The scramble for the Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket is gathering momentum.
Correspondent RASAQ IBRAHIM reports that the Governor Kayode Fayemi and his party are faced with the daunting challenge of finding a worthy successor that will galvanise the party to victory in next year’s election in the state Politicians are beginning to jostle for relevance in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State ahead of next year’s governorship election.
Although the party is currently busy with membership revalidation and registration exercise, party chieftains are already eyeing the primary that will precede the governorship contest.
When Governor Kayode Fayemi completes his second term on October 15 next year, his name will be etched in the annals of political history as first elected Ekiti helmsman to complete two full terms.
If succeeds in installing a successor from his party, he would be the first Ekiti governor to hand over to a successor from his party because since 1999 Ekiti is one of the states that has defied all odds and permutations in succession plan due to its peculiarities.
That is, no political party has been able to maintain a stranglehold on the state or rule for eight unbroken years.
Otunba Niyi Adebayo of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) was defeated during the 2003 election by Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
Similarly, Fayose could not complete his tenure, as he was impeached in 2006 under questionable circumstances.
In the same vein, Chief Segun Oni, who took over from Fayose in 2007 was sacked by the Court of Appeal in 2010, paving the way for Governor Fayemi to take over the reins of power at the Oke Bareke Government House.
In a dramatic fashion, Fayose staged a comeback in 2014 and foiled Fayemi’s second term bid in that year’s election.
Similarly, Fayemi won against all odds in 2018 by defeating Fayose’s anointed candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola of the PDP to mount the saddle as a governor for a second term.
Given the peculiarities of Ekiti politics, the question is whether Fayemi is capable of breaking the age-long jinx in the coming election, by sustaining a progressive government in the state.
Before now, some power mongers within his cabinet had covertly schemed to succeed their principal; a situation perceived by some as too early because it is capable of not only heating the polity but also befuddling the government from the goal of governance.
This development, which enraged the governor, forced him to publicly warn the power mongers at a well-attended mid-term retreat for political appointees that it was too early to start playing politics of succession.
He urged them to remain focused on the administration’s goal of governance or resign; otherwise, such a power struggle could derail his administration five pillars of developmental agenda.
Scramble for ticket:
Despite the stern warning, party chieftains holding elective and appointive positions, as well as others not within the government circle, have been overtly and covertly scheming for the party’s governorship ticket and ultimately for the plum job in the post-Fayemi era.
In a recent interview, Fayemi said all those who have worked with him in the past and understand his philosophy of governance are qualified to step into his shoes.
“Everyone who has worked with me is a potential successor because they have come up on this journey learning the ropes, seeing the good things that I have done, and looking at how to build on those things if allowed to govern the state.
“I cannot tell you that a particular person is being groomed. I have an executive council where we debate issues. People see the way I conduct business and I am sure they would take the good and ignore the bad and the ugly from me.”
However, Ekiti Central and Ekiti South senatorial districts are brimming with many aspirants, while Ekiti North, where Fayemi hails from does not appear to have many aspirants because of the expectation that the APC will not field a candidate from that senatorial district in the next governorship election.
Thus, the APC ticket is expected to be a straight fight between Ekiti Central and Ekiti South, which is yet to produce an elected governor since 1999 when the first election was conducted in the state.
More aspirants are expected to join the race for the party’s ticket as time goes on. There would be some that could be categorized as pretenders and grandstanders, but some serious contenders for the ticket are also expected to declare their interest as the governorship primary approaches. Here is the analysis of some of the identified contenders, their senatorial districts of origin and their antecedents.
A popular grassroots politician, Daramola, is from Ire Ekiti in Oye Local Government. He was in the House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015 where he represented Oye/Ikole Constituency.
He is known for his political slogan, “Nitori Ojo Ola Wa,” which means “For the Sake of Our Future”. Daramola was one of the most vocal and visible federal legislators during his tenure and he executed legacy constituency projects, many of which were personally inaugurated by the former Speaker who is now the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal.
He also served as the Director-General of the Fayemi re-election Campaign in 2014. On completion of his term, he was appointed Chief of Staff to the ex-Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Lasun Yussuff. Outside the public office, the congressman has busied himself with private business and philanthropic activities, including sponsorship and purchase of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination forms for thousands of indigent students across the 16 local governments. He is believed to be warming up to vie for the APC ticket.
