Happy Birthday Ex-Governor Segun Oni By Ayo Akinyemi

••• HIS TRAVAILS IN POLITICS

At the dawn of this day, September 5, my brother, friend and boss, Chief Segun Oni, a former Governor of Ekiti State, adds another year in his natal journey.
We sincerely, profoundly appreciate the Almighty God for His grace in the life of the amiable gentleman.
•Our paths crossed in 2007 when he appointed me as his Principal Private Secretary on his assumption of office as governor, after my duty tour as Chief Press Secretary to Brigadier-General ‘Tunji Olurin (rtd) Administrator Ekiti State, during the Six-month Emergency in the state.

Segun Oni, Justice Ayo Salami in retrospect
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•The thought of the Birthday Boy, in recent weeks, has been laced with reflections on his travails in the murky water of politics in Nigeria. The feeling was ignited by the re-emergence of Justice Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, as Chairman, Presidential Investigative Panel to examine activities of EFCC and its Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu (now on suspension) almost a decade after his (Salami) controversial exit from the bench.

°Ten years ago, Friday, 15 October 2010 precisely, Justice Ayo Salami, presiding over the Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin, nullified the election of Segun Oni as Governor Ekiti State in the Electoral Petition by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the Re-run Governorship Election of Saturday 25 April 2009 and 5 May 2009. Consequently, Dr. Fayemi was sworn in as Governor on Saturday, 16 October 2010.

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That historic verdict of the Appeal Court and Justice Salami were enmeshed in allegations of bias and extra-judicial manipulations that raged for months. The development was a component of the forces that accentuated the exit/retirement of Justice Ayo Salami.

The political travails of Segun Oni, can be encapsulated in a potent phrase in Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s 8 August 2020 Letter of ‘Condolence’ to Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, on the demise of Senator Buruji Kashamu: … Use of “… THE MANUEVRE OF LAW AND POLITICS…” to achieve an end.

…THE GENESIS IN 2007
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Engineer Segun Oni came third in the Ekiti Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship Primaries in 2007. Owing to some stipulation and considerations, the leadership of the party, at the national level, gave Segun Oni the ticket to contest the Governorship Election on the platform of the party.

** The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Segun Oni winner of the election held on Saturday, 14 April 2007. He was sworn in as Governor on 29 May 2007.
** Dr. Kayode Fayemi challenged Oni’s victory at the Election Petition Tribunal. The tribunal affirmed Oni’s victory.
** Dr. Fayemi headed for Court of Appeal.

** Tuesday, 17 February 2009: “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””'””””””””””””
The Court of Appeal sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, upturned the Tribunal’s verdict. Nullified Oni’s Election. Ordered a Re-run in 63wards in 10 Local Governments.
The main plank of the verdict was that, in the accreditation of voters, Red Biro was used instead of Blue Biro, to mark the register.

**That fateful day, 17 February 2009, Segun Oni vacated office as Governor.
** Speaker, State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Tunji Odeyemi was sworn in as Acting Governor.
He held fort for 79days.

•Overtures to Ex-Governor Ayo Fayose
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**Countdown to the Re-run Election, PDP leadership at National Level approached former Governor Ayo Fayose for support. Meeting held at Government House, Ado-Ekiti. Deadlocked. Fayose’s conditions, not met.
* On the eve of the Re-run Election interestingly and coincidentally, Ayo Fayose was in Ekiti for the burial of his father. He stunned many with a drama. As passenger on a motorcycle -OKADA- Fayose carried a large banner with the inscription: RE-RUN: VOTE FOR FAYEMI.

** Saturday, 25 April 2009:
Re-run Election held. Inconclusive. Election in Two Wards in Oye, postponed.
** Tuesday, 5 May 2009:
Postponed Election in Two Wards in Our, held successfully.
** INEC declared Segun Oni winner of Re-run Election after collation of results.
** Wednesday, 6 May 2009:
• Segun Oni returned to office as Governor.

•Dr Kayode Fayemi returned to Election Tribunal to Challenge Oni’s victory.
Tribunal upheld Oni’s Election.
Fayemi headed for Court of Appeal again.

** Friday, 15 October 2010:
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•Appeal Court sacked Oni. Fayemi declared duly elected Governor. Sworn in, Saturday, 16 October 2010.

• Countdown to 2014 Governorship Election
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**Ayo Fayose fully on ground in Ekiti politics.
* Fayose’s Camp floored Oni’s Camp at State PDP Congress for Election of State Party Executive. Segun Oni quit PDP, according to him, “on principle”. Joined APC months later.

** Fayose contested 2014 Governorship Election on PDP ticket. Defeated incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi of APC.
Segun Oni in APC, emerged Deputy National Chairman (South) in Chief Odigie Oyegun-led National Executive Council of APC.
*Fayemi appointed Minister of Mineral Resources by President Muhammadu Buhari following the victory of APC in 2015 Presidential Election.

•Oni Eyes Governorship Again
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**On 17 July 2017, Segun Oni held a rally in Ado-Ekiti for public declaration of interest in 2018 Governorship Election in Ekiti State.
The rally was colourful and impressive. He literally shut down the state capital that day. *The photograph on this post, was of the event.

In Oni’s camp at the time were notable loyalists and supporters of Dr. Fayemi, in the belief that Dr. Fayemi was not interested in the contest. Months later, Oni resigned from APC NEC, to concentrate on the Governorship Project.

** War strategist Kayode Fayemi, at the 11th hour, took all by storm, when he declared interest in the 2018 Governorship Race, with the Governorship Primaries, a couple of weeks away. Oni’s camp was caught napping.

** Primaries held. Fayemi won the ticket with Oni in distant second.
** Election held. Fayemi won. Assumed office as Governor Ekiti State, for second term.

** Segun Oni challenged Fayemi’s eligibility in Court, on the premise of not resigning his appointment as Minister, three months before the primaries, as a Public Officer, as required by the Electoral Act.
** The matter was pursued by Oni to the Supreme Court. Oni lost. The court ruled that Fayemi as Minister, was not a Public Officer but, an appointee of Mr. President.
*** A big question mark on the interpretation of Section Three of Part One of the Fifth Schedule of the1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended)

•Oni’s Suspension from APC by Ward
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* Months after the pronouncement of the Apex Court, allegations of anti-party activities were levelled against Segun Oni by his Ward Executive(?) and asked to appear before them to defend the allegations. Failure to do so, Oni was subsequently suspended from APC. (The same ploy against Adams Oshiomhole of late)

• Segun Oni back in PDP
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** Today, Segun Oni has returned to PDP, the political party that once gave him the opportunity to be elected as Governor Ekiti State. This, at a time the camp of former Governor Ayo Fayose and that of his erstwhile Deputy, Senator Abiodun Olujimi are fiercely locking horns for the control of the PDP Ekiti State Party Executive/Machinery.

•• As we wish Chief Segun Oni, Asiwaju of Ifaki-Ekiti, Happy Birthday, we also wish him well in his political adventure and aspirations under the banner and guidance of God.

Ayo Akinyemi
Saturday, 5 September 2020

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