Less than 10 days to the presidential and National Assembly elections, the leadership of the PDP at national and Ekiti state levels are unable to prevail on both former Governor Ayo Fayose and Senate Minority Leader, Abiodun Olujimi, to sheathe their swords, a development that could cost the party the polls in the state, BODE GBADEBO writes.
It is no secret that the immediate past governor of Ekiti state, Ayo Fayose, and the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abiodun Olujimi, are at each other’s throats over who controls the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West and Ekiti state. What is however unknown is the eventual consequences of the feud between both party chieftains.
Before now, the development was said to have also pitched Fayose against the national chairman of the opposition PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, after leadership tussle broke out between two factions of the party in Ekiti state loyal to Olujimi and the former governor.
Insterestingly, Olujimi was Fayose’s deputy when the latter first seved as Ekiti state governor between May 29, 2003 and 2006. Olujimi is currently represents Ekiti South in the Upper Chamber of the National Assmebly.
Trouble started when Fayose in January 2018 unilaterally declared his then deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olushola Eleka, as his adopted successor and advised dissatisfied party members to quit PDP for other parties.
He went further to say that he will not apologise for adopting Eleka as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2018 Ekiti state governorship election.
He also told a former Minister of Works, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, and other aggrieved PDP aspirants including Olujimi that they were free to leave the PDP for other parties.
Recall that Senator Olujimi, Adeyeye, who is a former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Dare Bejide; a former Commissioner for Justice, Owoseni Ajayi had kicked against the adoption of Eleka by Fayose as his candidate.
They described the adoption of Eleka as arrogant and anti-democratic.
But Fayose had then said, “The PDP has taken a position; I say we have taken a position and we have no apologies for that and the position is that Olusola should take over after me as the governor of Ekiti.
“It doesn’t matter to us how many people that are abusing us by our action. They are even free to join our adversaries, but we will defeat them as God liveth,” Fayose had said.
The rest is now history as Fayose is currently engaged in a fierce political battle for the control of the PDP in the state and beyond, there are feelers that Secondus may have thrown his weight behind those who plotted the alleged removal of the former governor as the leader of the party in the state following the loss of the state to the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the gubernatorial election held in July, 2018.
Aftermath of the loss of the governorship election in 2018, it became apparent that Fayose, who fought tooth and nail to get his erstwhile deputy, Prof. Kolapo Eleka, elected as his successor, has lost the leadership of the party. This is because, Senator Olujimi thereafter became the Senate Minority Leader, thereby becoming the highest political office holder from Ekiti state PDP.
This is also against the backdrop of the recent failure of the party to get judgement in its favour at the Ekiti State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, a development sources familiar with the matter blamed on Fayose’s high-handedness and solo leadership style.
It is worthy of note that while Senator Abiodun Olujimi is an asset to the PDP by virtue of her position as the first female Minority Leader in the Senate, former Governor Ayo Fayose cannot be wished away given his loyalty and tenacity over the years when he was governor of Ekiti state and currently out of office and as the South-West campaign coordinator of the PDP presidential campaing.
Keen observers of events opined that there is no gainsaying the fact that Fayose needs to exhibit leadership by embracing all and sundry instead of alienating certain people or campaigning against them as in the case of Olujimi, where he even made a trending video calling on Ekiti South voters not to vote for her. His action is the last thing PDP need now to win elections in the zone.
“I don’t know why the party national leadership is not decisive about the matter because a house divided against itself cannot stand. People like Senator Olujimi can be regarded as experienced lawmakers by virtue of her position and if she get re-elected and assuming if PDP wins the presidential election, she can’t be a back seater and it will be better for the party that loyal party members are occupying vital positions,” Ibrahim Kalejaiye said.
However, a popular lawmaker, who is Olujimi’s colleague in the Senate told LEADERSHIP Friday that the new Senate Minority Leader is not fighting Fayose, accusing the latter of being intolerant of opposing views.
“Fayose is my friend and I have said it to his face that this fight with Senator Olujimi is uncalled for. We need ourselves in order to ensure the party’s victory at the polls.
“Senator Olujimi on her part is a committed and loyal party member. I do tell people that with her emergence as the Senate Minority Leader, we have succeeded in replacing a woman (Akpabio) with a real man (Olujimi) because she is a man in a creature of a woman,” the popular lawmaker jokingly said.
Meanwhile, there is no end in sight for the leadership tussle as the national leadership of party has kept a disturbing silence on the matter in the face of what one can describe as threat to its chances in Ekiti state as a result of the personality clash.
Last week, Olujimi renewed the attacks by berating Fayose for campaigning against her re-election, saying the latter cannot stop her.
She urged her supporters “not to be distracted by a mere noise and ranting of an ant who thinks he is an elephant.”
It was reported that the former governor, who has been having a running battle with Olujimi, had on a live radio programme in Ado Ekiti penultimate Friday urged voters in Ekiti South not to vote for the lawmaker in the February 16 National Assembly election.
But Olujimi in a statement by her Special Assistant on Media, Chief Sanya Atofarati, the following Monday, said, “Fayose is being haunted by his wicked and failed past. It is sad and shameful that a (former) governor who could not produce his successor in an election despite the resources available to him is living on past glory. Senator Olujimi is a tested product that nobody can destroy nor distaste.”
It is not certain whether the gladiators will settle their differences in the interest of the party or not but one thing is sure, all is not well with the Ekiti state chapter of the PDP and it is just a matter of time for the outcome to manifest.
In a telephone chat with Fayose’s spokesperson, Mr. Lere Olayinka, he said the fight between his principal and Olujimi is not personal one as both of them are not on the same level politically.
He added that what is at stake are Olujimi’s actions, which he described as provocative and geared towards undermining Fayose’s quest of having a united and stronger PDP in Ekiti state.
“Olujimi has been romancing enemies of the PDP in Ekiti to further injure the party. This is the issue and on the election day, we will vote Atiku and other PDP candidates except her,” Olayinka added.
Also, PDP national publicity secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, told LEADERSHIP Friday that the party was intervening in the crisis and that there was no cause for alarm regarding the coming elections.