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‘Ekiti APC Governorship Primary Portrays Fayemi As Non Democrat’

Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, Adekunle Esan
Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, Adekunle Esan

February 06, (THEWILL) – Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, Adekunle Esan, speaks on the recent APC Governorship Primary election in the state, among other issues, in this interview with AYO ESAN. Excerpts:

How would you describe development in Ekiti State in the last 10 years under the PDP and APC, respectively?

Ekiti State is so compact and culturally homogeneous that one would expect it to develop fast.  In the 10 years ago, we expected a dramatic change in the affairs of state in terms of infrastructure, education, good roads, water supply and other amenities that are beneficial to the people. But there is nothing at the moment. The expectations of the people are yet to be fulfilled.

When you go round Ekiti State and you go to a neighbouring state, you will find that Ekiti looks like a village. Ado-Ekiti is the capital of Ekiti State, but when you move from Ado-Ekiti to Akure, the capital of Ondo State, you will discover that there is a clear difference between the two cities.

I went to Akure about two weeks ago and I marveled at what I saw there, compared to Ado Ekiti. Honestly, there is no single good road in Ekiti State. There is no water supply and the school buildings there are appalling. You will begin to wonder if there was ever any government in Ekiti State since it was created. It is a sorry case.

Why is it that people like you are doing nothing about the situation? Why is nobody making efforts to transform the state?

Let me say that in 2018, I was one of those who contested the APC governorship primary in Ekiti alongside Governor Kayode Fayemi. We all know what happened. We know the game they played in favour of Fayemi, but there was nothing we could do.  That has been confined to the dustbin of history, anyway. But the winner of that primary is in government now.

I never expected what is happening within the present government in the state. I rated Fayemi quite high, but I was disappointed. I had a programme when I contested in that primary. He took it and all the other aspirants’ manifestoes to integrate them into his agenda for the state. Unfortunately after collecting these laudable programmes, nothing was done with them. Today, Fayemi cannot boast of any tangible programme he has executed in Ekiti State. The only thing he can boasts of is the road from Ado Ekiti to Iyin Ekiti. I think that was done because of the influence of a former Governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo who hails from Iyin Ekiti. The road is not up to 10 kilometres long.

We, I mean all of us in APC, were abusing Fayose for attempting to build an airport in the state, but it was curious to me when Fayemi came and said he wanted to build a cargo airport. I was baffled and wondered what cargo airport he was talking about. Where are the cargoes? Where is the rail system to feed the cargo airport? There was no single industry in Ekiti and he was talking about building a cargo airport? The fund he was supposed to use to build roads, provide potable water for the people, build hospitals and schools, he diverted into building a cargo airport.

What is your reaction to the conduct of last week’s APC governorship primary in Ekiti?

I have been in Nigeria for over four weeks now and participated in mobilising members of our party for one of the aspirants, Kayode Ojo. Honestly, I discovered that he has a large followership. He was one of the people that contested the APC governorship primary in 2018. Out of 33 of us, Kayode Ojo came second behind Fayemi. He has a lot of admirers in Ekiti State. But the incumbent Governor Fayemi has his own candidate, Biodun Oyebanji, the former Secretary to the State Government.

I was surprised to see the public servants, appointees of the present government, following Oyebanji all over the place to the extent that Fayemi’s Campaign office in 2018 is what he is using as his own campaign office now. Yet Fayemi continues to say that he has no candidate. All government machinery and resources, including vehicles, are being deployed for Oyebanji’s campaign. They are all over the place. That is the method Fayemi adopted since the beginning of his second term. If you want to appoint even a councilor, Fayemi is the decider, even at the local level. He is almost an Emperor in the state.

The last APC Primary is daylight robbery. Eight candidates participated in the primary. Five days to the election, they published the names of those coming to conduct the election from the national body. Somebody alerted me to the fact that the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, who happened to be Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, was a close friend of Fayemi and the one rooting for Fayemi to be the next President of Nigeria in 2023.

I also gathered that the secretary to the committee was also a close friend of Fayemi. But there was nothing we could do at that material time. On the eve of the primary election, we didn’t hear anything about how the election was going to be conducted. They kept the whole thing to themselves. They didn’t tell us whether it would be by direct primary or indirect primary. Is it going to be by voters queuing up and be counted or is it going to be through the use of ballot papers? We were in the dark. Only the committee chairman, his cohorts and possibly Fayemi and his candidate knew what they planned to do.

