It is a few days to the primary election by the All Progressives Congress (APC), to pick its candidate for the July 14, 2018, governorship election in Ekiti State. As expected, high-level politicking is in the air.
Before the “boys” were separated from the “men,” no fewer than 50 persons had painted the state red with different posters soliciting support for their gubernatorial ambition. When the party asked aspirants to show their commitment by backing their aspirations with the payment of nomination fees, only 28 scaled the hurdle to set the tone for the May 5, 2018, primary of the party.
When the field was rowdy and now that it is less clumsy, a number of people have been regarded as top contenders, such as the immediate past governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; ex-Governor Olusegun Oni; Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele; Senator Femi Ojudu; Bamidele Faparusi; Femi Bamisile; Senator Gbenga Aluko; Oyetunde Ojo and Bimbo Daramola.
Fayemi is seen as a frontrunner in the race because of some factors. He has deep pockets. Shortly after leaving office, he was appointed Minister of Solid Minerals by President Muhammadu Buhari. His link with the people at the centre has given him the opportunity to get some of his associates appointments at the federal level. These people are expected to rally round him as the need arises now.
Also, when the APC was being formed in 2013, it was a few months to the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states. The national leadership of the party decided to allow the former executives of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to continue in office as APC executives. They have not been changed till now. In fact, Fayemi boosted the Ekiti executive of the party with his own men when leaving office after losing the election to Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Fayemi is also enjoying the support of some people at the federal level, chief of whom is said to be President Buhari. Not to be caught unawares, other aspirants have gone in search of godfathers too.
Apart from Buhari, another prominent politician they are seeking support from is former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Oni and Ojudu are getting support from Tinubu. It is even said that Tinubu has extracted a commitment from Oni that Ojo, his son-in-law, would be made Oni’s running mate as soon as the former governor clinches the APC ticket.
While the primary should to be an easy ride for Fayemi, going by some factors supposedly in his favour, he has been contending with a number of hurdles and stiff antagonism. Somebody who is seen as the leader of the party in the state is now fighting a battle for political survival, no thanks to enemies within.
This came to the fore during his recent public declaration of interest when he said most of the people he helped into public office became ingrates.
Ojudu, for instance, rode on Fayemi’s back to become senator in 2011. Daramola, who was head of Fayemi’s campaign organisation for the 2014 poll, is also up in arms against his former boss. His grouse is that, when he started nursing his governorship ambition, he told Fayemi, who reportedly said he should go ahead, since, he, Fayemi, was not interested.
Worrisome is the signal that even the executives of Ekiti APC that Fayemi helped put in place, and who were at his beck and call while in office, may have turned their back on him.
No wonder, the day the state party chairman, Chief Jide Awe, was let off the hook for alleged murder by the Ekiti State Government, his first port of call was Tinubu’s Adaba FM Radio Station in Akure, Ondo State, to lambast Fayemi.
Fayemi is fighting a battle that might send him into political oblivion, if he loses this primary election. How would he justify his status as the leader of the APC in Ekiti? He must fight tooth and nail to remain relevant. He will have to fire from all cylinders and roll away all the stops.
•Alade, a social affairs commentator, sent this piece from Ado-Ekiti