Ekiti APC and Segun Oni’s exit

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 Ben Oguntuase


THERE is no question about it that the way Chief Segun Oni was treated by Ekiti State APC was way beneath his dignity. Governor Kayode Fayemi and his wing of the party treated Oni with disdain and contempt. The same treatment was extended to all members of the party who are loyal to Oni or bear any kind of affiliation with him. The Fayemi group ran a completely closed shop and became intolerant of any other interests and views. They even manufactured a label for themselves – Fayemi tokantokan. To belong, one has to be Fayemi’s in mind, body and soul with adequate proof in sycophantic expressions of eulogy. No one is in doubt that APC in Ekiti as is today is run like a cult with stringent condition of loyalty bordering on deification of Fayemi as the only acceptable payment for right of initiation.

It is such an exclusive entity that in reality, it can hardly pass for a political organization.

This is the entity that Segun Oni took to court following his defeat by Fayemi in the APC governorship primary in 2018. Oni had challenged the right of Fayemi to contest that election having not resigned as a minister in President Buhari’s cabinet 30 days before the primary as stipulated in the party guidelines. At the high court, the minister was declared as not a public officer! Then at the appeal court, it was that even though a minister is a public officer, he is not in the employment of the public service. Then at the Supreme Court, it was that Oni filed late at the high court based on a law that was not in effect when the matter arose!

Oni’s case was never considered on merit at the Supreme Court. All the same, Oni went to court to pursue his grievance and the outcome was in favour of Fayemi.

Having secured the victory against Oni, rather than be magnanimous in victory use it to advance unity within the party and accommodate all, the Fayemi team went on retribution. Lowly characters in the Fayemi-composed ward executives decided to suspend Oni from the party. The same scenario is now playing at the national chairman’s level. They did not stop there. All known associates of Oni including my humble self were given queries and some outrightly suspended in a manner that was clearly insulting. They closed shop against us and ensured we were ostracized from the cult group that they call a party. We made representation to the NWC via a letter. Unfortunately, the NWC paid no attention to us

I have said all these to establish that Oni is genuinely frustrated in APC. But the question to ask: is this enough to warrant his exit from APC; at this time; in the manner he has done it? My position is No. I will like to assume that our movement into APC in 2013/2014 was not opportunistic but ideologically motivated or at least was based on principle. In the first full-term National Working Committee of APC, Oni was made the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party. This position made him next in rank to the National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun. Question must be asked how did Oni use that position? My three simple tests for every public official are: how many people did you facilitate into employment? How many people did you secure appointment for? How many people did you facilitate award of contract for? You don’t have to be corrupt or fraudulent to do any of these three. All a public official has to do is to provide potential beneficiaries the opportunity.

To be fair, Oni as Deputy National Chairman (South) devoted a lot of energy and resources to reconciling the various APC factions (up to five) in Ekiti. In 2014, APC in Ekiti was practically in tatters.  Oni, being a strong party man albeit at local level, wanted to rebuild APC in Ekiti. He laboured to reconcile the warring factions at huge personal expense. Altogether, he held up to five meetings of these various factions at the party’s national headquarters. It is on record that Fayemi did not attend a single one of those meetings even though all the vituperations were directed at him and all the meetings were fixed in full consultation with him. It is not in doubt that Fayemi never really recognised Oni as the Deputy National Chairman of the party even after Oni made very strenuous effort to court both Fayemi and Otunba Adebayo in line with his (Oni’s) tripod theory of leadership of Ekiti APC. However, it is also on record that Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the current Minister of Commerce and Industry, attended all the meetings.

There is no doubt that Oni was a beneficiary of Asiwaju Tinubu’s political goodwill. He was the one who made Oni the Deputy National Chairman of the party. For this reason, Oni should feel obliged to extend some courtesies to Asiwaju when it comes to making monumental decisions of this nature.

To leave a political party for another, beyond opportunism, one must show that (i) there is irreconcilable crisis in the current party; (ii) there is alienation by the managers of the party; (iii) a good case is successfully made to the public and other stakeholders of the party. Then, there must be adequate consultation with one’s benefactors and necessary courtesies extended to those deserving of such. To the extent that Segun Oni is not a “small boy” in Nigerian politics, it is my well-considered opinion that he has not done enough to let the Nigerian public know the frustration he has been enduring in APC in Ekiti State. Even though some of this suffering might have been self-inflicted due to his often-lukewarm approach to critical issues, he still could have made a good case to the people of Nigeria, directly, not by proxy, about his frustrating experience in APC in Ekiti. I don’t believe he has done this at all. He has been very quiet about it, opting to operate by proxy where he should have by himself taken the bull by the horn.

Having said all the above, I am one of those who will tarry for the time being in APC and watch how events unfold. There are some other erstwhile political friends of Oni in APC who are opting to remain in APC. There are no hard feelings, no bitterness. In the current drama within the party, two camps have emerged – the ambitious versus the progressives. Whether the progressives win or lose, I want to pit my tent with them and work towards victory for the progressives. It is even possible that in the end, the two sides can come together to resolve their differences and set Nigeria on a truly progressive path totally different from what we have now.


  • Otunba Oguntuase writes from Lagos.