8 January 2003

Nigeria: I'm Not Imposing Candidates On Ekiti AD - Adebayo

Lagos — The Ekiti State governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, has described as untrue and malicious, the allegation that he was trying to impose Senatorial as well as House of Assembly candidates on the party in the state.

A visit to the party secretariat last week revealed some aspirants and party members complaining over moves by the governor to impose candidates on the party and to also influence choice of delegates to the primaries if at all they would hold.

But in an exclusive interview with THISDAY in his Ado-Ekiti office over the weekend, Adebayo stated that as a party man he could not do that as it was not in the interest of the party.

"I must tell you that I find all these allegations amusing and funny. The reason is because I have been a party man to the core and I have done everything to support the party. I am ready to present myself for investigation by those who say I have hijacked the party in the state. For someone to say that I have pocketed the party is a way of making excuses for his or her own shortcomings," the governor explained.

Speaking further, he said he was a product of primaries in 1999 and he won. He wondered how he could now say he does not want people to go for primaries. He added that he has always encouraged aspirants not to run away from going into primaries.

Reacting to near cult-like handling of the affairs of the AD in the South-west, Adebayo defended such by saying that Afenifere was the group that aligned with the AD in the South-west and hence the party's going to Ijebu-Igbo, the hometown of Senator Abraham Adesanya, to hold meetings of the party.

Speaking on the emergence of gubernatorial flagbeares of both the PDP and the ANPP in the state, Adebayo said he did not see that as a threat because the AD would always take Ekiti State any day. He added that the Senatorial seat which the PDP took in the state in 1999 would be retaken by the party.

"We are winning it back this time around. And I can assure you that nothing is going to stop us. We knew why we lost it in 1999 and we are making necessary corrections to make sure that such mistakes do not repeat themselves."

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