Ekiti 2022: APC’s lethargic outing, PDP’s crowded race
In about two months, political parties interested in the 2022 governorship election in Ekiti State are expected to conclude their primaries.
In All Progressives Congress (APC), aspirants jostling to replace incumbent Governor Kayode Fayemi are yet to publicly declare. The only chieftain of the party that has indicated interest is the member representing the Ekiti South 2 in the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Bamisile. This is despite that the national leadership of the party has announced sales of nomination forms and even gone ahead to fix January 22, 2022, as the day of the primary election.
Meanwhile, Governor Fayemi has given a December 18 deadline for members of his cabinet who are interested in the governorship to either resign or stay put and face their jobs without distractions.
But political observers have attributed the seeming lull and foot-dragging by aspirants to the body language of the incumbent governor, who sources said might have already decided on a preferred candidate among his numerous core loyalists.
On the other hand, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is parading 17 aspirants. They include eight men and nine women. Ex-governor Olusegun Adebayo Oni from Ido / Osi Local government, Ajijola Lateef Oladimeji from Ado Local government, Otunba Bisi Kolawole from Efon Local government, Albert Kayode Adaramodu from Ekiti south West Local government, Aribisala Adewale from Ikole Local government, Ogunsakin Kazeem Ayodeji, from Ado Local Government, Prof. Kolapo Olubunmi Olusola Eleka from Ikere Local government and Yinka Akerele from Oye local government.
The women aspirants include the former minority leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi from Ekiti East, Mrs Olumide Ojo Olukemi Olubunmi from Ido /osi Council Areas of the state, Chief Mrs Arogundade Olutoyin from Ekiti East Local Government and Princess Adekemi Adewunmi from Efon Local government, Mrs Cecillia Ebiesuwa (Emure council), Mrs Adewumi Adesoye (Ado), Mrs Titilayo Owolabi Akerele (Ikole), Mrs Modupe Asaolu (Ekiti south west) and Mrs Deborah Alo (Ido/osi).
These seventeen aspirants have so far obtained their nomination forms and have been screened by PDP at the National Secretariat. Although the outcome of the screening has not been made public by the party.
However, sources at the national Secretariat of the party told The Guardian that the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led screening committee might have disqualified five out of the nine female aspirants from the race. The details of why they were screened out have not been made public.
Also, the PDP has set up a Screening Appeals Panel to examine the complaints arising from the screening of aspirants for the June 18, 2022, Ekiti governorship election.
The National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd.) listed members of the Screening Appeal Committee to include Chief Okwy Nwodo as Chairman, Tanimu Turaki, as Secretary, and Mrs Zainab Maina as well as Hon. Dakas Shan as members.
Other members include Amb. Taofeek Arapaja, Dr Emmanuel Bovoa, Chief Dan Orbih, Chief Dr. Ali Odefa, Dr Aminu Abdullahi, Hajia Adado Yusuff, Mrs Mobolaji Lamuye, Gladys Okoro and Hajia Hauwa Gana.
Out of the lot angling the ticket of the party, only five aspirants have had cognate experience having participated either as governorship or deputy governorship aspirants in the previous elections. They include Oni, who was governor of the state from 2007 to 2010 when the incumbent governor, Dr Fayemi who defeated him at the appeal court and was sworn in on October 16, 2010. This led the state to an off-season governorship election.
Oni also took part in the 2018 gubernatorial primary of the APC, coming second behind Fayemi who won the primary. Dissatisfied by the alleged treatment meted out to him and his supporters in the party after he lost at the apex court’s prolong legal battle to unseat Fayemi. In 2019, Oni left APC and again headed to the PDP to realise his ambition of governing the ’fountain of knowledge. He has since declared his intention and obtained the party nomination form.
Also, Professor Eleka who was the Deputy Governor to Mr Ayodele Fayose from 2014 to 2018, became the party flag bearer after a rancorous primary, which saw him defeat Prince Adedayo Adeyeye, who slugged it out with the then governor’s anointed candidate in a keenly contested election. The Professor of Building Technology lost the governorship election to the incumbent Fayemi. His effort at retrieving the mandate, which he pursued till the Supreme Court failed to materialise. Currently, there appears to be no love lost between him and his erstwhile political godfather, Fayose, who has since anointed another preferred candidate.
