From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
A fresh crisis is brewing in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State following the decision of former Governor Ayodele Fayose’s endorsement of Hon. Bisi Kolawole as the next governorship candidate for the 2022 election.
Fayose’s insistence on the choice of Kolawole, who is the Chairman of the PDP faction loyal to the ex-Governor, is causing tension among party members who are looking forward to a transparent primary election to elect the flag bearer.
Many of Fayose’s loyalists were surprised on why the ex-governor is rooting for Kolawole after he had earlier directed them to work for former deputy governorship candidate, Hon. Deji Ogunsakin.
The former Governor reportedly communicated the choice of Kolawole to members of his group, Osoko Political Assembly (OPA), few days ago at a meeting held in his Afao Ekiti residence but the matter generated a heated debate on many social media platforms on Saturday.
Kolawole, who represented Efon Constituency in the State House of Assembly between 2007 and 2011, also served as Commissioner for Environment under Fayose between 2015 and 2018.
Fayose had earlier directed that a bank account in the name of OPA be opened for every governorship aspirant to make a payment of N2 million before they can declare their ambition.
Some aspirants who were said to have complied by paying the sum include the PDP candidate for the 2018 governorship election, Prof. Olusola Eleka; two former House of Representatives members, Hon. Segun Adekola and Hon. Ayodele Oladimeji and former deputy governorship candidate, Hon. Deji Ogunsakin.
While some party members hailed Fayose’s anointment of Kolawole as the preferred PDP standard bearer, others vowed to resist the choice which they described as another attempt to impose a candidate on the party ahead of the 2022 governorship election.
Our correspondent who monitored various posts on Facebook and WhatsApp said debate on the propriety or the otherwise of Fayose’s choice of Kolawole ahead of the primary election still continued at the time of filing this report Sunday afternoon.
Pictures of Fayose’s visit to Kolawole’s residence in Efon where he further gave reasons he anointed him as the next PDP flag bearer were later circulated on the social media Saturday evening.
Another former Governor Chief Segun Oni had earlier declared his ambition to run while the Senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi is also believed to be warming up for the 2022 governorship race.
Fayose and Olujimi are locked in a battle for the control of the state party structure with the Olujimi faction who lost in the High Court and the Court of Appeal taking the case to the Supreme Court.
While Hon. Kolawole is the chairman of the faction loyal to Fayose, former House of Representatives member, Hon. Kehinde Odebunmi is the chairman of the faction loyal to Olujimi.
Speaking during his visit to Kolawole, Fayose said: “I painstakingly elect to support Bisi Kolawole because he is eminently qualified, a rallying point and a bridge builder. But it is still an open race for all aspirants.
“In due course, the party will conduct primary for them all. However, for me today, it is Bisi Kolawole for Governor.
“To my Political ‘Sons’ (Aspirants) and followers of the Osoko Political Assembly, it could have been ‘you’ but the will of God be done.Your time too will surely come.
“As a leader, I reserve the right to a choice and decision to which I have humbly made.”
Fayose’s media aide, Lere Olayinka, reacting to a question by a social media user on why Fayose abandoned Eleka, Olayinka said: “Abeg carry your Oyinbo giramatika go sleep.
“I respect Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka so much and I won’t say anything against him here.
“But on this one, we that chose Eleka in 2018 have chosen Bisi Kolawole for 2022.
“In 2018, Prof Eleka was not the most brilliant, he got the ticket.”
Reacting to Kolawole’s choice in another WhatsApp post, Ogunsakin said the action has ended his ambition to run for the governorship seat in the 2022 poll.
He said: “I just spoke with my darling egbon and the chairman of our great party PDP, Hon Bisi Kolowale to congratulate him as the news of his emergence reached me through sources I have utmost respect for.
“I want to say without mincing words that Bisi K is a fine gentleman and decent family man that I have so much regard for. If I was chosen he would’ve stood solidly behind me and ofcourse I’ll do same for him.
“While thanking my friends, well wishers and family members for your support thus far, this is where our journey as regards governorship race ends in fulfilment of the promise we made to our leader HE Ayo Fayose and entire leadership of OPA that we will abide by the instruction of the group in the collective interest of all and sundry.
“Please note, I’m not available for any negative discussions. Thank you. God bless OPA. God bless PDP.”
Meanwhile, the PDP in Efon Local Government, Kolawole’s council area of origin has hailed his choice by Fayose describing it as “the best decision.”
According to a statement by the Efon PDP LG Chairman, Hon. Oluyemi Ajanaku, Kolawole is the man needed for the transformation of Ekiti State.
It read: “We, the entire good people of Efon appreciate God almighty for giving us the chance and season to privilege “as our indigenous and illustrious son” is been considered as a preferred and anointed candidate by Gov. Peter Ayodele Fayose.
“No doubt, the declaration of interest on Hon. Bisi Kolawole by Gov. Ayodele Fayose remains the best decision as the preferred choice (Hon. Bisi Kolawole) is quite experience, discipline, and indeed equipped with the needed transformation potential and know-how for the revival of our state; especially at this time; when things have fall apart.
“Thanks to the God fearing Oshokomole; the leader of our great party, for the kind consideration, confidence and trust which has been painstakingly bestowed on our son.
“On this, We promise total display of support, loyalty and intensive modern campaign; particularly on the victory of our choice candidate.”