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Unpredictability of Ekiti governorship election: Who breaks the jinx?

By Ayodele Afolabi, Ado-Ekiti
15 May 2022   |   4:10 am
Barely a month to the gubernatorial election in Ekiti state, the race to elect Governor Kayode Fayemi’s successor has become more intense than ever. And it has always been, the air of unpredictability that envelopes governorship polls in the state is quite palpable.

Biodun Oyebanji

• Candidates Highlight Plans To Improve Living Standard Of Residents
Barely a month to the gubernatorial election in Ekiti state, the race to elect Governor Kayode Fayemi’s successor has become more intense than ever. And it has always been, the air of unpredictability that envelopes governorship polls in the state is quite palpable.

Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave the nod for political parties to begin public campaigns, all 16 parties participating in the poll have been crisscrossing the 16 local councils, soliciting support and votes for their candidates. But many political analysts have found it difficult to predict the possible outcome of the upcoming election.

Prior to now, the Ekiti state electorate has arguably been referred to as the most unpredictable and sophisticated in making electoral decisions. This, perhaps, explain why no political party has won the governorship election back-to-back in the state. To be sure, every governorship election since 1999 has produced different winners and political parties.

So, going into the election, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Biodun Oyebanji, will be attempting to break a long-standing jinx if he wins the governorship poll, just as the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), a former governor, Segun Oni will be attempting to break another jinx by winning the election as a third force, a feat never achieved in the checkered political history of the state.

Some factors have been threatening the permutations thrown up before the parties’ primaries held in January. Before the said primaries, political analysts had predicted that the election would be a two-horse race between the ruling APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However the controversial outcomes of the shadow elections across the two parties, which left many aspirants aggrieved, changed the permutations.

Some aggrieved aspirants in both parties who rebuffed the overtures and olive branch extended to them by the leadership of their parties, either left to seek electoral fortunes in hitherto smaller platforms. Their actions have contributed to the unpredictability of the poll. Among them are Oni, who left the PDP and picked the ticket of SDP, an Australia-based medical doctor, Dr. Wole Oluyede, who left the APC and picked the governorship ticket of the Action Democratic Congress (ADC) and Chief Reuben Famuyibo, who also left the APC for Accord Party.

These defections, among other factors, are some of the reasons political observers have remained divided in their opinions ahead of June 18 election.

Meanwhile, the role of emerging godfathers in the election cannot be overemphasised. The candidate of the ruling APC and immediate past secretary to the state government, Oyebanji, and that of the PDP, former state party chairman, Bisi Kolawole are protégés of Governor Fayemi and ex-governor Ayodele Fayose respectively.

On another hand, the rank of SDP is swelling with the political clout of Oni, whose captivating electioneering slogan, ‘o to ge, Ekiti koya’ (‘enough is enough,’ Ekiti rejects suffering) seeks an end to godfathers’ antics and imposition. In ADC, Oluyede’s popularity cannot also be dismissed.

Segun Oni

Being a former governor, Oni, who is undoubtedly the most experienced politician among those contesting, has gained more popularity banking on the crisis of confidence rocking the two dominant parties, and using it to poach their aggrieved and disgruntled members to swell the camp of SDP. Apart from partisan voters, civil servants and pensioners have also been available for poaching due to misgivings they harbour against the government about their outstanding welfare packages.

Another nagging issue that has become a campaign highlight is that of insecurity. Oni once taunted Fayemi in his campaign, asking him to deploy his doctoral knowledge in war study to end insecurity in the state, especially kidnappings.

The SDP candidate assured the people that he would utilise the little resources accruable to the state to develop infrastructure the way he did during his first term by initiating programmes that would have short and long-term impact on the people at the grassroots. Oni, who promised to run an open and transparent government, said there is no magic in governance. According to him, all government’s programmes, including infrastructure and human capital development would be achieved if a leader can refrain from corruption and make the right sacrifices with the right priorities.

Oyebanji, during his recent unveiling of his manifesto, pledged to sustain and continue with the success of the Fayemi administration. He promised to implement the six-point agenda religiously. The agenda, he said, included job creation for young people and human capital development. Other critical areas captured in Oyebanji’s manifesto included agriculture and rural development, infrastructure and industrialisation, arts culture and tourism, and governance.