They appointed all Fayemi’s supporters in the local government councils as returning officers. How do you expect fair play in this kind of arrangement? And this was what the aspirants were trying to streamline. The other aspirants were saying, how can you appoint people who are loyal to one aspirant as returning officers? They begged the committee to allow their own people to mingle with them at the polling units. The other contestants requested 30 people per aspirant to be part of the returning officers. They agreed for 25 persons for each aspirant. Tthe committee chairman was expected to bring all these people together as part of the returning officers, but it never happened. They just submitted the names. Nothing was done by the chairman.

You know I said earlier that the aspirants were kept in the dark as to the modalities for the primary election. On the day of the primary election, they counted the number of people queuing up to vote. It turned out that only Oyebanji’s supporters came for the primary. When the results of the election were written by them, you can see the appalling numbers allocated to the other aspirants. Fayemi knows his candidate is not popular. Everybody knows that and Kayode Ojo is the most popular aspirant in the state. The chairman of the electoral committee said that some votes were voided. And we asked how come the committee voided votes where the voters only queued up to be counted. What was wrong with human beings that were voided?

From all this, you should know the primary was a charade. It is a pity. It is an insult on Nigerians that a sitting governor of a state came to conduct an election like that. That one alone has exposed the whole system. I don’t believe Fayemi is a democrat. He is not a democrat. I can attest to that. He is just a pretender.

The option left to the aggrieved aspirants is to go to the Appeal Panel. Have they utilised it?

May be you have not heard that they reported what happened to the committee, but the Appeal Committee threw it out.

You have just described the candidate that emerged from the primary as a weak one. Evidently there is a crack in the APC in Ekiti State. Going forward, what do you think will happen to the APC in the forthcoming June governorship election? 

Let me approach this question by letting you know my personal opinion about the APC. APC has a national body headed by Mai Buni. And you know that the Buni Committee came with the sack of former National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. They fixed a convention for this month and it is already having a K-leg.

Generally APC is not a true political party. I am a member of the APC, but I can say categorically that it is not a party. It is just a gathering of people who think about themselves, who want to have power for power’s sake. They are not interested in the welfare of the people of this country.

Although I don’t want to indict the President, the only thing that almost marred his programme is the killings by herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram insurgents. He embarked on a programme that I think could have been beneficial to the people of this country. That is the development of infrastructure like the railway system, which we need very badly and good roads.

We also look at the opposition viz-a-viz the ruling party. Democracy does not exist in the two parties. They are full of impunity. And I think why APC is doing this, is because its leaders think they have the power to manipulate anything they want to manipulate.

Oyebanji may not become governor of Ekiti State. I know that APC will do everything possible within its power to make him become governor, but there is going to be a third force in Ekiti State. Fayemi frustrated Chief Segun Oni out of the APC. He frustrated Babafemi Ojudu’s  group, he frustrated Dayo Adeyeye. He is now frustrating seven governorship aspirants. Think of this. Who are those backing Fayemi today? May be only his boys and ladies and they don’t have weight. What they are relying on are government machinery. No other thing. And he is using his position as the Chairman of the Governors Forum. That was why he was able to manipulate the Ekiti APC governorship primary That is what he is depending on for the next election with other parties. But I can assure you by the Grace of God that it will not work. It happened in 2014, when Fayemi lost to Fayose because Senator Opeyemi Bamidele saw a lot of things after he contested the primary. They persuaded him but he did not yield. He moved his supporters to join Labour Party. That spelt doom for the APC .Today, there is a repeat of that scenario, but on a larger scale than what happened in 2014. This is because the seven aggrieved aspirants are APC bigwigs in Ekiti State.

We learnt that Senator Bamidele Opeyemi has vowed to court over the primary. What is your take on that?

Well, it is good to go to court, being the final arbiter. But personally, I can’t see anything tangible coming out of the court. The most pragmatic way they can checkmate this government in Ekti is to have a third force. The people of Ekiti are tired of this government and the government is not enjoying the support of the majority of the people of Ekti State.

Does the present situation give the PDP any advantage?  

The PDP is in trouble, too, in Ekit State because of the candidate that emerged to fly the party’s flag in the forthcoming governorship election. I don’t know Kolawole‘s strength really but I learnt he has contested some elections in the past and he did well. But he may have some problem because of his sponsor, Ayodele Fayose. Also the conduct of their primary is laughable. No democracy anywhere.

Oyebanji recently said he has reached out to the aggrieved aspirants and reconciliation would be achieved soon. What is your reaction to this?

I don’t know the kind of people he has reached out to. But what I know is that you can’t expect Oyebanji not to say what you said he had just said. It is normal in politics to reach out to those people who did not win. That is the game plan. Let us do what we want to do and at the end of the day we will call them. I learnt they are even trying to woo the aggrieved aspirants with some federal appointments. But the people are not stupid and they are not poor.