Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ekiti defeat: APC governors woo workers, students

Ayo Fayose

The defeat of the incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, by the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has caused fears and jitters in most states governed by the All Progressives Congress, SUNDAY PUNCH investigations have revealed.
The governorship election, held in Ekiti State on Saturday, June 21, saw Fayose polling a total of 203,090 votes to emerge the winner of the contest while Fayemi of the APC and another major contestant, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, of the Labour Party, polled a total of 120,433 and18,135 votes, respectively.
Our correspondents sampled the mood in the APC states of Osun, Rivers, Borno, Lagos and Oyo. They also checked the pulse in Ogun, Kwara and Edo states.
In Oyo State, the ruling party, the APC, our correspondent gathered, had stepped up its efforts to retain the state in 2015, following the victory of the PDP in Ekiti State penultimate Saturday.
Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH showed that the party leaders had met to discuss the modalities that would sustain their hold on power come 2015. A source said efforts were being made to reconcile aggrieved party members.

“Fayose won because he was close to the people when he was in government. Oyo APC leaders are fashioning strategies that will bring Governor Abiola Ajimobi closer to the grass roots.
“Ekiti election is a wake-up call to the party. Senator Femi Lanlehin has gone to the Accord Party and Senator Ade Adeseun is on his way to the PDP; it says a lot about the internal crisis in the party. And with the Ekiti results, those who are moving towards the exit door are moving fast now. They want to leave before the next election,” the source said.
After the Ekiti election, a serving commissioner in the state (name withheld) expressed concern over the ability of the APC to hold on to power on his Facebook page. He wrote, “A responsible government must at all times connect with the people.”
One of those who responded to the post said Ekiti election was a big lesson for Oyo State.
Another respondent said it could be too late for the APC and that the masses would react in 2015.
The Chairman of the APC in Oyo State, Akin Oke, told one of our correspondents that the party would investigate what happened in Ekiti before taking a decision on the immediate future.
“There will be investigation into what happened in Ekiti. The party will not fold its hands and watch. It is unfortunate that Governor Kayode Fayemi did not reflect on the events leading to his loss before accepting defeat. Is he so bad that he could not even win in his ward? There are fundamental questions to be asked,” he said.
Ajimobi’s Special Adviser on Media, Festus Adedayo, told our correspondent that the Ekiti election was an eye-opener.
“What the Ekiti election has done for us is to open our eyes to the newest intrigues in electioneering and party politics. We have collated all the events leading to the election, studied them and we are wiser,” Adedayo said.
Sources close to the APC in Osun State told one of our correspondents that shortly after the Ekiti election results were announced, the astounded leaders of the party in the state held a meeting and decided to pacify workers and other groups in the state.
One of the measures, it was learnt, was the payment of the May salaries of workers, aimed at boosting their confidence in the administration.
The governor confirmed this at a rally held in Ikirun on Tuesday, where he said workers had started receiving salary payment alerts.”
Also, members of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme, popularly known as O’YES, who had not be paid for some months, it was learnt, had started receiving their salary arrears.
All these payments, a chieftain of the party said, were aimed at pacifying some categories of people who might have been aggrieved.
The loss of the APC in Ekiti State has also forced the ruling party to commence aggressive campaigns in rural communities.
It was also observed that public taps, which had been dry for months in some areas like Odi Olowo Street in Osogbo, the state capital, had started running.
Reacting to the outcome of the Ekiti election, Aregbesola had said, “What they did in Ekiti is not possible here in Osun. Osun is different and they know it. In 2011, all Yoruba states voted for PDP presidential candidate, but Osun people voted for Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (the Action Congress of Nigeria candidate). We are different in Osun. Don’t let them scare you.”
In Edo State, where the APC currently holds sway, sources close to some of the party officials told SUNDAY PUNCH that the loss of Ekiti State by the APC to the PDP shook the party.
“What happened in Ekiti was amazing. We did not expect the PDP to have such a landslide in all the local governments because our candidate had a good scorecard, when it comes to good governance.
“For instance, the provision of good roads, quality education and other amenities shows the readiness of a man to give the people of Ekiti the true dividends of democracy,” the source said.
Another party faithful, who simply gave his name as Mike, said, “I think my party might have soft-pedalled at some point. But it is a big eye-opener for Edo State in 2016. We will tighten all loose ends. We will not take chances at all because there is no room for the PDP here,” he said.
In a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Godwin Erhahon, however, described the Ekiti showdown as a display of Fayemi’s patriotic approach to governance which President Jonathan should emulate.
He said, “I think Jonathan should learn from the patriotism and democratic spirit of the Ekiti Governor (Kayode Fayemi), who accepted defeat even when there were reasons for him to protest.”
The Secretary to the State Government, Professor Julius Ihonvbere, in an interview with one of our correspondents, attributed the APC loss in Ekiti State to tactical error, stressing that the APC had gone to the drawing board to analyse the situation towards learning some lessons and preventing them from occurring again.
In Ogun State, the defeat has started to affect the governance style of the state Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
One of our correspondents gathered that the governor has launched a ‘welfarist agenda,’ aimed at paying more attention to the people’s welfare.
Amosun revealed this on Tuesday at the Arcade Ground of the Governor’s Office, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta while handing over severance cheques to former political appointees, who served between 2007 and 2011.
It was observed that the civil servants were paid their monthly salaries on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, as against the practice of making such payments between 10th and 15th of the other month.
