Ekiti 2023: Fayemi vs Tinubu Tussle tussle over 2023 tears state APC congress apart

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The recent ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress have deepened the perceived strained relationship between the supporters of the National Leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu and the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi over the rumoured 2023 presidential ambitions of the two giants of the ruling party, Victor Ogunje writes

It all began like a rumour that all was not well between the former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, and the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi over the alleged clash of their rumoured ambitions to occupy the Presidential Villa in 2023.

While none of the APC leaders has publicly indicated interest to contest 2023 presidential election, the battle for the control of the Ekiti State APC by the supporters of the two party chieftains has clearly shown that both men are in opposing camps.

However, the peddlers of the rumours have remained consistent that the 2023 presidential ambition was responsible for the persistent clashes between their supporters in Ekiti State.

Rather than back down as the two leaders have also denied the war rumour, their supporters have remained tenacious in the struggle.

Today, the seeming strained relationship has become the issue that dominates the politics of Ekiti State.

The two APC leaders parade intimidating credentials in the Nigerian political records. While Tinubu is a former Senator and two-term governor of the most influential state in Nigeria, Fayemi is a former minister, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, and a second-term governor of one of the most educated state.

Tinubu has been widely adjudged as an enigma in the Nigerian politics. As a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), his positive strides were felt as one of the backers of the ill-fated Chief MKO Abiola’s presidential bid. After the collapse of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 2006, Tinubu conceived and founded the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), where Fayemi and many other foot-soldiers cut their teeth in politics and rose meteorically to political stardom.

Though, Fayemi must have undergone political pupillage under Tinubu, the Ekiti State governor was never a political neophyte as well.

Having armed himself with a PhD in War Studies, Fayemi had positioned himself as a political strategist and academic of repute.

At various times, he had overtly confessed that Tinubu remained his political leader. Putting it succinctly, he undertook part of his political tutelage under the former Lagos State Governor. This fact remains incontestable.

The two APC leaders had so many things in common. They had fought together as members of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). They also coalesced efforts, funds and intellectual acumen as members of ACN to pull the rug off the feet of the seemingly invincible Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-west region, part of the South-south and the national level.

Fayemi, who never wanted to be drawn into any battle with Tinubu, had always maintained that the APC National leader remained his leader. He puts it lucidly that nothing can separate the them. The seeming cold war was wrapped under their belly and they displayed maturity to keep it away from the public view.

But their foot-soldiers’ misdemeanours have betrayed their efforts to conceal this fact.

Supporters of Tinubu and Fayemi in Ekiti State and the South-west have been hurling insults at each other over the rumour that their principals were nursing presidential ambitions.

This clash of interest has further widened the gulf, despite the attempt by the two leaders to keep skeptics guessing whether the simmering war was a fact or fiction.

Leading the supporters of Tinubu in Ekiti State was a former Minister of Works and ex-member of the National Assembly, Senator Dayo Adeyeye.

Adeyeye’s is the National Chairman of a Pro-Tinubu camp under the acronym Southwest Agenda for 2023 (SWAGA). He has other formidable allies like Senator Tony Adeniyi, the man who prosecuted Fayemi’s case against Segun Oni for three and half years and former speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Adewale Omirin, the man who rode on the governor’s back to become speaker between 2011 and 2015.
Though the Special Adviser to the President, Senator Babafemi Ojudu has not overtly confirmed his alleged membership of SWAGA, his closeness and fraternity with Tinubu remains indisputable.

In this battle, he has been on the fringe, launching vitriolic attacks against the State Working Committee (SWC) of the APC and Fayemi, describing the SWC as a mere lame duck.

However, the just concluded ward congress had blown the lid off the whole scenario and the world has come to that lucid conclusion that truly, there is a commotion within the nucleus of APC in the South-west.

The congress exposed the existing enmity between the two camps.

Though, the feud between Tinubu and Fayemi might not be as terrific, bitter and magnified as their loyalists made it to look like.

Before the day of the congress, there was ominous signal that the exercise would be crisis-ridden. Few months ago, the APC SWC loyal to Fayemi had proscribed SWAGA in Ekiti and threatened to slam whoever propagated the group’s ideals with suspension. But the group’s leaders and members ignored the threat.

Prior to the congress, the SWAGA members, through their state chairman, Senator Tony Adeniyi alleged that the Hon. Paul Omotoso-led APC Caretaker Committee in Ekiti was hoarding the forms and preventing its members from gaining access.

Adeniyi alleged further that the body also secretly inaugurated Chief Abejide-led congress committee across 177 wards to oversee the election against the statute that stipulated that only the APC Ward Congress Committee from Abuja, led by Alhaji Yusuf Galambi could exercise such powers.

Adeniyi said the consensus arrangements being proposed by the National Caretaker Committee of the party, would not work in the state.

The group had also said the consensus in Ekiti would not work as a result of some unilateral decisions already being taken by the state government and its caucus, which they warned could have a grave democratic consequences if imposed.

Adeniyi said: “We hereby state categorically that the APC in Ekiti State are fully prepared to go for Direct Congresses immediately after the registration/revalidation exercise. We are not, and shall not be part of any unilateral ‘consensus’ arrangement whatsoever.

The beauty of democracy is allowing everybody to have their say, even when the majority would have their way. The only civilised way to prove our numerical values is through congresses, not by any proxy,” Adeniyi reportedly said.

In spite of this, the party adopted consensus substantially in virtually all the 177 wards, which the SWAGA said was contrived to stop its members from vying for positions.

The group also called for outright annulment of the election, where a man was killed in Ado Ekiti Ward 10.
Addressing journalists on the alleged shoddy conduct of the congress, the SWAGA chieftain, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, said: “The Ward Congress purportedly took place in Ekiti State. But the manner of its conduct was nothing near all democratic norms as it was warped, disorderly, perverse and can only pass for a charade.

“As witnessed yesterday, the presence of INEC officials was not felt at the congresses. In most of the centres, members of the Tokan-Tokan group took over the INEC job. The presence of the law enforcement agents was also very insignificant. We witnessed a situation where people waited agitatedly from dusk to almost dawn, in a decoy deployed to frustrate voters.

“In places like Ijero, Ado Ekiti and Oye local councils, extreme violence was visited on people, leading to one death in Ado Ekiti Ward 10. Several people were also wounded and properties destroyed. We have the video clips of some of these heinous incidents.

“We are hereby telling the CECPC, our party members nationwide and indeed, all Nigerians, that there was no congress in Ekiti State yesterday. What happened was a charade that cannot pass the test of democracy and it is totally unacceptable”.

But faulting the position flaunted by SWAGA, the APC Director of Media, Mr. Sam Oluwalana, said it was an incontrovertible fact that the congresses in the wards were peacefully concluded, contrary to what the group was canvassing.

“Further, we would like to disabuse the minds of the public on insinuations being peddled about a purported clash between supporters of Governor Kayode Fayemi and supporters of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in the state. Our respected national leader is well known to have contributed to the growth of the party in Ekiti State and the entire country, and we as a party are aware of the very cordial relationship between Asiwaju Tinubu and Governor Fayemi. “Conflict entrepreneurs are advised to look elsewhere for a different narrative to bolster their divisive tendencies, and not fan embers of discord where there is none.

We encourage any genuinely aggrieved party member to seek redress through the party’s internal conflict resolution mechanisms, and to desist from sponsoring false media narratives that are injurious to our collective interests. Together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts”, Oluwalana reportedly stated.

The next few months would be so interesting in Ekiti as the two groups intensify efforts to outdo each other.

Culled from ThisDay Newspapers