Minister of Mines and Steel Development and former governor of Ekiti State, Dr John Kayode Fayemi was overwhelmingly elected by the delegates to the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election, held last Saturday. Sam Nwaoko reports the event and the incidents that were said to have led to a smooth outing for the party, after a botched attempt on May 5.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State now has got a candidate for the July 14 governorship election in the state. And what a candidate the party has presented in the person of a former governor the state and the Minister if Mines and Steel Development, Dr John Kayode Fayemi.
Too many people who witnessed the proceeding scenario in the party, it is safe to say that APC has been able to make it through what they saw as a labyrinth and a land mine, which they said the 33 aspirants in the race for the governorship ticket had turned out to be for the party.
At a second attempt, the party’s delegates to the primary election rescheduled for Saturday, May 12, in Ado Ekiti, elected former Governor Fayemi as their candidate by a resounding margin. The primary election had elicited mixed feelings among the generality of Ekiti public, but the manner of the election of Dr Fayemi has so far doused tension and actually charted another course of discussion in Ekiti polity.
In the build up to the primary election, many had seen the large number of aspirants and their various blocs of passionate followers as a factor that could undermine the unity of APC in the state and cost it dearly in the aftermath of the shadow election. The fiasco of May 5 at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium had further fuelled speculations that the party would cave in if the bidding of some of the stalwarts were not done.
But so far, reactions from many of the aspirants, who had hitherto been spitting fire, have begun to lay to rest the thoughts that the party was in for another round of crisis, post-primary. Observers of the behind-the -scene politics that went into the primary election noted that Dr Fayemi and some of the APC faithful had put in a lot of work to ensure a successful outing for the party.
To underscore this contention, Dr Fayemi, in his acceptance speech shortly after he was announced winner by Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, whose committee organised the primary election, 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.”
He added: “I furthermore very respectfully request the support of my brothers and sisters – co-contestants in this primary election. I plead that we put our differences aside and work together as one strong and indivisible party for success in the upcoming general election.
“I would be counting on all my co-contestants to share their wealth of experience, ideas and knowledge in furtherance of our collective desire to make Ekiti great again.
“As I have said ever so often, all those who contested the primary election today are eminently qualified to be Governor. I salute your courage and congratulate you all for enriching the process. However, together we are greater and stronger than the sum of our individual parts, and no individual, myself inclusive, is bigger than our great party.”
Some keen observers at the APC election also noted that Fayemi’s mien, choice of words and the tone of his speech that night, in his invitation to the other aspirants, gave an inkling that a lot of horse-trading had gone into his emergence. It was also a widespread opinion that it might not take as long as it was earlier thought for the APC primaries’ wound to heal.
The preponderance of opinion among observers of the APC outing of May 12 held that the aspirants that stayed till the end of the primary election deep into that Saturday night, to felicitate with him, was a clear statement to endorse their opinion of a truce. Apart from this, many others that dragged the ticket with him had also congratulated Dr Fayemi after the outing and resolved to remain in the party for them to collectively win the election.
Fayemi’s main rival in the race, Chief Segun Oni was the first to restate that he was not in the race to be the governor at all costs, but that it was for the good of Ekiti and the APC as a political party. He stressed that he would not leave the APC even as the rumour kept recurring. The ex-National Deputy Chairman of APC stated that rather, he would even encourage aggrieved aspirants and party faithful to work for the success of Dr Fayemi to win the general election.
Other notable aspirants including first time contestant and third-place winner, Kayode Ojo, who has been described by Ekiti people as the surprise of the entire APC primary; Femi Bamisile, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Bimbo Daramola, Kola Alabi and many others have all accepted the outcome of the polls, congratulated the winner and pledged their loyalty to the party. And it is the belief among the party faithful that they are moving on to galvanizing their supporters for their candidate and ultimately their party.
