Tuesday, 3rd October 2023
<To guardian.ng

Politics&PolicyFallout of 2023 polls and PDP’s lost grip on Ekiti

By Ayodele Afolabi, Ado-Ekiti 
12 April 2023   |   3:19 am
With the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, as well as the March 18 State Assembly election concluded, the results affirmed that the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election held on June 18, 2022, which was won by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was no fluke.

With the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections, as well as the March 18 State Assembly election concluded, the results affirmed that the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election held on June 18, 2022, which was won by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was no fluke.

Candidate of the APC, Abiodun Oyebanji had polled a total of 187,057 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Chief Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Bisi Kolawole of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The SDP finished second with 82,211 votes while the PDP finished third with 67,457 votes. The result also meant that APC won the governorship election back-to-back, a feat that is unprecedented in the state since 1999.

In the 2023 Presidential election, APC beat 18 other registered political parties with 201,494 votes, the PDP finished second with 89,554 votes, while Labour Party polled 11,397 votes in a distant third.

For the National Assembly election, the APC cleared the three Senate seats for Ekiti State. In Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele was declared as the winner. He polled 69,351 to defeat his close rival, Lateef Oladimeji Ajijola of PDP who polled 26,181.

Yemi Adaramodu won the Ekiti South Senatorial District seat by defeating his closest rival, Abiodun Olujimi, of the PDP. Adaramodu is currently the member representing Ekiti South Federal Constituency 1, in the House of Representatives, while Olujimi, is the Senator representing Ekiti South in the Senate. Adaramodu polled 63,189 votes as against Olujimi’s 36,191 votes.

In Ekiti North Senatorial District, APC’s Cyril Fasuyi defeated the candidate of the PDP, Mr Funso Ayeni. Fasuyi polled 54,223 to defeat Ayeni, who scored 39, 976 votes.

In similar fashion, the APC cleared all the six House of Representatives seats. To further add insult to the already bruised ego of the opposition PDP, the candidate of the APC for the House of Representatives for Ekiti Central Federal Constituency 1, Olusola Steve Fatoba roundly defeated the son of a former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose, Oluwajomiloju. Fatoba polled 39,182 votes, while Fayose had 12,295.

Although there was no governorship election in Ekiti on March 18, but the State Assembly election had APC winning 23 of the 26 seats. Against all odds, SDP snatched two seats while the PDP won nothing. However, one seat for Ido-Osi state constituency was declared inconclusive.

Recall that before the 2018 elections, PDP had held sway in the state, winning all available seats and offices. In fact, some political analysts were tempted to call the state a PDP state. So, where and how did the PDP get it wrong? And why has the APC been on a winning streak in major elections since 2018 when Fayose completed his second tenure?

Political observers in the state, in their response, believe that the APC merely capitalised on the weakness of the PDP, which became fatally destroyed by intractable crises.

Recall that Oni left PDP with his followers after the controversial party governorship primary in January 2022, claiming that the exercise lacked transparency. A few weeks after consultation, he joined the SDP.

Another leader of the party, who was then leading the repositioning group, a faction of the PDP, Senator Biodun Olujimi, also pulled out of the primary owing to alleged meddlesomeness of Fayose, who made sure his anointed candidate, Chief Bisi Kolawole won the primary election.

The outcome of the governorship election was, therefore, not surprising to many. Oni, who singlehandedly bankrolled the SDP and weaned it within three months to the election, finished second, while PDP came a distant third. So, it was not also surprising that Oni’s SDP managed to win two House of Assembly seats.

No sooner had the governorship election result been announced and the APC candidate declared winner, than Fayose congratulated the winner.

As soon as the Presidential electioneering activities began, Fayose, who should be the rallying point, being the leader of the party, embarked on what many considered anti-party activities by joining the aggrieved G5 governors of the party.

The grouse of the governors was that the PDP ought to have zoned the presidency to the south and since it eventually went to the north, the National Chairman, who incidentally was also from the north, should throw in the towel and allow somebody from the south take the reins.

On the home front, Fayose openly campaigned against the candidate of his party. He rallied his supporters to vote for the candidate of APC and also attended their rallies. So, going into the Presidential and other elections, aside from the fact that the PDP was badly fractured, its leadership in Abuja also played into the hands of the Fayose group by suspending and expelling them when the elections were very near.

As predicted, APC, swept the polls.

In the aftermath, some analysts have described the state of the PDP as very precarious. Before the political calamity that befell it, the PDP could boast of a Senate seat held by Olujimi. She has not only been the major financier of the party, she has been using her position to bring members together through her pet empowerment projects.

Ruminating on the state of affairs, a party chieftain, Olufemi Olajide, a lawyer, posited that the party might not survive outside the corridors of power for eight consecutive years.

ccording to him, apart from lack of political patronage by the teeming members, there is no one who will fund the activities of the party without a single elected member into any legislative position.

“Without preempting what the outcome of the tribunal cases would be, the hope of the PDP in Ekiti looks very dim. My fear is that without any political patronage, our members may be decamping to the ruling party to seek greener pastures,” he said.

Another member, Chief Taiwo Alonge, stressed that allowing former governor Fayose back into Ekiti PDP can only spell doom for the party. To him, it is like pampering a decadent child instead of chastising him, noting that the party leadership must not reward disloyalty by parting him on the back.

Alonge stated: “I was totally disappointed in the leadership of our party for deeming it fit to reverse the suspension placed on Fayose. How can a party reward disloyal members like that? I can confidently say that we are back to the trenches in the party. To me, His so-called political clout is exaggerated. If he has such clout, why did his own biological son perform scandalously in the House of Reps election?”

The former governor was said to have expressed delight at the removal of the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, describing the action as good riddance. He was also quoted as saying that the party could now put the past behind and concentrate on the future.

But some political watchers were quick to raise questions as to what the future holds for a party with dilapidated structure and without any future political compass.

However, all hope is not lost because the outcome of the tribunal cases could still change the tide just like in 2019, when PDP bounced back by snatching one senatorial seat from the APC. Senator Olujimi had approached the tribunal to challenge the victory of Senator Dayo Adeyeye and she won both at the tribunal and at the appeal court.

Currently, the same Olujimi, who was the candidate of the PDP for Ekiti South senatorial district, alongside three other candidates, have approached the election petition tribunal to challenge the outcome of the February 25 National Assembly election in the state, which had Yemi Adaramodu as winner.

The secretary of the Tribunal, Salihu Umar, has confirmed that there are three petitions over the senatorial election and one for the House of Representatives poll.

Umar said, “National Assembly member and Peoples Democratic Party Senatorial candidate for Ekiti South, Olujimi and her party are challenging the victory of House of Representatives member and All Progressives Congress candidate, Yemi Adaramodu, in the election in a petition.

“Also, Isaac Agboola of the Labour Party is challenging the victory of APC South Senatorial candidate, Adaramodu, in another petition.”

He added that the LP senatorial candidate for Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Odunayo Okunade, also challenged the victory of the APC candidate for the district and National Assembly member, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

He disclosed that the fourth petition was filed by PDP candidate for Ekiti North Federal Constituency II, Babatunde Ajayi and his party against the victory of APC candidate for the constituency, Akinlayo Kolawole.

Also, in the Central senatorial district, incumbent Bamidele polled 69,351 votes, to defeat his closest rival PDP challenger, Lateef Ajijola, who scored 26,181 votes The candidate of the APC in Ekiti North federal constituency 2, Kolawole was declared winner with 25,701 votes to defeat Ajayi of the PDP, who garnered 20,186 votes.

In this article