By Rotimi Ojomoyela
Ahead of the 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State, intrigues on who would succeed Governor Kayode Fayemi is already tearing the All Progressives Congress, APC, apart.
Lately, the Ekiti APC had been embroiled in accusations and counter-accusations leading to suspension galore in the troubled party. Since his emergence, Governor Fayemi has left nobody in doubt about the category of people he considers as possible successors and he has been measured in place to ensure easy passage for his would-be-successor.
The first was to consolidate his hold on the state’s party apparatchik, which was to ensure that his loyalists occupy the structure of the party from the ward level to the state.
It was not surprising that one of his loyalists, Mr Paul Omotoso, a former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs during his first coming, took over the chairmanship seat from Chief Jide Awe, a battle-tested stalwart of the party.
It was perceived entrenchment of Fayemi’s core supporters and increasing patronage of this class of party stalwarts that drew the ire of the aggrieved group under the leadership of the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu.
Grouse of Ojudu’s group
Those in the group are Senator Dayo Adeyeye; Senator Tony Adeniyi; former Member of the House of Representatives, Hon Oyetunde Ojo; Engr Ayo Ajibade; Hon Femi Adeleye; and Bunmi Ogunleye. Others are Akin Akomolafe, Bamigboye Adegoroye, Wole Oluyede, Olusoga Owoeye, Dele Afolabi, Toyin Oluwasola and Ben Oguntuwase.
They complained of being left out in the scheme of things, especially in patronage, appointment and other pecks, which according to them was a natural entitlement of party stalwarts, who had expended time and resources for the electoral success of Fayemi.
They accused Fayemi of not only single-handedly constituting the executive council of the party from the wards to state level but also exercising absolute power over appointments both in the state and at the federal level.
According to them, only his cronies and supporters are being considered for patronage and appointments.
A political analyst in the state described it as a smart approach at laying the foundation of his succession plan, which according to them has locked out those not in his good book.
Fayemi’s 2023 ambition
Asides Fayemi’s succession plan, there was also his rumoured 2023 presidential ambition, which has gained critical currency in recent time.
The ambition has pitched him against the foot soldiers of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is considered to be nursing the same ambition. Analysts said that the battle for the soul of the party in Ekiti was not only Fayemi’s succession plan but also his rumoured presidential ambition.
According to them, there is need for him to secure his home base by entrusting it to those who are not only loyal to him but also share his vision, a situation which the Ojudu-led group are opposed to.
They expressed fears that the party might suffer defeat in the next governorship election in 2022 with the existing cleavages. Based on this, the group went to court seeking the dissolution of the ward and state executives of the party.
Perhaps, in a bid to appease them, the party set up an eight-man reconciliation and peace committee to pacify the warring factions across different levels of the party in the state.
The committee was headed by former APC state Chairman, Chief Jide Awe, while Mr Biodun Akin-Fasae, ex-special adviser, Governor’s office to Governor Kayode Fayemi, is the secretary. Other members were Mrs Ronke Okusanya, Mr Abiodun Ajayi, Tunde Fakoyede, Mr Tayo Ekundayo, Hon Niyi Olajide and Alhaji Teslim Animashaun.
Palliatives, Olive branch
New appointments were made into boards and commissions, the cabinet was reshuffled to accommodate some aggrieved members and some of their foot soldiers.
Unhappy that the group refused to heed the directive of President Buhari that all cases should be withdrawn from court, the party slammed suspension on members of the Ojudu-led group.
According to the party Publicity Secretary, Mr Ade Ajayi, their suspension was based on the recommendation of the investigative/disciplinary committee inaugurated by SEC to investigate the disobedience of certain members to the directive of NEC of June 25, 2020, which had directed members of the party not to institute any court action and to withdraw existing cases in courts.
In return, the Ojudu led aggrieved group constituted themselves into interim state executives, dissolved the ward executives and the Paul Omotoso- led state executives. They did not stop there, Governor Fayemi came under their hammer as he was summarily suspended from the party for alleged anti-party activities.
APC wades in
Not willing to add Ekiti crisis to loads of crises his committee was contending with, the Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee of the party headed by Gov. Mai Mala Buni immediately put an end to the drama by declaring the ‘suspension’ of Governor Fayemi, as well as other ‘indefinite suspension’ of other party members a nullity.
A source in the party told Vanguard that the Buni-led committee had instructed the state chapter to conduct investigations on the alleged accusation and counter-accusation of anti-party activities of the two sides. The source said there was never a factional executive in Ekiti chapter of the party.
The source further revealed that the investigation has been concluded and the report sent to the national secretariat in Abuja and it awaits further directive from the Buni-led Caretaker Committee.
However, the Ojudu led group are resolute in their demand that the only way a lasting peace and genuine reconciliation could be guaranteed is the dissolution of the state and ward executives of the party to give way for a new congress that would elect other executives that will reflect the will and choice of every member of the party in Ekiti.
However, the other faction remained unyielding saying such would not be allowed as the executives from the ward to the state levels were properly and constitutionally constituted.
While the two gladiators, Gov Fayemi and Senator Ojudu are battling for the soul of the party, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state are praying that the crisis should linger to give political mileage in 2022.
Meanwhile, the national secretariat of the party has constituted a reconciliation committee headed by the Kaduna state governor Malam Nasir el- Rufai to resolve the crisis.
The committee which was inaugurated in Abuja on Monday has former governors of lmo and Lagos states, Rochas Okorocha and Retired General Buba Marwa as members is to reconcile Fayemi, Ojudu and others in the state.