Kenneth Udeh – Abuja
Come September 2018, the Southwest will be witnessing yet another change in political power in one of its states with the swearing in of the Dr. John Olukayode Fayemi as the new Governor of Ekiti State under the platform of the ruling Party the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The contentious election which became the center-point of the nation’s political discuss was held on July 14th and it was a straight contest between the APC candidate former minister for Solid Minerals Dr. kayode Fayemi and the PDP’s out-going Deputy Governor of the State cum Academician Dr. Olushola Eleka.
The results produced Dr. Kayode Fayemi “JKF” of the All Progressives Congress Party as the overall exponent of the keenly contested election.
His victory under the political platform of the APC has been described by many political commentators as a “hard fought” one. It has also been largely attributed to certain factors both human and material in order to wrestle power from the incumbent grip of the People’s Democratic Party under the Governorship of Ayodele Fayose.
It is no news that the Political character and stance of the soon to be “erstwhile” Governor all through his Four year tenure was largely spent on making derogatory remarks about his personal disdain for the Buhari led administration.
Not also forgetting how he had on many occasions pronounced and wished President Buhari “dead” or “incapacitated” during the President’s Medical leave.
His series of public expressions of his confidence at retaining power with the candidacy of his Deputy was always at the front burner of the media prior to the elections not also forgetting his “stomach infrastructure” policy which became an “invasive norm” among the people of the state.
The out-going Governor Fayose typical to that of an emperor had on many occasions boasted of his grassroots political prowess and his political grip of the people.
Like a loudmouthed braggart and demagogue he preyed on ordinary people’s naivety and poor economic condition through a self-styled hobnobbing with area boys, okada riders and others, while also engaging in public show of eating and patronizing food stuff sellers at roadsides and market places.
The APC on its path were fully armed in the build up to the elections with the full knowledge of the political orientation and gimmicks of out-going Governor Ayo Fayose the APC approached the election with every political machinery at its democratic disposal.
Thus deploying its distinguished political heavy weights which included, the 77 man committee headed by Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, the Doyen and APC leader in the South West, Bola Tinubu, Gov. Yahaya Bello, whose strategic influence in the election delivered a bloc vote of Igbira people to Fayemi and the newly elected Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomole. Others are: Gov. Akeredolu, Segun Oni, Rotimi Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola, Chris Ingige and many others.
However, the victory did not come on a sole effort of either Fayemi or his local team of agents and mobilizers; rather, it was a product of concerted efforts of key indigenous and non-indigenous individuals under a unified platform of the APC.
Although, Fayemi himself has been a reoccurring decimal in the politics of the state ever since elder statesman, Segun Oni was dislodged in the “crop rotation politics” between Fayose and Fayemi, but some exogenous factors worked for his favour. One of which is the manner in which the incumbent governor orchestrated the emergence of his Deputy, Prof. Olusola Eleka, as the PDP flagbearer in spite of protest by other candidates.
This singular act of impunity and self-imposed lordship style of governor Fayose prompted some bigwigs such as Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Senator Raji Rasaki, Hon. Gbosa from Ikere, Barr. Oweseni (his former Attorney) and many others with massive supporters to decamp to APC. Hence, various leaders of his foot soldier became his foes and delivered their polling units if not entire constituencies to Fayemi.
One individual whose effort to Fayemi’s victory stands effulgently amongst others is that of the former Governor of Abia State and APC Chieftain Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. The support and commitment of the former Governor towards the APC’s grip of the Southwest could be traced prior to the build up to the Election Day in the state.
The initial concerted effort of Dr. kalu to APC’s victory in Ekiti state was the commencement of the South West Peace Tour initiative which was resisted by out-going Governor Fayose.
The Former Governor of Abia State and Chieftain of the All progressives Congress inspired by his pragmatic and progressive nature for democratic values had embarked on a “Peace Tour of the Southwest”.
The major aim of the peace tour was to douse the tension in the nation which was been created as result of the “hate messages” and was further heightened by the letter written by the Former President Olusegun Obasanjo which was aimed at be-smirching the opinion of Nigerians on the good works of President Buhari led administration.
The Peace Tour involved Dr. Kalu embarking on a voyage of the Southwestern states meeting with major stakeholders which comprised of Traditional rulers , youths and community gatherings where he emphasized the need for peaceful coexistence by tolerating one other despite political , religious or tribal differences.
