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Published On: Tue, Jul 15th, 2014

Ekiti election: Turning point in South-west politics

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Fayose and FayemiFrom Adesoji Oyinlola, Lagos

It would have been probably unheard, imagined or predicted that the APC under any circumstance would suffer the high degree of loss it recorded at the just concluded governorship election in Ekiti State, where the APC candidate and incumbent Governor, Kayode Fayemi, was roundly trounced by the rampaging forces of the rival PDP candidate, Ayodele Fayose.

The surprise turn of event, no doubt, came to APC promoters as a rude shock. There are signs that the party leadership is panicking and is yet to get its rhythm back. It has continued to rue the pains of the arguably highest loss it has ever recorded at any election, anywhere in the south west, since the commencement of the country festering democracy.

Since the loss, new political developments have continued to evolve among the people, especially as it concerns the real reasons the APC lost out woefully in an election that was held in one of its comfort zones. The already bad situation is further compounded by the fact that expectations about future elections are not certain for a party that prides itself as having the south west in its kitty.

Similarly, investigation by Peoples Daily revealed that people in the south west may have reached a consensus, believing that the loss of Ekiti State by the APC will no doubt go a long way in affecting the political equation in the geo-political zone. Simply  put, they see the loss as a turning point in the politics of the geo-political zone. Unlike before, when the APC enjoyed near monopoly of political patronage, the zone is now open to all political parties for grab.

More importantly, the fact that the South-west has the second highest voting strength after North-west, and both zones between them account for about 49 per cent of the country’s total voting population, makes it expedient for people to be interested in who, and which party controls the politics of the region. Political tradition in Nigeria dictates whichever party is in government dictates the political direction the state goes in other elections.

South-west is a strategic electoral zone in the calculations of anyone aspiring for higher offices in Nigeria. It is therefore expected that political stakeholders should have vested interest in which of the parties control political power in the region.

It is also interesting to know that south west politics is dynamic, going by the fact that the pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, that started dictating the pace for people of the region at the commencement of Nigeria democracy in 1999, has since gone into political oblivion, paving the way for the emergence of the APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, to emerge the custodian of political patronage in the region.

While it may be safe to posit that the Yoruba, as at now, has no recognizable leader, the fact remains that they have a political leader who dictates the pace for them. That person is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the APC.

The hitherto powerful Afenifere, the pan Yoruba political group that used to dictate the political direction for the Yoruba, has since gone under after the 1999 general election, when the group was unable to manage its electoral success in the south west. Safe for Ondo State where the Labour Party holds the ace, it is well to say that the APC will dictate the direction the region goes. However, this calculation has become shaky now that Ekiti state is in the kitty of the PDP.

People, therefore are beginning to envisage that power has begun to slip from the grip of Tinubu. They are as well bothered how matter got to this gory end. It is therefore pertinent to know what is responsible for not only the loss of Ekiti, but other things that may follow in the near future, especially now that the general election is fast approaching.

Investigations revealed that the people of the south west are not happy about the scotching remarks by Tinubu on Yoruba Obas, therefore telling him in straight language that they detest mixing politics with royalty; that resistance is chiefly among the factors that led to the party abysmal performance in Ekiti.

People were no doubt taking aback when the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said that only three monarchs in Yorubaland are upright, describing others as “useless”.

The former governor of Lagos State made this declaration recently in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State during a special prayer session held at the Central Mosque in the city to mark the 80th birthday of the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, the Ogbagba II. Tinubu extolled the doggedness of the paramount ruler.

Tiinubu, who returned to the country because of the occasion, urged the monarch not to allow some politicians to hijack his birthday celebration and turn it into a political platform for campaign.

Tinubu reminiscences, “I remember in 1991, 1992 and 1993 during the military junta, when the Yoruba was the target of the then government. They thought they could silence you, they planned to kill you; they planned to remove you through a local government; but they failed. They did it to Sultan of Sokoto and they succeeded.

“You stood by us, you stood by the truth and despite all humiliations, depressions and attacks, you remained resolute.

