BARELY two months to the governorship primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, the rumoured endorsement of the Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji is reportedly causing ripples in the cabinet of Governor KayodeFayemi.
The APC has since commenced the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms, fixed January 22, 2022 for the primary election to pick its standard bearer for the June 18, 22 governorship poll. Fayemi, who will be completing his term in October next year, is said to be desirous of having a successor, especially from his cabinet, in the bid to consolidate his legacy projects and programmes in all the 16 local government areas in the state.
It was gathered that a few members of the cabinet, who are interested in the APC ticket, have commenced subtle moves, including lobbying stakeholders in becoming candidate.
Those said to be interested in the ticket in the cabinet include: Oyebanji; the Chief of Staff, Biodun Omoleye; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda; Commissioner for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Bamidele Faparusi and the Director General of office of transformation, strategy and delivery, Professor Bolaji Aluko.
Only Faparusi has publicly declared his interest to contest for the election.
However, the recent coordinated campaign and mobilisation for the SSG by senior and close aides of the governor have been interpreted largely by others in the government as a subtle endorsement by the governor and his wife ahead of the party’s primaries.
A source in the government confirmed, at the weekend, that the silence of the governor amid the increasing mobilisation by his close associates for an individual within the cabinet is generating heat.
The source noted that there is disquiet among many of the top appointees over the seeming endorsement, with some forces mapping out strategies to checkmate those behind the rumoured endorsement.
They claimed that the governor has been meeting with APC leaders and other stakeholders, including federal lawmakers, assuring them of a level-playing field that led to the shadow poll.
The governor, it was gathered, met with the local government chairmen last week, where he was reportedly asked for ‘direction’ ahead of the election and the source claimed Governor Fayemi simply declared that APC would decide the party’s candidate.
One of the complaints of some of the aggrieved cabinet members mostly from the southern senatorial district of the state is the alleged plan by the governor to impose a candidate from the central district as against the principle of zoning. The southern axis has not produced governor since the state was created in 1996.
However, in a subtle reference to raging controversy, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Bamidele Faparusi dismissed the rumoured endorsement, saying fielding of candidate outside the southern zone could jeopardise chances of APC in the poll.
However, the publicity secretary of the APC in the state, Segun Dipe, who said he was not aware of any form of endorsement, added that it was normal for the governor to be interested in who becomes his successor.
He said: “Interestingly, people have not even collected forms and people are already going to town about imposition or endorsement. What will happen even if the person they are mentioning will not even collect form, it is democracy. Are you saying in 2023 that President Muhammadu Buhari should not have interest in somebody? Is there any time someone leaving government without him or her showing interest in somebody as successor? That is normal.
“By the way, I am not aware of any imposition and nobody has told me about it. Our governor is somebody who always says his mind. He does not sit on the fence. Whatever he says, is what he means and what he means, he says. He has not called and talked about any endorsement or imposition, neither has he called the chairman of the party.”
But there are always assumptions and people looking at governor’s body language, it is normal and natural. We must allow the process to run its course and allow everything to manifest in due course.”
- Tribune Newspaper