According to him, “This is not a promise made by a politician, but a promise that I made as an Ekiti man to Ekiti people. We are going to grow the economy and create jobs for our people. We will invest in human capital to safeguard the future of our people.

“Our mission is to provide quality education and develop our knowledge zone in order to create jobs, new markets, and attract financing for industrious Ekiti entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses. We will complete all strategic infrastructure projects in transport, agriculture and power, designed to improve the quality of lives for all and make Ekiti competitive for businesses of all sizes,” he said.

The PDP candidate, Kolawole, noted that the state was experiencing financial and economic challenges due to lack of cottage industries where the state has comparative advantages. He explained that investors were afraid to partner with the state due to unfriendly business environment, occasioned by the disturbing security challenges facing the state.

He boasted that he has the template to attract both local and foreign investors by first addressing the kidnappings, killings and other heinous crimes confronting the state, adding, “no investor will come to where his or her life is not safe.

“When you take off the Boko Haram zone, Ekiti is the least secured state. You can’t travel from Efon to Ado without fear. We have to revert to the time when Governor Ayodele Fayose reinvigorated the local hunters to tackle insecurity from Ekiti. Our Obas are being rendered ordinary with bandits shooting and kidnapping them for ransoms.

“I am seeking this position with strong pedigree as an ex-legislator and ex-Commissioner. I am going to be people-centric. All my activities will be centred on the people. If your people can’t cheer you as a governor, you are just a mere visitor, stranger and expatriate.”

The ADC candidate, Oluyede promised to carry out radical development by focusing on wealth creation, encouraging commercial agriculture, attracting investments, and making education impressive by giving requisite motivation to teachers.

Oluyede said: “Under my government, students will have access to informal and formal education. We need to have an education system geared towards problem solving. In Britain, UK, Australia, and China, they start teaching students how to solve problems from age 3.

“In the area of health, our hospitals will be equipped based on needs and not by just purchasing equipment that will not be useful. We will ensure effective communication among the primary, secondary and tertiary health institutions for quality healthcare delivery. We need re-orientation and I must tell you that wealth creation is my top priority because we have to deliberately do something to create something for our people to survive and come out of poverty.”

Kolawole

Speaking on the chances of their candidates, their spokespersons expressed optimism that the election is for them to win.

The Director of Media and Publicity of Segun Oni Campaign Organisation, (SOCO), Jackson Adebayo said that the SDP would win the election given the popularity and acceptance of its candidate, Oni. He added that the election would be between the party and the APC because the PDP has been depleted.

He said, “The PDP is not on ground again in the state because of the defections of majority of its members to the SDP. The SDP will definitely win the election because it is the people’s election. What is happening in our party in Ekiti at present is strange. For a new party that did not have any structure to grow geometrically within two months is a miracle. Now, all the structures in the PDP and the major structures in the APC have collapsed into the SDP; that is why the once unstructured party has suddenly become the most structured party in Ekiti state today.”

On his part, APC publicity secretary, Segun Dipe, who said the governing party and its candidate, Biodun Oyebanji, were unbeatable since Ekiti people knew they could be trusted to deliver on promises, also dismissed insinuations in some quarters that the poll would be keenly contested by the APC, PDP and SDP.

Dipe said, “It is not a keen contest. The APC will win with a reasonable margin. It is not going to be keen at all. The PDP is fake; and Ekiti people have realised that and rejected it already. We know the fake projects that the PDP did during its administration, roads that were worn out within six months.

“The SDP is about noise, blackmail and propaganda. No structure, no backbone. There is a difference between ‘we have done this, we are doing this and we are going to do this.’ The SDP thinks that by de-marketing the APC, they can market themselves.”

However, the spokesman for the PDP Campaign Organisation, Mr Lere Olayinka said, “the SDP is not in this race. We (PDP) are going to win. All the indices are there. You can see the failure of the party in government, the APC everywhere. You can see insecurity; you can see decaying infrastructure, non-payment of salaries and not paying deductions. The government owes about eight months’ deductions. The indicators are there that the people have rejected the APC at the state and the federal level.

“The people are with us, they want to go back to a government that they can feel; they want a situation whereby they can see their governor and they can discuss with their governor, unlike a governor who in a month spends only two days in Ekiti and the remaining in Abuja. People are tired of that kind of situation.”