The convoy of about a dozen vehicles entered quietly into Ise, a sleepy community in the South Senatorial District of Ekiti State, ostensibly for a crucial business. The team leader, Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, sat calmly at the back of a black SUV, his head buried in a newspaper.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, his party, is still battling to recover from the loss of grip on power to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2014 and the need to seek for unity and cohesion among the APC members who seem lost following backlash of the party’s performance at the governorship poll.
Ojudu has always been at the vanguard of every struggle to install sanity to the state at any point of disorder. He was there for the people in 2006 at the peak of PDP misrule which earned the state a bad press as a result of the reign of terror inflicted on the people by the then PDP government headed by Ayodele Fayose. His intervention then led to the ouster of that government and the subsequent struggle that eventually brought back Dr Kayode Fayemi after a protracted legal battle that rectified the rigged election of 2007.
According to Ojudu, the time for APC in the state to embrace unity is now. He noted that the confidence reposed in the party in 1999 was bungled on the altar of internal wrangling and self-criticism, which gave the opposition the needed leeway to hijack power and throw the progressives into disarray.
To break away from the past to form a formidable party that would take over power from the incumbent in the June 2018 governorship election in the state, the presidential aide called for the building of strong leaders at all segments of the party. Ojudu said these leaders at the local level would provide guidance for those at the national level, in arriving at democratic decisions.
He pleaded that all members should work towards cohesion and ensure that all aggrieved members are brought back into the fold ahead of the coming elections.
Ojudu noted at the various stops in Omuo, Agbado, Emure and Ise before retiring to his home town, Ado Ekiti, that liberating Ekiti State is the task of all people of voting age as no Nigerian from other states will come and help them out of the abyss.
“There is always a problem in any society where there is no middle class because the people in the middle class are the one that drives the society. They are very critical to the progress of the land. They are the one that envision the vision. Once you have a house to live, the car to drive around, you can train your children in school and you can feed adequately, all you think about is progress, love, decency. That is what the middle class represent.
“But when a man is in poverty, he has no choice. You can ride rod shod on him. He takes whatever is offered him, even if it is poison. And that is the trick Fayose is using on our people. The people are held down to be manipulated and it is not their fault,” he said.
And as Ojudu speaks, the pressure mounted on him to throw in his cap in the on-going agitation for the Oke Ayaba Government house. The people expressed confidence in his ability to deliver. They believe Ojudu is the one with what it takes to confront Fayose who many believe could go to any length unimaginable to ensure retention of power by the PDP.
But The Ado Ekiti born politician has these to say: “I am a believer in due process. As at today, what is permitted for politicians in Ekiti is holding consultations, which is what I am doing. The election time table is not yet released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and I don’t intend to flaunt the electoral law. So, when the time comes, I will still hold further consultation to ask the people the role they want me to play in the coming election in Ekiti.
“But one thing is sure. I will remain in this party to ensure that we get back our mandate from the present government. I will remain in APC and join hands with other progressives to ensure we get the best for the Ekiti people. I am very sure that whoever emerge as the governorship candidate for the APC in Ekiti will be a progressive. We shall all work for whoever emerge and collectively rescue Ekiti from the present shenanigans.