As the people of Ekiti go to the poll this morning to elect a new governor who will take over from incumbent Ayodele Fayose, OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU and TOPE FAYEHUN examine the issues at stake and the factors that may determine the outcome of the gubernatorial election.
The long awaited July governorship election is finally here and this morning, the electorate of Ekiti State will troop out in the hundreds of thousands to elect a helmsman, who will be in charge of their affairs for another four years, beginning from October, 16, when the tenure of the incumbent governor, Peter Ayodele Fayose, will lapse.
Since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the timeline for the election, Ekiti State has been gripped with what one can call ‘election fever,’ effect of which is yet to wear off.
Apart from pitting old political rivals, whose political enmity dated way back against one another, it also pitted members of the same political family against each other.
From the onset, even long before other political parties, both old and new, joined the fray, political analysts were of the belief that the battle for the Ekiti State Government House is a two-horse race between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
In today’s election, the PDP presented the incumbent deputy governor, Prof Kolapo Olusola, as its candidate, while the APC presented former governor and immediate past Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Many have seen this battle as a straight battle between Fayose and Fayemi. Fayose, who defeated Fayemi in 2014 in the same race, winning all the 16 local government areas of the state, has vowed to repeat the feat.
In the run up to today’s poll the selection of flag bearers of the two major parties, almost tore the two parties into shreds. While it led to the defection of some PDP members to the opposition, due to what many termed Fayose’s imposition tendencies, the APC was able to manage the fall out of its own primary fallout.
Perhaps, the biggest fish the PDP lost to the APC was a former national spokesperson of the PDP and former Minister of State for Works and a gubernatorial aspirant, Prince Sola Adeyeye, who defected to the APC almost immediately after the PDP primary election, where he came second, to the consternation of Fayose, to the eventual winner of the primary, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, the incumbent deputy governor.
Also at the grand rally, held yesterday at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, which had in attendance President Muhammadu Buhari, no fewer than 11 state governors of the APC stock, its National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and many ministers and party leaders and stalwarts including Senator Fatimat Raji Rasaki, representing Ekiti Central senatorial district, Hon Oni Olamide, representing Ekiti Central federal constituency 2 in the House of Representatives, Akinniyi, a member of the state House of Assembly and former Chief Whip of the House, Sunday Akinniyi, and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the state, Owoseeni Ajayi, all defected to the APC.
There had been disquiet in the PDP following the adoption of Prof Olusola as PDP’s sole candidate as far back as October, 2017, when Governor Fayose unilaterally adopted him as his choice candidate, thus foreclosing the chances of other aspirants in the party. This development led to the departure of many stakeholders, members and aspirants of the party, who decided to seek greener pastures in other parties.
For the APC, it took the party two efforts before it could get its acts together as the first attempt at picking the party’s candidate ended in a stalemate.
The stalemate which led to the cancellation came when party members and aspirants alleged that security agents were cajoling delegates to vote a particular aspirant, the eventual winner of the rescheduled primary and the APC candidate, Dr. Fayemi.
The battle for the soul of Ekiti state is gradually getting to a climax as political parties and their candidates round off their campaigns ahead of the governorship polls billed for Saturday, July 14.
Meanwhile, information from the electoral umpire, INEC, has revealed that 34 political parties will be partaking in today’s governorship elections. The parties and their candidates include the ruling party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prof. Olusola Kolapo, the incumbent deputy governor; the All Progressives Congress, APC, former governor Kayode Fayemi; the Action Democratic Party, ADP, Segun Adewale; the Social Democratic Party, SDP, a former senator, Akinloye Ayegbusi; the Alliance for Democracy, AD, Mr. Agboola Ben; Nigeria Democratic Congress Party, NDCP, Bode Olowoporoku.
Others include: Labour Party, LP, former deputy governor of the state, Tae Lawal; Accord Party, Jacob Abiodun Aluko; Action Alliance, AA, Sola Omolola; All Grassroots Alliance, AGA, Orubuloye; All Grand Alliance Party, AGAP, Oribamise Ojo; Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, ANRP, Afe Henry Babatunde; African peoples Alliance, APA, saheed Olawale Jimoh; Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, APDA, Temitope Adebayo; All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Ayodeji Lawrence Ayodele; Better Nigeria Progressive Party, BNPP, Adegboye Adejayi; Democratic Alternative, DA, David Adesua Ayodele; Democratic Peoples Congress, DPC, Olanrewaju Olalekan; Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, Akerele Oluyinka Gbenga; Freedom and Justice Party, FJP, Sule Olalekan Ganiyu and Green Party of Nigeria, GPN, Adewale Olusola Akinyele.
