Ekiti 2022: Oni’sgovernorship ambition and search for peace in PDP

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Ekiti is on the march again as politicians are preparing for the 2022 governorship poll. Although aspirants are still keeping their aspirations to their chests, especially in the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), the former governor Segun Oni, has expressed his resolve to take another shot at the Oke Ayoba Government House. He made the declaration when he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which he left in 2014 due to what seemed irreconcilable differences between him and ex-governor Ayodele Fayose last year.

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That peace has continued to elude the Ekiti State chapter of the PDP is due to the struggle for the soul and structure of the party. The crisis first reared its ugly head in 2017, when the party could not conduct free and fair primary election because of vested interests exhibited by the then governor Fayose, who exerted his influence to pick the candidate. This led to the exit of leaders from the party who could not stomach the insult and meddlesomeness of Fayose.

After the governorship primary, it was Senator Biodun Olujimi and a few other leaders that remain to fight it out with Fayose. This state of affairs badly affected the party’s fortunes in the governorship and presidential elections held in 2019, as well as state and National Assembly elections.

For some political analysts, compromise can cure a lot of self-inflicted malaise. They reckon that if the dramatis personae could seek compromise, then the crisis could be nipped in the bud before it escalates further. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. As if destined for perdition, the principal actors remain recalcitrant. The last straw that broke Carmel’s back was the party’s congresses, which was held in March 2020.

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At the end of the ward, local and states congresses, two parallel executives emerged. The Fayose-led faction elected the former Commissioner for Environment, Bisi Kolawole, while the faction led by Olujimi elected Kehinde Odebunmi as state chairman. Despite producing parallel executives, the Olujimi faction headed to the court but the Federal High Court in Ado Ekiti dismissed the ex parte motion filed by the group. The judgment of the Court of Appeal is being awaited on the matter.

The leadership of the party at the national level has not been able to remove itself from the crisis rocking the Ekiti State chapter of the PDP. Instead of performing the role of unbiased arbiter, the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee appears. Instances abound when onlookers expected more neutrality from the party prefers to align with one faction, but that did not happen.

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When the ward congress was inconclusive and marred by allegations and counter-allegations of malpractices, the party accepted the result and asked that the local government congress should hold despite a pending suit challenging the outcome. What is more, even when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agents boycotted the state congresses on account of the suit before the Court of Appeal, the party’s national leadership accepted and endorsed the executive produced by a faction of the party.

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