The bitter political feud that is presently threatening the fabrics of the All Progressive Congress, Ekiti State Chapter was actually a harvest of a deep rooted bitterness planed in the then ACN by the principal characters. Before the present face off and no love lost between Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, member representing the Ekiti Central 2 federal constituency, with Remi Oguntuase, a business man, self acclaimed political godfather and the sitting governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
In the beginning the three men were co-workers in the same political camps who co-strategized especially during the heady days of the struggle to reclaim Gov. Fayemi’s mandate from Ex- Gov. Segun Oni and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The crack in their relationship began, according to sources when on the eve of the Ilorin Appeal Court judgment that finally gave victory to the Action Congress and Fayemi.
Opeyemi Bamidele was said to have begun moves reactivating his political machineries in the 16 local governments of Ekiti preparatory for the April 2011 general elections in which he planned to contest for governorship. According to National Infinity’s investigations, Bamidele felt that with the protracted legal battle going front and back, and another general election set for April that was barely six months away then, it looks like “Fayemi was not destined to be a governor” sources alleged Opeyemi Bamidele confided in his core supporters. According to the source, when eventually the Appeal court in Ilorin declared Fayemi as the authentic winner of the 2007 governorship election as well as the resultant rerun of 2009, Opeyemi Bamidele was one of the very first to identify with him.
After the court declared Fayemi the winner and was sworn-in as the governor the following day, unconfirmed sources maintained that Opeyemi made available to Gov. Fayemi, a “tear rubber jeep” insisting that the newly sworn-in governor will not ride in the old official car bequeathed by the former governor, Engr. Segun Oni. But Opeyemi according to the source “has committed a political blunder”. He should have waited till the end of the court case before making moves to reactivate his campaign and normally as expected, he continued, “Fayemi, would not be happy with that kind of a story”
Ekiti Central Senatorial Ticket
It was with this deep animousity that the party went into primaries to elect its senatorial candidate for the 2011 general election in Ekiti State. The 2011 Ekiti central senatorial seat was the most fiercely contested seat ever since the advent of the present political dispensation in 1999. The gladiators were; Opeyemi Bamidele a lawyer, who for 12 years has been a Special Adviser and Commissioner in Lagos State. Dele Akale, has been Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Chief strategist and was his commissioner for Information and Strategy when Asiwaju was the governor of Lagos State. Very vocal, deeply intelligent and a fine public speaker, sources in Ado-Ekiti told National Infinity that Dele Alaka was Bola Tinubu’s first choice for the senatorial seat.
Baba Ojudu was an Executive Editor at The NEWS, published by Independent Communications where Tinubu was a major financier.
Their relationship dates back to the pro-democracy struggle days and were chieftains of NADECO. Although the relationship between the two was a very close one, Ojudu according to the source never really benefited in terms of political patronage, from Tinubu’s eight year rule in Lagos although he allegedly got contracts, to compensate for his loyalty and closeness to Tinubu.
It was Ojudu who took the blame for Tinubu’s certificate forgery scandal by claiming to be the person who filled the governorship form for Tinubu in 1999.
On the eve of the primaries, narrated National Infinity’s sources in Ado Ekiti, a deeply worried Tinubu was said to have reached out to the leadership of the party in Ekiti State, late in the night. Asiwaju was said to have made enquiries as to who is likely to carry the day among his three associates contesting for the party’s ticket. The source revealed that the party leadership said Opeyemi Bamidele will most likely carry the day. A dejected Tinubu was said to have asked “what about Dele?” the man he preferred for the job which the source said was equally the leadership’s choice because of his maturity and deep intelligence but for his late coming to the race, they told Tinubu that “Dele came to the Vineyard at a time when Opeyemi and Ojudu have raided the Vineyard” Dele Alake was involved in a shooting scandal involving AIG, Tunji Alapinni. It was a very serious case and for about two months that he battled to wriggle out of it, Opeyemi and Ojudu have gone far.
Tinubu was said to have impressed it on the ACN leaders in Ekiti that if Dele cannot get it, then, it has to be Ojudu because both Dele and Opeyemi have benefited from him in terms of political appointments in Lagos. He was said to have reasoned that while Opeyemi was in government in Lagos for 12 years, Dele was his commissioner for eight years while Ojudu who once took a fall for him on a very serious matter has not benefitted from him politically. Aside Tinubu’s factor, the party’s leadership was of the opinion that to take the ticket away from Ado Ekiti township will leave a political gap which the opposition may capitalize on and taking into consideration the block votes and massive support the ACN got from people of Ado Ekiti during the re-run. With these in mind, the party went for the primaries and as predicted by the ACN leadership in Ekiti, Opeyemi was coasting home to victory until the party decided to halt the primaries when it was obvious that events and circumstances as it was happening then was going to polarize the party and set it on a crisis that may have a devastating effect on it during the elections.
