By Rotimi Ojomoyela
As the race for the July 14, 2018, governorship election in Ekiti State gathers momentum, aggrieved members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are concerned about the prospects of having a free and fair primary.
To avoid a repeat of Ondo experience in Ekiti, some of the sidelined party leaders have been seeking ways of making Governor Ayo Fayose rescind the decision to adopt his deputy, Professor Kolapo Ishola as successor.
Among the aggrieved members are five governorship aspirants.
The include Owoseni Ajayi, a former Publicity Secretary of the party, Dayo Adeyeye, Senator BiodunOlujimi, Former Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Dare Bejide, and Bisi Omoyeni, a former Deputy Governor to Fayose.
They said the action of the governor betrayed his earlier stance that his deputy would walk away with him at the expiration of his tenure.
Already, the aggrieved aspirants have petitioned the party’s national leadership.
Mark’s committee calls for calm
Consequently, the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus swung into action by setting up a reconciliation committee led by the Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District, Senator David Mark.
Other members of the committee include Senator EnyinayaAbaribe, Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure, Alhaji Yusuf Ayitogo, Ambassador Fidelia Njeze and South west Vice Chairman of PDP, Dr. Eddy Olafeso.
Speaking to newsmen after a stormy session with the parties involved in Abuja, Olafesosaid Fayose and all the aspirants who attended the meeting agreed to conduct of a credible primary election.
Olafeso revealed further that Fayose had agreed to work with any of the contestants that would emerge even if the person is not his preferred candidate.
Senator David Mark had cautioned the gladiators that only peace, justice and free and fair primary would guarantee success at the poll.
The former Senate President appreciated the warring parties for their display of maturity and understanding towards the resolution of the dispute.
But what remains to be seen is whether all the parties involved would abide by the spirit and letter of the accord.
Fayose must not flout verbal agreement
Speaking with Vanguard yesterday, Owoseni Ajayi, a former urged Fayose not to flout the verbal agreement he had with the aspirants in the presence of some eminent Nigerians, saying the consequences will be grave.
He said the agreement was verbal, adding they expect the governor to put all interests, both perceived and real aside and abide by the agreement.
Owoseni told Vanguard that Fayose has no hold on any of the delegate who would elect the party’s governorship candidate.
He disclosed that the National Secretariat of the party under the leadership of Secondus would be responsible for the election of three delegates per ward in the 177 wards of the state, adding that those delegates would, in turn, elect the party’s candidate at the primary.
Owoseni said he expects the delegates to assess the candidates on merit and not through the influence of any extraneous factor.
On the rumour that aggrieved aspirants were planning to dump the party, he retorted that moving to another party was not on the card.
He, however said date for the primary has not been fixed, but said it could be sometime in April.
In the same vein, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, also declared that Governor Fayose will not be allowed to manipulate the party’s primary.
Endorsing his deputy holds no water — Adeyeye
Speaking with newsmen in Ado-Ekiti during the week, Adeyeye said Fayose’s endorsement of his deputy, “no longer holds water with the verdict of the David Mark-led panel that all aspirants would be allowed to partake in a credible shadow election.”
According to him, the national leadership of the party has assured all aspirants of a level playing field at the governorship primary, adding that Mark recommended that all aspirants be allowed to participate in the primary.
He said: “The governor has understood that it is better for the party to win this election. Therefore, nobody will be intimidated, harassed and punished for supporting any aspirant.
“Those that will organise the primary will not be lodged at the Government House, if anybody believes that Fayose will write the list of delegates, such a thing will not happen.’’
Owoseni told Vanguard that the state leadership has no constitutional role to play in the governorship primary.
He said: “The State Exco has declared their support for governor Fayose’s preferred choice, going to them for anything would amount to dancing naked in the market square.
“We have confidence in the Uche Secondus-led national Executive Council. Ekiti is the litmus test. We believe they would want to ensure internal democracy in the party.
“They know that if they lose Ekiti, the possibility of losing Osun and 2019 general election is real.”