Tuesday, 21st March 2023
<To guardian.ng
Breaking News:

APC, PDP, SDP in titanic battle for Ekiti Government House

By Ayodele Afolabi, Ado-Ekiti
17 June 2022   |   2:25 am
Although 16 political parties fielded candidates for the governorship election holding tomorrow, analysts have predicted a six-horse race. The time-up features Banji Oyebanji

ll is now set, as 988,923 voters are ready to determine who will succeed Dr Kayode Fayemi as the next governor.

Although 16 political parties fielded candidates for the governorship election holding tomorrow, analysts have predicted a six-horse race. The time up features Banji Oyebanji of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Chief Segun Oni, a former governor of the state flying the flag of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), a relatively new party in Ekiti, with huge support base and capacity to give APC a run for its money.

Another school of thought believes three other parties could spring surprise because of the strategy and messages of their campaigns. They are candidates of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dr Wole Oluyede; Young Progressives Party (YPP), Debo Ranti Ajayi and Mrs Kemi Elebute Halle of Action Democratic Congress.

These governorship hopefuls and their parties adopted different approaches to reach the electorate. Some chose house-to-house mobilisation, others opted for the traditional open campaigns.

Interestingly, these six candidates have also engaged in debates organised by groups selling their candidature and unveiling their programmes. These candidates have not made the job of voters easy, as they all have a good account of themselves.

The candidates would be expecting votes in the 177 wards and 2,445 polling units. According to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), the number of registered voters in the state is 988,923, but only 733,746 have procured their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC), which may increase before the Election Day.

According to INEC, the breakdown of the 177 wards in various local councils are Moba (11), Ido/Osi (11), Ilejemeje (10), Irepodun/ Ifelodun (11), Oye (12), Ikole (12), Ado (13), Ekiti West (11), and Ijero (12).
Others are Efon (10), Ekiti South West (11), Ikere (11), Gbonyin (10), Ise/Orun (10), Emure (10) and Ekiti East (12).

Also, the breakdown of the 2,445 polling centres are: Ado (344), Moba (116), Ido/Osi (144), Ilejemeje (91), Irepodun/ Ifelodun (174), Ekiti South West (188), Ikere (125), Emure (94), Gbonyin (115), Ise/Orun (114), Oye (191), Ikole (189), Ekiti East (112), Ijero(145) and Efon (119).

Analysts are of the opinion that never has the governorship election in the state been this unpredictable and it is mainly due to caliber of the aspirants and some factors that have played out these past months.

Watchers of events in the state’s politics also point to factors such as godfatherism, financial war chest, perceptions about the achievements of the incumbent governor, acceptability and antecedents of the candidates and their manifesto, party’s strengths, structure and support by critical segments of the population.

The influence of emerging godfathers in Ekiti politics is also to be reckoned with.  APC’s candidate, Oyebanji, and that of the PDP, Kolawole, are godsons of Fayemi and Fayose respectively.

The two former governors have dominated the state’s political space in the last 15 years. So, their influence would play a major role in the election.

There are fears that politically motivated violence may deter some voters from electing their preferred candidates. Already, there are accusations that some top candidates are thinking of using thugs to intimidate voters so as to create an enabling environment for rigging.

It is also believed that voters’ inducement will play a role in determining, who occupies Oke-Ayoba Government House, as was witnessed during the governorship polls in Edo, Ondo and Anambra states, where elections were allegedly monetised. The poverty level in the country has made it difficult for the electorate to resist the temptation of financial inducement if offered in exchange for votes.

Oyebanji: The homegrown and APC poster boy
OYEBANJI’S strength is predicated on the fact that he enjoys a huge following across the 16 local councils in the state. His party also has structures in every village in the state. Besides, he’ll benefit from the incumbency factor that his party enjoys. His role as the Secretary to the committee that worked for the creation of Ekiti State, even as a young lecturer at Ekiti State University (EKSU), may have endeared him to many.

It is even speculated that his emergence as a candidate owes much to his many year’s experience in the Ekiti project. A prominent traditional ruler in the state said: “If Oyebanji had not worked for the creation of the state, what would his co-contestants be fighting for by now.”

Above all, he is believed to understand the workings of government, having served in three governments in different capacities. In the current APC government, Oyebanji, before he resigned to contest the party’s shadow poll, served as the Secretary to the State Government.

But there are fears that the APC candidate may not find his feet when he gets to power because of his godfathers, Fayemi and Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, who he served as Chief of Staff when Adebayo governed the state between 1999 and 2003.

They feel he may not be independent-minded in decision-making.

It is also believed that defections of some APC members to other political parties could affect the fortune of the party.  Also, the sacking of over 2,000 workers at the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, as well as, the non-payment of salary arrears, and pensioners’ gratuities by the APC-led government might be a setback to Oyebanji’s ambition.

Kolawole’s grassroots appeal
THE PDP candidate, Kolawole’s strengths are his grassroots appeal and political sagacity. He started his political career as a councillor and later became a lawmaker in the State House of Assembly between 2007 and 2011. He was also Environment Commissioner during Fayose’s second term between 2015 and 2018. His career has been devoid of scandal and controversy.

The Efon Alaaye-born politician has undoubtedly performed well. He is not a pushover in the politics of Ekiti. A no-nonsense politician, though without a war chest, he is said to be bankrolled by his godfather, Fayose, whose street appeal is a plus for his campaign.

The ex-governors performance while in the saddle will no doubt brighten Kolawole’s chances.

But the political tsunami that hit the party after the primary that made him the flag bearer is still strong as the party was polarised. Oni and some aggrieved leaders of PDP left the party to populate the SDP. Also, there are some party members that are not comfortable with his candidature. No thanks to the poor attitude of the national leadership of the party that failed to reconcile some of the aggrieved leaders and members, these people may not vote for him.

Like the case of the APC candidate, Kolawole is seen as a lackey of his godfather whose overbearing posture is seen as a minus for him.

Oni: Strong candidate, weak structure
ARGUABLY, Oni is the most experienced of all candidates whose parties would be on the ballot. Though the platform he is flying on is not as popular, within the short period he joined the fold, he has changed the fortune of the SDP in Ekiti State.

The fear of SDP is noticeable in the rank of other leading parties. Oni parades an appreciable record of performance that many still make reference to in the state. Indeed, many of the projects he initiated are yet to be completed 12 years after he was removed by the Appeal Court as governor of the state. A very frugal personality, the Ifaki-born politician’s goodwill and vast experience are a big plus for him. Many believe that he is one of few leaders, who are modest and accessible if trusted with power.

Oni is said to be popular among civil servants and pensioners, who believe that he did well for them while in office. No doubt, he has Ekiti in his palms and understands its affairs, including the political intricacies and peculiarities of the people.

The rank of the SDP has swelled because Oni was able to take advantage of the crises of confidence rocking the PDP and APC. If the growing population of SDP can translate into the vote, then Oni could be a man to beat.

Like all other contestants, one of the major factors that may work against his ambition is zoning. The current governor of the state, Fayemi comes from the same senatorial district as Oni.

Also, some voters in the state say second-term governors have been poor performers, as their returns have always been anticlimax.

The major drawback to Oni’s ambition is his political platform. Although SDP is winning supporters every day, the party lacks the structures and financial war chest required to prosecute a serious governorship election. His constant defection from one party to another is also seen as a minus in many quarters.

In this article