Ogunsakin was the former chairman, Ado Ekiti local government who was nominated in the joint ticket with the PDP candidate, Eleka in 2018. A known loyalist of Fayose, many are therefore of the view that he is one of the pretenders because his benefactor is supporting another candidate and he may not stand a solid chance. But there is no rift between him and the former governor to date. Also, Aribisala who is the outgoing National Treasurer of the PDP, a known loyalist of Fayose who nominated him and ensure that he became the national office of the party is also in the race.
Yinka Akerele hails from Oye local government where the incumbent governor hails from. He was said to have won the 2007 PDP primary, which ticket was given to Oni who allegedly came third in the said primary. He has changed parties since 2007 before returning to the PDP again.
Bisi Kolawole was a member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly from 2007 to 2011. He was also a commissioner for Environment under Fayose from 2014 to 2018. He became the state chairman of the PDP recognised by the national leadership of the party before throwing in the towel after he was anointed as the preferred candidate by Fayose.
Apart from Mrs Virgie Etiaba who was acting governor of Anambra State for a brief period, no woman has come near that position. The nearest was the late Aisha Alhassan who was minister for women affairs, who narrowly lost the election of the current governor of Taraba State, Ishaku Dairius. The question would be whether or not Ekiti could break the record and the jinx.
For gender inclusion, not much is known about the women who have picked the nomination forms of the party except Senator Olujimi, who was formerly National Publicity Secretary of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), from where she decamped to PDP in 2003 and later became a member of the House of Representatives, after the untimely demise of Mr Abiodun Talabi. She later became the Deputy Governor to Fayose when the then Deputy Governor, Bisi Omoyeni returned to Wema Bank as the bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive. She later won the election into the 8th Senate. She also defeated Adeyeye at the Appeal court to return to the Senate for the second time.
Looking at the local government of origin of the aspirants, one can conclude that some of the aspirants may not be serious contenders. Some may have been sponsored and planted to cause distractions and reduce the chances of some known aspirants to the advantage of others. For instance, the not too serious aspirants, either in the same local government or a neighbouring local government, confront some frontline aspirants.
The frontline aspirants represented the various tendencies in the party. As of today, the PDP is fragmented into at least five major caucuses, apart from the two major factions being led by Fayose and Olujimi. Therefore, to many political observers, some of the aspirants are being sponsored by the caucuses against one another. So, to them, the primary would separate the contenders from the pretenders, particularly if the direct primary mode of the election were adopted as being speculated.
Speaking on the unusually large number of the female aspirants, the spokesman of the Party in Ekiti, Mr Raphael Adeyanju, said that the women came out to contest out of their own volition. According to him, that shows the level of acceptability of the PDP among women. He said, “Women being what they are, will never commit their time and resources to a venture that has no prospect. For them to have committed their resources to the project shows that PDP’s chance is very bright. Ekiti people know that whoever emerges as the PDP candidate is the next governor of the state. The women that have come out are tested and competent to be governor.
Also speaking about her ambition, Olujimi said her decision to join the race was borne out of the desire salvage the state from the woods through selfless service to the people irrespective of their social status, saying that said she decided to throw the hat into the ring following calls from the downtrodden, traditional rulers and eminent sons and daughters of the state.
Olujimi noted she has the quality and experience required to harness the vast state’s resources for productive and developmental purposes, adding that her political and public sector experiences have prepared her for the plum position.
“Our mission is to rebuild, to reposition and to regain the state’s glory. We are very committed with passion to making sure that Ekiti occupies its rightful position in the comity of states.
“We will remain focused on our mission to turn around the fortunes of the state by revolutionizing all the critical sectors of governance with a direct focus on the downtrodden masses.
“And also, our plan is to explore all the areas of possible economic prosperity and development without exploiting the people. God Almighty had blessed Ekiti State with abundant natural and human resources. What we need is the right leadership. And Olujimi is the right person.
While declaring herself as the best hand for the most coveted seat, Olujimi said that the opposition PDP needed to put its best forward for the poll if it was serious about unseating the ruling APC.
“So, all we need is a candidate with good character, great antecedents and that is popular. And I have consistently proved that with my track record. My footprints are everywhere in the state despite being from Ekiti South”, she added.
For her, gender is an aside and should not be used as the main decider of the crucial election. She says what a man can do, a woman can.