Olumilua is one of the aspirants that participated in the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election in Ekiti State. In this interview, he highlighted his fears for the governorship election scheduled for July 14th.
What is your assessment of the recently concluded APC primary in Ekiti?
The election was successful even though the first one was botched due to security lapses that allowed some hoodlums to invade the venue. However, it has come and gone. Former governor of the state and current minister of mines and steel, Kayode Fayemi, emerged the winner. He is now the candidate of APC. It is now the responsibility of all party members at all levels to support him so that he can succeed.
What possibly led to the disruption of the first primary election?
It was unfortunate that we had to hold the election twice. The first one ended up in fiasco and we all knew the reason. It was because security was relaxed at the venue. The down pour also made matter worst. It forced the security men to abandon their duty post for shelter, thus leaving the gate open for uninvited guests to gain entry. Miscreants and all kinds of people that ordinarily ought not to be allowed access to the premises jumped into the stadium.
Secondly, the voting system was totally against what was earlier agreed. That was what brought about the scattering of the ballot boxes, tearing of the ballot papers. However, lessons from the previous botched election helped in the organisation of the second one, and success became inevitable. Security officials put up best acts in the rescheduled election. Even the aspirants and other stakeholders faced tough treatment from the security officials. In fact, everyone was considered a suspect. From my own point of view, the election was acceptable to me.
Was it true that the national leadership of APC had backed Fayemi in the election?
There was no concrete evidence to prove that. But there are some elements of actions and steps that tend to support the allegation. Delegates were influenced to vote the way they voted. In addition to that, money played a great role in that primary election. However, it is the normal practice everywhere in the world and wisdom for political parties to field a candidate that has the capacity and electoral value to win election. It is just a common sense. Ekiti is the only state in the south-west that is governed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and APC is determined to reclaim the state.
Fayemi visited all the contestants shortly after the election. What did you discuss with him?
Yes he did. In fact, I was the very first person he visited shortly after he emerged the party flag bearer. It was fence-mending visit to perhaps aggrieved members of the party. He acknowledged that only the support of all party members could guarantee his success at the poll. He insisted that we must come together to work as one family so we could strongly face the PDP candidate. He convinced me that there will be no gain for me to deny the party my support because we would be beneficiaries if the party eventually wins the election. I promised him my support and promised to pacify other aggrieved members to ensure that we win the forthcoming governorship election.
You said before now that Fayemi played ‘bad’ politics in 2014 and that cost his re-election. How do you suggest he do it differently this time?
I have not really had time to sit with him to discuss anything in that regard. But I can assure you that the Fayemi of four years ago is not the Fayemi of 2018. He has learnt his lessons. He has also developed himself, politically and otherwise. Most importantly, he has realised that he has to play politics differently this time to achieve different result.
What are his chances of defeating the PDP candidate?
His chances are bright. The fact remains that the battle is between outgoing governor, Ayo Fayose and Kayode Fayemi. PDP candidate has been going round the state bragging. But he forgot that he is nothing, politically, if Fayose withdraws his support. Our candidate is a well known politician in Ekiti State. He was a former governor and a minister, a known force in Ekiti political leadership. The PDP candidate is my brother. We are from the same town. He is a perfect gentleman, calm and intelligent. But Eleka is not a political force that could challenge Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti. He is obviously riding on the wings of Ayo Fayose.
Fayose is deeply rooted in the minds of electorate. Do you have any strategy to change that?
Fayemi, in 2014 lost connection with the people and that gave huge advantage to Fayose, and we saw the result. However, we will teach him how to play grassroots politics because our people appreciate anyone that connects with them, emotionally and otherwise. This time, we will reach out to the people and do whatever they want. If it means eating corn on the streets with the people, frying garri with them, dancing with them then we will do all that. The good news is that Fayemi has learnt to be more connected to the grassroots than he was in 2014. In addition to that, all party members have a collective responsibility to win the election. We will merge resources into one great force and invade every nook and cranny of Ekiti and make sure that the gospel of Fayemi is preached.
Of what relevance is Tinubu’s support for Fayemi’s victory in the election?
Very important! Tinubu is the indisputable National leader of APC. He is the father of all and he had displayed father figure on several occasions. He was at our post primary election meeting in Abuja alongside President Buhari. I had the opportunity of sitting close to Fayemi during the primary election, and while the votes were being counted, Tinubu called Fayemi and congratulated him as the winner of the election. It is an indication that he is in support of Fayemi as the candidate of APC. It would have been unwise if otherwise is the case.
Do you think Federal might, as we know it will be an advantage for APC in Ekiti state?
I am doubtful of that. President Buhari has repeatedly shown neutrality in several elections. Anambra State had governorship election recently and APC lost. One thing I am sure of is that the President will not tolerate violence for whatever reason. He will always support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and security agencies to conduct free, fair and transparent election that would be acceptable to all. The President is very interested in APC winning the election in Ekiti, but I don’t think he will do anything illegal to achieve that.
What are your fears in the forthcoming election?
This election will be epic battle. Ayo Fayose is a very strong man politically and anyone in Ekiti who pretends not to know is being economical with the truth. Fayose has strong followers, and so also is APC. It will be a battle of ego and political strength. So my fear is the lives that would be lost in the process. I have always been a peaceful person all my life and I would not support any political course that would lead to loss of lives. This is where I respect former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2015, he told the world that his political ambition was not worth the life of any Nigerian and he stood by it all the way. I pray that God will help us so there won’t be any form of bloodshed in the election.
What is your assessment of INEC as regards their preparation for the Ekiti election?
I am not impressed with the preparation thus far. INEC seem to be neither here nor there. Today, they would say they are providing electronic devices for the election, the next minute they would say another different thing. Until they really set up, one won’t know how prepared they are. INEC is fond of giving last minute excuses for falling short of expectations. I just pray they are prepared because they have to be.