The APC Chieftain also used the peace tour as a selling point to succinctly enumerate and explain the numerous achievements of the All Progressives Congress under the leadership of President Buhari and the need for the Southwest States to consolidate on these achievements and other ongoing projects by voting the APC in the 2018/2019 elections.
Moreso, Dr. Orji Kalu urged the people to disregard the letter by Former President Obasanjo as it was based on his selfish gains. Dr. Kalu was welcomed by the major stakeholders.
The message of Dr. Kalu was greeted with wide acceptance by major stakeholders despite their political differences one of which was the response of the Former Governor of Oyo State Rashidi Ladoja whose opinion was in consonance with that of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu despite not being a member of the APC.
Unfortunately, the Peace Tour initiative of Dr. Kalu which was widely commended was resisted by Governor Ayodele Fayose. The tour however arrived Ekiti in grand style against the stern warning and opposition to keep off, by the out-going governor who understood the significance of such tour.
The traditional rulers in the state were arm twisted on the orders of emperor Fayose not to receive the “Peace Team” led by Orji Uzor Kalu.
The good people of the Fountain of Knowledge state defied the orders of Fayose as they trooped out in their large numbers to cheer Orji Kalu and embrace his stentorian message of support for Buhari’s re-election and the APC victory in the just concluded gubernatorial election.
The presence of the Southeast icon in Ekiti state sent a rallying message to the people from the Southeast extraction living in the state that besieged the residence of Ekiti APC Chieftain and former Speaker of the Ekiti state House of Assembly Hon. Femi Bamisile who had earlier welcomed Dr. Kalu into the state.
The Igbos as well as other citizens of the state trooped in their numbers to listen to Kalu’s message of peace and APC’s message of good governance on the need to vote in an APC candidate in the state.
Addressing the mammoth crowd, Dr. Kalu highlighted the achievements of President Buhari’s administration particularly in the Southeast region particularly the N16.7 billion which was assigned to the South East with a priority on roads which are the Enugu/Onitsha and Enugu/Port Harcourt dual carriage way. The two projects are currently on-going with significant progress.
Also on the 2nd Niger Bridge, President Buhari without prejudice to the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), that former President Jonathan contrived without paying a dime. Buhari had paid in N14 billion to the contractor and has N7 billion in 2017 budget.
Kalu pointed out that the country would not make any significant progress if the citizens were not united, saying that the country is an asset that should be harnessed.
The former Governor spent quality time in giving the people salient reasons the state will be better off under an APC Government.
Another laudable selfless effort was made by Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu on July 9th the eve of the grand rally of the All Progressives Congress by travelling to the state yet again on a consolidation meeting with the Igbo leaders and other important stakeholders.
The APC Chieftain led the delegation that met with the leaders of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo where he sought the support of the large Igbo population in Ekiti for Fayemi at a separate meeting.
Also, as an illustrious man from the South East, he was on ground to meet and secure massive support for Fayemi and APC from the Igbos resident in the state, who are the largest population aside the indigenous people in Ekiti State.
Kalu, during the forum with the Igbo said: “Fayemi has promised to give financial supports to their businesses if elected governor, the way he did in his first term.
He urged them to discountenance the hate speeches being peddled around by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), labeling APC as anti-Igbo and Islamic party, describing these as attempts to smear the image of the party.
Kalu said Fayemi remains the only person that can bring Ekiti out of squalor, saying the present governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose shouldn’t be allowed to impose whom he described a ‘cowboy’ on the people.
The former Abia governor said Fayemi is more experienced, exposed and has a better pedigree in governance than the PDP candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola.
Kalu said: “You have to vote for a man that is better equipped for the job. Don’t listen to the rumour that APC is an Islamic party.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari came, he inherited a massively looted economy. The PDP people were just going to the Central Bank of Nigeria to collect money on the order of the then President.
“You know what it means for the CBN to be looted and that was why we experienced the economic recession when Buhari came and today we are out of it.
“APC remains the best party for Ndigbo. I cannot be bribed by anybody to deceive you. I would rather die than to deceive you because we are one.
