The Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, has emerged as the consensus candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2018 governorship election.
Olusola emerged from the list of strong contenders for the governorship ticket as the “most preferred candidate” at a meeting held on Wednesday by party bigwigs in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.
The meeting was attended by serving and former members of the PDP State Working Committee, members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, chieftains of the party from the 16 local government areas and 177 wards as well as the chairmen and members of state’s boards and parastatals among others.
The endorsement has, however, been condemned by other aspirants in the party.
The Publicity Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye; the immediate past state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Owoseni Ajayi; and a former Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada, Dare Bejide, described the process that produced Olusola as illegal.
Olusola, an indigene of Ikere Ekiti, which is the second largest town in Ekiti, was adopted before the commencement of a retreat organised for members to sensitise them ahead of the 2018 election.
The adoption of the deputy governor, who is a professor of Building Technology from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, was the major decision reached at the party stakeholders’ meeting.
The communique at the end of the meeting read, “After due consultation, without prejudice to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), we formally endorse His Excellency, Prof. Kolapo Olusola (the current deputy governor), from Ekiti South Senatorial District, as our preferred aspirant/candidate.”
Those who signed the communique are Anifowose Mustapha for councillors; Alhaji Amuda Sunmonu for ward chairmen; Mr. Femi Bamisile for local government party chairmen; Dapo Olagunju for Association of Local Government Chairmen; and Senator Bode Ola for Chairmen of Boards and Parastatals.
Dr. Modupe Alade (Secretary to the State Government) signed for State Executive Council; Kolawole Oluwawole for EKHA; and the state chairman of the party, Chief Gboyega Oguntuase, signed for Ekiti PDP.
Speaking with journalists after the adoption, Oguntuase said the party organs would abide by the decision taken by the stakeholders in the overall interest of the party and the entire people of Ekiti State.
He, however, stated that the adoption would not stop any member of the party that was interested in the governorship ticket from contesting.
He added that open and transparent primary election would be held in accordance with the rules of the party.
The Chairman of Forum of Ward Chairmen, Alhaji Amuda Sunmonu, hailed the decision to adopt Olusola, maintaining that “wherever governor Fayose goes, we will follow him.”
Also speaking on behalf of councillors, Mustapha said all the 177 councillors in the state were solidly behind the governor and “the decision of the party’s stakeholders remains binding on all of us.”
The SSG described the deputy governor as a competent and loyal member of the Fayose’s political family, adding that his adoption was a reward for loyalty, dedication and commitment.
Adeyeye said the adoption was a clear breach of the PDP’s constitution and the provisions of the Electoral Act (as amended).
His campaign group, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye Movement, claimed the meeting of the amorphous group was hastily convened out of fear for the overwhelming popularity of Adeyeye.
Adeyeye stated, “It is important to note that the PDP, as a political party, is bigger and larger than any individual no matter how highly placed as to override the rules and regulations of the party which are sacrosanct in the election of any candidate for elective position.
“PAMM rejects the purported adoption of a sole candidate in its entirety as there are many other aspirants for the governorship race in 2018.”
Ajayi and Bejide, who are aspirants on the party’s platform, dismissed the development as not posing any threat to their ambition.
Bejide said, “Any caucus of the party can adopt any candidate, whether the choice of Olusola by his caucus has Fayose’s backing holds no water as no one can impose a candidate on the party.
“This will not stop me from emerging as the party’s governorship standard bearer for the poll in March, 2018.”