ADEWUMI ADEMIJU reports on the pressure being mounted on the governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, by the state chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) to join the 2023 presidential race
There is no doubt that speculations have been rife for some time that the governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, is gearing to run for the 2023 presidency given the attestation of some of his aides and loyalists.
While supporters of the governor are of the view that he has what it takes to lead Nigeria, the Caretaker Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-West, Hon. Karohunwi Oladapo, who is among holders of such view, told New Telegraph in an interview that Fayemi’s major concern at the moment is to unite leaders of the party.
Oladapo, a former Deputy Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, however declared that Governor Fayemi will make a good president if given the opportunity.
His words: “Fayemi represents the face of a new generation in Nigeria. How can we continue to be having septuagenarians’ ruling Nigeria? President Buhari is there on trust, but on account of age, he is too old to be president, so after Buhari, Nigerians cannot afford another septuagenarian to come on board.
Generational shift of leadership must come in 2023, and I as one of the advocates of generational power shift will pray that Fayemi shows interest but if he doesn’t, I will mobilise Nigerians to beg him to show interest.”
A poster announcing Fayemi’s presidential ambition and sponsored by the chairman of Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Mr. Femi Ayodele, had surfaced in the social media and Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, late last year but the governor distanced himself from it. The council chairman was later suspended but later recalled.
The council chairman declared that “Fayemi is upright for the position considering his outstanding credentials, tenacity, administrative prowess, resourcefulness cum political acumen.” He added that those outstanding qualities put him forward on capability to lead Nigeria in the next dispensation,
But the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Yinka Oyebode, said “the sponsor is merely expressing a personal opinion.” However, an Ekiti APC stalwart, in his reaction, said the governor dissociating himself from the posters could be best described as an act of diplomacy.
“Whatever is infused in a whistle would be blown out. Fayemi’s aides are all replicating his plan; all is about his handwriting on the wall. He kept mute more than this during preparation for the 2018 governorship election in the state before coming out at dying minutes.
That has been his style,” the party chieftain said. He added: “Fayemi has ambition to either become the president or vice-president and that’s why he cannot support Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s presidential ambition. They are from the same zone and there is no way Tinubu”s ambition will favour him on getting even the number two position.”
The APC stalwart claimed that the governor has redoubled felicitations and familiarizations across zones, especially in the northern part of the country in order to achieve his ambition.
“For instance, he recently delivered a lecture at 50th anniversary of the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research (Arewa House) in Kaduna, an event considered the biggest in Northern Nigeria. Also, the Northern Nigeria Conference of APC Publicity Secretaries (NONCAPS) recently conferred on Fayemi the award of Dependable Friend of the North,” he said.
Noting that observers are watching to see how the permutation will play out, the Ekiti APC chieftain cautioned that “anything like crossover shouldn’t occur between Fayemi and Tinubu, considering that the latter is the former’s benefactor.”
He likened the scenario to the power play between Samuel Ladoke Akintola and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, when Awolowo was the premier of Old Western Region, while Akintola was his deputy. In what looked like a corroboration to the assertion of the APC chieftain, Fayemi’s predecessor, Ayodele Fayose, while speaking recently with journalists at his country home in Afao Ekiti, described Tinubu as a father figure in politics, who has made several people in Yoruba land and Nigeria in general.
Fayose said despite political differences, he would never join political opponents to shoot Tinubu down politically. Though the former Ekiti State governor categorically pointed out Fayemi that he was not holding brief for the APC national leader, he urged people to cultivate habit of being grateful to those who had done creditably well. His words: “I am not championing the course of Tinubu; I am not in a position to do that but there is no denying the fact that Tinubu is a prominent Yoruba leader.
Whether in APC or PDP, Tinubu has paid his dues and should be acknowledged. I have not seen Tinubu after the Ekiti election by any means; we haven’t even met at a function or saw him passed. I will not sit down in any corner to shoot down Tinubu. I am not a member of APC and I will never be but I supported Governor Fayemi to be governor because of Tinubu’s influence at a time.”