A day after the decision to halt the primaries was taken, Prince Adeniyi Adedipe popularly known as Apase, the leader of Oodua People Congress in Ekiti led a group of his supporters to attack the ACN secretariat demanding for the result of the primaries which they believed was won by their principal; Babafemi Ojudu in the process, Apase’s men vandalized the party secretariat and among other things broke the party chairman, chief Jide Awe’s chair and threw it away.
The party’s leadership then scheduled a peace meeting for the Ikere home of Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, former Executive governor of old Ondo State and the party’s elder in the state. It was at the peace meeting that Evangelist Olumilua, Chief Jide Awe, and a few selected party leaders invited Opeyemi to Olumilua’s bedroom where they made the party’s decision known to him and pleaded with him to accept the House of Representative slot as decided by the party.
Ex- Gov. Niyi Adebayo.
When the crisis began, the leadership of the party was said to have reached out to Otunba Niyi Adebayo, who is the leader of the party in Ekiti and was initially aggrieved over the Ekiti central senatorial ticket issue because “Otunba Adebayo had issues with Babafemi Ojudu for supporting Ex-Gov. Ayodele Fayose and the PDP against Niyi Adebayo and the AD in 2003 and that Asiwaju can’t come and dictate who gets what especially in his own backyard”.
But the party’s leadership having explained the situation at hand to him was able to convince him to drop his grievances. So he was called upon to mediate and call godson Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele and Remi Oguntuase to order. Otunba Adebayo was said to have met with the duo and when Opeyemi was becoming too stubborn to handle, Niyi Adebayo distanced himself from both of them. The source maintained that Remi Oguntuase has since stopped visiting Niyi Adebayo and against the usual tradition that Adebayo would have called him before leaving Lagos and Remog will be waiting for him in Iyin-Ekiti.
As a result of the not too smooth relationship between Opeyemi and Niyi Adebayo, Hon. Opeyemi did not recognize Adebayo and Tinubu when he was paying tributes to his backers at his declaration rally recently in Ado Ekiti. He only mentioned Afe Babalola and a few others who are staunch enemies of the Fayemi administration.
Between Gov. Fayemi and Remi Oguntuase (Remog)
When Otunba Niyi Adebayo was the governor of Ekiti State between 1999 to 2003, one man who held prominence was Remi Oguntuase, or Remog Oil as he is popularly called. He is a businessman, politician and very close friend to Otunba Niyi Adebayo. So influential was Chief Remi Oguntuase in Otunba Niyi’s government that if you want to catch the then Ekiti State governor on any Sunday afternoon, you will surely meet him at Remi Oguntuase’s house located around his Mobil Petrol station at Ajilosun area of Ado Ekiti where Otunba Niyi Adebayo comes to savour pounded yam and mixed okro soup. With that kind of influence and affinity to the governor, Oguntuase became an ‘Adedebu’ in Ekiti and he, noted the source, exploited the situation to the fullest as anybody who wants anything in that government lined up behind Oguntuase.
National Infinity sources maintained that it was a common knowledge in Ekiti then that through their avarice, Oguntuase working in conjunction with some of the then aides of Otunba Adebayo such as Bunmi Ogunleye, Biodun Oyebanji and Gbenga Ogunremi who was chief Press Secretary to Otunba Adebayo contributed so much to Adebayo’s government’s loss of popularity and eventually, its collapse at the elections in 2003. Bunmi Ogunleye and Gbenga Ogunremi left for People’s Democratic Party PDP, after the government of Otunba Adebayo, while only Biodun Oyebanji stood with Adebayo throughout till date. After the electoral defeat of AD in 2003, the party collapsed in Ekiti state and as the 2007 election approached the onus fell Niyi Adebayo to raise a candidate, who is adjudged formidable in character, whose integrity can salvage the reputation of the Ekitis that was being thoroughly dragged in the mud by the PDP controlled government of Ayodele Fayose that had inflicted a prolonged crisis on state before the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo declared a state of emergency. His searchlight fell on Fayemi, who was described as a passive member of the AD during his era. Fayemi was not very active in Adebayo’s government but he played politics underground. He even at a point donated a generating set to the AD secretariat then. It was Otunba Niyi Adebayo who took Fayemi to the ACN leadership in Lagos as his candidate for governorship in 2007.
