WITH less than four months to the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State, the major political parties are making frantic efforts to outwit one another ahead of the polls. The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP and the Labour Party, LP, are presently the frontline political parties that will slug it out at the polls.
While the APC and LP already have their presumed nominees, the PDP, is in the process of choosing its candidate from the pool of 26 aspirants now jostling for the ticket. Vanguard spoke with the chairmen of the APC and LP as well as the scribe of the PDP on their plans and preparations for the poll. Excerpts
Fayemi will break 2nd term jinx â€” Awe, APC chairman
CHIEF Jide Awe is the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ekiti State. In this interview, Awe submits that the forthcoming governorship election in the state will not be a do or die affair. He, however, affirms that Governor Kayode Fayemi will break the second term jinx in the state. Excerpts:
How do you react to the allegation leveled against your party that it flouted INECâ€™s directive on the forthcoming election in the state?
I will not like to belabour the issue with you. The issue of Labour Party in Ekiti state vis-a-viz Opeyemi Bamidele is an issue before a competent court. So, as we speak, the Labour Party in Ekiti state has no governorship candidate.
There was a restraining order issued by the court in the state restraining Bibire, which is Bamideleâ€™s platform from parading themselves as members of the Labour Party. So, I will not want to comment on that.
One will like to know the story behind Opeyemi Bamideleâ€™s exit from the APC?
It is his personal decision. In party politics, you have free entry and free exit, but what made his own quite different is that, he was representing our party, at the ACN level, in the House of Representatives when he decided to move to the Labour Party. It is his personal decision.
Is there is any plan to bring him and others who left the party, back?
We are doing that but we will not tell you the nitty gritty of it. When a plan is still in the offing, you do not let out the strategy until it is completed.
Aside this, Hon Bamidele has accused the Ekiti state government of plunging the state into debt. What is your reaction to this?
As far as we are concerned at the state level, that matter has been explained in detail by the government. But as far as I am concerned, I know we are not indebted to anybody.
How do you respond to the remarks made by the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party that it will disgrace the APC out of office in Ekiti state?
If that is their intention, then they have failed and I wish them well. We depend on Godâ€™s might and the will of Ekiti people. We know that what we have done in this state will speak for us and that will enable the people to vote for us. We are not afraid of any might other than that of God, who is on our side.
But are you not disturbed that there may be an alliance between the PDP and Labour against your party?
Let us wait until then. That will give us ample chance to go back to our drawing board and put our strategies in place. That will also dislodge whatever plans they have. It is a game of politics. I want to tell you that our platform in Ekiti state APC resides with the people. That is why whatsoever anybody may be saying about APC and the forthcoming elections, we solely rely on God.
Why should the people of Ekiti State vote for your party and the governor a second time?
The good people of Ekiti state, who we have absolute trust and confidence in, will vote for APC in the coming elections on the following premise.
For the first time in the history of Ekiti politics, we are having a government that has the people at heart. We are having a government that is ready to lay the foundation of Ekiti State.
Today, we have a befitting Government House that can compete with any Government House in this country.
Secondly, the capital of Ekiti State, since inception, looked like a glorified local government headquarters but in the last two years, the situation has changed. As a result of that, the jinx will be broken.
Do you have faith in INEC conducting a free and credible election?
Recently, there was a stakeholders meeting in the state between INEC and the political class. I must confess to you that we were a little bit convinced. I know we can get it right and that will be a good foundation for INEC to build upon. If INEC practices what it preaches, we will succeed. We do not have much negative things to say about INEC.
Our people are angry â€” Aluko, PDP Scribe
Dr Temitope Aluko is the secretary of the Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party, PDP, in Ekiti state.
How prepared is your party for the June governorship election?
I want to tell you that we are very prepared because election is not just about the party, it is about the electorate. When you see what is going on now, the voters are yearning for a change. They are saying that they are tired of this government, they are saying that this government is not meeting their expectations, that this government has let them down.
Are you saying that the Fayemi administration has not delivered democracy dividends to the people?
Governance is a continuum, I do not want to say that this government has done this or has not done that. What I am just saying is that when you look at the quantum of funds the state government has gotten and you look at what they are saying that they have done, you will see that there is a wide gap. When you see this wide gap, automatically, people will begin to ask questions and they are already asking such questions.
They are also not getting answers from anywhere and that is why when you look at the agitations, I can honestly tell you there is need for change. When you are talking about genuine developmental programmes that will get to the grassroots, they are not doing that. The PDP is going to do it because we have done it before and we are going to do it again.
What difference will your party be bringing to governance and why should Ekiti people vote for PDP again?
