Olujimi versus Adeyeye: Different strokes of a tribunal’s judgment

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Chief Biodun Olujimi has been a lucky politician. Since the return of democracy in 1999, she has been moving in leaps and bounds politically.

She was an ally of the senior Saraki, the late Chief Olusola Saraki. Olujimi was the National Publicity Secretary of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), until 2003, when she joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and became a special adviser to the then governor, Ayodele Fayose.

In a twist of fate, that same year, she became a member of the House of Representatives, when she replaced the late Abiodun Talabi, who represented Ekiti South 2 Federal Constituency. She spent just five months at the National Assembly when Fayose nominated her as the Deputy Governor to replace Bisi Omoyeni who returned to the Wema Bank as the Managing Director /Chief Executive officer. She almost became the acting governor of the state after the impeachment of Fayose in 2006, but she was outsmarted by the political elites in the state.

When Segun Oni took over in 2007, Olujimi became Commissioner for Works. At the National scene, she has always been a member of the Presidential campaign councils of the PDP. It was Olujimi who persuaded President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the party at the national level to consider Fayose‘s return to Ekiti in 2014 as governor. Fayose quickly resolved his differences with Olujimi, who joined hands to give him victory at the poll.

In return, Olujimi got the ticket to return to the National Assembly, but this time, the Senate. Her deft moves in the Senate earned her the Deputy Minority Whip. She became the Minority Leader when Senator Godswill Akpabio left the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

On the other hand, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye has had a very unfair political history. His political trajectory is in a way like that of the 16th American President, Abraham Lincoln. It also shares similarities with President Mohammadu Buhari’s who contested for the Presidency thrice and only succeeded the fourth time. Adeyeye was declared winner of the Ekiti South election after several attempts at elective positions. But unlike the two statesmen mentioned, that victory has been cut short.

He began his politics in 1999 when he was the senatorial candidate of Alliance for Democracy (AD) for Ekiti South Senatorial District. He, however, lost to Senator Gbenga Aluko of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In fact, he was the only one that lost his election on the platform of the AD, as the party swept all the National Assembly positions in the Southwest at the time.

Also in 2006, Adeyeye contested for the gubernatorial primary of his party, the Action Congress (AC) for the 2007 Ekiti State gubernatorial election, but lost to Dr. Kayode Fayemi. Angered by the development, he decamped to the PDP for better political exposure. As a reward for his efforts in his new party, the late Umaru Yar’adua nominated him for ministerial appointment, but fate, once again, played him a trick: his nomination was rejected by the Senate. As a consolation, then governor Segun Oni appointed him the Chairman of Ekiti State Universal Primary Education Board, (SUBERB).

Again in 2014, the Ise Ekiti prince went for the PDP governorship ticket but lost to Ayodele Fayose who was considered by the party to be more electable. For the second time, the Presidency nominated Adeyeye as a minister by, this time good luck smiled on him and the Senate confirmed him.

In March 2016, he was appointed the interim spokesman of the PDP under the Ahmed Makarfi-led committee, a position he held until December 2017.

THESE two political figures became close because of their political interests, which aligned in 2018. They both threw her hats into the ring for the governorship contest. They were in the same party during the tenure of Chief Oni, when Olujimi was commissioner for works, Adeyeye was the chairman State Universal basic Education Board. Adeyeye was a minister of State for Works and later spokesman of the PDP. However, they have never faced each other in any political contest.

The anointing of his Deputy, Professor Kolapo Olusola as the sole and preferred candidate of the PDP for the 2018 governorship election was the uniting factor between Olujimi, Adeyeye. The two became aggrieved with Fayose. They plotted together to fight what they felt was injustice meted to them by the then Governor.

However, despite their political alliance against Fayose and his political son, Fayose defeated them. Even though the primary was adjudged free and fair, Adeyeye could not swallow the bitter pill and remain in the party. He kept people guessing for a number of weeks after the primary about his political future. In between this period, Olujimi had reconciled with Fayose on the condition that she would be given the senatorial ticket of the PDP. She got what she wanted, a return ticket to the Senate. Adeyeye on the other hand, decamped to the APC to team up with the candidate of the party, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and got a ticket to the Senate unopposed.

The stage was set for the clash of two allies, once united by political interests but now divided to pursue solo interests. During the electioneering campaigns, the two politicians ran what could be described as decent campaigns. Their campaigns were largely devoid of the usual acrimonies, name-calling and political thuggery. They displayed mutual respect for each other.

However, it was clear that Adeyeye had more advantages than Olujimi on the day of the election. While Adeyeye relied on the power of incumbency, both in the state and at the federal level, Olujimi was banking on her track record at the Senate and her popularity. Her case was made worst by the fact that Fayose openly campaigned against her candidature.

The former governor took paid adverts in the local radio to vigorously campaign why Olujimi should not be voted. Although Fayose did not also ask people to vote for Adeyeye, his body language suggested that he would not mind if Adeyeye got the ticket. Olujimi’s offense was that she made a pronouncement that Fayose was no longer the leader of the PDP in Ekiti, having left office as governor. She said that as the Minority Leader in the Senate, she was the leader of the party. This bickering affected the Atiku/Obi campaign in the state, as Olujimi and Fayose maintained parallel campaign councils.

Adeyeye was declared the winner of the election, but Olujimi felt that the election was less than transparent. The battle was then shifted to the court as Olujimi decided to approach the election tribunal in Ado Ekiti. The three-man panel of the Tribunal in a unanimous judgment read by its chairman, Justice Danladi Adeck declared Olujimi the validly elected Senator. Also by same stroke of the pen, the Court of Appeal nullified Adeyeye’s election in the early hours of November 6, 2019, and declared Olujimi of the PDP winner and validly elected.

THE press statements issued by the two political parties that sponsored them aptly captured the mood at both camps after the appellate court’s judgment. For instance, the Peoples Democratic Party commended the judiciary for upholding the victory of the party’s candidate, Senator Biodun Olujimi. The PDP said the judgments of both the tribunal and the appeal court did not come as a surprise, because the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not reflect the true vote cast in the first instance.

The Party urged all the leaders, as well as members of the party to see this victory as that of God, hence the need to cooperate to move the Party forward.

In its reaction, APC rejected the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which sacked the spokesman of the Senate, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, adding that it did not reflect the wishes of people of the Ekiti South Senatorial district.

“The judgment, delivered earlier today can best be described as a travesty of Justice and robbing Peter to pay Paul,” the Party declared.

The APC, in a statement issued by its Director of Media and Publicity, Elder Sam Oluwalana, noted that the short period spent by Senator Adeyeye at the red chamber was indelible and remarkable for the people of Ekiti South and the state in general.

“We commend Prince Dayo Adeyeye, who was highly revered by his colleagues in the Upper Chamber, for the exemplary leadership, which he exhibited within the short period he spent in the Senate. We area proud of his achievements during the period, as he was able to manage information outflow, without any scandal in the House.”

The two communities where the gladiators hail from wore different mien immediately the news of the ruling filtered into town. Omuo Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti East Local Government was agog as people trooped out to celebrate Olujimi’s victory. Eyewitness account said relaxation centres were filled to the brim. Their joy, according to the source, was further heightened by the fact that the town and by extension the local government now has the House of Representatives member, as well as a Senator.

On the other hand, at Ise Ekiti, headquarters of the Ise-Orun local government, the hometown of Adeyeye, the mood was mournful. A resident of the town described the atmosphere as tensed, as people mouthed curses. The source added that security men had to be drafted to the town to prevent the breakdown of law and order.

The Guardian

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