National Infinity’s investigations reveled that it was Otunba Niyi Adebayo’s decision to back Fayemi that made Dayo Adeyeye, an Afenifere chieftain and strong member of AD to leave for the PDP and when Fayemi won the primaries, it even created a bad blood between Chief Paul Alabi, Deputy Governor from 1999-2003 and Niyi Adebayo. Alabi too decamped to the PDP
Niyi Adebayo introduced Fayemi to Oguntuase and made available his political structure headed by Oguntuase for Fayemi’s use. That was why Fayemi’s campaign was run from Oguntuase’s office. The same office where Niyi Adebayo too ran his campaign in 1999 and 2003. Till date, some of Fayemi’s vehicles used for the campaign and the Jeep in which he had an accident on Ilawe Rd shortly before the Appeal court verdict is still in Remog’s house at Ajilosun.
The main reason why Remog fell out with Fayemi according to the investigation was because the governor was not making himself available for manipulation by Oguntuase hence he couldn’t play the role of an ‘Adedibu’ the way he would have loved it and that government patronage was not flowing as expected. Sources told National Infinity that at a point along the line Chief Oguntuase was said to have complained bitterly about his predicament to Chief Jide Awe, the ACN chairman in in Ekiti State.
Jide Awe was said to have organized a peace meeting between Oguntuase and Gov. Fayemi. In spite of Oguntuase’s complains of lack of patronage from the governor, Fayemi was said to have stunned Jide Awe and others at the meeting when he revealed how much patronage and financial transaction had taken place between him and Oguntuase.
Chiefly among Gov. Fayemi’s revelations were that Oguntuase was a beneficiary of the first set of contracts awarded by the government. According to the source, Fayemi told his audience at the meeting that when Remi Oguntuase came back that he didn’t have money to execute the contract, which was to supply kerosene stove, he gave him the money and when he came to return it after he was paid for the contract, he (Fayemi) told him that he didn’t lend him (Oguntuase) the money but it was a gift. Gov. Fayemi also revealed that he paid the sum of N25m being a contract sum owned Oguntuase by the previous administration for a contract he executed for Broadcasting Service of Ekiti State BSES.
Before he left government houses, that very day, Remog was said to have gotten an undisclosed amount of money as gift from the governor.
The source revealed that Oguntuase was not pacified and he kept pestering the governor for patronages which were not forthcoming as he expected. He found a fertile ground in Opeyemi Bamidele, a chieftain of the party who is equally angry with the party in the state over the conduct of the primaries for the Ekiti Central Senatorial Seat in 2011.
His grievances with the leadership of the party were over the primaries for the Ekiti Central Senatorial district seat which he lost to Babafemi Ojudu. The situation according to National Infinity’s investigations provided an opportunity for him to re-awaken his long time ambition of ruling Ekiti State. Prior to the 2007 election where Fayemi emerged as the ACN candidate, Opeyemi has been working behind the scenes to realise his ambition to rule Ekiti. But he had to put it on hold when his town’s man and political god-father, Ex-Gov. Niyi Adebayo picked Fayemi as the ACN’s candidate. In picking Fayemi, who is from Ekiti North, Adebayo’s judgment was that his base, Ekiti Central has had a fair share of domination of the governor’s seat. His father, Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo was a former governor of the then Western States. He took over from Col. Adekunle Fajuyi also from Ado-Ekiti, in present day Ekiti central. Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, who was governor of old Ondo State came from Ikere in Ekiti Central so also were Niyi Adebayo, Ayo Fayose and Segun Oni.
Adewale Ogunyemi, a resident of Ado-Ekiti noted that “there are other senatorial districts in Ekiti State. Ekiti South is yet to occupy the governor’s seat. Even if it has to return to Ekiti Central after going to Ekiti South, Iyin Ekiti is not the only town in Ekiti Central. The Otunba Niyi Adebayo is from Iyin Ekiti, Opeyemi too is from Iyin, indigenes’ of other towns should be allowed to take their own turn in the spirit of fairness which an average Ekiti man is noted for.”
When National Infinity visited the All Progressives Congress’ secretariat in Ajilosun Area, Ado Ekiti, the Chairman, Chief Jide Awe was said to have travelled out of town but an official of the party on condition of anonymity told us the party through its chairman had made several entreaties to Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele for peace to reign in the party but all efforts have failed because “Bamidele will tell you something now and do another thing, the next minute.” He disclosed that after visiting the leadership of the party in Lagos for about 17 times over the crisis, his efforts led to the visit by the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and protem National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande to Ekiti State.
According to him, two days before the visit, all parties to the crisis met in Lagos at the instance of Asiwaju. “At the meeting, every issues were ironed out and settled, so we thought until the day of the Asiwaju visit to Ekiti and Opeyemi refused to show up”
At the Ekiti Bibire Coalition office of Hon. Opeyemi in Basiri Area, Ado Ekiti, the lawmaker was said to have travelled to Abuja when National Infinity called to seek his views but an official who we met after declining to give his name said Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele may not be interested in making comments on issues concerning the political crisis in Ekiti State for now.