The Former governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi, struck a defiant tone in front of some selected factional leaders of the All Progressives Congress at an October meeting in the state — giving the air of a leader not just striving for an electoral comeback but also fighting for his political life.
Investigations carried out by Per Second News indicate that Fayemi, Segun Oni, who is also a former governor of the state, alongside 25 other candidates are warming up for the gubernatorial race come 2018.
The Kayode Fayemi agenda is tearing the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti State chapter apart.
According to a former speaker in the state, a candidate who is highly unpopular can hurt his or her party's brand and thus the chances of its down-ballot candidates.
The tension that has simmered in the Party for years – shutting down efforts to reconcile warring factions in the state – is now set to escalate into an outright political civil war. The conflict not only threatens the party's ability to make any realistic attempt at reclaiming the governorship position in 2018, but also previews the conflicts and divides that could consume the Ekiti APC for years to come.
Barely, two years after losing to the Fayose led Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Fayemi’s comeback bid comes amid recriminations and finger-pointing after the party’s defeats, which saw it lose not only the governorship position, but also saw its hold slip to just one seat in the state legislature.
The party in the state is divided and polarized into four parts with some faction being controlled by APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, the second and third faction is being controlled by mostly former House of Representative members, while former governor Niyi Adebayo, Segun Oni and Fayemi are all struggling for the other faction.
Coincidentally, both Fayemi and Oni remains miserably unpopular among the voters who know them best.
Swept from power, APC leaders in Ekiti are increasingly nervous that the best-case scenario fight for the gubernatorial election in 2018 will be a long, ugly redux of the Jimoh Ibrahim vs. Eyitayo Jegede primary in Ondo state.
But an even broader, more vicious factional scramble may be looming.
A group of high-profile ministers and establishment figures in the Buhari administration are moving swiftly to nip such a tussle in the bud by coalescing around former governor Kayode Fayemi — who has not formally announced his bid, but who appears prepared to and have been meeting secretly with party members in the state.
Per Second News in an October report revealed that he met with some factional leaders in a bid to curry their support. Attendees also revealed that he gave out cash gifts at the meeting.
Meanwhile others in the party, including former Governor Segun Oni, now Deputy national chairman (South West) of the APC, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Hon Bimbo Daramola, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele, Hon Bamidele Faparusi, Gbenga Aluko, Olufemi Bamishile are said to be open to bids of their own, fielding calls from party members and their supporters about their interest.
Battle to lead the APC in Ekiti begins as progressives and centrists throw names into the ring.
Ekiti elders forum called a meeting in September to resolve crisis in the State chapter of the party, and reconcile former governors of the state with Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the party ended with disruption.
Otunba Niyi Adebayo was said to have got up angrily and denounced Tinubu, insisting that he would neither reconcile with Tinubu and nor recognise him as leader because they were both governors at the same time.
Ex-governors Adebayo, Fayemi and Oni according to one of the sources at the meeting, came with the constitution of the party and said the party does not recognize Elders Forum, but that they were only at the meeting because of the respect they had for the elders.
Elders there, unsure of what to do it in a post-Fayose era, are split over who the next gubernatorial candidate should be and were stunned by the disruption. At the same time, prominent politicians are sprinting to step into the sudden vacuum as the party’s ideological or political — not mechanical — leader.
The crisis in the South west chapter of the party, took another turn last month after the Ekiti State chapter flayed Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State over his visit and commendation of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.
The assertion of the Ekiti State chapter of the party was immediately rebuffed by the Osun State chapter which lampooned the Ekiti State chapter for not recognising the political maturity displayed by Ogbeni Aregbseola in his visit to Governor Fayose.
Aregbesola, a close ally of APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, according to sources, was perceived to have hurt the interests of some supporters of former Governor Kayode Fayemi, at the Ekiti state chapter of the APC when he visited Fayose and praised the Ekiti State governor.
Fayose, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was commended by Aregbesola for being an “omoluabi” and a hardworking governor, who had turned around the fortunes of Ekiti State in terms of infrastructure.
The war of words was not helped by claims that the two chapters were acting as proxies for a broader fight and larger interests in the Southwest chapters of the party.
The determination of Fayemi and some serving ministers, governors in the Buhari government to thwart national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu at every turn is now clear.
That goal got a significant boost when Tinubu’s candidate at both Kogi and Ondo state lost out in the battle to become governors of their respective states. The Fayemi group backed by a Southwest governor, Plateau state governor, a minister from the SouthSouth have all vowed to repeat same feat in Ekiti come 2018 with federal might.