But, his greatest challenge, according to keen observers of Ekiti politics, may be his frosty relationship with Fayemi. This state of affairs has led to his suspension.
Adetunmbi hails from Ifaki Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government and a key player in the corporate world. He is bringing his wealth of experience from the business world into partisan politics.
He is the Convener of the Capital Market Roundtable in Nigeria and also the convener of the Ekiti Panupo Forum to which prominent Ekiti indigenes along political and ideological divides belong.
He is the younger brother of the current lawmaker representing Ekiti North District in the National Assembly, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi.
Adetunmbi was the first politician to publicly declare interest to run for the seat in the Ekiti progressives’ camp.
However, the young Adetunmbi is considered a greenhorn in politics because he has little or no experience.
This politician who hails from Ikogosi Ekiti in Ekiti West Local Government is the Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
Oyebanji has a rich experience as a university lecturer, senior banking executive and has been part of the three progressives’ governments that had ruled the state since 1999.
Under the administration of his political mentor, former Governor Niyi Adebayo (1999 to 2003), he served as Special Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs and later as Chief of Staff.
During Fayemi’s first term (2010 to 2014), Oyebanji served as Director-General, Office of Transformation and Service Delivery (OTSD), Commissioner for Regional Integration and Intergovernmental Affairs and later as Commissioner for Budget and Planning.
He is seen as generous, level-headed, a bridge-builder and a technocrat that has a deep knowledge of how government runs. His experience would add value, if given the APC ticket and if he wins the poll.
The SSG is a goal-getter, who delivers on assignments statutorily residing in his office and the ones assigned to him by the governor.
He has been serving the state since his 20s in a private capacity; the most notable of which was as the Secretary of the Committee for the Creation of Ekiti State, which saw the creation of the new state on October 1, 1996.
Oyebanji is relatively popular because he has been in government for a long time. But, the perception that he is a lackey of Otunba Adebayo may work against him.
Omoleye is one of the most trusted aides to Fayemi; being his Chief of Staff. In government circles, he carries the nickname “Ajiroba”, which means “the first person that sees the king every morning.” It depicts the kind of relationship he enjoys with his boss and sheds light on the level of trust and confidence reposed in him by Fayemi.
He serves as the heartbeat, the ears and the eyes of Mr. Governor and entrusted with sensitive assignments spanning governance, administration and politics in the Ekiti power vortex. Omoleye was the head of an agency during the administration of Otunba Adebayo.
He was a university administrator before he joined politics. Omoleye started politics during his days as a students’ union activist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
Before his present assignment, he held many offices during Fayemi’s first tenure. These included Senior Special Assistant on Policy and Strategy, Caretaker Chairman, Ijero Local Government (twice) and Special Adviser, Governor’s Office.
After Fayemi left office in October 2014, Omoleye became Director of JKF Centre, which was an outreach that served as a rallying point, a policy think-tank for Fayemi’s political ideals and a centre for social and economic empowerment for the masses even when Fayemi was not in government house.
Omoleye’s office is the clearinghouse for political appointees and he is loved for his kindness and generosity. He is believed to be one of the aides being considered as a successor to Fayemi with his deep understanding of the politics and policies of his boss. He hails from Ijurin Ekiti in Ijero Local Government Area.
Jamiu is an Igbemo-Ekiti born businessman and newspaper columnist. He is currently the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly where he represents Irepodun/Ifelodun Constituency 2, which places him as the number four man in the power hierarchy.
Jamiu has been a close aide and trusted political disciple of Fayemi since the governor entered the political scene and was always with him through the thick and thin.
He had earlier served as Deputy Director of the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation between 2007 and 2010. The organisation ran a robust campaign to market the candidacy of Fayemi till he became governor in 2010, following the court judgement that restored his mandate. Between 2010 and 2014, Jamiu served as Senior Special Assistant (SSA), Research and Documentation, before he ran for the House of Assembly seat in the last general elections.
A school of thought believes that his loyalty and his religious background could throw him up as a possible contender for the ticket.
So far, no Muslim has been privileged to govern the state and Jamiu who is the highest placed Muslim in Ekiti politics today represents the face of the Muslim Community in the political chess game ahead of the 2022 governorship poll.
