When Peter Ayodele Fayose fights both perceived and actual political enemies, he holds no restraint, reveling in the media glitz and glam his verbal offensives attract.
That makes it surprising that , barely a week to the Ekiti State governorship elections, the former Governor of Ekiti State took exception to a harsh criticism of his eternal political foe, Atiku Abubakar by his blood brother, Isaac Fayose.
“Mr Isaac Fayose’s comment on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is sad and underserved. I seriously dissociate myself from such comments and make bold to say he is on his own.
“Most importantly, sharing the same surname does not imply my complicity in his sad narrative.
” What God had made Atiku Abubakar positively, no man can unmake. I enjoin the public to ignore him”, he said.
Amidst the intense intra-party mudslinging that preceded the PDP Presidential Primaries and the Ekiti Guber election, many saw Fayose’s disavowal of his brother’s criticism of Atiku as an indirect olive branch to the former Vice President whom he had at every opportunity, demonized with all sorts of words in the media.
With the Ekiti state governorship election lurking in the shadows, the olive branch extended has now appeared to have been too little too late.
Having jumped into the presidential slugfest, many had seen Fayose as nothing but only a smokescreen for Wike’s presidential election.
This is not disconnected with the fact that throughout the campaign period, while other aspirants traversed the breath and length of the nation, Fayose stayed back in Ekiti, unruffled, seemingly preoccupied with prosecuting a gubernatorial election that was his major hope of returning to political hegemony in his home state.
The Ekiti governorship elections might have come and gone, but the ripple effects of the results have demonstrated the direction of the power curve within the state, and revealed that amongst the eventual losers, Peter ‘The Rock’ Fayose stands the most prominent.
Declaring the winner, Prof. Oyebode Adebowale, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returning officer, said Oyebanji polled a total of 187, 057 to win the election.
He said that Oyebanji had certified the law and was, therefore, declared the winner.
“That I, Prof. Oyebode Adebowale, hereby certified that I am the returning officer of the Ekiti 2022 Governorship Election held on June 18.
“That Biodun Oyebanji, the candidate of APC, having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared the winner and returned,” Adebowale declared.
The INEC final declaration also announced Engineer Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party as coming second with scored 82, 211 while Bisi Kolawole, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party and Fayose’s ally polled 67,457 votes to emerge third.
The results of the Ekiti Governorship election have revealed the depth of Fayose’s loss of the state’s political leadership.
After coming back in 2014 and winning the party’s governorship ticket, Fayose had, with the backing of the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-led federal government defeated the then incumbent, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi in all the 16 Local Government Areas of the State.
This victory placed Fayose in a very strategic position within the party hierarchy as he was the only PDP governor in the South West ahead of the 2015 polls.
The 2018 governorship elections was going to be a litmus test of political genius and popularity.
Being a second term governor, Fayose was ineligible to run for office and was therefore tasked with returning his party to the government house against a marauding All Progressives Congress, which had a then former governor, John Kayode Fayemi as its governorship candidate.
Emphasizing on his rights to determine his successor or have a ‘preferred’ candidate, Fayose announced, long before the party primaries, amidst a delegation of selected party faithfuls that he had anointed his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka to succeed him.
“Olusola never said he wanted to be deputy governor, but God instructed me to pick him. I said we will go together after our tenure, but God said I should allow him to stay; that what I said was my own opinion,” he said.
The pronouncement did not go down well with several party faithfuls, especially those with keen interest in succeeding the governor.
Governor Peter Fayose had his way, as Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka won the primaries of the party and was declared the flagbearer of the party. He polled 1190 votes.
This sole action of Fayose began the unravelling of the party in the state, as a gale of defection trailed the victory of Eleka.
Most notable was the defection of Senator Dayo Adeyeye, who came second in the primaries with 771 votes.
Adeyeye, a grassroots politician, lawyer and journalist had a strong grip within the party structure in the state. Prior to the primaries, he was the National Publicity secretary of the PDP interim committee and a former Minister of State for works.
Despite all entreaties, Adeyeye defected with his Prince Adedayo Adeyeye Movement (PAAM) across all wards in the state to the APC, and backed Fayemi in the 2018 polls.
At the end, Eleka lost the governorship elections to Fayemi, losing out in 12 of the 16 Local Government Areas of the state.
Despite the loss of the party in the 2018 polls, Fayose remained defiant and resolute, fighting political enemies and installing his cronies in virtually every structure of the party.
Ahead of the 2022 governorship polls, the rank of the party had been gradually depleted with the exit of Senator Dayo Adeyeye and other notable politicians from the party.
