayose are citizens of Ekiti. They have come at different times to govern Ekiti. I don’t think having that opportunity to govern should create enmity between the two of them.

“When Fayemi invited Fayose to celebrate the third anniversary with him, Fayose came from Lagos to attend. If Fayemi could attend the wedding of Fayose’s son in Lagos, I don’t think there is anything bad in that. For people to be relating that with politics is bad.

“Fayose has said it several times that he can never join APC in his life; that he even preferred to die than to join APC. He had said that leaving PDP means that he is retiring from politics. Fayose has committed so much – his precious time, his energy, money – to the survival of PDP to the present level and some people are still thinking that he will abandon the party.”

The state PDP chairman, Omolase, and the APC spokesperson, Dipe, however, engaged in war of words over who would win the 2022 governorship election as the two parties exuded confidence of emerging victorious.

The PDP chief, who said his party was 100 per cent sure of victory in the 2022 governorship election, said, “With the outing we had in the recently concluded PDP National Convention, you will know that the PDP is made up of mature members, people with wisdom and individuals who can proffer solutions to their internal crises.

“In addition, with what is going on in Ekiti now, where will you see a reasonable person who will say he wants to vote for APC? Even APC members know that they are not performing. See the situation in Ekiti now; can you eat freely now? Hunger is there, poverty is there, kidnapping is there, banditry is there, insecurity here and there, people cannot even move freely. Go round the 16 local governments areas and see whether you can find a single capital project going on there.

“Ekiti people know what they are doing; Ekiti people are tired of the APC government. Ekiti people have learned their lessons; they have realised that the N5,000 they collect during election cannot take them anywhere. These are the reasons they are casting their votes for PDP,” Omolase said.

But the APC spokesperson, Dipe, insisted that his party would win because “Ekiti people know what happened to them when APC was not in the saddle. The people know how backward Ekiti was and never again will the people have such experience”.

Dipe said with APC in government, “Ekiti people see that development can keep coming to the state. Workers in Ekiti can now see that it is possible to get their salaries monthly, the fact that water can flow from their taps and that the Ire Bricks can function.

“The people are aware of the fact that Ikun can provide milk in commercial quantity, the fact that roads that they thought could not work can work, the fact that structures like the Civic Centre can spring up in Ekiti, the fact that Gossy Water that was was made comatose can work again, just like – so many more,” the APC spokesman said.

However, only time will reveal the intrigues as the people prepare for the parties’ primaries holding early next year.

SOURCE: THE PUNCH

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