5 March 2009

Nigeria: Ayodele Fayose - Rejected Stone

Former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose now plays the sought-after bride as parties strategising for the state's re-run election court his support.

Fayose was impeached by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in October 16, 2006, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo allegedly bared his fangs against those he considered to be recalcitrant followers. But today, the party is warming up to him, hoping his support would change their fortunes at the polls.

He was embroiled in corruption allegation involving an agricultural firm that was owned and managed by a childhood friend, Gbenga James. He was also charged with mismanaging about $11.5 million for which he went into hiding on impeachment, in order to escape possible prosecution.

Today, President Umaru Yar'Adua and other big names in PDP are courting Fayose to possibly obtain his unalloyed support. They now considered him an important factor in the election that must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the opposition.

Fayose has, indeed, become a kind of king-maker. The need for the President to step into the negotiation table with him became imperative, as the meeting he had with the PDP national chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, reportedly hit the rocks early last week because the former governor's demands, according to those privy to the meeting, were too much for Ogbulafor and other party chieftains to accept.

The demands, according reports, include the release of all his political associates standing trial for alleged murder, the dissolution and reconstitution of the Ekiti executive of the party, and the reserving of certain commissionership slots for the Fayose camp.

While the PDP train their eyes on the Ekiti indigene, who grew up in Ibadan, Oyo State, they are well aware that he is hardly an easy catch. This is because he has proven a bosom friend of some opposition parties, especially those suspected to have shielded him during his trial days of impeachment.

Action Congress (AC) is also reported to be meeting with the man of the moment at his country home, Afao-Ekiti.

To many Nigerians, the transformation of Fayose from a rookie governor who was hounded out of office in 2006 by a ring of the state educated elite, now becoming a trump-card for the coming re-run election, remains a marvel.

Incidentally it is not all Nigerians that are excited with what is going on. Many see the scramble for Fayose by parties as one of the things wrong with the nation's politics and democracy.

The chairman, Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), Damian Ogbonna says even though it was true that Fayose had made himself a force to be reckoned with in Ekiti politics, he did not think that was enough for the attention he was getting.

His words: "There is no doubt that Fayose is a force to be reckoned with in Ekiti politics of this dispensation because he has popularised himself with the people, but I am not excited, because the very idea of political parties falling over themselves to have him in their fold is precisely what is wrong with our politics."

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