Others are: Independent Democrats, ID, Ajibare Emmanuel Tosin; KOWA Party, Amuda Temitope Kazeem; Masses Movement of Nigeria, MMN, Jegede Olabode Gregory; Mega Party of Nigeria, MPN, Jeremiah Adebisi Omoyeni; National Democratic Liberty Party, NDLP, Babatunde Oladapo Alegbeleye; Nigeria Peoples Congress, NPC, Oladosu Olaniyan; People For Democratic Change, PDC, Ayoyinka Oluwaseun Dada; Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, Animasaun Goke; Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN, Bejide Oluwadare Patrick; United Democratic Party, UDP, Adeleye John Olusegun; Unity Party of Nigeria, Gboyega Olufemi Jacob; Youth Democratic Party, Fakorede Ayodeji and Young Progressive Party, YPP, Omotayo Temitope Gabriel. PANDEF and its candidate were disqualified by the INEC.
But from the array of candidates jostling for the office, only two, PDP’s Olusola, backed by Fayose and APC’s Fayemi are in pole positions to clinch the topmost job in the Fountain of Knowledge.
A political analyst in the state who does not want his name in print told LEADERSHIP that today’s battle is between two giants, Fayose and Fayemi, adding, “While one giant is carrying a load on his shoulder, the other is fighting his battle without a load. And you can be assured that one would definitely have an upper hand.
“But I can assure you that the July 14 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State will be a battle of the titans; a battle between two giants and as they say, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. I cannot tell you now who will emerge winner, but Ekiti will not remain the same after this election.”
Speaking with the people on ground, LEADERSHIP gathered that it would be a tough battle for the PDP to return to office after the Saturday election, as the incumbent Fayose-led administration was accused of pauperizing the people of the state in the last three and a half years.
But there are others who opined that the voting masses in Ekiti are for the incumbent governor and his party. They argued that Fayose is a man of the masses, and Ekiti masses love their governor to a fault.
On the other hand, it is said that there is no community among the 183 in the state that the Fayemi administration between 2010 and 2014 did not touch in terms of infrastructure. The APC candidate boasted that no community in Ekiti State could say that it did not feel the impact of his administration in his first term in office.
Since early in the year and up to when Fayemi threw his hat into the ring to contest the election, it has been case of accusation and counter accusation between the PDP and Fayose on the one hand and the APC and Fayemi on the other hand.
The cat and mouse game between the two major gladiators reached a crescendo when last month, after his resignation from the Federal Executive Council, FEC, at a welcome rally organised for Fayemi, a mobile policeman allegedly shot into the podium where Fayemi and other APC stalwarts were seated.
A major contender for the ticket and former members of the House of Representatives, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele and four others were injured in the process.
The opposition APC accused Fayose and the PDP of being responsible for the attack, while Fayose and the PDP said that Fayemi was introducing a season of violence into a once peaceful state.
And last week Thursday, during a mega rally, by the PDP, where national leaders of the party were in attendance, Fayose accused the APC-led Federal Government of closing down the Akure Airport to prevent PDP leaders from across the country from attending the PDP rally.
The Major Contenders: Fayemi and Olusola
Fayemi, born on February 9, 1965, holds a degree in History from the University of Lagos; a Master of Science in International Relations from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University); and Doctor of Philosophy in War Studies from King’s College, University of London, in the United Kingdom.
He was a former Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, a research and training institution, which was said to be instrumental to the founding and management of opposition radio stations in the hey days of the pro-democracy struggle against the military in the country – Radio Freedom, Radio Democracy International and Radio Kudirat.
During his first tenure as governor, the Fayemi administration launched an eight-point agenda, including: governance, infrastructural development, modernising agriculture, education and human capital development, and healthcare services.
But in 2014, when he was running for a second term, Ekiti people criticized and accused him openly for allegedly being too distant from his people and the grass roots. The construction of a new government house in Ekiti State, considered to be among the poorest states in the country then, did more harm than good for his image and his re-election bid at the time. The Ekiti State Government House sits on the historical Ayoba Hill and reportedly cost about N3 billion.
With the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, Fayemi was made the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, before he resigned in May, after clinching the party’s ticket to run for a second term.
Olusola on the other hand, obtained his first degree in Building from the OAU, Master’s degree in Construction Technology from the University of Lagos in and PhD in Building Structures from the OAU.
