Zoning, religion as factors in Ekiti 2018 guber poll
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the major opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) may face similar challenges but in different dimensions as the preparations for the 2018 governorship election get underway.
Both parties would have to address the yawning of Ekiti South senatorial district to produce the successor of the incumbent governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, while on the other hand, they would also have to take a look at the religious factor, as it happened in Lagos State during the 2015 governorship election, to determine whoever would emerge as their standard bearer.
While the zoning factor is being considered as an issue to ruminate on by the parties, some political pundits dismissed the religion aspect as flimsy when it comes to Ekiti, which is mostly dominated by Christians.
Concerned about the zone that will produce the next governor, a pressure group under the aegis of Ekiti South for Governor Forum, has asked political parties to field candidates from the southern senatorial zone, saying it has remain the area yet to produce a governor of the state since it was created in 1996.
The group lamented that power have been rotating between the north and the central senatorial districts ever since Ekiti was created.
In statement by its chairman, Chief Oluwole Ariyo, the group warned that if the zone is perpetually denied of their legitimate right to aspire to the governorship position, “it could lead to imminent breakout of internal crisis.”
Boasting of the fact that the South has quality aspirants worthy of being elected as governor like others, Ariyo said, “It would not do the state well to continue to relegate the south in its politics at a time when Nigerians are clamouring for total restructuring to correct some imbalances.”
On the religion factor, Muslims in the state during the Eid-el-Kabir festivities held on Friday, appealed to Fayose to consider fielding a Muslim governorship aspirant for the 2018 election on the platform of the PDP.
The Chief Imam of Ekiti, Alhaji Jamiu Kewulere, urged the governor to give Ekiti a Muslim governor from his party in the 2018 governorship poll.
According to him, “Ekiti is 20 years now and since its creation, a Muslim governor is yet to emerge. We urge you sir, if any Muslim is interested in the governorship from your party, kindly support him to fulfill his ambition.”
Similar appeal may have been made indirectly to the opposition APC to consider picking a Muslim candidate as its standard bearer for the 2018 governorship election.
Meanwhile, a former governor of the state, Mr. Segun Oni, has ascribed the stunted growth and development of Ekiti to the constant change of government since 1999.
Oni, who is also the incumbent National Deputy Chairman Southwest zone of the APC while presenting his letter of intent to vie for governorship to his party, lamented that the state has produced about 16 governors since the return of democracy in 1999.
He said the instability has affected planning and implementation of laudable policies by the respective governments that have been in the saddle since the inception of the current democratic dispensation.
This is just as the APC urged its teeming aspirants to work in unity towards defeating the incumbent Fayose and the PDP next year.
State Chairman of the party, Jide Awe, made the remarks while receiving Oni who declared his intention to be governor formally to the party.
Oni however promised to build on the past records, saying, “I knew those projects Ekiti loved during my first term, and I will build on that and those ones that needed to be corrected, that I will do.”
In another declaration, the pioneer Executive Secretary, Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and former Executive Secretary, Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF), Dr. Oluwole Oluleye, who is also running on the APC platform, said his decision to join the race to succeed Fayose was borne out of the conviction that he is capable of bringing about the much needed positive changes in the state.
The Ekiti-born United States-trained technocrat who signified his governorship ambition at his Efon Alaye hometown said he desires to return the state to the path of glory and harness the latent potentials of the state for the benefit of the people of the state.
Oluleye said he plans to put an end to the denigration of Ekiti common heritage as a hardworking race, whose hallmark of integrity is fast being eroded by series of political developments in the past adding, “I am home with you to inform you of my genuine desire to give a new lease of life to politics and governance.”
He said he had moved round the state to feel the pulse of the people and was able to identify that the peoples’ collective yearning is for a meaningful, positive and impactful change that have eluded the people in the past.
According to him, “My believe as we prepare for this race is that together we can win. I have no enemy to fight in APC, no matter what our differences are.”
As for now, not less than 40 governorship aspirants have indicated interest to succeed Fayose next year while 20 of them have officially made their intention known to the party and have started mobilizing.
Another aspirant, Kola Alabi, who spoke to his supporters and all ward leaders of the party in Ikere-Ekiti yesterday noted that the large number of aspirants contesting for the governorship slot would be an added advantage to win the election, rather than an impediment.