‘APC must resist imposition in Ekiti in 2022’


All is not well with the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State. In an interview with reporters in Lagos, a chieftain of the party, Jimoh Ibrahim, explains why peace is eluding the chapter. He urges national and regional leaders of the party to wade into the brewing crisis to put it in winning ways ahead of next year’s governorship election. RAYMOND MORDI reports

What is your assessment of the political situation in Ekiti?

The political situation in Ekiti State at the moment is interesting. To begin with, we give glory to God that the APC was able to retain power in 2018, after four years of PDP misrule in the state. But, let’s be very honest with ourselves, we still need to do a lot of things for the party to be able to win the next governorship in 2022. I so much cherish the leadership style of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. For somebody to have taken the trouble to bring up a lot of people and make them politically, he should be commended. This includes the governor of my state; whatever he has achieved today, it is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that made him. Asiwaju is the person I recognize as the leader of the APC in the whole of Nigeria, but particularly in the Southwest.

How united is the APC chapter in Ekiti?

There is a lot of division in the APC in Ekiti; we are not united. The party has been polarized into different factions and people are fighting each other. For us to get it right, I believe the National Leader, Asiwaju Tinubu has to come in, to bring all the parties together to reconcile their differences, for the party to move ahead.

What is responsible for the division?

To me personally, the whole thing boils down to leadership rascality. It is like so many party chieftains want to be leaders and they are not ready to step down for each other. They are fighting each other publicly and, from all indications, they do not want to concede anything to rival factions.

Is this connected to the 2022 governorship election?

That is the major reason why we have the division we have in the party today. A lot of people want to contest the governorship and they are seeing each other as enemies. In the overall interest of the party, leaders at various levels have a lot of work to do to reconcile all those interested in contesting the election.

Why is it difficult to have internal democracy in Nigerian political parties?

It is the fault of our leaders, let me just put it that way. Our leaders do not allow level-playing grounds when it comes to internal elections or primaries to elect candidates for various elective positions. For example, when you want to contest for any position you are expected to go and see the leader of the party and carry him along before you can get the party’s ticket. If you make the mistake of not carrying the party leaders along before going to the grassroots to canvass for support, your ambition is dead on arrival. You may succeed in getting the required followership at the grassroots but at the end of the day, a decision would be taken at the national level that may not be in your favour. As a political party that prides itself of being a party of progressives, it is not supposed to be so. This is what is responsible for the political division in Ekiti APC.

What can be done to unite all the factions ahead of the 2022 governorship primary?

It is a very simple thing. All they need to do is to allow a level-playing ground for all the aspirants. Let everybody contest, let everybody reach out to party members and table their programmes. At the end of the day, there should be a primary, direct primary; let everybody queue behind whatever candidate they want to vote for and whoever wins should be the party’s flag bearer, without any imposition from the top.

What is your assessment of the APC administration in Ekiti?

The administration is trying, to be honest. But, the administration has not done what it is supposed to have done. I believe that if we have a change of leadership come 2022, a lot of things will come into play.

What are those things you believe it ought to have done?

A lot of things! I would not want to start stating them publicly here. But, if they call somebody like me and ask for my input, there are lots of suggestions I can make, to move Ekiti forward.

What is your assessment of the leadership style of the governor?

Honestly, I don’t understand the leadership style of the governor. I don’t understand why he treats people shabbily. Despite the fact that the governor happens to be a friend of mine, I get the same treatment from him. The administration only panders to the whims and caprices of the governor’s favourites. In as much as you do not share his views on certain issues, he treats you like an enemy. For instance, he has abandoned me for over 10 years, simply because I do not dance to his tune; and I will never dance to his tune.

What is your reaction to the move to create more local governments in Ekiti?

It is a welcome idea because it is a way of bringing governance nearer to the people.

How should succession happen in Ekiti?

That is very simple. There are a lot of people interested in running for the governorship in Ekiti; they should allow everybody to run. There should be an open and transparent primary and whosoever wins should be the party’s flag bearer. Such a process would throw up somebody that will be able to move Ekiti forward.

Which direction would the pendulum swing in Ekiti in 2022?

It all depends on our leaders in the APC. Like I said earlier, if they can allow a level-playing ground, I believe there would be no problem at the end of the day. But, in a situation whereby they allow an imposition, as we have witnessed elsewhere in the country, definitely we will have problems in Ekiti as a party.

What role can you play in the reconciliation process in Ekiti APC?

I can’t play any role because I am an aggrieved party. What the APC in Ekiti has done to me is enough for somebody to say he wants to leave and go to another party. Let me take you on a memory lane. I contested twice. In 2005, I contested for Senate and I won the primary – I still have all the results with me – but somebody came from nowhere with an anonymous petition to the EFCC that I am doing money laundering or whatever. This is an accusation that has not been established up till today. In 2010, my people called me again and I contested for the House of Representatives. Out of the 24 wards, including my own, I won 19; the results are still with me. As it happened in 2005, the ticket was hijacked. Up till today, nobody has ever called me for any meeting; they just believe that they have taken the ticket away from me and that there is nothing I can do. These are some of the things that are creating problems in the Ekiti chapter.

How do you perceive the rumoured presidential ambition of your governor?

In my view, I think Fayemi is building cattle in the air. If I were in a position to advise him, I will tell him not to bother about such an ambition; he should be thinking of something else. You cannot just wake, because you have been a governor for two terms and say you want to run for the presidency. The presidency of Nigeria is not something you can wake up overnight and say you want to vie for. It requires a lot of work to be done nationwide. I would not say he should not contest, because he has the right to contest and nothing can stop him, but in such matters, one should be circumspect.

Should the APC stick to zoning or merit for its presidential ticket in 2023?

We cannot be talking about merit at this point in time. Nigeria does not belong to only one region; we have six regions. A region cannot insist on having their way every time. It has to go round because there are qualified persons from all parts of the country.

Do you have any ambition to contest for any position in 2022 or 2023?

I have an ambition but, for now, I cannot say exactly what I want to do. I need to do a lot of political consultation with my leaders at the national level. Whatever they ask me to do is what I would do. For now, I have an ambition, but I cannot voice it out until I’m able to make that consultation. I have contested twice in Ekiti and I missed it all, simply because I did not consult the man at the helm of affairs. Now that I have realized my mistakes, I am now consulting those I supposed to have consulted in 2005. Whatever path he asks me to toe, that is exactly what I will do in the next political dispensation. I love him so much because of his political ideas. He has turned people from nobody to somebody. The fact abounds for everybody to see. I have volunteered that if he decides to run for the presidency of the country, I am determined to use my God-given resources to support him, to make sure that Ekiti State is delivered for him. He has suffered so much for this country; he has made an enormous sacrifice. That we are enjoying democracy today is because of Tinubu; if not for him, we will not be where we are today. I respect him so much. He is the only person I like to work for. He is the only political leader I respect much in the whole six geo-political zones. Why? He has made so many people, including our governor in Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. Dr. Fayemi was a nobody until Tinubu made him what he is today. To God be the glory.

What is the assurance that those that stopped you in the past will not stop you again?

That is exactly why I want to consult my national leader. Those are some of the mistakes I made in the past. I just ventured into politics, without consultation. I went to the grassroots, spending money, thinking that my popularity will do it for me. But, at the end of the day, decisions were taken at the topmost level which did not auger well for my ambition. This affected me politically and I don’t want that sort of thing to happen again.

Do you see your party surviving till 2023?

With all indications, it will survive. There is a lot of internal wrangling here and there, so our national leaders have much work to do to reconcile all aggrieved parties and put the party in winning ways before the next general elections.


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