Unknown to the uninitiated, the fiercely contested Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) primary that produced Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi as the candidate of the party for the July 14, this year governorship election did not start this month.It was a battle that had been won and lost since last year when all efforts by some big wigs in the party failed to cut short the tenure of the present executive from the state to the ward levels.
The current executive of the party were elected into office in October 2014 for a four-year tenure that will end in September this year.But after the change of government due to loss of election in 2014 to the Peoples Democratic Parry (PDP), there were attempts by a section of the party called Action Group (AG), led by Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matters, Senator Femi Ojodu, to control the soul of the party.The group believed that the defeat of Fayemi by the PDP had made the minister politically irrelevant and was ready to change the party structure believed to be in control of Fayemi.
Speaking at the formation of the group in 2016, its spokesperson, Segun Dipe, said AG was neither impetuous nor ambitious in its formation; rather it came in response to the situation in the state to address the post election trauma.He said the group came as a pressure group within APC as a result of growing concerns that the party leadership did not re-awaken the low spirit of its members, which went down after the unexpected defeat.
Dipe recalled how the party lost the governorship election despite all the advantages at its disposal, saying the loss disunited the members. Besides, he accused the party leadership of failing to summon a post election review meeting to know what went wrong and how the members who were in disarray could not be rallied together.He explained that it was at that moment that the Action Group (AG) caucus came into the fray to boost dwindling morale of members.
He said, “The opposite of action is inaction. Progressivism and activism are what APC should be known for and these are what our group stands for. We saw the party in a precarious state immediately after the election. We called on our leaders to take action by reviewing the election, returning to the drawing table, calling members, telling them what went wrong and restoring them to a state of equanimity in anticipation of future elections, but no satisfactory response came from them.
“What happened next was that the APC lost the two subsequent elections to the amazement of the people all over the world,” he said.However, the group did not only attempt to take control of the party, it was alleged to have lobbied the National Working Committee (NWC) to cut short the tenure of the party structure and elect another set of members.
An informed party source disclosed that while the group was trying hard to tamper with the tenure of the executive, Fayemi was ahead of them in making members of the NWC recognising the fact that there was no parallel congress when the executive members were elected and ending their tenure abruptly will lead to injustice, which will not be palatable to the party that believes in rule of law.
It was also gathered that the group also lobbied the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to wade in and reason with them while the delegates must be changed, but there was no breakthrough from that end.But while the group was making this effort, Fayemi was said to be keeping the entire ward executives aware of the moves being made by the AG to truncate their tenure. The minister was said to be holding quarterly meeting with the executive of the party in all the 177 wards and extending what the source described as “goodwill” to them during Christmas and other celebrations.
However, while the ward leaders thought Fayemi was only fighting to protect their interest, it was not a “free lunch” without corresponding reciprocity. Last Saturday was the pay back time.It was also gathered that when Chief Olusegun Oni became the National Deputy Chairman (South) of the APC, members of the AG also co-opted him in their project of changing the leadership of the party from the ward level, despite some seemingly irreconcilable issues between the leadership of AG and Oni, but his intervention was too late to make any impact.
A delegate from Ado Ekiti who pleaded for anonymity told The Guardian shortly after the primary on Saturday that: “many people speaking from outside did not understand party politics, we know ourselves. We know leaders we can trust. If not for Fayemi, most of us would not be part of delegates today; they had planned to change us. Had it been Ojudu and his people have succeeded in changing us, would we have become delegates today. We know Fayemi, we know why we lost 2014 election, and we know how to prevent re-occurrence.”
When asked if the votes didn’t go to the highest bidder, he said, “This is not about money, it is purely a family affair, it is about confidence building and whom we trust. Is there any election or primary where people will not spend money, if they didn’t like you, people will collect your money and vote their conscience, after all, you can see them while voting. The truth is that we know Fayemi and he is our leader, even if he didn’t contest, he will still show us the way.”
Besides, the primary went in favour of Fayemi because all the other 32 aspirants failed to reach a consensus.It was gathered that there was no political negotiation among the contestants and it was only three among them that associated with the AG that were antagonistic of Fayemi.An aspirant who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity said it was unfortunate that the public had impression that the battle was 32 aspirants against Fayemi when some of us never met for a day to have a common agenda for the primary.
He said, “The truth is that only three of us fight dirty, I will not want to mention their names but some of us detested their approach to this matter. It was like they were fighting an opposition when we all know that after primary we must still come back and work together. We stood aloof but if we condemned them at that time, it will look as if we were supporting Fayemi but the best thing is to keep quite and the result of the election should confirm what I am telling you”.
Fayemi scored 941 to defeat Oni who came distant second with 481 votes. New entrant to Ekiti politics, Kayode Ojo scored 281 votes. Former Speaker, Ekiti House of Assembly, Femi Bamishile scored 179 votes while Wole Oloyede got 121 votes from the delegates. The only woman aspirant Mojisola Kolade scored four votes.Other aspirants like Bamidele Opeyemi eight votes, Adeyanju Bodunde (3), Ajayi Adebowale Oluranti (1), Akerele Oluyinka (11), Alabi Kolawole Oladipupo (14), Aloba Adebisi (7), Senator Aluko Daniel Olugbenga (86), Senator Arise Ayodele (2), Femi Bamisile (179), Olumuiwa Coker (2) and Bimbo Daramola 28 votes.