They have voted for PDP once, when there was an incumbent AD governor, the people voted against the governor. They will vote PDP again because PDP has been tested, tried and they have found out that the PDP is still the only party that has a holistic approach to issues. What we will do in Ekiti is not just a disjointed developmental programme, it is a synchronized one where everybody will benefit from.
How true is it that your party is polarized?
The PDP is united and that is why we have about 26 aspirants coming out saying that they want to pick the ticket of the party but in our party constitution, it is the National Working Committee that can dabble into the issue of gubernational candidate and they have set out a time table and conditions for proper documentation of governorship aspirants.
That is what they currently doing in Abuja, they are screening the aspirants. March 15 has been fixed for our primary and after that, a governorship candidate will emerge and that is in line with our constitution.
Is it true that there is an anointed candidate for the party ahead of the primaries?
People will always say whatever they want to say. Even President Jonathan has learned that if he listens to distractions, he will not succeed and that is why he has totally ignored things that are not factual. In the issue of the president having an anointed candidate, it will still pass through the party procedure. The national chairman of the party has said he is going to give everybody a level playing ground and that there is no anointed aspirant for our party.
Are you not worried that after the emergence of a candidate, there will be defections by some aggrieved persons from your party?
If we have a situation like that, then, it means they are not genuine party members. It means even if they have gotten the ticket, they would have done anything they want with it.
So, if you have a genuine PDP man and he loses out, I do not see why he should pull out because when you are talking about a governorship candidate, the man cannot do it alone. In politics, there will be dynamics of relationship and there will be benefit of relationship. I do not see anybody pulling out from the PDP.
Does your party intend to go into alliance with the Labour Party?
If you look at the structure of the Labour Party, you will see that it is almost an extension of the PDP. Our doors are wide open, the umbrella can cover everybody. If they extend the hands of fellowship, we will welcome them into our fold.
Do you see INEC conducting a credible election in June?
We met with Professor Jega in February for a consultative stakeholdersâ€™ forum and we bared our minds out. To a certain level, he was able to allay some of our fears and he took us through the procedures for elections and I can say for now that I can score INEC 65 per cent from the presentation and our interaction with Professor Jega.
Will your party be depending on federal might to win the election?
We are going to depend solely on the people in Ekiti state. We are going to ensure that our manifesto is known far and wide and that is what we are going to rely on. We are going to rely on the votes of the people.
We are going to appeal to the people and let them know that we are going to better their lot.
Ekiti guber: LP is party to beat â€” Omole
Mr Akinbowale Omole is the Ekiti state chairman of Labour Party. Omole, in this interview with Vanguard, says his party is ready to win the forthcoming governorship election slated for June this year. Excerpts:
How true is it that Mr Opeyemi Bamidele has been restrained from parading himself as a governorship aspirant of your party?
I find it very funny because things that have not been happening in the past, you find them happening now. It is untrue. When an organization deliberately presents what is not true to the members of the public, such an organization is dishonorable because it has succeeded in misinforming the people. For that reason, such an organization should not exist. So, such is not true.
How prepared is your party for the June governorship elections?
I want to tell you that we have been making our preparations and I want to tell you that if an election is held today, Labour Party will win. But you know there are levels of preparations and there is a timetable that has been released by INEC. We will meet all available requirements.
Aside Bamidele, are there other aspirants contesting on your partyâ€™s platform?
As of now, we have only one aspirant and that is Opeyemi Bamidele but the door is not closed to other persons, who still want to run under the banner of our party. If anybody still wants to come around, he is welcome.
How solid is your party in terms of structure and the wherewithal to contest and win the June guber elections?
It is true that before now, the Labour Party could not be said to be one of the frontline political parties. But you will want to agree with me as well that if you go into the history of political parties in this country, you will know that some political parties are formed three months before the elections but still coast to victory in the elections.
Why should the people of Ekiti state vote for the Labour Party in the forthcoming elections?
It is a movement of the people. Why do I call it a movement? I call it so because people want to take their destinies in their hand. They have been deceived by the present government.
They have seen the insincerity of the APC government and they have decided to embrace Labour Party. The people called us, they passionately appealed to us to save them from the hands of the deceivers. Government has moved away from the people.
Are you saying that Fayemi-led government has performed below expectation?
The Ekiti state government is not a government in the real sense of it. When we look at what should be the benefit of Ekiti people, they have failed totally. Government is about meeting the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
What will your party be doing differently from what the current government is doing if voted into office?
We will bring civility into government. Do not forget that Labour Party is the party of the workers. What I am saying is that Labour Party will project the cause of the man on the street.
Are there plans by your party to go into alliance with the PDP?
Politics is dynamic, but as at today, there is no such relationship. All I know is that when we get to the bridge, we will cross it but for now, no such relationship exists.
Do you have faith in INEC conducting a free and credible elections?
I do not want to be a pessimist. Let us be hopeful.