This is not the best of times for the All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State as the party leaders are clearly working at cross purposes.
The division, which has been created in the party since the build up to the 2018 governorship election, is getting more pronounced by the day, especially as fireworks among the group loyal to the governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, and others loyal to one aggrieved leader of the other are daily becoming the order of the day.
The governorship primary, which was won by Fayemi, left sores in the throats of some aspirants and prominent party members, including a former APC Deputy National Chairman, Chief Segun Oni; Presidential adviser, Senator Babafemi Ojudu; former governorship aspirant, Dr Oluwole Oluyede; former House of Representatives members, Bimbo Daramola; and Oyetunde Ojo.
While it was expected that all the aspirants, who jostled for the APC flag would rally round Fayemi, especially as the first thing he did on clinching the ticket was to extend the olive branch to them with personal visits.
Along the line, some co-contestants, including Muyiwa Olumilua, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade and Bamidele Faparusi, teamed up with the governor and became commissioners for information, health and infrastructure, respectively, but others did not.
For instance, Ojudu, who stepped down from the race about two days before the primaries, citing and alleged design to favour a particular aspirant, however, made it clear that he would support the party to victory but not Fayemi.
Oni, who came second in the primary, headed to the court to challenge the governor’s emergence as candidate, saying Fayemi did not properly resign his appointment as Minister of Mines and Steel Development, as he prayed the court to declare him (Oni) the validly elected APC governorship candidate.
Oni’s cases against the APC and Fayemi, which he lost at the high, appeal and supreme courts, served as the precursor to the many crises, which were to rock the ruling party in the state from aggrieved members.
The party, however, did not spare Oni after the litigation as the executive of his Ifaki Ward II in Ifaki Ekiti, suspended him from the party in May 2019, a decision that supporters of the former governor alleged was masterminded by Fayemi through the APC State Working Committee.
The former APC deputy national chairman, who alleged that Fayemi victimised his supporters in the party, succumbed to call by his supporters to quit the ruling party for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Oni had, on his way out of the party, said the APC was worse than the PDP in the way he and his supporters were allegedly victimised, maltreated and ostracised, adding that his expectation when the APC won the elections at the state and federal levels, was that his supporters would be part of the system, adding, however, that such had become a pipe dream.
But the APC State Chairman, Paul Omotoso, was quick to dismiss the former governor’s allegations, saying Oni’s eyes on the governorship seat were his problem with the party.
“Oni felt all appointments should be given to him and his followers. A number of those, who came with him, were given considerations in terms of appointments. So, if he is concluding that he cannot have everything the way he used to have them in the PDP, he is correct because the APC is not like the PDP,” Omotoso said.
The post-primary crises, however, got to a head recently when a group of the APC leaders, who described themselves as ‘patriots of the Ekiti project,’ called for the dissolution of the party’s executive across board, alleging that the governor had been using the executive to hound his perceived opponents.
In a statement, 15 APC leaders, including Ojudu; a former Minister of State for Works, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye; Senator Tony Adeniyi; House of Representatives members, Oyetunde Ojo, Daramola, and Robinson Ajiboye; and a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Adewale Omirin, accused Fayemi and the party executive of using suspension to victimise dissenting voices.
The aggrieved APC members, who said the party had been witnessing ‘a harvest of suspension’, explained, “Today, the following persons have been suspended or are in the process of suspension, Senator Adeniyi, Senator Ojudu, Daramola, Ojo, Akogun Bunmi Ogunleye, Chief Ben Oguntuase, Mr Dele Afolabi and Diran Fadipe.”
Last month, Ojudu escaped being suspended as members of his APC Ado Ekiti Ward 8 gave him a clean bill of health, saying he had not committed any infraction or anti-party activity that could warrant sanctions.
It was the same situation for Oluyede as the executive of his Ugele/Arokun Ward in Ikere-Ekiti exonerated him of anti-party activities, stressing that he was a committed and loyal party man, who ensured at all times that the party emerged victorious during elections in the state.
The executive councils of the two wards, who in the communiqués at the end of their meetings, passed votes of confidence in the two leaders, stated that they could not be intimidated nor induced to carry out actions that would put the party in disrepute.
The meetings were held in the wake of reports that the SWC of the party was allegedly mandated by Fayemi to ensure that those opposed to him within the party were suspended for alleged anti-party activities.
They, however, called on all stakeholders in the party to adhere to the constitution of the APC and practise the true tenets of democracy associated with the progressives.
