There is disquiet in the fold of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State following an endorsement of the state governor, Kayode Fayemi, for president in 2023.
Although the governor is yet to formally declare his intention to run for the office, his supporters and admirers have gone to town to drum up support for his ambition.
Only on Saturday, the APC caretaker committee led by its state chairperson, Paul Omotoso, openly endorsed Mr Fayemi for the presidency in 2023.
But an opposing group within the party, and under the platform of APC Stakeholders Forum, has rejected the call for the governor to run, arguing that the governor could not benefit from a zoning arrangement he is well known to be opposed to.
Mr Omotoso, while speaking at an event organised by Olusegun Osinkolu in Ayede Ekiti, Oye council area of the state on Saturday, said the party would drag Mr Fayemi into the presidential battle forcefully, if he refuses to join the race willingly.
“We can say boldly that APC will win the Ekiti governorship election in 2022, because Governor Fayemi has done creditably well and we don’t want another reckless party that will destroy Ekiti again,” Mr Omotoso, represented by the APC caretaker Publicity Secretary, Ade Ajayi, said.
“On the 2023 presidency, time has come for the President to come from Ekiti. That is why we are pleading with you to support Governor Fayemi.
“Though Governor Fayemi has never said he wanted to contest, we will force him to plunge into the race, because of his competence, dedication and loyalty to APC.”
However, a statement by the secretary of the stakeholders’ forum, Bamigboye Adegoroye, in Ado Ekiti, on Monday, denounced Mr Omotoso’s claim that all the stakeholders had resolved to back Mr Fayemi’s presidential ambition.
“The attention of the Ekiti State Stakeholders Forum has been drawn to a statement credited to Mr. Paul Omotoso on the idea that APC, Ekiti State chapter has backed Dr. Kayode Fayemi for 2023 Presidency,” the statement said.
“We want to state unequivocally that Hon. Ade Ajayi who represented Mr. Omotoso, barely expressed a personal view at a social event, where the convener was absent or at best, the views of a small clique in the party.
“The leaders of APC in Ekiti State are unaware of the idea. Again, we note that Hon. Ade Ajayi’s boss does not even believe that the position should be zoned to the South West as expressed on the national platform recently.
“All the states in the south of Nigeria deserve a shot at the Presidency if it is agreed upon by the national leaders of our party.
“Ekiti State Stakeholders Forum along with other eminent Yoruba leaders will canvas for the opportunity to produce the next President in 2023 from our zone.
“Adoption of an authentic, qualified, well known, humane and experienced Yoruba man is our goal, and we will play our part in accomplishing that task.”
A former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, is also rumoured to have his eyes on the position.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how supporters of Mr Tinubu formed a presidential presidential campaign council, Southwest Agenda (SWAGA), aimed at garnering support for the national leader of the APC ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
This newspaper also reported how the SWAGA team, which includes former senators, other former lawmakers, and prominent politicians from the South West states paid visits to monarchs in Oyo State to lobby for Mr Tinubu.
In August, the chairperson of Ikere Ekiti local government area, Femi Ayodele, had printed presidential posters of Mr Fayemi, and had them pasted across the state.
His action had attracted condemnation from the House of Assembly, which also sanctioned him.
Mr Fayemi and his aides were also quick to distance themselves from the actions of Mr Ayodele, even though he had claimed his action was due to the admiration he had for the governor.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Olayinka Oyebode, in his reaction, said there was no controversy in the various expressions regarding the rumoured ambition of the governor.
He said Mr Ajayi’s statement at the event on behalf of his party, was his right to express his opinion.
He also said those calling for the governor to run were only making a call, and that they had the right to make such calls.
“It was his right to make a call for the governor to run and other people are also free to give a contrary opinion,” said Mr Oyebode.
“I don’t think there is any controversy there.”
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