“President Buhari did the second Niger Bridge. He had also awarded many road contracts in the Southeast. Did former President Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Yar’Adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan do all these?
“President Buhari might not have given us many appointments, but he had performed for the Southeast in terms of facilities and public utilities.
“If President Buhari is bad, I will be the first person to expose him. Please, vote for APC in this election. Make sure you spread the gospel and you will never regret it.
“He has promised to give you appointments in government and give you other support(s) and I know the promise shall be fulfilled.”
The Governor elect Dr. Kayode Fayemi at that meeting in his recognition of the intellectual economic prowess of the Southeasterners in Nigeria made a commitment to treat the Igbo and the workers with dignity and honour if given the chance, promising to fulfill all pledges made to these groups if given the mandate to govern Ekiti again.
Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu’s strategic peace tour to the South West region including Ekiti state in April this year, contributed in whittling down the influence of the loquacious incumbent governor and dispelling Obasanjo’s dampening missive against the leadership of the APC.
The tour went to Ekiti against stern warning and opposition to keep off, by the out-going governor who understood the significance of such tour.
Also, as an illustrious man from the South East, he was on ground to meet and secure massive support for Fayemi and APC from the Igbos resident in the state, who are the largest population aside the indigenous people.
Furthermore, inspired by the zeal to further consolidate on his physical mobilization of support for Dr. Kayode Fayemi. Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu who is also a successful publisher knowing fully well the impact of social media in politics took to his official Media Twitter handle @OUKtweets to mobilize more support for the former minister.
Prior to and after the elections Dr. Kalu mobilized support for the APC candidate some of them read:
July 9th; “ Ahead of tomorrow’s Mega Rally I met with the APC National Chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomole and our Party’s Governorship Candidate for Ekiti State Dr. Olukayode Fayemi.
By the grace of God and the ultimate power of the people victory is assured”.
July 9th ”Ealier today I met with the Igbo Community in Ekiti state together with the Governors of Ondo and Ogun state Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and Senator Ibikunle Amosun I am glad by the unanimous endorsement of the Igbo community for our party’s candidate Dr. Kayode Fayemi”.
Dr. kalu’s tweet on July 10th read: “What I witnessed at the rally today in Ekiti State is an attestation that Dr. Fayemi is so much loved by the people they defied the hindrances put in place and trooped out in their thousands to show their resolution and solidarity. It’s a new dawn for the good people of Ekiti State.”
On the Election Day Dr. Orji Kalu also tweeted Dr. Kayode Fayemi to victory it read:
“My heart and prayers are with you as you coast to victory in the on-going elections in your state #EkitiDecides2018”.
A major peak point of his social media support was his July 15th tweet which suggested that the former Governor was awake all through the previous night in anticipation for the announcement of the election results. The tweet read:
“I am still up waiting to hear the final results by INEC @inecnigeria I am highly hopeful and expectant that the voice of the people shall prevail @kfayemi. By God’s grace it shall end in praise not in “pains” with a broken neck” #EkitiDecides2018”
Records show that over Eighty six Thousand twitter users showed impressions to the tweet with majority of them awed by the show of love and commitment of Dr. Kalu to APC’s victory.
The obstreperous emergence of Dr. Kayode Fayemi also attracted a subsequent congratulatory tweet from Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu which read:
I want to specially congratulate Dr. John Olukayode Fayemi for this hard-fought victory, our party stakeholders & the good people of Ekiti State for this. It’s great to see the S.W. reconnected to the center once again & it ended in severe praise not in “pains”.
Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu’s political “Nicety” at the elections in Ekiti state is a sincere demonstration of a man who is a “go getter” and a distinguished individual whose dexterity in achieving certain goals. The former Governor can be described as a “true friend who helps a friend” regardless of any tribal, religious or political affiliation. He’s dedication in remaining true to cause for the benefit of the overall is indeed phenomenal and worthy of emulation.
Orji Uzor Kalu’s role and frantic effort cannot be elided in the chronicles of events that culminated in Fayemi’s victory even in time to come. Although, lots of other factors which some are highlighted in this write up contributed to Fayemi’s victory but take it or leave it, if Fayemi was not in the APC and if the notable individuals mentioned here did not work for him, then he might not have emerged as the Governor-elect in Ekiti state.