A ray of hope had shone on the Ekiti state chapter of the PDP with the grand entry of Engineer Segun Oni , a former governor of the state and grassroots politician.
Oni, having governed the state between 2007 and 2010 was clear of his ambition to govern again.
His power tussle with the governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi had made him dump the APC and defect to the PDP.
His entry into the PDP had given the party the hope of a return to the government house.
Segun Oni is known as a grassroots politician who is reputed to have invested heavily in Education and in payment of pension during his stint in the government house.
However, the major camp of the party, led by Fayose had other ideas.
Barely had Oni defected to the party than Fayose announced the then state chairman of the party, Bisi Kolawole as his anointed candidate.
That declaration, once again, as that of 2018, ruffled feathers and the shook the party to its foundations.
Engineer Segun Oni went into the contest against Bisi Kolawole, and eventually lost out.
In response to the yearnings of his supporters, Segun Oni later announced his resignation from the PDP.
ln an apparent jibe at former governor Ayodele Fayose, a former Director of Segun Oni Campaign Organization, Hon. Lanre Ogunsuyi said the former governor’s exit was informed by high degree of injustice melted to Oni by some powerful forces in the party during the January 26, primary election.
The campaign spokesperson had alleged that Oni left the PDP because “PDP operates like a cult” and “Oni has been consistent in the search of truth.”
Again, the perceived high-handedness of Fayose had led to the exit of another prized asset from the party.
The defection of Oni to the SDP led a trail of haemorrhage in the PDP, with former party stalwarts such as Lanre Ogunsuyi( Former Commissioner of Information); Jackson Adebayo( former PDP publicity secretary); former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Owoseni Ajayi and Obafemi Adewale (SAN); ex-Chief of Staff Dipo Anisulowo and former Commissioner for Works Mr. Kayode Oso.
The eventual outcome of the elections demonstrated the influence and popularity of Segun Oni.
Despite joining a virtually untested political party in the state few months to the guber polls, Oni polled over 87,000 votes ,well ahead of Fayose’s right hand man, Bisi Kolawole who polled just over 67,000 votes.
Fayose’s loss was not helped either by his battles on several fronts, most especially against governors and presidential aspirants within the party.
Ahead of the party’s zonal convention, there was no love lost between Fayose and the governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde.
Fayose had laid claim to the leadership of the party in the South West, despite the fact that Makinde was the only sitting governor from that region.
The action had resulted in open verbal clashes between Fayose and Makinde, with Fayose once describing him as a ‘baby governor’.
The south West bloc had gone into the convention largely divided.
While Fayose backed Eddy Olafeso to return as the National Vice Chairman ( South) of the party, Makinde backed a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja for the same position.
Eventually, Makinde carried the day, with his preferred candidates sweeping all positions.
Although Fayose and Makinde were said to have reconciled at the wedding of Fayose’s son sometime last year, many believe that Makinde was not fully committed to the governorship campaign of Bisi Kolawole.
Furthermore, the bitter wrangling and verbal slurs that have emanated from Fayose to political elders in the party might have worked against him and his preferred candidate.
While the All Progressives Congress Candidate Biodun Oyebanji enjoyed the support of current and former governors cut across several states, including the support of the presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu ( Tinubu and a horde of governors graced a mega rally for Oyebanji), Fayose and Bisi Kolawole were largely running a two-man show, as evinced by the lukewarm attitude of the National Working Committee to the campaign.
The PDP failed to conduct a mega rally ahead of the governorship election.
There was also no public declaration of support by the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar towards the governorship campaign in Ekiti state. While the campaign was on, Atiku was said to have ignored the state, paying a visit to Germany instead.
An ally of Fayose and House of Representatives candidate of the party for the Ekiti Central Federa Constituency 2, Lere Olayinka has alleged betrayal by prominent party members ahead of the 2022 guber elections.
“To the conspirators in Abuja, Southwest Nigeria and Ekiti, we are now on the ground together and it is only God that knows who will rise first”, his post-election statement read.
Olayinka further hailed the “courage and doggedness” of Fayose, adding that “posterity will sure judge him rightly”.
He also thanked “those who stood by us and showed genuine love despite the blackmail from left, right and center.”
For another four years, barring any legal maneuver, Fayose’s men will be in political opposition, an action many have attributed to Fayose’s draconian hold on the party.
With successive losses of two different anointed candidates; defeat of his preferred Presidential Aspirant at the presidential primary and a loss of foothold on the party’s South West structure, it appears the sands are shifting under the feet of the scion of the ‘Oshokomole Mass Movement”.
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