The governorship election in Ekiti State has begun to take a new twist as questions are now being asked on the level of support being received by the state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, from the powers that be in his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
There are also indications that the candidature of the Labour Party’s Opeyemi Bamidele in the June 21 election, has the blessing of the leaders of the APC in the South-West, with sources in the party claiming that the leaders have more sympathy for Bamidele than they have for Governor Fayemi in the race.
According to sources in the party, there had been speculations about the close relationship of Senator Tinubu with Honourable Bamidele as opposed to Governor Fayemi. Indeed, Bamidele was said to have confided in some people that his defection from the APC had the full blessing of the ‘Lion of Bourdillon’.
To reinforce the conspiracy theory of the APC leadership against Governor Fayemi, sources told Sunday Tribune that the non-attendance of the inaugural rally of Fayemi by the national leader of APC, Tinubu and the Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, was a continuation of the grand plot.
The sources claimed that Chief Akande had already set out for Ado Ekiti for the mega rally when some other leaders called him back and dissuaded him from continuing with the journey.
It was also the contention of the sources that Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, who had arrived at the rally late, was not unconnected with the alleged disconnect between the leaders of the APC and Governor Fayemi.
One of the reasons, the insiders claimed, was because Governor Fayemi had not been fully integrated into the Tinubu political family, which got to know Fayemi through the instrumentality of Bamidele, who they described as “a trusted political son.”
The sources also said the style of politics of Fayemi “does not align” with the politics of the Tinubu political dynasty, with some of the insiders saying he had not got in line with the “core politics of the Leader which Bamidele understands quite well as a real insider.”
The sources also alleged that what they described as “Bamidele’s obstinacy” in his faceoff with Fayemi, which culminated in his defection from the APC, was reinforced by what they described as the tacit support he was receiving from the core members of the political family in Lagos.
Reacting to the development, the Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party in Ekiti State, Bolade Olatunde-Bruce, said “the insinuations are news to us because we have no relationship or pact with the APC in any way regarding the political future of our party.”
Olatunde-Bruce, who reacted through the telephone, said: “We can’t deny the fact that our standard-bearer, Honorable Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, had a strong working relationship with the leaders of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and this Hon. Bamidele himself has never denied. He has also always maintained that he has never been a member of the APC. But in the governorship race, there is no pact whatsoever with the leaders of the APC. There is no working relationship and no agreements whatsoever.
“If they have a soft spot for him, they can only show that by joining the Labour Party in which he is now. Therefore, we see this as a distraction and we cannot take it seriously.”
We told Fayemi he can’t kick off campaign without primaries —APC
But the APC, in a reaction, explained that the absence of its leadership at the official declaration of Dr. Fayemi for re-election was caused by a clash of programmes.
Speaking with Sunday Tribune from Washington D.C, U.S.A, the APC’s spokesperson, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed that the national leadership of the party had a crucial meeting in Abuja the same day that the governor launched his re-election bid.
He dismissed the insinuation that the absence of the party’s top-shots including Tinubu and Akande was due to covert support for Bamidele, who deserted the APC.
Bamidele is a close associate of Tinubu and Aregbesola with whom he served in Tinubu’s cabinet as commissioner.
Mohammed also disclosed that the party leadership made it very clear to Fayemi that he could not kick off his re-election campaign without the conduct of the ward, local and state congresses of the party as well as the governorship primaries, even if he was the sole aspirant.
Fayemi however went ahead with the planned declaration.
According to Mohammed: “There is no division among party leaders over Fayemi and Bamidele. What happened was that the party issued a timetable for congress. Fayemi also had his timetable to flag-off. We told him that he can’t flag off without being elected at the primary even if he would be the only aspirant. He possibly thought we would have finished with the congresses. We said he could go on with the campaign but not flag-off since he said the time was short for him to cancel the scheduled declaration. So, the party’s flag could not be handed over to him. Even if he is the only candidate, we still want primary conducted because we don’t want a situation where someone would come up and say that there was no primary and the flag was handed over to him. There is no way you can start campaign without primary where you will be elected.
“We were not at the declaration because we had a crucial meeting in Abuja. Given the sacrifice Asiwaju has made for the party, he can’t do anything against the interest of the party. There is nothing like crisis. The flag-off would still take place and everybody will be there”
Reacting, Governor Fayemi said “there is no iota of truth in the story that APC leaders were not supporting him,” and added that “it doesn’t exist except in the imagination of those peddling it.”
Governor Fayemi, who reacted through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, said “it cannot be farther from the truth and I hope it is not some people that are trying to spin it.”
Meanwhile, the APC in Ekiti State, on Saturday, validated Governor Fayemi as the party’s candidate for the June 21 election.
Fayemi polled a total of 192,767 votes to emerge the APC candidate at the state’s governorship primary held across 177 wards by registered APC members and duly collated in all the 16 local government areas. The results were announced at the Trade Fair Centre in Ado Ekiti.
The primary was supervised by national officers of the party, led by its organising secretary and the chairman of the 6-member panel, Senator Osita Izunaso.
Report by the Nigeria Tribune Newspapers