Fapohunda, from Okemesi-Ekiti in Ekiti West Local Government Area, currently serves as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. He occupied the same position towards the end of Fayemi’s first term. Since returning to the same position in this current dispensation, Fapohunda has introduced reforms to the justice sector, thereby making the ministry more visible.
Fapohunda has collaborated with the Office of the First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, to introduce laws that prohibit violence against women and the girl child, including the public shaming of rapists.; a development that has earned the state national and global recognition. He is also believed to command the respect and attention of Fayemi on key issues that affect governance and the party.
Having worked with the governor, both in the first and second terms, Fapohunda is widely regarded as one of the likely contenders for the party’s ticket.
However, according to some party members, his greatest undoing may be his lack of political clout and popularity within the progressive family.
Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB), needs no introduction. His popularity may not be unconnected with the fact that the lawyer-turned politician was a key player in Lagos politics where he served for two terms under former Governor Bola Tinubu, as Senior Special Assistant (SSA) and Special Adviser and Commissioner.
He also served as commissioner during the first term of former Governor Babatunde Fashola before he returned to his native Ekiti State to seek party nomination for the Senate to represent Ekiti Central.
He ended up in the House of Representatives to represent Ado Ekiti/Irepodun/Ifelodun Constituency, after a serious political horse-trading that saw Babafemi Ojudu emerging as the senator representing Ekiti Central.
Bamidele, who later showed interest in the governorship ticket before the 2014 race, had dumped the defunct ACN with his supporters, after he was denied the ticket of the party, by defecting to the Labour Party (LP).
He came a distant third in the poll of that year. Nevertheless, he teamed up with Fayemi again, ahead of the 2018 governorship election and served as the Director-General of Fayemi’s 2018 Campaign. He survived gunshot injuries which nearly took his life during a major rally in Ado Ekiti.
He later won the Ekiti Central senatorial seat he had earlier sought.
Bamidele, who is from Iyin Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government, is presently Senate Committee Chairman on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Ojudu, a native of Ado Ekiti, gained prominence as one of the editors of the defunct “African Concord” magazine.
He later pulled out to establish “The News” magazine, after disagreeing with their erstwhile publisher, Chief Moshood Abiola on the issue of apologising to the former military ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida over a story considered offensive to the then military junta.
Ojudu was Managing Editor of The News, a post he held until he joined politics ahead of the 2011 general elections to contest for the Ekiti Central senatorial seat.
The ruling party then in Ekiti, the ACN, adopted Ojudu as the senatorial candidate because he was considered very loyal and played a prominent role in the struggle that led to Fayemi’s emergence as governor in 2010.
He ran a robust campaign under the code name of Ekiti Rebirth Organization (ERO) and defeated former Governor Fayose who was Labour Party candidate for Ekiti Central in the 2011 senatorial election.
Following Fayemi’s exit from power in 2014 and the defeat suffered by the APC in 2015 when the party lost all national and state assembly seats in Ekiti, Ojudu and other party leaders formed the Action Group bloc to reposition the party ahead of the 2018 governorship election.
He was one of the aspirants for the APC ticket for that election but announced his withdrawal before the primary on grounds that the process had been skewed in favour of Fayemi.
Today, Ojudu is still at loggerheads with Fayemi. He is the leader of a factional group within the party known as Ekiti APC Stakeholders.
The groups is not happy over what it describes as injustice and marginalisation of some chieftains of the party.
He is presently serving as Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters and he is expected to seek the governorship ticket of the party for next year’s election.
However, many believe his combative approach to politics and his sour relationship with Fayemi may work against him during the primary.
Afuye is the current Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
Afuye, who hails from Ikere Ekiti in Ikere Local Government, boasts of rich political experience that cuts across both legislative and executive arms.
This factor put him in good stead in the race for the ticket of the party for next year’s election. By being the Speaker, he is the number three man in the power hierarchy.
Afuye, a lawyer with 30 years of experience at the Bar, was first elected into the House of Assembly in 2007 to represent Ikere Constituency 1 on the platform of the then Action Congress (AC) when the house was split in the middle; with the 26 seats in the legislature shared equally by his party and the PDP.
