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BREAKING: Subterfuge and scheming in APC ahead of Ekiti 2026

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The battle to determine who emerges as the 2026 governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State begins with the state congress holding this year and high-wired politics to reclaim the party from former governor Kayode Fayemi, AYODELE AFOLABI reports.

Politics is already in the air in Ekiti State even though the governorship election is still three years away. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is witnessing political scheming and subterfuge ahead of the party congresses that will take place sometime this year.

Some emerging political figures are leaving nothing to chance in their bid to take over the structure of the party. The party structure from the wards to the state level is currently in the hands of former governor Kayode Fayemi, who anointed the incumbent governor, Biodun Oyebanji, as the candidate of the party for the 2022 governorship election.

The Guardian investigation revealed that some power blocs within the APC are already strategising on how to take over the structure of the party from Fayemi and whittle down his influence in Ekiti politics.

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Some notable political figures, who are interested in the coveted seat, are already dropping the name of President Bola Tinubu as their pillar of support. Political watchers in the state believe that President Tinubu will have more than just a passing interest in who becomes the governor of the state in 2026.

Currently, a group within the state chapter of the party, known as Alake Vanguard, are said to be rooting for the emergence of the Minister of Mines and Solid Mineral Resources, Mr Dele Alake, as the next governor of the state. The group is said to be banking on the closeness of Alake to Tinubu. However, there are contradicting reports on whether the activities of the group have received the blessing of Alake who is generally seen as “Lagos Minister” because he was not the choice of the government and the people of Ekiti State. He was said to have secured the plum job as a result of his closeness to the President.

But Alake has openly dissociated himself from the governorship race in the state. Reacting to the trending poster and flyers on some social media platforms where he was positioned as a gubernatorial aspirant in the state with the inscription, “Take it Back.”

Alake in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Segun Tomori, described the poster as “fake” urging the people to disregard it. “I have no interest in running for the governorship election in Ekiti State, either now or in the future.”

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He declared his support to the state governor, Biodun Oyebanji, in his efforts to transform the state, and that he would continue to contribute to the development of Ekiti State.

On the other hand, Dayo Adeyeye, who spearheaded the piloting of President Tinubu’s ambition through the Southwest Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA) is also said to be oiling his structure believed to be formidable in APC. The group, Prince Adedayo Movement (PAM), has maintained its independence and non-alignment with the parent APC.

PAM has not been reintegrated into the mainstream after the 2022 governorship poll. The SWAGA members are also banking on support from Tinubu as a way of paying back for the support of the group for the success of the president before and during the presidential election.

The Senate Leader, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (MOB) has pledged his support for the second term of Governor Oyebanji on many fora. One such occasion was at a special thanksgiving service organised to mark the first anniversary of Oyebanji’s administration, which was held at the Cathedral Church of Emmanuel Okesa, Ado Ekiti and attended by eminent personalities from all walks of life.

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Bamidele, who represented the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio at the service, offered to serve as the Chairman of Oyebanji’s Re-election Campaign. However, some political analysts believe that it was too early to rule out the interest of MOB as he is fondly called in political circles.

To them, everything depends on the body language of the president, who would play a significant role in the choice of the flag bearer of the party. If Tinubu desires to have another person other than the current governor, he will do so without batting an eyelid. Even though the body language of MOB is tending towards BAO second term, his Bibire group in APC is said not to be leaving anything to chance.

What is more, some are of the view that as the party gears up for congresses, Fayemi who currently controls the structures of the party from the ward, local government and the state level would be the target.

This is because if he is allowed to retain the structure, it will be difficult for anybody to emerge as a candidate of the party except the person anointed by him. They believe that the president will have a say on who emerges as governor in all the states in the Southwest if he intends to run for a second term. Observers said that given the political antecedent of the president, he has always been involved in the politics of the zone and now that he has a higher stake, he will certainly play a crucial role in the choice of candidates of his party for governorship elections.

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To political watchers, the governor may be in a dilemma on whether to dump his political godfather and benefactor and romance Tinubu’s men to secure a second term ticket or to remain loyal to Fayemi and damned the consequence of his absolute loyalty.

Oyebanji was not unaware of the political undercurrent and clandestine activities within his party. This was why the governor vowed not to be distracted by political scheming for the 2026 governorship race, describing the second term as the least of his worries for now.

Oyebanji stated this recently at the grand finale of the 2024 Week of Prayer, organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in conjunction with the Ekiti State Government, held at Jibowu Hall, Government House, in Ado Ekiti.

Addressing the congregation at the event, Oyebanji said news had been filtering in that some politicians had started holding nocturnal meetings ahead of the 2026 governorship election, saying he won’t allow this to derail his focus in the interest of Ekiti citizens.

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“They said some people have started holding meetings, I am not bothered by this. For now, 2026 is the least of my worries. What I am bothered about is leading Ekiti to prosperity, and allowing God to guide us. I have made a covenant that there won’t be tolerance for corruption, dishonesty, and disobedience to orders. So, I won’t allow second-term ambition to distract me. Human beings can play politics, but God is the master politician. He knows how to take care of everything.

“Some said I didn’t have the right connections. But, God, in His infinite mercy, has sent me on a mission and when God says I should move, I do that and we have been able to meet the expectations of the people. God just thrust me forward knowing that I wasn’t the most brilliant, the most connected and I didn’t have anything called political structures. The only thing I will continue to do is to exalt God in this position. There wasn’t any time I got worried that I am the governor because I know He sent me on this mission.”

Despite the governor’s acclaimed indifference, he has received an avalanche of endorsement from leaders in the state. For instance, former governors, including Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Mr Ayodele Fayose and Dr Kayode Fayemi have unanimously endorsed him for a second term in office.

The three former governors, who spoke through Fayose, said they have reviewed Oyebanji’s one year in office and believe he deserves a second term, having united every political and religious tendencies in the state and mobilised the people for massive development.

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Fayose said: “We are Ekiti and we observe seniority, even among governors; we observe ranking. We all feel the same way about the current occupant of the seat. It is the most senior among us (Adebayo) that should address the people first.”

Adebayo said: “I am the most senior of the (former) governors, I will call my younger brother, Ayo Fayose, to address this gathering.” Fayose said: “You know me very well that I am not the one who will tell you what you like. I will always tell you as it is. We are all together for Abiodun Oyebanji, I am not a member of your party (APC) and I will not be. I am with you (Oyebanji) 100 per cent.

“Where is Bisi K (Chief Bisi Kolawole, PDP governorship candidate)? We are going to support you (Oyebanji), you have come to visit me in my house several times. You are doing it differently and you will get a different result. This church will pray for you and you will do it (governorship) a second time.”

Fayose said the old practice in Ekiti State was more of a sitting governor witch-hunting the predecessor. “When I was here I was after Fayemi, when Fayemi was here he too was witch-hunting me. But you are doing it differently. You have united all of us and your performance is superlative.

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“On your matter, all of us are unanimous in our support for you. You are doing well, your leadership style is different and I am not surprised your performance has been excellent. Ekiti will do well to have you for eight years. And all of us will support and mobilise for you to achieve that. I am not a member of your party, and some people will say it is too early. It is not too early. You have done well and you deserve two terms so that Ekiti will benefit from your purposeful leadership.” Fayose said.

However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has dissociated its members from the purported endorsement of Oyebanji for a second term, saying Fayose was on his own for his support for the governor. The party in a communiqué issued at the end of their meeting in Ado Ekiti condemned in totality the purported endorsement of Oyebanji by Fayose and his group.

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