By Stanley Azuakola
As an opposition party, the All Progressives Congress in Ekiti is still trying to find its feet. There was a time, in the days when Segun Oni was governor of the state under the PDP that the APC (then ACN) felt like an alternative voice, a government in waiting. Kayode Fayemi as the governorship candidate who had been robbed of his victory mounted a ferocious intellectual and media challenge against the Oni government.
Those days are gone now. After four years in power, the APC was trounced last year in an election that saw Ayo Fayose defeat the incumbent Kayode Fayemi. Since then, the party has looked more and more unsure of its place in the politics of the state.
After Fayose’s victory in 2014, the PDP went on to win every senatorial seat, as well as every seat in the state assembly in this year’s election. Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan also won in Ekiti, the only state in the South West which voted in his favour.
Without power, the APC has looked rudderless and voiceless, a surprising place to be for a party which boasts of four ex-governors in its ranks. Niyi Adebayo, Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi who have all governed Ekiti are APC stalwarts. Also, Bamidele Olumilua, a former governor of Ondo in the days before Ekiti was created, is also in the APC. Yet all their voices have been drowned by the lone voice of Gov. Ayo Fayose. The APC is almost silent – neither making noise nor sense.
The situation has grown so worrying that stakeholders in the party have criticised those ex-governors for abandoning the party when they were needed most.
The party faithful who met recently at the Ikere country home of Bamidele Olumilua, a former governor of the old Ondo State, blamed Adebayo, Fayemi and Oni for not coming together to work for the party. Showing their partisan bent in the internal conflict within the APC, the group expressed their absolute trust in the leadership of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, both at the regional and national levels of APC.
In a communiqué issued after the meeting convened by Olumilua, party faithful observed that their problem in the state was as a result of the leadership problems which they suffered and are still suffering after the party lost the gubernatorial election on 21st June 2014.
“Consequent upon this leadership problem, the party became directionless and groups and caucuses started to emerge, each group with the sole aim of finding ways of bringing life into the party again,” members said, adding that the lack of cohesion greatly affected the fortune of the party because the party had been badly factionalised.
It was also noted that the party executive at the state levels could not provide necessary leadership because it was suffering from legitimacy problems arising from the imposition by the leaders who had already abandoned the party.
“Arising from this state of confusion, the party now became a serial loser of elections in Ekiti State in governorship elections, presidential elections, Senatorial elections, House of Representatives elections and House of Assembly elections were serially lost without winning any of the electoral constituencies.
“Ordinarily, this should not have been, since Ekiti is known for its progressive leaning ever since the earlier days of partisan politics.
“But having convinced ourselves that there are problems and divisions within the party in Ekiti State, we have resolved to shun any form of recriminations, as this is not time to apportion blames, and to forge a unity. Hence, we should embrace sacrifices of all sorts and all useful opinions must be considered in our efforts to regain our lost glory in Ekiti State.
“This was why some patriotic stakeholders in the party have approached the former Governor of old Ondo State, and a chieftain of the party, (Bamidele) Olumilua to rise to the challenge and come out of his retirement to provide a required leadership.
“We are therefore happy that the former governor heeded our call and started consultation with the leadership of the various groups/caucuses within the party with a view to bringing them together, so that the party could come back to life.
“Olumilua reached out to the three former governors but he could not succeed in bringing them to a meeting. He also consulted with the APC Elders’ Forum in the State who welcomed the idea and game him their blessings to continue with his effort at uniting the party.”