The interim chairman of Ekiti state chapter of the APC, Chief Jide Awe, opens up in this interview with ROTIMI OJOMOYELA on why the party ratifies the incumbent governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, as the sole aspirant and candidate of the party for the June 21, 2014 governorship election in the state, even as he assures of his party’s victory at the polls
Fayemi’s adoption for second term
It is my pleasure to announce to you that the flag bearer of our party, has accepted to run. That is Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti state. You would recollect that on 30th of December, 2012. There was a declarative statement read by the then ACN after a meeting in the resident of our leader, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, at Iyin Ekiti.
The meeting concluded and released that come 2014, the present governor, having x-rayed his activities and the way he has comported himself within the manifesto and the constitution of our party and the way he has been able to improve and transform Ekiti State that we would still want him to continue to contest in 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State. But since then, His Excellency, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has not made any response.
We even went to the extent of organizing a rally at the OluKayode stadium, all he told us was, at appropriate time he would make his intension known to us. It is my pleasure and the general acceptance of the APC that His Excellency, has made his intension known to us. He wrote the party that he has accepted to run on the platform of the APC in Ekiti State.
Internal democracy in APC
You see, one thing I would also like us to know is this issue they call internal democracy in political parties is not sacrosanct. That is why I have been appealing to the press, let internal democracy of a party be the internal democracy of a party. If a political party like APC for the past two years has been saying that, this is the candidate of his party, that is our decision that is even what they call internal democracy. A party may decide not to queue up in public and take their decision inside and ratify it. It is when a candidate is presented to the public that it becomes public candidate. A party may decide not to go into the exercise of a primary.
The primary election is an internal matter of a political party. It is after a political party has presented its candidate to the public. So, if they decide to lock themselves inside one small room and take their decision and that decision is binding, then what else do we want? So, since two years ago, the APC in Ekiti State has been saying that this governor is doing fine, we don’t want to change a winning horse, so when it is time, we would follow every step that is available for us rationally to present our candidate to the public. But we are saying that by the grace of God and by the meticulous selection by the leadership of this party, we are backing the present governor to re-contest in APC.
APC mode of ratification and democratic tenets
You see, this is an area that I more or less explained when I started. I defined that primary we are talking about. Formerly, we use to refer to it as shadow election, now it is primary.
Primary is an election within the party. Two, either we do it outside or we do it inside, it is a decision of the party and a party must take a decision otherwise, it becomes something else. So, what we are saying is, in this party, the present governor of the state is our candidate. So, when we follow INEC regulation on so, so, date you must produce your candidate, we take him there, if they say, this should be done in the stadium, we would take him there. But what I am saying within this party- the APC, the leadership has taken that decision and that decision is binding on members. Primary is an internal matter of a political party.
Don’t be misled. That was why I tried as much as possible to make a distinction between a voter and a party person. Not everybody in the street are politicians. So, if a group of people coming together to form a political party cannot take a decision within themselves, it will be too bad. So, a decision has been taken in this party as far back as 2012 that we don’t have to abort what this governor is doing in Ekiti State.
APC position on June 2014 Ekiti poll
For the past one or two years, we have been anxiously waiting for the announcement. It became more critical after the Anambra election, that Ekiti State is the next port of call. We have been on our toes. At the political end, we have tried as much as possible to cross our t’s and dot our i’s, so that at the election date we would triumph.
Since the date has been announced as the 21st of June, we have also gone back to the drawing board to start the mobilization which our party has started longest time ago and to put everything in proper perspectives so as to have the day. We are at home with that day, 21st of June, we have no problem with that day, those who have asked questions in respect of it, I have replied by saying that election is like examination to a good student who have read all his text books and have done his or her assignments and if examination should come it won’t be an embarrassment.
In APC , we have been on the saddle of leadership of governance in Ekiti State for the past three years and we have done what is expected of us, all the manifestos of what we preach on the soap box during the campaign. To a very large extent, His Excellency, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has fulfilled this to the maximum and we also expect that the public will reciprocate by voting us back at the election.
We have also gone round the 177 wards in Ekiti State and the 16 local governments to canvass for votes and we have mobilized our people. We have also settled the party solidly in 2,190 polling units of Ekiti State. So, there is nowhere in this state that we are strangers to the public in terms of infrastructural facilities, in terms of taking care of the people, in terms of health delivery. So, when INEC announced the 21st of June, as the day of election in Ekiti State, we are happy that it would enable us putthe election behind us and continue with the good work that we are doing. It is my pleasure to announce to the forth estate of the realm that we are ready as a party for the 21st of June, to participate actively in the election and we have done all that is necessary as a party to comport and to conform ourselves to that particular day.
