SWAGA, a political group within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in support of the 2023 Presidential ambition of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is currently engaged in supremacy battle with another group loyal to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, known as ‘JKF Tokantokan’.
The South-West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) which was launched in Ekiti State between June 14 to 15, consists of prominent APC members across the country. The group under the leadership of an Ekiti-born former Minister and Distinguished Senator Dayo Adeyeye has other notable Ekiti politicians such as Senator Tony Adeniyi, former Rep. member and inlaw to Tinubu, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, Hon. Olamide Oni, former Speaker, Ekiti House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Dr Adewale Omirin and another former Representatives member, Hon. Bimbo Daramola, among others.
T hese prominent Ekiti politicians are among aggrieved APC leaders in the state who in no time have hidden their discontentment in the running of affairs of the party by the state leadership and the current administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi .
These prominent party leaders on many occasions have alleged being sidelined in party activities claiming that the present state executives of the party was handpicked as puppets of Governor Fayemi and never passed test of time on accurate emergence. Some of the SWAGA members have at one time or the other scaled through suspension from their wards over alleged anti-party activities.
At a time around first week of July, when the party was preparing for state congress, a stakeholders meeting was convened and held at the Government House in Ado Ekiti . The meeting had in attendance Governor Kayode Fayemi; his Deputy, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi; Minister of Trade and industry, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; National Assembly members, State Executive Committee members and former political office holders.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the APC State Chairman, Paul Omotosho, disclosed that part of the issued discussed at the stakeholders meeting were preparation for the party’s congress, discipline, unity in the party, among others. But Adeyeye, the National Chairman of SWAGA, who is also an APC stakeholder in the state, told journalists that he and other prominent politicians in the group were not carried along in the meeting.
He said: “I was not invited, I don’t know anything about the proposed meeting. I didn’t get an invitation from any one.” The state’s Chairman of SWAGA, Senator Tony Adeniyi, who lamented the rate at which he said members of the group are being harassed and intimidated by group loyal to Governor Fayemi called “Tokantokan” said the launch of SWAGA in Ekiti would end alleged harassment and intimidation by Fayemi’s loyalists adding that freedom of association is never a crime in APC. “Before SWAGA was formed we had Tokantokan and original “JKF” which are outfits loyal to Governor Fayemi.
Is it an offence to associate with one of the foremost Nigerians like Tinubu? “We are being treated here in Ekiti like orphans in the Sahara desert. We are being intimidated and harassed by people who had contributed nothing to APC,” he said. Shortly before the conduct of the APC ward congress which came up on the July, 31, 2021, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters and one of the APC stakeholders in the state, Babafemi Ojudu, raised an objection that the leadership of the Ekiti APC has cornered forms for elective positions, debarring other interested aspirants in the party who he said were presumed not to be loyal to Fayemi from contesting various positions. Ojudu alleged forms were hijacked from the Ward Congress Committee sent to Ekiti from Abuja by the National Secretariat. He said: “Their mandate was to stay and sell the form to interested party members.
Governors came to Abuja to demand for form, but the committee refused to oblige. They invited party chairmen and briefed them on the need to allow interested party members have access to form “When they arrived Ado-Ekiti from Abuja, they went straight to the party secretariat, negotiated with the Chairman, got paid and handed over the forms to him and returned immediately to Abuja.” Responding, the APC state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ade Ajayi, described Ojudu’s allegation as “frivolous and flimsy”, saying anyone making such allegation is a “stranger who have no idea of the workings within the party.”
He assured that the party would give everyone a level-playing ground and ensure a free, fair and transparent congress that would produce new ward leaders. However, after the conduct of the ward congress, Adeyeye described the outcome as “a sham and unacceptable”.
The SWAGA National Chairman, who urged the national body of the APC to annul the outcome and fixed date for another election alleged that manipulations and irregularities were the order of the day at the election leading to loss of a life. He also alleged that members of SWAGA were prevented from exercising their franchise during the process. Adeyeye said: “We want to believe that the Caretaker Committee (CECPC) of our party meant well when it gave the go- ahead that ward congresses should hold across the country on Saturday.
“The ward congresses purportedly took place in Ekiti but the manner of their conduct was nothing near all democratic norms.” However, the APC in the state maintained that the election was highly inclusive and peaceful. The party, which spoke through its Caretaker Director of Media and Communication, Mr. Sam Oluwalana, said Adeyeye’s claims were frivolous.
He added that the violence which occurred in Ado Ekiti ward 10 where one life was lost was not connected to the congress “We will like to state categorically that the exercise was overwheminghly peaceful across the state and was a demonstration of our commitment to the principles and practice of democracy. Our members trooped out peacefully to elect executives of the party in the 177 wards in the state,” he said. Sequel to these developments, the National body of the APC set up an Appeal panel Committee to look into the complaint and objection raised by party members on the ward congress.
The Chairman of the Committee and former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Chief Iyiola Oladotun, told journalists in Ado-Ekiti that the Committee was not directed to share positions to pacify the aggrieved members “We can only make recommendations based on what we are able to gather from both the aggrieved and winners. We are not here to apportion blames or share positions. We are here to listen dispassionately to issues and make recommendations to the national secretariat of the APC who sent us here.” Maintaining its dissatisfaction on the ward congress earlier held and resentment over Local Government Congress held on September 4, 2021, 36 SWAGA members and contestants in the ward congress on behalf of its members said to be over 3,650 in number in Ekiti filed a suit declaring the congress held on July 31 null and void and in total breach of democratic norms and practices. The group’s legal team comprises Barrister Ayodeji Odu and five others.
Joined in the suit are: APC (1st defendant) Chairman Caretaker Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni(2nd defendant), Ekiti APC Chairman, Paul Omotoso (3rd defendant), Chairman, Ekiti Congress Screening Committee, Samuel Abejide (4th defendant) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (5th defendant). SWAGA want: “A declaration that no congress was held in Ekiti-State chapter of the 1st defendant as no result has been declared in respect of the congress as at the date of filling this case. “A declaration that the 2nd defendant cannot hold the position of Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Committee of the 1st defendant as such appointment/ role is a constitutional violation of Section 187 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and article 8 of the 1st defendant’s constitution.”