Lere Olayinka, Media Adviser to former Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, in this interview with ADEWUMI ADEMIJU, alleges that the crisis between Senator Biodun Olujimi and Fayose is being fuelled by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. He also speaks on governance in the state
On Friday July 17, the Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti dismissed a suit challenging the outcome of PDP ward congress conducted by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), but the senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, Mrs. Biodun Olujimi, said the case would be taken to a higher court. What is your take on that?
It is within their legal right to appeal if they chose to exercise that right. The judge even said they can appeal even to the Supreme Court, but they should realize that there are laid down rules.
There are provisions of the constitution of Nigeria; there are judicial pronouncements on intra party matters that ousted the power of court to adjudicate the power concerning the power of a political party. So, people should be mindful of being used by some people craving for selfish desire. I sympathize with Senator Olujimi in this regard.
Those who are collecting money from her will not want her to retrace her step and go back to the person who made her politically. She is a senator representing Ekiti South but there are three senatorial districts in Ekiti – North, South and Central. I am from Ekiti West Local Government in Ekiti Central; she is from Omuo in Ekiti East Local Government/ how can you now claim you are my leader in Ekiti West Local Government?
Who do you think are those using the senator?
People who are always beneficial of crisis and lawyers who want to keep collecting legal fees; when you don’t know when to stop a crisis, you become a prey to fraudsters.
A stakeholder in that legal proceeding on July 17 stated that issues revolving around internal affairs of a party can only be resolved through party’s internal mechanism.
What’s your view on that?
That’s why on the issue of ward congress, the party set up a Congress Committee headed by the deputy governor of Taraba State, Haruna Manu. The committee conducted the congress in accordance with the guidelines and constitution of the party and the party now went ahead to set up an Appeal Committee for anybody that had issue.
The Appeal Panel came up with its report and when the party was going to release the name of the duly elected ward executive officers, it made reference in a letter dated April 25, 2020 to the congress, the report of the congress committee and the report of the appeal panel.
With the situation on ground, what do you think would be the fate of PDP in Ekiti come 2022?
A lot of people don’t understand what is synonymous to PDP in Ekiti State. It appears anytime we have issue of contest, concerning congress, that’s the time PDP normally wins election in Ekiti. Those who are conversant with happenings in Ekiti PDP would remember Ifaki, Ureje, Iye in 2002, the 310/318 result of the state congress of 2012. In that congress, there were two contending groups, the two groups presented different chairmanship candidates, one person had 318 votes, the other person had 310, you can see how close it was.
The group that had 318 had all the state exco members; those with 310 did not have anything, not a single exco member. In 2012, there were issues but two years after, PDP won the governorship election clearly. So, what is happening now is not strange. It’s the involvement of the ruling APC that is fueling the crisis, if not, what will make Senator Olujimi to gang up against Ayo Fayose? Olujimi came into politics in Ekiti State in 2004 after Fayose had become governor. It was Fayose that appointed her as special assistant; it was Fayose that made her a member of the House of Representatives. She became deputy governor under Fayose. She alos became senator under Fayose in 2015. Olujimi has taken not less than 10 positions in PDP in the last 16 years.
Are you saying that the ruling APC is aggravating the crisis?
On March 7 that we had the con gress, Olujimi took thugs to the hotel where they suspected that people from Abuja (NWC) lodged, when she led thugs there in the night, policemen from the Ekiti State government house were with her. How could policemen from the state government house be with a PDP senator if they don’t have alliance?
During this COVID-19 lockdown, Olujimi went about taking foodstuffs to APC secretariats in Ekiti, the records are there and some of us asked questions. APC is in government in Ekiti State, with a governor, two senators, House of Representatives members, 26 lawmakers, 16 local government chairmen, commissioners and all that.
PDP has only one senator in the state and the senator is now taking foodstuffs to APC secretariats; it is like using cup to pour water in the Atlantic Ocean. It means they have an alliance and that was why she chose to pay APC back by taking foodstuffs to their secretariat. She came back later to say she is a senator of everybody, we also asked why didn’t APC senators take foodstuff to PDP secretariat.
Some PDP members have alleged that imposition by former Governor Fayose is the major cause of the crisis rocking the party?
When free gifts are being distributed in a place, someone who does not benefit would read negative meanings to the gift. That’s the scenario, what do they call imposition?
Olujimi is a senator today, how did she get PDP ticket in 2015, how did she get the House of Representatives ticket? In every arrangement there must be somebody who will stand for you and who will say this person has been loyal and honest to me. It is called reward for loyalty.
Leadership should always reward their followers. Would you call what’s happening in Lagos imposition? People talk when they don’t benefit. In 2018 when we wanted to have governorship election, was there no primary election in PDP between the aspirants, Prof Kolapo Olusola and Prince Dayo Adeyeye. At the venue of the primary election, which was beamed life on TV, before the counting of votes, Prince Adeyeye said on camera that the process was free and fair. He even described Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who was chairman of the congress committee as perfect, reliable and an expert in party convention.
Former Governor Segun Oni recently defected back to the PDP. While Fayose welcomed him, he said Oni shouldn’t expect a red carpet. What does this imply?
I worked with Segun Oni when he was governor, till now I still refer him as oga. But in a situation like this, the truth must be told, the scenario is that when you leave your father’s house and join outsiders to throw stones, breaking windows, glasses in your father’s house. Some people remained in the house repairing it, fixing damages preventing the house from being brought down. After six to 10 years, you now choose to return to the house, should you be accorded a rosy welcome?
How effective do you think the role of the caretaker committee set up to pilot the affairs of the Ekiti PDP?
Caretaker committee has no major role to play on this issue.
Why were they appointed then?
It is for a period of interregnum, somebody must be in charge. It is not their job to conduct congresses. I am saying this because we have local government and state congresses ahead of us.
What’s the role of the caretaker committee?
It is to keep the party running. If there are issues in the wards, the wards will approach the local government which in turn will approach the state. The caretaker committee has the responsibility of bringing party members together; they can approach party members on differences for amicable resolution like they did to Senator Olujimi.
They went to her in Abuja, spoke to her to drop the court case for amicable resolution within the party but she refused.
Does it mean tha the caretaker committee might not be able to bring Fayose and Olujimi together?
The case was dismissed and what next, Senator Olujimi went on social media, calling Fayose unprintable names. A peace lover, who used the ladder of the PDP to get to where she is, should not be behaving like that.
Don’t break the ladder that made you, when you use a bridge to cross a river, when you get to the end of the river, don’t destroy the bridge, you might still need the bridge to go back to where you are coming from. Senator Olujimi is behaving like a wounded lion, who is ready to consume, destroy and pull down the house.
Your reports about the ruling APC in Ekiti Sate is always unpleasant. Though expected of the opposition, don’t you think it is possible for the administration to have pass mark in some areas?
It is possible, we have had governors in Ekiti since 1999 and what those governors did; eyes can see them. If you take achievements of PDP governors in Ekiti, you are likely to see nothing that Kayode Fayemi, who was governor for four years and still governor now, running to two years, that would be making six years, has done. He started building a civic centre in 2012 but that civic centre is yet to be completed. It is not about just making noise or propaganda.
In 2012, Governor Fayemi took N20 billion bond from the Capital Market. One of the projects he listed that he wanted to execute with that money was the Oja Oba Market. N2.75 billion was earmarked for Oja Oba Market out of that N20 billion. Did he build the market? He did not; we only saw pictures of Oja Oba on billboard. He listed Fajuyi Bridge that Fayose constructed. The picture of the bridge was in Ekiti State calendar of 2014. Did he construct the bridge? He did not.