“I will never forget when you invited us to your palace for one of our meetings. When we got there and we were about to commence our meeting, we were told that soldiers have surrounded the palace with guns. You told us then that there was no problem and we should continue our meeting.

“You said they don’t know that there are many ways into the palace. After our meeting, you opened another door for us and nothing happened to us.

“You are not part of the useless Obas in Yorubaland who will sell out. We know them and it is not yet time to mention names. In Yorubaland today, you are the best monarch and that is not contestable. The good Obas’ in Yorubaland, who are forthright, firm and stand by the truth are not up to five, they are just three. Oba Awujale, Oba Akiolu and another. May you live long in good health and abundant God blessing.”

Signs that the vituperation by Tinubu on Yoruba Obas did not go down too well with the traditional institution  manifested in the harsh reaction from the palace of the paramount ruler of Ile-Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade.

The obviously angry monarch in his response to a statement credited to Tinubu that ‘there were three good traditional rulers in Yorubaland,’ said  it was the traditional rulers in the South West that held their subjects together that made it possible for people like him (Tinubu) to actualise his political ambition.

Sijuwade said this while addressing the audience at a two-day conference of foremost traditional rulers in Osun State on the overall development of the state, in Osogbo.

The traditional ruler said he had to express his protest over the statement credited to Tinubu on behalf of the majority of Yoruba rulers in Nigeria.

According to the Ooni of Ife, Tinubu had forgotten that ‘when our country was upside down, it was the traditional rulers in this country that saved the situation. If we left the country as politicians did, there would have been no state for the leader of APC to rule when he came back.

“Two among the three obas mentioned by him were the best friends of the late military head of state, General Sani Abacha and among them, one was on the paylist of the late General and one lifted crude oil allocated to him by General Abacha. You can ask them, Abacha gave me money on more than one occasion, but I refused.

“And if you want to talk of the annulment of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola’s election, these two/three traditional rulers should be properly investigated, because they were neither here nor there,’ the traditional ruler claimed.

He also used the medium to caution political leaders against unguarded and unfounded statements which had to do with traditional rulers but to always be sure of their facts before going public.

“If any of our leaders wants to make a categorical statement on an important issue like the Oba in Yorubaland, he should please try to check records to know exactly what each one of them has done. Because there is so much blackmail and, fortunately, the late Abacha’s Chief Security Officer (CSO), is alive and he is in a position to tell the world the obas who were close associates of his late boss,’ Oba Sijuwade added.

The two-day programme had in attendance, the governor of Osun State, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, his deputy, Mr Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, traditional rulers in the state as well the Alake of Egbaland, Oba (Dr) Aremu Gbadebo; the Olowo of Owo kingdom, Oba (Dr) Victor Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi, who was represented by Dr Okajare Solomon.

Tinubu, obviously knew he has stirred the honest nest and needed to redeem his outburst on the monarchs. In a recap, few days after making the statement, Tinubu ascribed the noise his statement generated as the handwork of political mischief makers, attempting to reframe his statement concerning the Obas in Yorubaland. His earlier comments had generated controversy, with many seeing the former Lagos Governor as deriding the Yoruba monarchs.

“I never referred to any Oba in Yoruba land as uncultured. I hold Obas in high esteem. I have so many titles, especially from Yoruba land. Only those involved in political mischief will try to misconstrue the praises I have given. They are just making a mistake,” Tinubu said in a statement issued by his media office.

According to the statement, the former Lagos state governor made this clarification when responding to a question by a journalist about his views on the role he thinks the Obas should play in ensuring national security and free and fair elections.

According to him, during the Age of Colonialism, the Obas were the custodians -even the defenders- of the territory and ever since, they have been protecting us in their own cultural ways, especially great Obas like the Alaafin of Oyo, the Soun of Ogbomosho and even the Ooni of Ife among several others. Like the Ooni of Ife said, they held fort while many of us were hunted and hounded out of the country by military dictators and history has documented our roles comprehensively.

“If we did not survive that period, we would all have lost whatever values we have now or the dispensation we now enjoy,” he submitted.

However, the PDP seems to be

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