Ekiti State and her highly controversial Governor have remained in the news mostly for wrong and unproductive reasons. This has greatly elicited interest from Nigerians, both at home and in the Diaspora, as to who will succeed Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose come 2018.
The antics and political maneuvering have set the stage for a dramatic electioneering of epic proportions. Will Fayose self-destruct at his attempts to self-preserve? Will the APC’s division precipitate into an implosion? Will the party close its ranks, assuage aggrieved parties and wage a formidable assault to wrest powers back from the PDP? All burning questions that continue to arouse interest in developments in the state and how they all play out.
Many prominent citizens of the state are already scheming for the coveted seat, but there are some contending issues in Ekiti politics that will play out in the coming governorship election. Perhaps, the most potent of the issues is from which part of the state should the next governor emanate from. This births “The Southern Agenda” and agitation which continues to brew and gather storm.
Ordinarily, this should not have been an issue if some self-proclaimed godfathers of Ekiti politics had exhibited some level of decency and fairness.
As with other states of Nigeria, Ekiti State is constitutionally sitting on a tripod of North, Central and South senatorial districts.
In retrospect, since the return of democracy in 1999, the state has had five elected governorship regimes. They have all come from Central and North senatorial districts of the state, leaving the people of the South feeling marginalized which makes the argument for power shift more apt than ever before.
Admittedly, there is nowhere in the constitution of the Progressives where zoning is enshrined, yet equity and fair play have always prevailed in the internal electoral process producing governorship candidates in Ekiti.
The Ekiti Central senatorial district gave the first shot at the governorship seat in 1999 with the election of Adeniyi Adebayo. When he sought re-election in 2003 there was no opposition to his candidacy at the time, although he went on to lose the general election to another party candidate from the same senatorial district as him.
Following the conclusion of that regime in 2007, however, an All Party’s Leaders meeting was held at Ise-Ekiti in October 2004 which had in attendance representatives of all registered political parties in the state at the time representing all three senatorial districts.
Some far-reaching decisions were reached at the end of the stakeholders meeting after which a communiqué was issued.
Topping the resolutions of these leaders as listed in the communiqué was that Ekiti people would not allow one senatorial district or one local government to utilise the state governorship slot for more than two terms of eight years, as the governorship position must go to another senatorial district either in the North or South senatorial districts by 2007.
Another resolution at the meeting was that the governorship slot will not be zoned to individuals but to senatorial districts (or local governments) and it should not matter if the generally accepted maximum term of eight years for a zone were shared between one or two governors from one or two different political parties.
This landmark agreement and principles guided the activities leading to 2007 elections in the state. Hence, the whole state cooperated with the Northern district to produce Segun Oni and later followed by Kayode Fayemi as governors, both from the North senatorial district.
Naturally, the South by that agreement should have immediately followed since the North had then completed two terms. Sadly, this never happened.
When Fayemi decided to run for second term in 2014, again the progressives supported him to the effect that no aspirants from the South district ran against him. Fayemi lost his bid to another party candidate, who turned out to again come from the Central district.
So, not only did the South miss that opportunity, it went back to the Central district for the 3rd time which is clearly not in line with the guiding principles laid out by the All Party’s Leaders in 2004.
Now as political activities towards the successor to Fayose hot up, it is only fair and sensible that the south senatorial district be supported to produce the next governor. Politically, picking a candidate (and a credible one for that matter) from the southern senatorial district of the state will be a wise decision considering it is the zone with the highest number of local councils and political wards in the state.
Having complied with the ‘gentleman’ agreement of 2004 and cooperated with other zones to govern the state, it will only be fair, equitable and legitimate for the southern senatorial district to be allowed to have their turn at the Ekiti Government House, without compromising on credibility and electability of whoever emerges as candidate.