Appeal to INEC
In coronary to that, we have to appealed to INEC to do what is necessary. We have to appeal to INEC to make the election free and fair, we have to appeal to INEC to do all the necessary things so as to have free and fair election. In this wise, we request INEC at appropriate time to conduct voters registration to be able to allow those who are not 18 years when the last voter registration was conducted to be able to participate in the forth coming election.
In a recent meeting we held with INEC, we were told that we would be the first state that the permanent voter card will be given and we are anxiously awaiting when that would be done. And also, we would not like the issue that happened in Anambra State election to resurface in Ekiti State.
And if that is not going to happen, we expect INEC to have a display the voters register in Ekiti State before that particular election, so that individuals who know where they have registered before could go there and verify whether the name is still there or not. It is not on the day of election that this should be done, at least three weeks to the election day. And also to do all that is necessary from areas where registration did not take place at all in the last registration exercise, particularly in Ado-Ekiti where we have new areas.
We want INEC to as a matter of fact and urgency to see to these places and organize registration centres and it should not be hidden , it should be known, when these are done, they would have a free and fair election. It is also necessary to appeal to all security agencies, who would have one or two roles to play in the forth coming election in Ekiti State. And we also appeal to ourselves, the politicians to comport ourselves, to stay by the rule and to work within the ambit of the law, so that Ekiti State that has been peaceful all along would continue to be peaceful .
Registration of members
Also it is my pleasure to let you know that since the registration of APC as a party, it has not properly register members, it is my pleasure that the leadership of our party and the national just recently as directed that we go on full scale registration of membership into APC. We have been waiting all along to have those people who one way or the other have embraced our party as the solutions to the mountainous problems of Nigeria. APC is a party that has come to solve the problems and since the party has made the declaration that is on rescue mission, as a results of this, it has attracted a lot of people both within the party in Nigeria and other parties, hence the recent registration across the country.
INEC law on posters, billboards
There is a law in Ekiti State apart from INEC law that concerns signage. We have directed our members in all the 16 local government that they should conform to that law. Whoever runs foul of signage law in Ekiti State, the law is there to take its course.
Secondly, regarding INEC order, I believe sincerely we are conforming with that law, that there should be no open campaign and we have not being doing that. About posters, you see in town, there are some of these things which ordinarily we may not be able to control from this end, because some of the posters are pasted at night. You don’t expect Jide Awe to be in the street of all the towns and villages in Ekiti State, but I think the channel is there to reach our members and we are doing that.
Number of members APC is targeting
Also, like asking how many members we are envisaging, there is a sharp difference between voters and members of political parties. But I must be sincere with you, there has not been a clear cut division between politicians who are members of the party and also the voters because when registration begins on 5th of February in some of our villages and towns you would realize that nearly everybody would queue up and if you don’t allow them to register, you deregister them, that might have to count against you on the voting day.
And don’t forget is only in this part of the world where we have a substantial level of literacy. On the day of election, you would see people with party card coming to voting centre to vote, it is only at the centre that they would be corrected that is not the type of card that we want, it is the one you did on so, so, so, they would then go back home and pick it.
Though, we cannot categorically say here that we are envisaging so, so number but we know with the merger, a lot of people from ANPP and CPC have also come to APC together with ACN, so we are expecting huge number of people to register as members of APC and moreso when it is the party to beat in Nigeria with the solution to some of our problems. So, I know a lot of people are eager to come to the party, so we would not deregister anybody, it is free for all and by God’s grace, a hitch free exercise.
Expectation at June 21 poll
We are 100 per cent sure that we will win the election. Our party has performed creditably well in the last three and a half years that we have been on the saddle. The administration of Governor Kayode Fayemi has changed the face of the state. One good term definitely deserves another and the people of the state are willing to give our party the go-ahead to rule the state for another four years. We are the party on ground and we have met the expectations of the people of the state. Where are the opposition parties?
They are no where to be found. The PDP is in disarray, the Labour Party only exists on the pages of newspapers where their man launches campaign of calumny and blackmail against us. They have no root at all in the state. If election is conducted today, we are sure of beating the opposition hands down.