As the July 14 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State draws near, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the opposition All Progressives Congress, (APC) and other parties are fine-tuning their strategies on how to win the contentious election, writes ALO ABIOLA.
As the Ekiti State governorship election, scheduled to hold on July 14, draws closer, political parties and their governorship aspirants have being restrategising for the poll which is poised to be a tough contest.
Political parties, whose aspirants have indicated interest in the contest, going by their political activities across the state include, All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Others are the Accord Party (AP), Independent Democrat (ID), Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA), Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, (ANRP) and Action Democratic Party (ADP).
Relatively unknown parties have also registered their presence in the state via their posters which are seen across the streets of Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
Some have rented office spaces even though they hardly have aspirants thronging to run on their platforms. Expectedly, such parties are calm as there is no tussle within for their governorship tickets.
But same cannot be said of the major parties, like the PDP, APC and possibly the SDP. The adoption of the state deputy governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, as PDP candidate (even before the primary) by the state chapter of the party and backed by Governor Ayodele Fayose, is tearing the party apart.
Other prominent gubernatorial aspirants, including immediate past National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye; serving Senator Biodun Olujimi; former Nigeria envoy to Canada, Amb. Dare Bejide and former Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr Owoseeni Ajayi, have since rejected the adoption of Olusola, describing it as an imposition.
But Fayose maintains that he has no regret adopting his deputy as the favoured standard bearer of the party, saying that it was to ensure continuity in governance.
An attempt by the party’s national leadership to broker a truce through a reconciliation committee led by former Senate President, David Mark, appears not to have made any impact. The attendant consequence of the disagreement over the adoption of Olusola has culminated in defections from the party.
The former deputy governor to Fayose during his first tenure, Chief Biodun Aluko, was the first to dump the party for the MPN, even before the adoption issue came up.
But the SDP seems to be the new bride for PDP defectors, as another former deputy governor, Chief Bisi Omoyeni, Amb. Bejide and others are set to join the fold.
Bejide and the senator representing Ekiti Central were said to have been represented at a meeting of the SDP in the state which was coordinated by another estranged PDP national leader and former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran.
The meeting coincided with the day Fayose appointed the current Commissioner for the Environment, Chief Bisi Kolawole, as the Director-General of the Kolapo Olusola-Eleka Campaign Council. Kolawole’s appointment has further confirmed Fayose’s preference for his deputy, and as the favoured PDP governorship candidate to succeed him in the July 14 poll.
A statement by the special assistant to the governor on Public Communication and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said Kolawole, former member of the state House of Assembly, is to coordinate Olusola’s governorship campaign activities.
A leader of the APDA in the state, Chief S. O Elebute, who led some members of the party to the SDP stakeholders meeting, also said the party has merged with the SDP.
Barely 48 hours after Omoyeni, Amb. Bejide and other prominent members of the PDP sent signal that they were on their way out of the party, another former deputy governor, Dr Sikiru Lawal, also dumped the party.
Lawal, who was the deputy governor to former Governor Segun Oni, who served between 2007 and 2010 premised his action on available fact that the party delegates’ list have allegedly been doctored in favour of Fayose’s adopted candidate.
Though he did not mention the political platform he would be joining with his supporters across the 177 wards of the state, the rumour mills are rife that he was set to pitch his tent with the SDP.
In the APC, money, influence, power, backstabbing and insincerity on the part of the party leadership are the major concerns of most party members, supporters and governorship aspirants alike.
But the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, when he visited the state recently, allayed the fear of the aspirants and their supporters on the party’s governorship primary.
Odigie-Oyegun, who was in the state to flag off of the national membership registration drive of the party, assured that a credible, free, fair and transparent primary election will be conducted to choose the party’s flag bearer.
He stressed that the Muhammadu Buhari administration would not compromise the integrity of the ballot box, despite the party’s quest to regain the governorship seat in Ekiti.
He added, “As you know, the Buhari administration will not compromise with offering voters a level-playing field.
“The aspirants should not campaign as if there is no tomorrow; don’t campaign with enmity, because there should be no discord in the party and anybody that wants to fly the party’s flag must sign an undertaking to maintain decorum.
“We at the national headquarters, having guaranteed a free and fair primary, because there cannot be peace without justice, will guarantee a free and fair primary. We must not have bad losers; all aspirants must collapse their structures into that of the winner of the primary. There must be no division and factionalisation in the party.
“No officer (in the state exco) should join the campaign bandwagon of any aspirant, whatever position you hold. The moment you do that, you have factionalised the party.
“I want to assure that in Ekiti State, we will have free, fair and credible primary. We will provide security at the primary; it will be an open event that will be covered live on television from the beginning to the end. “There will be proper identification of delegates to prevent impersonation. Once the delegate list is out, every aspirant that pays the prescribed fee will be given the delegates list.
“At the voting point, party chairmen of the local government (chapters) and wards will stand at a distance away but they will ensure that those that will vote are bona fide delegates and anybody found impersonating will be handed over to the Police.”
Some of the prominent governorship aspirants on the platform of party include: Chief Oni, Mr. Olufemi Bamisile, Dr. Wole Oluyede, Mr. Kola Alabi, Dr. Bayo Orire, Senator Ayodele Arise, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele, Senator Gbenga Aluko, Captain Sunday Adebomi, Chief Diran Adesua, Chief Dele Okeya, Mr. Bimbo Daramola, and Dr. Makanjuola Owolabi among others.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who is the new entrant to the race, also called for unity among all APC members and governorship aspirants.
While hinting of his intention to contest the governorship election during a quarterly meeting of the ward, local government and state party leaders in state, Fayemi said the meeting, held at his Isan-Ekiti country home, was to “ensure that we are together in the struggle to reclaim the state in July 24.”
He added, “We must get to Oke Bareke. What is important to me and other progressives is to get to the place as a party. We don’t want APC primary to cause disaffection within the party, whoever emerges as the flagbearer of the party will be supported by all other aspirants.”
Meanwhile, the APC, which lost the governorship election in 2014 to the ruling PDP, parades the largest number of aspirants, which cuts across the three senatorial districts of the state.
While some political watchers believe that the minister need not join the race, having lost the same election about four years ago, others are of the opinion that his entrance will give necessary vigour to party in the election. Though, Fayemi’s decision to throw his hat into the gubernatorial ring has not generated any immediate contrary reaction from within the party as widely thought, many things will definitely unfold in the next few weeks.
But aspirants on the platform of the APC have rather stepped up their consultations and meetings with members across the 16 local government areas of the state to shore up supports for their aspirations.
Others who are yet to make their intention known to the party are visiting their respective state party secretariats to make public declaration of their governorship ambition.
While some major aggrieved governorship aspirants within PDP are yet to decide on where to go, APC aspirants who never complain about the goings on in the party are already pasting posters at the entrance of their office tactically announcing their next platforms.
It is expected that political tunes will generally change within the folds of APC and PDP immediately after the conduct of their respective primary elections, with parties like the SDP, the APDA and MPN hoping to cash in on the fallouts.
However, it is expected that the next few weeks will determine where the pendulum of victory in the July 14 gubernatorial election will swing, as any slight mistake or underhand deals in the major parties, the PDP and the APC, may signal the emergence of a new third force, which may be the SDP, which all eyes are on for now.
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