Ojudu, who said he had got wind of moves to compel the executive of his ward to suspend him, said, “Yes, I have been told that they are making moves to suspend me. They have called the ward executive and started mounting pressure on them to sign my suspension, which they have resisted.”
The presidential aide had, a fortnight ago, alleged in an interview that Fayemi was running the affairs of the party as his personal business, adding that the governor had done little or nothing in the state since he was re-elected in 2018.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communications, Segun Dipe, who said the presidential adviser chose to always see faults, said, “There is good governance in Ekiti State” contrary to Ojudu’s assertion as he described him as a stranger, who was alien to the APC and Ekiti people.
The APC State Publicity Secretary, Mr Ade Ajayi, who said there was no iota of truth in the reports making the rounds on the planned suspension of the presidential aide, called on members of the party to disregard such.
Ajayi said, “I heard about it (suspension), but it is not true. I want our people to disregard the report. We will invite the ward executive to tell us where this is coming from and we will know what to do.”
But others, such as Daramola and Ojo, were not lucky with their ward executive as they have since been suspended in what the two leaders described as unacceptable.
Ojudu alongside Oluyede, Ojo, Chief Akomolafe, Ayo Ajibade, Ogunleye and Oguntuase, on behalf of other aggrieved leaders of the party, are in court challenging the validity of the ward, local government and state executive of the state chapter of the party.
Further hearing in the case, which was filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja and has twice been mentioned in court, will continue this month.
Summing up the discontent among party members, the ‘patriots of the Ekiti project’, in a statement entitled, ‘Time to take a stand’, in which they called for the dissolution of executive councils across board in the state, said their concern was to reverse “the unfortunate drift of our party in Ekiti State.”
According to them, the lists of the executive were allegedly compiled through undemocratic means by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; and Fayemi “deliberately to completely ostracise people out of the party activities and today, that is what has become the rule and not the exception.”
They called on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led National Caretaker Committee of the party to, as a matter of urgency, arrest the alleged use of party machineries in the state to punish members through illegal suspension and ostracization.
The aggrieved APC members, who accused Fayemi of influencing party executive to alienate and victimise critics of his government, said Buni’s intervention was necessary to save the party in the state.
They expressed fears that the APC might suffer a defeat in the 2022 governorship election in Ekiti with the existing cleavages and alleged underperformance of the Fayemi administration.”
But Ajayi urged the aggrieved members to re-examine themselves, saying Fayemi was not meddling in the party’s operations.
Ajayi said, “They are only engaging in blackmail, because they know that those suspended took the party to court and it is expulsion if the law is to be followed to the letter. We enjoy the freedom to run the party without Governor Fayemi’s interference.
“But it is sad that Senators Ojudu, Adeniyi, Adeyeye, Hons Ojo and Daramola, who were abusing Fayemi, all owed their victories to the governor’s support. They should re-examine themselves and see where they got it wrong. Let them tell us one ward where Fayemi teleguided the executive to suspend anyone? These are mere blackmail.”
The APC scribe, who charged the aggrieved members to come to the state to see Fayemi’s achievements, stated, “They are strangers in Ekiti, because they have not been coming home. If they come around, they will see what our government has done and the Ekiti people are happy.”
The Ekiti APC Stakeholders’ Caucus, at its meeting in Ado Ekiti last weekend, resolved that “an ad hoc committee be constituted to address all grievances within the APC in the state and make recommendations to the party.”
Ajayi, who disclosed resolutions at the meeting, which was shunned by the aggrieved leaders, said the stakeholders also passed a vote of confidence in Fayemi and the party executive at all levels in the state.
The APC spokesperson said the nod for Fayemi was occasioned by his giant strides in the development of the land and its people, while that for the party executive followed “winning all elections conducted so far, including the presidential, national and state assemblies as well as local government elections.”
Ajayi quoted Fayemi to have said at the meeting, “Whatever disagreement we have in the Ekiti APC is a family affair. I’m not an enemy to anyone and neither is anyone an enemy to me.”
A former deputy governor of the state, Abiodun Aluko, who expressed worries over the turn of events in the party, called for genuine reconciliation with aggrieved party members in the state “to avoid unnecessary distraction.”
Also, traditional rulers in the state, who expressed worries over the brickbats and disunity in the party, appealed to the warring politicians to sheath their swords in the interest of the development of the state.
The Chairman, Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers and the Alawe of Ilawe, Oba Adebanji Alabi, stated, “It is worrisome that for some time, some politicians have been exchanging disturbing information portraying the bad image of Ekiti State. This must stop henceforth.”