In this piece SAMUEL OGIDAN writes on the politics of the forthcoming Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections and the credibility test on the leadership strength of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu
For Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, the national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), reconciliation which he has embarked upon since taking over the party’s mantle of leadership appears to be yielding some measure of success. And of course, this would be put to test partly on June 21 and August 9, 2014 in both Ekiti and Osun states respectively when the party squares it up with the ruling All Plrogressives Congress(APC)in a governorship election.
His emergence as the PDP helmsman was not predicted as he was not among the favoured ones seeking to occupy the position. He was the PDP governors’ choice which President Goodluck Jonathan cannot but accept. Fixing the wrecks caused by his predecessor, Bamanga Tukur became Mu’azu’s lot. A major highlight of this impasse was the defection of five governors.
And true to his promise of allowing a level playing ground, the PDP boss allowed all the 14 aspirants vying for the Ekiti state governorship ticket on the party’s platform to test their popularity as against consensus arrangement canvassed by some aspirants.
The emergence of Ayo Fayose, a former governor of the state, as the party’s flag bearer in Ekiti state threw up some intrigues, accusation and manipulations ahead of the governorship election, as his emergence is being hotly contested by the other 13 aspirants who were to later endorse Gbenga Aluko purportedly as their consensus candidate.
At a press briefing in Abuja recently where he was endorsed through a peer rating arrangement, which he likened to the process that produces Catholic Popes, Aluko said, his co-aspirants have agreed to forward his name to President Jonathan as Fayose’s replacement ahead of the poll.
Responding to a question as to what they would do if their demands are not acceded to, Aluko said the party in the state was already experiencing a meltdown, which encouraged the opposition to woo party leaders, party officials and other PDP members.
“I can tell you that a lot of our supporters will leave the party and go to the opposition. You know how we behave in Yoruba land. You can give us a candidate that we cannot follow; to follow the candidate is not possible. Our people are saying people from Rivers and Bauchi should come to Ekiti and vote if they think that they are the best they can present. So, some of us will stay in the party because we have paid huge price but the bulk of our supporters will leave. Some of our leaders will leave and go to APC and LP.
“If they insist on Fayose we wish them good luck. June 21 is around the corner. Unfortunately, Mr. President may be the biggest loser because the presidency is bigger than one state. If we lose in Ekiti and proceed to lose in Osun, we will lose the whole of South-west. So we are gradually moving towards defeat. We don’t want that to happen that is why we are saying produce a candidate other than Fayose,” he said.
The list of aspirants who endorsed Aluko as contained in a communique signed by the state PDP chairman, Mr. Makanjuola Ogundipe, include: Adeyanju Bodunde, Adeyeye Adebayo, Adubiaro Abibat, Ajayi Deji, Aluko Abiodun.
Others are Aribisala Adewale, Bejide Oluwadare, Obafemi Peter, Ogunbolude Ropr, Ogundipe Modupe, Olubolade Caleb and Omoyeni Adebisi who sent a representative.
Notwithstanding the resentment, the party still handed Fayose the party’s certificate of return as its flag bearer, during which Mu’azu urged all party members in the state to remain united and forge a common course. Also making a similar plea, Fayose promised to protest his fellow aspirants’ interest. He said: “The way forward is that other aspirants should support me and work with me. It is their right to be angry and if I had lost I will also be angry because is not easy to lose N11 million.”
Although the party’s national chairman has promised to redeem the party, the question on the minds of analysts and political watchers is whether Mu’azu will succeed where his predecessor failed. In his days as the party chairman, Tukur could not win Ondo and Edo governorship elections, a situation that put a question mark on his leadership credibility.
Even though the PDP candidate, Fayose has already started campaigning for the election that is less than 77 days to go with attendant huge crowd, would the ruling party be able to win in a zone (South-west) controlled by the opposition APC?
But for Fayose, it is victory ascertained, because according to him, “Kayode Fayemi is my governor and so he will remain until October 15, 2015 when he would have been dislodged officially June 21.
“I understand his fears, when you see a lion you recognise one. When you smell a lion you will know it is a lion. When a lion strikes, you will know. I am a political lion that cannot be ignored.
“I share his pains. If he wants to join PDP let him resign and come. But for him not to, forget about it. I brought Fayemi into lime light, I supported him in 2009 rerun, to him then, I wasn’t a killer, I wasn’t facing EFCC according to his assertions. I remember very well he did an advert for me when I turned 49, saying the leader of the people who believe in justice fairness and equity, the man that fought on the side of the people.
“Today, the talk has changed and that is their stock in trade. I don’t want to join issues with them. But I want to tell Nigerians that I will never come to Abuja to ask for appointment if Fayemi does not go. If I fail to defeat Fayemi I will not come to Abuja for appointment, my wife and family must not be given appointment. I brought Kayode Fayemi and I will take him to where I bought him from.
“Secondly, I want to remind you that Fayose was the first governor to defeat an incumbent governor in Ekiti. Coincidentally, that governor that I defeated that time under the AD, is today Fayemi’s god-father. The man who defeated his god-father will crush the god-son.
“He is a wise and intelligent man who understands the import of my emergence so he must cry. It is his right to cry.
“Nigerians will see clearly that I will defeat them one month before election. I am a political lion I live all my life in the trenches. Some of them threatened that they will shoot, I dared them. I don’t play to the gallery, I am a bulldozer. The thing that caused the bulldozing of Adebayo will also cause the bulldozing of Fayemi,” he said.
Ekiti governorship election is less that 77 days, would PDP emerge winner against incumbent APC and would PDP also succeed in wrestling Osun state from the hands of the opposition? June 21 and August 9 are around the corner, Nigerians are waiting to see the power game that would play out.