He was seen as a consistent leader of his party’s caucus during the turbulent period; a factor that helped Governor Fayemi to reclaim his mandate through the court in 2010.
Following this development, Afuye became the House Majority Leader. This was facilitated by the defection of five PDP lawmakers.
At the end of his tenure, as Majority Leader, Fayemi appointed him the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation and later as Commissioner for Regional Integration.
He was re-elected to the house in the last general elections. Subsequently, he emerged as the Speaker, a position he was denied in 2007 because of the PDP’s control of the executive and last-minute change of Assembly’s Standing Order to prevent an opposition legislator from winning the Speaker’s seat.
He has so far presided over a rancour-free assembly that has complemented good governance with quality legislations and landmark laws.
Adaramodu who hails from Ilawe Ekiti in Ekiti Southwest Local Government is in the House of Representatives.
He is a former local government chairman.
Adaramodu became Chief of Staff to the Governor during Fayemi’s first tenure and wielded enormous powers and influence to the admiration of some and the dismay of others.
Being a grassroots politician, he used the position to empower many party members.
His antecedent in Ekiti politics, particularly within the campaign organisation and the government seem to have made him know party members in all the 177 wards.
His strength, unlike Fayemi, is that he enjoys street appeals (like Fayose); a criterion the governor said he will consider when the time is ripe to choose a successor.
Adeyeye is a prince of Ise Ekiti in Ise/Orun Local Government and a longtime politician with experiences as a journalist and lawyer.
He started politics as a student activist and a loyalist of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo during the Second Republic.
He was the spokesman of the Afenifere, the influential Yoruba political and socio-cultural organisation. He also served as the National Publicity Secretary for the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
He contacted for the Ekiti South senatorial seat during the 1999 general elections, but lost to the PDP candidate, Gbenga Aluko.
He also contested for the AC governorship ticket ahead of the 2007 general elections, but lost narrowly to Fayemi. He had alleged that the primary was not free and fair.
In protest, Adeyeye and 13 other aspirants that contested in the primary defected to PDP and worked for the emergence of Segun Oni as governor.
Oni later appointed him as the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). Under former President Goodluck Jonathan, Adeyeye served as Minister of State for Works.
Adeyeye was also the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi and on the conclusion of the assignment, he returned home in time for another governorship shot in the 2018 election.
Bamisile currently represents Emure/Gbonyin/Ekiti East Constituency in the green chamber of the National Assembly.
He is the chairman of the House Committee on the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
An indigene of Kota Ekiti in Ekiti East Local Government, he began politics in Lagos where he served as Special Adviser to former Chairman of Surulere Local Government, Hakeem Dickson.
He had contested twice for the House of Reps seat on the platforms of AD and National Conscience Party (NCP) 2003 general elections and the 2004 by-election but lost the bid.
Faparusi is currently serving as the Commissioner for Public Utilities in Governor Fayemi’s cabinet.
He hails from Ode Ekiti in Gbonyin Local Government. Between 2011 and 2015, the engineer-turned politician was in the House of Representatives where he represented Emure/Gbonyin/Ekiti East Federal Constituency.
He was one of the 33 APC governorship aspirants in the run-up to the 2018 governorship election but was compensated with commissionership because of his loyalty and contribution to Fayemi’s victory at the poll.
Omotoso is a very trusted loyalist of Fayemi and both of them have come a long way. Being entrusted with the chairmanship of the party speaks volumes about the confidence and trust reposed in him by the governor.
Omotoso, who is from Imesi Ekiti in Gbonyin Local Government, has served Fayemi in different capacities during his first term, including as Special Adviser, Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Commissioner for Environment and Commissioner for Special Duties.
Ogunmilade is presently the Chairman of Ekiti State Internal Revenue Service (EKIRS) and is saddled with initiating innovations to boost the state’s internally generated revenue.
He was a top executive in Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) where he served as the bank’s managing director and chief executive officer in The Gambia before he was appointed by Fayemi during his first tenure as the Managing Director of Ire Clay Products Limited (formerly known as Ire Burnt Bricks Limited). With Fayemi’s return back to power, Ogunmilade is back this time as the state revenue chief and the IGR has been on the rise until the advent of COVID-19.
Ogunmilade has come up with many tax initiatives that have captured many taxable segments of the population into the state revenue loop.