The declaration of the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Dr. Kayode Fayemi as the winner of the Ekiti State governorship election was reflective of the cyclic turn of the governorship of the state since the advent of the Fourth Republic. Since the Alliance for Democracy, AD first won the governorship of the state in 1999; no particular political party had won re-election in a governorship contest.
The AD was ousted in 2003 by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s Mr. Ayodele Fayose who benefited from the blitzkrieg of the PDP through the Southwest that year.
Fayose did not survive the turmoil of office and was ousted in an impeachment exercise that was, however, to be subsequently declared void.
Though the PDP was declared the winner of the 2007 governorship election with its candidate, Engr. Segun Oni, that declaration was subsequently overturned in favour of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN’s Dr. Kayode Fayemi in 2010.
Dr. Fayemi’s bid for re-election was defeated in 2014 as Mr. Fayose regained favour with the electorate in an election that was characterised by heavy policing as that of last Saturday.
Fayose who is completing his second term in office this September was not eligible for another term, but that did not make him any less of a factor or player in the election of his successor last weekend. In fact, Mr. Fayose was more of a factor, and he is bound to take the defeat heavier than even the PDP’s candidate, Prof. Olasola Eleka, who is the outgoing deputy governor of the state.
Eleka, who was Fayose’s hand-chosen successor was the outgoing governor’s man to undo the cyclic rotation of power between the PDP and the other political parties. Had he succeeded, it would have been the first time that a sitting political party would have legitimately recycled itself in office. However, despite everything that the governor threw into the game he came out the loser in a contest that predictably ran down to the wire.
It is significant that in nearly every conversation and analysis that is following the declaration of the result that Eleka who was the candidate was not being seen as the loser; rather, the face of defeat has been that of his principal, the man that he had respectably called his boss.
The outgoing administration entered the contest with the majority of workers not having received any salary this year. State civil servants according to the latest figures are being owed five months salary arrears, local government workers are owed eight months while pensioners are owed ten months.
On the eve of the election, there were reports of civil servants and pensioners receiving between N3,000 and N5,000 credit alert as mobilisation to vote for the PDP.
For Ekiti people who hold their dignity with pride, it was bound to be seen as an insult especially for the citizenry who had not received their salaries.
On Election Day ordinary voters were given N4,000 for their mobilisation. The APC gave more money ranging from N5,000 to N10,000, but that was not the deciding factor. The voters who collected the money acted according to their conscience on who had done them better.
Even more, gratuity for former civil servants has not been paid since 2012.
The abandonment of Fayose
Fayose’s seeming brashness led to the exit of several grassroots mobilisers from the party leading to the situation that on Election Day he was about the only prominent PDP personality in the country that was recognisable. Perhaps the only other person that could draw nationwide recognition was Senator Biodun Olujumi, the Senate Deputy Minority Whip. She was the only one standing who refused to defect after other nationally recognisable persons had left.
Among those who left the party for Fayose were Senator Gbenga Aluko, Senator Ayo Arise, former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; former chairman of the state chapter of the party, Ropo Adesanya; former PDP spokesman Taiwo Olatunbosun, former minister of agriculture, Senator Bode Olowoporoku, Ambassador Dare Bejide, former Deputy Governor Bisi Omoyeni, former Speaker Clement Akinyemi, former Speaker Femi Bamisile. Besides members of the House of Assembly, Fayose’s former commissioner for justice also left his cabinet and the party and defected to the APC.
Unarguably, the most decisive blow on Fayose could have been the last minute defection of former national PDP publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye.
Prince Adeyeye was a collaborator with Fayose in the victory of 2014 and had served as a minister in the Goodluck Jonathan administration under whose tenure the election that brought back Fayose was done.
Was there a covenant between both men at the time of the 2014 election? No one among the two has said so, but Adeyeye felt sufficiently betrayed and disappointed after the primaries to defect from the PDP. He left the PDP despite publicly claiming that the primary election in which he took second place was free and fair.
Adeyeye subsequently was able to pull many leading patrons of the PDP to move with him to the APC, notably including some members of the House of Assembly.
Last weekend, Adeyeye was given the role of coordinating two local governments, Ise Orun and Emure Local Government Areas.
The PDP won Emure by 7,121 votes to 7,048 votes a margin of 73 votes. In his native Ise Orun, the APC won by 11,908 votes to the 6,297 votes polled by PDP, a margin of 5,611 votes which has proved to be the highest margin of victory for either party in all 16 local government areas of the state.
Fayose would undoubtedly be ruing the fact that he perhaps could have put in more effort to mollify his former friend, Adeyeye. Even before the results were collated, Adeyeye had proved his mettle when he delivered his polling booth to Fayemi by 92% with 175 votes to the 15 scored by the PDP.
Brash and Brawn
Governor Fayose had won nationwide popularity with his streetwise attitude, but it is doubtful if that attitude won him any serious approval among the Ekiti who have the reputation of having the most schooled persons in the country.
A victory for Eleka would probably have radically altered the perception of the governor of Ekiti State, but it would also have meant that Faysoe had gotten away with his streetwise habit. That was probably an issue for many Ekiti people!