Sunday, 7 February 2016

Fayose: Landslide victory, unending controversy

Controversies have continued to trail the victory of Governor Ayodele Fayose in the June 21, 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State. BAYO AKINLOYE examines some of the issues.When Ayodele Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party defeated the
incumbent Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress in the June 21, 2014 governorship election in the state, the victory was widely described as unprecedented, especially for someone who was sacked from the office when he first became governor and was not on the frontline of politics in the state six years after.

When the Independent National Electoral Commission would collate the results of the poll and announce Fayose as the winner, he defeated Fayemi in a landslide.

Fayose is not a neophyte in Ekiti politics, just as he is not new to controversies. Ever since then, controversies over the credibility or otherwise of the election have not ceased.

When he was impeached in a controversial circumstance by the state House of Assembly in October 2006, he was hounded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on allegations of corrupt practices. He had a run-in with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and up till now, he has not ceased to openly criticise the ex-President.

And in recent times, he has been courting troubles with President Muhammadu Buhari. Fayose’s voice against the President became loud prior to the 2015 general elections.

The governor had launched a vitriolic attack on the APC presidential candidate, using every forum available to stop the electorate from voting the retired general. Buhari eventually defeated the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP. To date, the governor remains one of the biggest critics of the president.

Back home in Ekiti, Fayose also has political friends-turned-foes who are bent on discrediting his emergence as governor of the state. A former Secretary of the PDP in the state, Mr. Temitope Aluko, is one of them. Last Sunday, he sang like a canary about how the 2014 election was allegedly rigged in favour of the PDP with Fayose being the primary beneficiary.

Giving an insight into how the military and other security agencies were drafted into the governorship election, Aluko said the Ekiti chapter of the PDP and Fayose first ensured that the headship of the security agencies in Nigeria was changed. He alleged that Jonathan agreed with Fayose on the need to change the leadership of the nation’s security outfits because of the ex-President’s desire to win the presidential election.

According to Aluko, Jonathan summoned a security meeting at the Presidential Villa for the purpose of the election.

Aluko said, “Those at the meeting were the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh; then Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah; and a former National Chairman of the PDP, Adamu Mu’azu. Others included Fayose; then governorship candidate of the PDP in Osun State, Sen. Iyiola Omisore; then Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan and Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.”

At that meeting, Aluko said Jonathan allegedly made it clear to Badeh that Fayose would stand for him (Jonathan) in terms of providing security for the election.

Aluko further alleged that Fayose then approached the former General Officer Commanding, Army Brigade Akure, Brig.-Gen. Dikko, to take charge of the election for the PDP. But Dikko, he said, rejected the proposal, adding that the army officer “stated bluntly that he would not be available for such an operation.”

The ex-PDP scribe said, “We went into the election with 1,040 recognised soldiers and another batch of 400 ‘unrecognised soldiers’ brought from Enugu by a serving senator from the South-East. In addition, we raised 44 special strike teams brought in (with) Toyota Hilux buses from Abuja and Onitsha. We made special stickers for the vehicles that conveyed members of the strike team and we gave each of them a black band for identification.”

Aluko, who was the Chief Returning Officer for the poll, said he was fully involved in the alleged rigging plot with Fayose from the very beginning.

According to him, he was forced to divulge the information because Fayose betrayed him and because he felt disturbed with the way Fayose is running the state.

“Before the election, Fayose, Femi Bamishile and I jointly swore with the Holy Bible on a sharing formula after we must have won the election. We agreed that Fayose would be governor, Bamishile his deputy and I, the Chief of Staff. But the moment he got into office, Fayose reneged on the agreement and left me in the lurch. More worrisome is the fact that Fayose has derailed from the original Ekiti project we envisaged,” Aluko stated.

The former PDP secretary also alleged that Jonathan gave Fayose $37m cash ahead of the election, claiming he was the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee for the campaign.

Aluko added, “It was about $35m which is about N4.7 billion he gave us for the real election and for the primary, he released $2 million to Fayose. I have details for all I am saying and I was present when they brought the money and it was Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro that brought the money – the $35 million which he delivered to Fayose at Spotless Hotel. I can name eight people that were there. We were all there because he said he would want us to take delivery so that there would be transparency and accountability.

“Let me just stop there for now. I am just trying to say that both the security and the funding came from the Presidency and even the primary money we collected at the NNPC Towers in Abuja and they took $300,000 from the $2m for courier which was on Monday, 23rd of March 2014 and we took it to Prince and Princess, Fayose’s house, but the N4.7bn came into Ekiti on June 17, 2014.”

In a swift reaction to Aluko’s claims, Fayose denied using soldiers to rig the election, describing the ex-PDP scribe as a new distraction from the APC in Ekiti. The governor, in a statement, stated that his former associate was beclouded by his plan to seek revenge against him because of his refusal to make him his chief of staff.

Fayose said, “For Aluko to be taken seriously, he must first have to report himself to the police to be tried for perjury and committed to prison for three years, since what he is now saying is different from what he said under oath at the election tribunal being the only witness called by the PDP and Governor Fayose.

“If after giving evidence under oath at the tribunal that the election was free, fair and credible and that security agents, including soldiers, performed their duties creditably well, saying something else more than one year after is an admittance by Aluko himself that he is not a stable character.

“It is also a demonstration of the fact that given the right offer tomorrow, the same Aluko can also address the press to deny all what he (had) said. He can even deny his own existence since he can deny what he said under oath just because he was not made chief of staff.”