However, some commentators are still to come to terms with the final outcome of the primary election. The people are intrigued that Kayode Ojo had scored a total of 281 votes, which was astonishing to those both at the venue of the election and those watching it live on the television. The shock and disbelief of the outcome was even more so when people like Bamidele and Daramola scored eight and 28 votes respectively, a far cry from the votes garnered by the relatively unknown Ojo.
It is known that after APC’s botched outing of Saturday, May 5, a number of the leaders of the party, at different levels, waded in to the Ekiti governorship provess again, not only to douse the tension, but also to attempt a reduction in the number of aspirants. Meetings were held in Abuja and some other places, but were largely said to be unsuccessful as many of the aspirants were said to have stuck to their guns. And time was running out the party had to submit the name of it’s candidate.
After several failed attempts by the leaders to streamline the aspirations in the party, inside sources revealed that some 24 hours to the rescheduled primary election, some meetings were held by the foundation members of the progressives family, to bring the raging issues under control to ensure a smooth outing for Ekiti APC. This, the source revealed, was a pointer to the intrigues that led to the emergence of Dr Fayemi, despite the huge initial resentment.
It was gathered that the “core APC members” in the party, said to be those who had been in the party since the days of Alliance for Democracy (AD) raised the observation that they were no longer comfortable with the sustained imbroglio and decided to look inwards. Soon after, they were said to have come up with a notion that the new entrants in the party, especially those who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were the cause of their inability to resolve the crisis. They had also claimed that the PDP elements were even poised to hijack their party.
Thus, in order to find a solution, the “core APC members” were said to have met in secret and agreed to cede their position and delegates to one of them; and the lot fell on Dr Fayemi. “That is why notably-strong and widely acceptable aspirants like Opeyemi Bamidele and some others scored eight votes and the like. It was for the good of the party and in a bid to make the APC present a very strong candidate,” the source had stated.
It was gathered that the “core APC members” had considered and dreaded a situation in which the party might not have a clear winner in the primary and thereby fail to present a strong candidate. The stakeholders the source added, had based their considerations “on the need to reconcile and rescue the party.”
However, the concessions came to the party and the chosen one among the candidates at a cost. The sources said “there were agreements.” Rumours are that Dr Fayemi made concessions to the other aspirants as to what some of them would get and to the party, as to how to win the election and worm himself back into the heart of the people of Ekiti State as of his emergence in 2007 – 2010.
Some APC stakeholders insist that after these issues were tackled and agreements reached, that created the avenue for the smooth conduct of the primary election and influenced the voting patter in the primary election. “That explains why the voting went the way people saw it. A lot went into the preliminaries, and a lot was done prior to the election to have a smooth, acceptable outcome,” the source hinted.
The claim by the sources in APC is that the humble mien of Dr Fayemi after the primary was “as a result of the outcome of the serious horse trading and his desire to take a new leaf and correct the mistakes he might have made in the course of his governing the state in the past.”
Just hours after the end of the primaries, pricesly by Sunday morning, Dr Fayemi had embarked on a visit of all the aspirants to seek their support and cooperation for the sake of their party and the people of Ekiti State. On the same day, he visited no fewer than 16 of his co-contestants to seek their support and plead with them to ensure the success of the APC on July 14. Many party stakeholders said they found this gesture “a hallmark of a leader and the attributes of the good things to come in our party.”
Fayemi had noted in his acceptance speech that “the battle has only just begun – the contest to Reclaim Our Land and Restore Our Values. The fight to ensure our great party comes out victorious in the July 14, 2018 general election.” It is believed that his reaching out to the other aspirants was a way of making the dream a reality and his supporters too believe “he has started on a right note.”
For now, the extant rumours in the state are that agreements were reached on who would go to the Senate, the House of Representatives and sundry political offices on offer both in the state and outside. However, some of the party leaders, aspirants and members held that it was still early to make such agreements while, according to them,the important issue of tackling the general election is still ahead. How much the truce will affect the fortunes of APC in the July 14 polls will be seen.
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