By Segun Dipe
Even as he has busied himself leading the team that has apparently conducted a rancor-free convention for the election of a presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi has not been able to stop the array of searchlights beaming brightly on him as the preferred choice for the vice-presidential slot of the party, and this has continued to gain acceptability among the stakeholders by the day.
Fayemi is the immediate past governor of Ekiti state, who was most ignominiously denied victory at the June 21, 2014 election allegedly won by the People’s Democratic Party candidate, Ayodele Fayose, and which APC is now contesting at the tribunal. Yet Fayemi’s popularity, composure, acumen and mien have not waned a bit, rather they have soared the more.
Now, those who count within the party want Fayemi to come and bolster the party’s chances at the February 2015 presidential election by partnering with whoever emerges as the presidential candidate on Thursday.
According to a party top notch that preferred anonymity, “Fayemi stands in a good stead to assume the vice-presidential position ahead of any other person in consideration. All the qualities we require are embedded in him. They include: the fact that he is from the South West region where the slot is tactically zoned, the fact that he is a Christian, the fact that he is a one-time governor (and we still see him as a governor), the fact that he is intellectually endowed, the fact that he is independent-minded and objective, the fact that he is level-headed and most importantly, the high dose of integrity in him. Add to all these is his youthfulness, that will complement the advanced age of our candidate.”
Already, the All Progressives Congress, APC seems to have placed emphasis for the emergence of both the President and Vice president on the three conditions of zoning, religion and experience.
For the zoning formula, APC recognizes the need to make the president come from the North, who is to select a Vice President from the South West. For religious balancing, the party recognizes the two major religions of pairing a Christian vice president with a Muslim president. The third, as is canvassed for by the Progressive Governors’ forum, is that whoever would be selected as the vice-president by the presidential candidate that emerges must be from among them, that is, if neither the Kano state Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso nor Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha emerges as the presidential candidate.
However, one neutral, but critical voice that has kept selling the Fayemi virtues is Prof Wole Soyinka. The Noble Laureatte has not hidden his desire to see a Kayode Fayemi at such a high-level putting his integrity to use for the nation,and lacing it with intellectual disposition and activism.
“There is a clarity in my mind. That clarity has been demonstrated today and has been manifested in the four years of Fayemi. My own message is that, put the mystery aside and the emotional attachment. Continue to build on the foundation that has been laid by him. The state has been resurrected in a way that all of us should be proud of. I’m glad that there is no sadness on the face of anybody. I’m happy I do not perceive any iota of regret on the face of anyone. That is the way it should be,” Soyinka has said when he came to condole with Ekiti people on the loss by Fayemi at the June 21 election.
Already, all the presidential aspirants have indicated their intention to work with Fayemi as the vice-president, should they clinch the party’s ticket. Leading the pack is the leading contender, General Mohammadu Buhari, who has not hidden his desire to tap from the qualities in Fayemi to steer Nigeria back to the path of honour.
Each time the former military Head of State had to talk about Fayemi, he did not hide his preference for him as his preferred choice as running mate. General Buhari had during the last election fielded the radical cleric, Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate.
Buhari has never hidden his desire to choose somebody from Ekiti, the nation’s fountain of knowledge and land of honour, as his running mate. That was his intention, even in 2011 Presidential Election before he was prevailed upon by certain forces to pick Pastor Bakare.
Hitherto his settling for Pastor Bakare, the name of former Ekiti State governor, Niyi Adebayo, was repeatedly linked to the move on the basis of similar criteria possessed by Fayemi. It is believed that Fayemi with his political experience and background as an activist would no doubt pull more weight than any non-political element this time around.
Also, the Action Congress of Nigeria at the same time Buhari was in CPC fielded another integrity-driven non-politician Fola Adeola, a seasoned banker for the vice-presidential position as running mate to former Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Buhari noted that Ekiti State really proved itself as an intellectually endowed state under Fayemi as exhibited in the roll call of the recipients of the 2014 merit awards.
Also speaking on the Fayemi virtues, Speaker of the House of Representatives in Abuja, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, remarked that posterity would be a better judge that Fayemi ruled Ekiti state in dignified ways to the extent that he left unforgettable marks in Ekiti State.
According to Tambuwal whose initial ambition was to take a shot at the presidential slot before settling for the governorship candidacy of his home Sokoto State, Fayemi combined good governance and politics, and that aside losing the election, he still continued his to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.
National Chairman of the APC, Chief Odigie-Oyegun, further the expression of confidence in the character of Fayemi when he said the party settled for Fayemi in the search for whom to conduct a fair and transparent election.
“We wanted to go for a retired judge, but it occurred to us that we have somebody who is as white as snow that can serve as chairman. The innovation is, we have asked aspirants to nominate members, to assure them of our transparency and we want them to be part of the process,” he said. Fayemi is it.
Both Kwankwanso and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, two other highly rated presidential aspirants in APC have at one time or the other declared their preference for Fayemi for the VP slot. Being the only Christian among the governors in the South West geo-political zone, coupled with his independent-mindedness level-headedness and display of integrity in handling assignments, they see him as being in a very good stead to assume the position ahead of his other colleagues in the zone.
Spice these with the fact that the governors in the APC under the aegis of the Progressive Governors Forum, which Fayemi has diligently served as Publicity Secretary and one of its brain boxes, would want one of their own to clinch the vice-presidential slot, should they lose the presidential slot to any of the leading contenders, then one has all searchlights beamed brightly on Dr. John Kayode Fayemi.
On the other hand, Dr. Fayemi who has always reiterated that moral values and intellectual ideas remain the key tools in the struggle for democracy and development, does not take the responsibility placed on his should and the expectations required of him lightly.
According to him “this assignment (and of course any assignment) isn’t about how, but also about who. But the ‘how’, which is the process is more important than the ‘who,’ the ultimate candidate. We must remove the doubt about our commitment to internal democracy,” he has assured.
On how he was able to steer the ship of Ekiti State towards the path of honour, he humbly said “for us anyway, in the last four years, it has been truth, sacrifice with integrity, honour, compassion, commitment to good governance and competence in public office. For us, public office remains the highest form of duty. We have no apology for all we have done. We thank our people for the solidarity and support,” he said.
While accepting to serve as the chairman of the convention committee, Dr Fayemi assured the national leadership that he would be his usual self and that his committee would not disappoint the party faithful in its onerous assignment. He noted that the main opposition party must inspire Nigerians on its avowed commitment to due process and internal democracy