Others are; Eledunmare Ogunkoya (1), Esan Adekunle Patrick (0), Faparusi Bamidele (23), Fatoba Joseph (43), Kolade Victor Olumuiwa (16), Elizabeth Taye (1), Senator Ojudu Babafemi (10), Okeya Dele (13), Ajayi olatunji Olowo (2), Olatunji olofunluyi (14), Oluleye Oluyede Oluwole Bamidele (6), Muyiwa Olumuiwa (2), Oluwole Oluyede (121), Orire Andrew (3) and Owolabi Makanjuola 5 votes
With this result, Fayemi who was believed to be coasting home to victory at the last week aborted primaries confirmed his popularity among the delegates. The election, which was held inside the expansive Damlek Hall in Oke Ila area of the Ado Ekiti saw 2,326 delegates accredited out of 2,618 delegates expected to vote for the 33 aspirants that stood for the exercise.
Though, Ojodu had earlier announced his withdrawal from the race but the Chairman of electoral body and Governor of Nassarawa State, Tanko Al Makura said the process did not know Ojodu’s withdrawal because his committee did not receive any instruction to that effect from the National Working Committee (NWC). Ojodu scored 11 votes.Accreditation of delegates began as early as 8 am and ended by 12.52 pm. Voting to commenced at exactly 1.06 pm andended by 4.14 pm.
There was a slight change in the electoral panel as Aliu Mogaji, who stood as its secretary as at last week was changed. Robert Okuegbwu became the secretary and Returning Officer.No fewer than 6,000 security personnel were deployed to maintain and order to avoid the repeat of the last week botched primary scuttled by hoodlums.
Security source disclosed that 3,500 regular and mobile policemen were deployed for the primary while the Ekiti State Assistant Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Command (NSCDC), Hammed Muhammed Jeda said 2,000 of his men were deployed for the election.There was also a large presence of operatives of Directorate of State Security (DSS), men of Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), Vigilante Group of Nigeria and other para-military outfits that cordoned off roads leading to the voting centre.
Roads passing through the Oke-Ila were blocked throughout the voting period with police dogs were everywhere to scare hoodlums away.Immediately after the voting exercise, Al Makura went outside to check the security arrangements and urged them to be alert as sorting of ballot was about to commence.For proper arrangement and change of venue heavy downpour that scuttled security arrangement at the last botched exercise would have repeated itself as it rained for several hours during the primary.
But the hall was heavily protected as movement within and outside was curtailed.So also, aspirants were not allowed to leave the hall and security formed a ring around the ballot boxes to avoid repeat of what happened last week.But delegates were asked to leave the hall immediately after they cast their votes. Their delegates tag were collected as they were being led outside the hall leaving the agents and aspirants to watch over the ballot boxes manned by security agencies.
Al Makura had before the commencement of the primary promised the aspirants of credible election they would all be proud of.By 10.43 pm on Saturday when Al Makura finished the counting of the ballot papers the tension has come down on all aspirants that rose in unison to congratulate Fayemi.In a rare display of loyalty to their party and to defeat PDP come July 14 in the governorship election, some of the aspirants who spoke after the primary promised to join hands with the winner to prosecute the election.
In his acceptance speech, Fayemi said the successful conclusion of the keenly contested APC primary, is a further proof that political power resides with the people.The minister also lauded the doggedness of the co- contestants in the primary, stressing that he would be counting on their support and wisdom in the main contest, notwithstanding the acrimony that characterised the primary election.He said, “In all electoral contests, tempers often rise and nerves are frayed. I therefore humbly appeal to all my supporters, and to my co-contestants and their supporters, to let go of past differences as we forge ahead to a new dawn.
“The first major step is the immediate setting up of the Candidate Advisory Council (CAC), comprising all the co-aspirants.“What we have witnessed today, is one of the essential elements in the electoral cycle in any democracy – the exercise of the collective will over the aspirations of many.”
While pledging his support for the winner of the election, Oni said, “I feel normal and okay with the outcome of this result, the people have spoken and we are not complaining. I will not only support the winner of this primary, I will rally others to support him. I congratulate Fayemi for his victory and congratulate Governor Al- Makura’s team for a job well done.”
Bamidele congratulated Fayemi and predicted victory for APC in the coming July poll but said this would only be attainable with unity of purpose and cohesiveness within the party’s ranks.He described Fayemi as a consummate politician with vast experience in administration, being a former governor and serving minister, exuding confidence that the minister will deliver and bring the lost glory of the party back in the coming election.
Bamidele urged the minister to see the victory as divinely ordained and not just a personal popularity or acceptability among party members.He urged him and other party leaders to immediately initiate a fence-mending move to pacify all the aggrieved and unite all the existing caucuses within the party for the dream to reclaim Ekiti from the PDP to come to fruition.”
For Senator Ayo Arise, “Let me begin by saying that this election is transparent. I believe that the aspirants gave a good account of themselves. I believe it is a well-fought fight. I also think that the man who won is expected to have won based on several circumstances. Segun Oni puts on good fight. I want to say congratulation to Governor Al-Makura for a job well done. He and his steam conducted a hitch free and transparent exercise.”
Bamishile who was unanimously commended to have started the campaign very early did not only pledge his support for Fayemi but assured the members that the party will win the July 14 governorship election.He said, “I can vouch for the capacity of our candidate. He is experienced and has the network required to leading us to the promise land. I want to strongly appeal to us to discard the sentiment of “I am for Apollo: I am for Paul” orientation. All hands must be on deck as we all won. Based on our meetings and the short time left for party reconciliation, I implore all other aspirants, the party faithful and general public to know that this victory is of our great party, the APC.”
Another aspirant, Oladiran Adesua said he was not only going to support Fayemi but pleaded with other aspirants to ensure that the party won the election. He said, “I congratulate the winner, Dr. Fayemi. He has fought a good fight and he is totally deserving of the victory. I want to implore our party members especially co contestants to stay true to their commitment of giving our party’s flag bearer the necessary maximum support that will ensure victory for our party at the general election. On my part, I am fully committed to this. “I thank God for his mercies and I believe that with Him we have lost nothing, He will surely recompense us.”