Party says it endorsed Fayemi for second term because of his satisfactory performance.
The Action Congress of Nigeria said Sunday its endorsement of the Ekiti state governor, Kayode Fayemi, for a new term, does not bar Mr.Fayemi’s arch-rival, House of Representatives member, Bamidele Opeyemi, from contesting, as the party attempts to deflate criticisms trailing the decision.
The party has come under attack after it expressed satisfaction with Mr.Fayemi’s first term record, and after its leader, Mr. Tinubu, endorsed the governor for a new term.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party labeled Mr. Tinubu a “despot” and said his decision to purportedly shut off other candidates to the seat, was “undemocratic and extremely wicked”.
Mr.Opeyemi, a former commissioner in Mr.Tinubu’s cabinet as Lagos state governor, and a first term House of Representatives member, vowed weekend not to succumb to any decision stopping him from the election next year.
“Nothing will deter me from contesting this part of honour. No human being will stop me from contesting the governorship election in 2014,” Mr. Bamidele said while addressing his supporters.
The lawmaker said reports that Mr Fayemi had been endorsed for a second term by the leaders of the party did not convey the real message they came to give the governor.
“I will always respect my benefactor; and Senator Tinubu is my benefactor whom I respect so well, but Ekiti is first on my Agenda. But Tinubu that I know wants the best for Ekiti. If I could work for him for more than 11 years to make Lagos State a model, then I know he will want somebody like me to work with the people to make Ekiti a model.”
“Nobody can stop me from contesting the governorship election. I cannot fight with Tinubu just like it is not compulsory that we should agree on everything at all times,” he added.
Spokesperson for the ACN, Lai Mohammed,told PREMIUM TIMES the endorsement of Mr.Fayemi does not preclude Mr. Opeyemi from contesting the polls if he wishes.
“Does endorsement mean there will be no primary? Does endorsement mean there will be election?” he asked.
Mr Opeyemi’s ambition has put him in collision with Mr Fayemi, who desired a second term in office, prompting the leaders of the party, including Bola Tinubu and Bisi Akande to convene the meeting to resolve the matter.
The party’s spokesperson said the ACN labored for months to resolve the discord between Messrs Fayemi and Opeyemi, and convened several meetings, one of which was the one held last week where the party leaders endorsed the governor for a second term.
While the lawmaker said he was only sent an invitation a day after the parley, Mr.Mohammed told PREMIUM TIMES he was duly invited but he chose to stay away.
Mr Mohammed said the party agreed that everybody should return to status quo, and that since Mr Fayemi is doing well he should not be denied a second term while Mr Opeyemi should also do what he is doing, indicating that he should return to the federal legislature.
Asked if it would not amount to going against the party’s decision if Mr. Opeyemi decides to run despite Mr Fayemi’s endorsement, the ACN spokesman said he would not preempt the lawmaker because “in politics it may happen that the issues are resolved the next week.”
He berated the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which last week criticized the alleged exclusion of the lawmakers from running in the election, saying the ruling party blew the matter out of proportion.
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