By Rotimi Ojomoyela, Ado Ekiti
Hon Karounwi Oladapo, a former Deputy Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly and incumbent Caretaker Zonal Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in South-West, speaks on rumoured presidential ambition of Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State ahead of 2023.
Why the clamour for Governor Kayode Fayemi to contest for the 2023 presidential election?
There is no sentiment about this because, when you look at my trajectory, my experience in Nigeria and years I have been occupying political posts, I am no longer a baby or political novice. So when I am advocating for somebody, the larger interest of Nigerians should be something that is driving me. First and foremost, I have written severally that anybody above seventy years of age is not fit for Nigeria presidency anymore.
The current President, Muhammad Buhari, was voted into office because of the confidence Nigerians has in him due to his integrity built over the years but on account of age he is not there. He is too old to be President but the integrity that is working for him is still working for him; naturally Nigerians cannot tolerate another septuagenarian after President Buhari. I made this point even before the #EndSARS protests and when the protests came, one of their major points was that they could no longer live in a country that will be govern by anybody above even sixty years of age.
Our national leader, highly respected Senator Ahmed Tinubu, I love him because he has paid his due but the fact remains that by 2023 he will be above 70 years of age. I cannot in all good conscience support that even if my father or my mother is contesting for President and they are above 70 by 2023 I will not support them. Dr Kayode Fayemi that I am advocating for is 55 years of age, a senior youth within the bracket of the ‘sorosoke’ generation’s request, that is number one.
Number two, When you look at the presidential arrangement of Nigeria, whether by design or default or coincidence, If you look at it from 1999, you will see that we had Obasanjo, a Christian President by religion from the South. After Obasanjo, power shifted to Yar’Adua, a Muslim from the North and power again shifted to a Christian Jonathan from the South before power again moved to Buhari, a northern Muslim. By reasoning, one would naturally want to deduce that the next President should be a Christian southerner.
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a Muslim and that is No No. Muslims have not succeeded themselves by the analysis I made of the Nigerian history. Fayemi is a Christian from the South and the crown fits him. But if I support Tinubu, some people will tell me that Nigeria is dominated by Christians and Muslims, and divided on the basis of North and South; on account of South, Tinubu is qualified but on religion a Muslim is spending eight years now, are you saying another Muslim will continue?
No, in fact the stability of Nigeria will be threatened. You cannot market a 70 year old and above in Nigeria for the presidency and expect it to sell. Fayemi on account of age is qualified and it is the turn of Christians. Thirdly I am an Ekiti person. When you look at the prominent positions occupied by South-West states at the national level over the years, it is only Ekiti that history has nothing to record for.
Ogun has produced President, Vice President, presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate, Oyo has produced leader of Senate, Lagos has the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Osun produced the National Chairman of AD, AC, ACN and APC while Ondo produced the presidential candidate of AD/APP; it is only Ekiti State that is left behind and I must say that our state is not an appendage of any other state. This time we are ready to make a mark. Even if Governor Kayode Fayemi is not contesting, I Karounwi Okadapo, will contest against whoever shows up in APC and even if I don’t win, it will be on record that an Ekiti man contested the presidential seat.
So you think the South-West people will support Fayemi…
Everything I told you is common sense; all that I have told you are facts and not sentiment. You will have to fault it before you will not buy into Kayode Fayemi presidential ambition. Yoruba are enlightened, well exposed and education has been on our advantage, let anybody who is supporting Bola Ahmed Tinubu come and engage me in a national debate, and let Nigerians listen. I am ready for debate anytime on this matter.
Why will Yoruba not support Fayemi? Even on account of capacity, integrity, strength of character, this is a young man who, for ten years, has been in public eye as governor, minister and now as governor, and he has never been invited or investigated by any anti-graft agency in the country. He has never been indicted in any part of the world. This is a guy that at the age of 28 under the military regime, no one could talk any longer, the press had been muscled but he coordinated the establishment of Radio Kudirat that provided the voice for Nigerians to speak to the international community.
He is highly connected; he has a strong international network and development partners across the world. He has been tested with the chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. Between you and me Nigerians will notice the glamour that has come into the Nigeria Governors Forum because he earned respect and love of all governors across party line. He has helped most of the governors to attract international development partners and he had shown them through peer review how to get international grants to drive development in their states.
Some people believe that Fayemi is only pretending to be interested in the presidency whereas what he is actually gunning for is vice presidential slot?
Well, that is just speculation, it is an assumption and every politician or every individual is entitled to his or her opinion. The fact is that Fayemi has not declared any interest to contest for anything. Those who are saying he is fighting for Vice President are only enjoying their right of opinion. But Governor Fayemi will contest the presidential seat of this country, we will push him in the interest of Ekiti, Ekiti is not an appendage of any other state in the South-West. Since Ekiti has been supporting and following Awolowo, supporting Obasanjo, Bisi Akande and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we haven’t had this kind of product and now that we have one in Fayemi, we will not allow the opportunity to elude us. Ekiti will push him, he will contest, he must contest!
How does Ekiti intend to achieve this?
If there is one individual in this country whose chance for the presidency is brightest it is Fayemi.
Don’t forget that a couple of weeks ago he was invited into the Arewa House. When I was in secondary school I was hearing of Kaduna Mafia and when I grew up I understand that the mafia is made up of political influencers. And opinion molders of the North and this group of political and opinion molders gathered together and, before the whole world, one of the intellectuals from the North, Mallam El Rufai, said “we invited Fayemi here today to come and be a guest speaker, it is not by accident but the reason we invited him to be with us will be unfolded as things unfold and the Sardauna of Sokoto said Kayode Fayemi is our adopted son”.
Don’t you think that the clamour for Fayemi to run as president constitutes a distraction as governor of Ekiti?
He is not distracted at all, there will only be a distraction if he had declared to contest. I have watched him on national television and also during interviews where he emphasized that his primary assignment now is how to govern Ekiti as 2023 is still far. For those of us who are clamouring, we are enjoying our political right, as journalist you can investigate and see whether Fayemi has been engaging in any presidential electioneering that is detrimental to the state.