A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has explained why he is backing the presidential bid of the governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose.
Mr. Fayose had on Thursday in Abuja formally declared his intention to run for president in 2019 on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The governor, who will complete his tenure in 2018, said he joined the race in order to tackle the myriad of problems confronting Nigeria and also engender the unity of the country which he said was being threatened by nepotism, religious bigotry and favoritism of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, Mr. Fani-Kayode, who was one of the prominent members of the PDP that spoke at the event, said he was backing Mr. Fayose because of his courage, frankness and conviction.
“I stood with Governor Ayodele Fayose because, unlike most, he has courage,” the former minister said.
“We come from completely different backgrounds and we do not agree on everything but we have a similar disposition and we share the same perspective on most things.
“He is not bound up in fear and he is not chained down by political correctness. He speaks the raw and bitter truth and he stands up for the weak and the defenceless.
“Like me, he moves in the prophetic and his source of strength is the spirit and power of God.
“We both love God and we are both men of strength, courage, faith and destiny. The spirit of David and Jehu runs through us both. We neither fear death nor incarceration and we hate injustice, evil and oppression.”
Mr. Fani-Kayode said the governor had done an excellent job in Ekiti State since he assumed office and had consistently and fearlessly stood against “the evil of the Buhari administration and constantly kept them on their toes.”
He added, “He is a Yoruba man who has the courage and conviction to say that he wants to be president. Why would I not stand with him and attend the launching of his campaign?
“I believe that he would make an excellent president and effect the necessary changes and restructuring that our country desperately needs.
“I am very proud of Ayo Fayose and I never desert or abandon my friends. He is and will always be my friend and brother.”
Mr. Fayose’s plan to run for president has drawn fierce criticisms from members of his party, who describe it as a violation of the zoning agreement reached by the party in 2015.
Shortly after the governor’s declaration, a former National Chairman of the PDP, Okwesilieze Nwodo, said
Mr. Fayose could not run for president because the party had zone the slot to the north following the adoption of the recommendations of a committee headed by the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, in 2015.
“….We did not only zone the presidency to the north, we have re-emphasised at every opportunity we had that the zoning will take place,” Mr. Nwodo, who is also a member of the party’s Board of Trustees, said.
“So the party will not collect expression of interest money from anybody else who is not from the north and will not issue him a nomination from to contest; no, we will not do that.”
Earlier, the spokesperson of the PDP, Dayo Adeyeye, who like Mr. Fayose hails from Ekiti State, said the governor was not eligible to run because the position had been zoned to the north.
“The highest organ of the party, which is the national convention, zoned the presidential ticket of the PDP to the North. That has not changed,” he said.
Mr. Fayose had in a letter to PDP leaders insisted that his ambition to be president was without prejudice to the party’s position, adding that it was in the interest of the party and Nigeria.