LEADERSHIP positions come with the challenges of taking the most rightful decision in the interest of the people in the face of myriads of conflicting competing perspectives with each appearing to be the best with just an edge. This is the scenario playing out presently in the Ekiti State chapter of the All Progressives Congress( APC) following the success of the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the February 25, 2023 presidential election and his subsequent declaration as the president-elect by the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Ekiti State, also christened the Fountain of Knowledge and Land of Honour, is deeply rooted in the progressive family, political ideology and culture, hence it is not begged to join, but rather canvasses others’ joining of the progressives’ fold. This trajectory is historical and hardly contestable in Nigeria’s political development from the defunct First Republic till date. Though modern political development has introduced multi-party interest into the state politics, the tone and creed however remains essentially the progressives’ ideals.
Before the president-elect officially informed the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in January of 2022 of his ambition to run for the presidency in the 2023 general elections under the banner/ platform of the APC, a party they both formed, it was the Ekiti-born prince, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, had rallied other southwest political juggernauts to form the famous Southwest Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) as the first frontal instrument to campaign for the Asiwaju’s mandate, in line with a Yoruba ethical philosophy, “Ile lati n keso rode” (Charity begins at home). SWAGA, in in the weeks and months preceding the Asiwaju declaration, literally became the ‘John the Baptist’ of the unstoppable campaign train. It worked assiduously at rallying all the institutions in the southwest political calculation behind Asiwaju, touching every political cornerstone. As at this time, several men of power in the South-West were still neck deep in nocturnal meetings to take a shot at the presidency not minding the fact that all of them without exception were products of Asiwaju’s magnanimity and leadership development project at one time or the other.
SWAGA membership became an anti-party offence in the Ekiti State APC and not a few member fell victim in the distribution of government largesse and opportunities at managing the party processes, particularly as everything was being done to ensure Ekiti APC delegates to the APC presidential delivered uniformly. This was the atmosphere in Ekiti State before the presidential convention/primary of APC in June 2022. Adeyeye continued building bridges for the coming Asiwaju campaign train far beyond the South-West. No one can easily forget those deep sacrifices at a very costly price. Fortunately, the Asiwaju political machinery displayed mastery of the game and the APC presidential primary became a ceremonial harvest of stepping down for the big masquerade by many who had earlier bought the N100m nomination form from across all the regions, leaving about only four in the final contest during which Asiwaju emerged with over 65 percent of the total delegate votes.
In Ekiti State, we then had a sitting governor, Kayode Fayemi as he then was, who also stepped down for Asiwaju Tinubu at the venue of the primary just before the casting of the ballot. The APC presidential candidate reciprocated by moving to Ekiti to ensure that the Ekiti governorship election held just a week after the primary became a signpost of what was to come in February of 2023. Former Governor Fayemi has since become another prized asset in the Asiwaju campaign train for the general election. Faraway from the Ekiti political binocular is Mr. Dele Alake, a one-time Commissioner of Information and Strategy in Lagos State under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a media guru, democracy soldier and long-time associate of the president-elect who sits elegantly atop the yet-to-be- rivaled information team of the APC presidential campaign council. Alake is also from Ekiti and this is aside the fact that sitting governors in all the states will prefer their own man-Fridays as the minister representing their states in the federal cabinet.
Adeyeye, a graduate of political science and lawyer, was the last most celebrated scribe of the Afenifere, the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organization before he went to contest for Ekiti State governorship in 2007. A princely fearless writer and media star boy before he elevated to a lawyer, he could be best described as a grandmaster of political marketing judging by his days at the Afenifere leadership with the late Pa Abraham Adesanya. He was also a former Minister of State in the Ministry of Works between 2013 and 2015 and got elected into the 9th senate in 2019 where he held sway as the Senate Committee Chair on Information before he took upon himself the SWAGA assignment. Fayemi, a two-term governor of Ekiti State and former Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, was also a former minister of solid minerals during the President Buhari’s first term. Luck has indeed shone more on Fayemi, who governed Ekiti twice in 12 years whereas Adeyeye contested for the governorship ticket in all the elections through the period but has not been lucky once beyond being the “best candidate that never won”.
In the Ekiti APC calculux, therefore, the duo of Fayemi and Adeyeye will resonate louder based on interests and affiliation. The president-elect’s sense of justice will be put under the searchlight.
- Ige, a public policy analyst and political activist, writes in from Abuja.
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