But calling for the support of other states in the South-West to ensure that Ekiti produces the next president if zoned to the region by the APC, Oladapo in piece made available to New Telegraph and titled “If I were to contest for Nigeria presidency in 2023,” highlighted the importance of an aspirant, who will push for a Nigeria agenda rather than regional agenda.
The piece read in part: “History has taught me that any presidential aspirant of South-West/Yoruba extraction that aspired on the Nigeria Agenda always secured nationwide votes, and possibly made it to the presidency. Such was the case of Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
One needs nationwide votes because South-West/ Yoruba votes are not sufficient to make a Nigeria president. The votes from the five other zones matter and these can only come if such South- West aspirant allays the fears of other tribes and address the trust question by proving that he/she has national and not zonal or tribal agenda.
“Of course, the opponents of this National Agenda Strategy in the South-West have a name for whoever stressed his political hands across the River Niger; such is called Akintola. MKO was named Akintola, he was posthumously declared Nigerian president; Obasanjo was named Akintola, he became Nigerian civilian president.
Hence, I will be content to be called Akintola to become Nigerian president since I will be judged by history and the next generation of Yoruba through what I used the presidency to do to advance the development and growth of the South-West Region and not the strategies deployed to win the trophy!
“The late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, didn’t make it to the presidency because other regions/tribes erroneously believed he would run a South West/Yoruba agenda to the detriment of other tribes, if he became president. Ditto Chief Olu Falae.
Therefore, running a presidential campaign on the plank of South-West Agenda will be a No No for me!” He called on all other states in the South-West to support Ekiti State to produce the next president in 2023, “I will never sit in negotiations with any other aspirants in the South- West/Yoruba nation.
The reason being that Ekiti, which is the intellectual wing of the Yoruba nation has always been loyally supporting other states in the South-West for elevated positions. “It is only Ekiti State out of the six states in the South-West that history has not recorded any of the elevated positions for.
If other states in the South-West cannot step down and reciprocate Ekiti kind gesture all these years by supporting aspirants from Ekiti State for presidency in 2023, then, posterity and the coming generation of Ekiti will not forgive me if I do not fight for the presidential ticket to the end.
Buttressing the submission, the All Progressives Congress APC in the state during a Christmas party organized by one of its chieftains, Dr. Olusegun Oshinkolu in Ayede Ekiti, Oye Local Government Area, disclosed that whether Governor Fayemi likes it or not, he will be forced to run for the presidency in 2023 because he has done creditably well.
According to the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Hon. Ade Ajayi, who represented the party’s chairman, Barr. Paul Omotosho at the event, the time has come for a president to come from Ekiti State, which explain why Ekiti APC is pleading with members of the party across the country to support Governor Fayemi.
His words: “Though Governor Fayemi has not said he wants to contest, we will force him to join the race because of his competence, dedication and loyalty to APC.” However, a group within the party dissociated itself from the position of the Ekiti APC leadership.
The group under the aegis of Ekiti APC Stakeholders Forum described the position as merely a personal opinion of the minority in the party. A statement signed on behalf of the forum by Omo’ba Bamgboye Adegoroye, stated that leaders of the party in the state are not aware of the move.
The statement read in part: “All the states in the South of Nigeria deserve a shot at the presidency if it is agreed upon by the national leaders of our party. Ekiti State Stakeholders Forum along with other eminent Yoruba leaders will canvass for the opportunity to produce the next president in 2023 from our zone.
“Adoption of an authentic, qualified, well known, humane and experienced Yoruba man is our goal and we will play our part in accomplishing that task.” But in another piece titled “Putting the record straight: Fayemi as a politician,” Oladapo tutored those he said are ignorant of how Fayemi got into politics.
He explained that contrary to the opinion that Tinubu brought Fayemi into politics and was instrumental to his success at the polls, he said the current Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, is the angel behind the success.
Though the South-West APC spokesperson admitted that Tinubu played a role in Fayemi’s emergence as governor, he stressed that Adebayo has the outstanding credit.
While the speculation that Fayemi is eyeing the APC presidential ticket for the 2023 election, the governor while responding to questions from journalists at one of the editions of a monthly media programme tagged “Meet your governor,” aired in some local radio stations in the state, tactically skipped answers to the question posed to him on issue.