Fayose, however, did not deny receiving $37m from Jonathan for the election. He noted that it would take more than recruiting and paying Aluko to discredit an election adjudged by both local and international observers, including the government of the United States, as free, fair and credible.

“As per his claim that $37m was given to the governor for the election, the governor got financial support from various sources as it is usual of anyone contesting election and it is not for us to begin to advertise in the media the level of support the governor received from individuals, corporate organisations or groups. However, if money belonging to the APC is missing and they suspect that the money was stolen by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to fund Ekiti State governorship election, they can approach the EFCC,” the governor stated.

To Fayose, the betrayal of trust by his long-time ally was illustrative of the biblical voice of Jacob and hands of Esau.

In another statement issued on Monday, the Ekiti governor claimed that the self-confession of Aluko was part of steps taken by the APC to silence him because of his criticism of the “obnoxious” policies of Buhari. He vowed not to be silenced by the national ruling party.

“If I, Ayo Fayose, remain the last man standing to keep the Buhari administration on its toes, I will not look back. Strong opposition is an ingredient of a virile democracy. I don’t have any skeleton in my cupboard. If the APC has any concrete evidence against me, it should give it to the EFCC,” he said.

According to the presidential candidate of KOWA Party in the 2015 presidential poll, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, Aluko’s self-confession is an indication that the country is in the hands of corrupt politicians.

Speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH on the post-election claims, she said, “This Ekiti incident again highlights the sad fact of the absence of morality in our politics. We are being ruled largely by immoral people. Of course, the matter should be investigated thoroughly and all culpable people made to face the legal consequences. I hope Nigerians are beginning to see that we need new political parties like the KOWA Party where representatives are people of integrity. Loyalty to these corrupt parties won’t let us develop.”

Also speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH on the issue, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, noted that the right platform had been set for Buhari to ensure that corruption is dealt with decisively.

Tella stated that the President’s anti-corruption stance would be put to the test in the manner he handles the Ekiti election scandal.

Aluko’s revelations had corroborated Capt. Sagir Koli’s earlier exposé of how the military allegedly connived with some prominent politicians to influence the outcome of the Ekiti governorship election.

In February 2015, Koli had released an audio recording of voices suspected to be those of Brig.-Gen. Aliyu Momoh (who was used to replace Dikko); the then Minister of Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro; the then Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan; Omisore and Fayose in a meeting where they allegedly made the rigging plan.

The tape, which had the voice of some persons threatening to blackmail Momoh whilst offering him financial inducement, created a political scandal known as Ekitigate.

In the heat of the exposé, the soldier fled the country to avoid persecution in the hands of the power brokers and his military superiors.

Last month, a panel set up by the Army Headquarters to investigate the alleged unprofessional conduct of soldiers during the 2014 governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun recommended that two officers be compulsorily retired; three other officers to lose their commands; and one officer be prosecuted for collecting financial gratification.

Other recommendations included placing 15 officers on the watch list, while nine officers were to be further investigated by the EFCC over allegations levelled against them.

The panel also recommended that six officers should face an audit committee and 62 officers should be given letters of displeasure and to appear before their respective general officers commanding for counselling.

Just as the military investigated Koli’s allegations, a former National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, told SUNDAY PUNCH that a judicial commission of inquiry should be constituted to confirm the allegation of Aluko.

He said, “The Ekiti State saga has revealed how deep corruption has eaten into the fabric of the polity. What is more disturbing is how the military is said to have been used to compromise the election at $37 million from the then president.

“Since the (ex-)PDP Secretary, Temitope (Aluko), is trying to do the right thing for the wrong reasons, and given the fact that the sources and uses of the $37 million can be traced, I would suggest the matter be thoroughly investigated by a judicial commission of inquiry with a view to bringing perpetrators to justice for the larger interest of our democracy.

“It is noteworthy that if the military can be used for such ugly acts, then the issue of weak institutions which promote the strongman syndrome must be looked into with a view to improving our practice of democracy. This matter must not be swept under the carpet.”

Earlier on Monday, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, and the spokesman for the APC in the South-East geopolitical zone, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, had called for the arrest and prosecution of those involved in the rigging of the Ekiti election.

Tsav noted that the revelation was good for the country’s democracy in the sense that it now showed that no crime could go undetected forever. This, he noted, would send a clear signal to all those who have plans to replicate such infamy to have a rethink.

He said, “Without a doubt, these (revelations) show that the no-nonsense disposition of President Buhari to issues of impunity and corruption is beginning to yield fruits because people now come up with revelations that will help improve the electoral system.”

In the view of a political scientist at the University of Ibadan, Dr. Idowu Johnson, while Fayose should not be seen as the victor, Aluko should be held as the villain in the 2014 election scandal.

He said, “The issue is not new to Nigerians. You could remember the allegations brought by one Army captain (Koli) on the use of security agencies to rig election (in Ekiti in 2014). Also, a video/audio clip of persons suspected to be Musiliu Obanikoro and others discussing their game plan on how they would ensure the election was in favour of Fayose was circulated on social media.

“Unfortunately, nobody reacted to it. As for the recent revelations by Aluko, it is baseless and nonsensical, if not outright irrelevant. Why now? Why did he not spill the beans during the court or judicial process? After all, Fayose is not at fault.”


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