By Dirisu Yakubu
Since the return to democratic mode of governance in 1999, outgoing governors have never been in the vanguard of having their deputies succeed them. Only in about two states was there an exception to this development. However, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose’s decision to back his deputy is generating ripples, which many fear, may put paid to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) quest to retain the South-West State in the gubernatorial elections, a few weeks away.
Ekiti State governor and chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, Ayodele Fayose was last week in the news for reasons not exactly noble or totally unreasonable. Prominent politicians and governorship aspirants seeking to replace him all accused him of hijacking the state resources in the promotion of the aspiration of the Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Professor Kolapo Olusola popularly known as Eleka.
The duo of Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the PDP and Senator Abiodun Olujimi had in the course of submitting the governorship’s Nomination and Expression of Interest Forms at the party’s national secretariat earlier in the week, accused Fayose of openly campaigning for Olusola in a manner they feared, would likely compromise the integrity of the PDP gubernatorial primaries.
While Olujimi vowed to soldier on regardless of the alleged climate of fear the activities of the governor have wrecked on the psyche of the delegates, Adeyeye accused Fayose of funding Eleka with state resources; a development he said could impact negatively on the outcome of the July 14 elections for the party.
Truth be told, Fayose has done very little to calm the frayed nerves of these party bigwigs, what with the huge amount he allegedly spent to bankroll the submission of the nomination form by his endorsed contestant.
But the governor, a chronic critic of the Muhammadu Buhari administration is quick to dismiss “these fears” as misplaced, as he continues to insist that he has the right to support a candidate he is sure of delivering democratic dividends to the people.
The governor is right to the extent that his right to think the way he has chosen should and must not be taken away from him. Until recently, commentators in both the traditional and online platforms were almost unanimous in their condemnation of governors’ failure to work in the furtherance of their deputies’ ambition to succeed them.
The argument then and now has been that outgoing governors with credibility burden prefer ‘an outsider’ to a deputy who knows virtually everything that transpired in the course of his principal’s administration and as such was always considered a risk factor in the books of the governor.
All these however changed when in Zamfara State, North-West Nigeria, the then governor, Sani Yerima endorsed and supported the aspiration of the erstwhile deputy governor, Umaru Shinkafi who would go on to win the governorship poll in 2007.
In the 2015 general elections, the geo-political zone repeated the feat with the electoral victory of Abdullahi Ganduje as Kano State governor. Ganduje, who was the State’s Deputy Governor in the administration of Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso enjoyed massive support and tremendous goodwill from the latter; a development that in no small way, facilitated his landslide outing at the polls.
In Edo State, the hitherto robust relationship between former governor, Adams Oshiomhole and the ex-deputy governor, Pius Odubu dramatically turned frosty immediately the latter indicated interest in his boss’ job in 2016. The rest as they say became history as the former union leader threw his weight behind his eventual successor, Godwin Obaseki.
Thus, Governor Fayose’s decision to back a man who in the past four years has been learning the rudiments of governance from him is commendable.
That said, the allegations of threats and harassment of others in the race must be condemned by every lover of democracy not only in Ekiti State but throughout the nation.