The governor had also taken a step further by holding a stakeholders meeting with the civil servants at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta on Wednesday. Many of the civil servants were aggrieved because they felt they were not getting a fair treatment from the current administration.
In addition, the governor has scheduled meetings with different groups, including the Nigeria Labour Congress.
When contacted for official reaction on the defeat of Fayemi, the factional state Publicity Secretary of the APC loyal to Amosun, Mr. Sola Lawal, said the party had nothing to say.
He said, “We have no comment.”
In Kwara State, investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH revealed that the APC, in an apparent move to guard against a recurrence of the party’s defeat in Ekiti, had taken strategic decisions on youth empowerment programmes, grassroots mobilisation and empowerment of artisans, traders, commercial drivers and commercial cyclists.
It was also gathered that the party had evolved strategies to woo more students in the state, especially eligible voters into its fold.
A source also informed our correspondent that elected public officials of the party had been asked to redouble their empowerment and mass mobilisation drives.
The sources described the defeat of Fayemi was a big shock.
It was gathered that the party had decided to field only popular candidates and that the party leaders had started having meetings with defected party members with a view to wooing them back to the APC.
The APC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Sulyman Buhari, said the Kwara State election results would not be “rigged, manipulated and announced in PDP’s favour from Abuja.”
He also said the party would field only popular candidates in all its elections, adding that every member of the APC was sad that the party lost a state.
He said, “We are making efforts to appease some of the APC members that defected to the PDP. Many of those that left are already coming back. I held meetings with two groups few hours ago.”
The outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election also caused panic among leaders of the APC in Lagos State as the party has held meetings where the implications of the election have been discussed.
According to a leader of the party in Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, there have been meetings at different levels in the party where the party’s strategy towards retaining the state in 2015, in spite of threats by the PDP, were discussed.
Apparently, one of such was the closed door meeting Governor Babatunde Fashola had with the vice-chairmen of the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas at the State House, Marina, on Thursday.
Fashola’s comment on the Ekiti election after the meeting was an indication that APC’s chance in Lagos governorship election in February, 2015, must have been a reasonable item of discussion at the meeting.
While fielding questions from journalists, Fashola was quoted as saying, “The lessons that are supposedly coming out of Ekiti are frightening lessons for me. Lesson about whether the people of Ekiti are really saying that this is all about money and rice. It must be a very dangerous message to simply suggest that once you give people money, then this is the way it will happen.”
A member of the APC, Mr. Gbenga Fakoya, confirmed that the outcome of the Ekiti election underscored the need to make adjustments to the party’s strategy for campaigns.
“Before now, we could go to bed and take it for granted that the South-West belonged to the APC; but the Ekiti election has shown us that we can no longer take anything for granted. More work needs to be done. There is no more room for assumption, we need to face reality.”
He said after the Ekiti loss, APC leaders had gone back to the drawing board and part of what had been decided was to establish proper internal democracy.
No doubt, the APC defeat in Ekiti has not only stunned the Rivers APC, it   has made the party to adopt quick measures against similar defeat.
A source, who is a strong member of the state APC, told SUNDAY PUNCH that what happened in Ekiti was worrisome and that the outcome of the election meant more works would be done by the APC in the Rivers.
The source, who preferred not to be mentioned, explained that despite Fayemi’s good performance, he lost the election because he was not on the ground.
“What happened in Ekiti was worrisome to us. But we learnt that Fayemi was not on ground in terms of being close to the voters. Even with the good works he did in the area of people-oriented projects, they said he was not on ground,” the source said.
He said the governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, would strategise to put measures in place to ensure APC’s victory in forthcoming elections in the state.
Amaechi’s Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Chief Tony Okocha, attributed the failure of the APC to win in Ekiti State to overconfidence, saying that there was also the lack of relationship between Fayemi and the voting population.
He said, “The circumstances in Ekiti and Rivers are not the same. There are very peculiar circumstances. What played out in Ekiti was an issue of overconfidence.
“Overconfidence was at the fore, based on performance, and there was no relationship with the voting population. Of course, you know that Nigeria is not yet attuned to the politics of development. People are eager for what will go into their stomach; the issue of stomach infrastructure was not addressed.”
 Borno/ Yobe/ Adamawa
Although SUNDAY PUNCH investigations revealed that the APC members in Borno and Yobe states did not feel threatened by the turn of events in Ekiti, the same cannot be said of Adamawa State.
The Publicity Secretary of the APC in Borno , Makinta Zarami, said, “The PDP has never won the governorship election in Borno State before,” and still had no chances to do so.
Similarly, an APC member in Yobe State told one of our correspondents the success of PDP in Ekiti could never be “replicated here.”
He asked, “Where is the structure they want to build on? They may even suffer devastating loss worse than in the past here as the insurgency has further nailed the party coffin in the state.”
In Adamawa, the finding was that victory could go either way, for PDP or APC.
An analyst said, “Adamawa, even when Abubakar Atiku vied for presidency under the ACN, voted for PDP and the same scenario may play out this time around.”
“The party will still win the state; Atiku and Nyako cannot dictate the destiny of the state for there are other bigwigs within the PDP that can still dictate the politics of the state.”

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