He was a lecturer in the Department of Building in the OAU, and had done so for 23 years, starting as Graduate Assistant and rising through the ranks to become an Associate Professor, before he was nominated by Fayose as his deputy in the 2014 election.
Power of Incumbency and Federal Might
Each of the major gladiators in today’s battle has one advantage or the other over each other. For one, it is the power of incumbency, which favoured Fayose, but which failed Fayemi in 2014 and for the other, it is the federal might, which Fayemi has now, but which Fayose had in 2014.
A political analyst in the state told LEADERSHIP, “The federal might behind Fayemi and the power of incumbency that Fayose has might play some roles, but as far as I am concerned, the decisive role will be Fayemi’s performance when he was governor between 2010 and 2014 and Fayose’s performance since 2014.
“So it will be measured on the basis of performance. People will want to assess Fayemi on the strength of what he did in government and assess the candidate being supported by Fayose based on what he (Fayose) has done.”
LEADERSHIP also gathered that it is also an avenue for old political rivals to settle scores, apart from the poll being a parameters to judge what is to be expected in the 2019 general election.
Also, stakeholders are also agreed that the fact that Fayemi will only be in office for four years and Olusola will be in office for eight years if elected will also come to play in who emerges winner.
Another stakeholder said, “Without deceiving ourselves, the two of them have been tested. The election is actually between Fayose and Fayemi. Olusola will be judged based on what Fayose has done in the last four years while Fayemi will be judged based on what he also did when he was in power.”
Another stakeholder, who also pleaded anonymity, said for both of the gladiators, the battle is one to determine their relevance in national politics. Should Fayose emerge victorious, it will boost his aspiration for his vice presidential aspiration in the PDP and also push up his profile in the PDP, where he seems the mouthpiece of the opposition.
“Also, for Fayemi, it will either push him to political oblivion or recognition, against the backdrop of his crushing defeat in all the 16 local government areas of Ekiti in 2014. If he wins, it is a redemption of sort and if he loses, then it is political nunc dominitus.”
Tight Race, Difficult To Predict
Political analysts said the election will be very interesting, despite the apprehension expressed by some people both within and outside state. No doubt, the gladiators are fighting so hard to ensure that they prove their worth and consequently win the coming poll, taking in to cognizance the 2019 general elections, which is drawing nearer by the day.
Both gladiators have resorted to means to paint their opponent really black. LEADERSHIP observed that there so many allegations and counter-allegations across the lines.
There are so many intrigues and strategic planning currently going across the 16 local government of the state. On Tuesday, APC bigwigs, including President Buhari, Tinubu, Oshiomhole and no fewer than 11 APC governors from across the country among other party stalwarts converged on the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado Ekiti to solidarise with Fayemi.
On Wednesday, when the PDP planned a ‘Victory Walk for Olusola’, some policemen disrupted their rally. The development turned the state to a war zone, where policemen shot sporadically and used teargas freely to disrupt the rally.
The PDP members, who dressed in white all through, were disappointed with the attitude of the overzealous policemen.
Like a scene in a Nollywood, the sound of the guns was very loud at the main entrance to the Government House while tear gas canisters were reportedly shot to disperse the crowd at the rally.
The PDP supporters, who had gathered at the Fajuyi Pavilion for the rally, became worried when riot-policemen fired several gunshots on the air to disperse them when they refused to leave the pavilion which is serving as the campaign office for Kolapo Olusola Campaign Organisation.
Fayose, who LEADERSHIP learnt was in the Government House, raced to the scene to prevent the policemen from disrupting the political rally and to rescue his supporters. But the governor said rather than listen to his entreaties to allow the rally to go on, he was attacked by the riot-policemen, who allegedly fired canisters of tear gas at him.
The governor also claimed he was hit with the butt of a gun by one of the mobile policemen.
However, the dispersed PDP members and supporters later reconvened at the Government House, Ado Ekiti where they were addressed by Fayose and Olusola.
While narrating his ordeal at the rally, the governor, who appeared in a cervical brace, said, “I was slapped and beaten by mobile policemen in my own state. They shot at me. As I speak with you, I am in severe pains, I am experiencing pains.”
Weeping as he addressed the gathering, Fayose said, “I plead with the international community to intervene. Nigeria is in trouble. Ekiti is in crisis. In the last few days, they have arrested PDP members, teachers, and civil servants. People of good conscience should come and save Ekiti.
“They said they were under strict instruction from the Presidency to kill me and my deputy, who is the candidate of our party. This is an army of occupation who are here to occupy our land. I want you to stand and remain standing, I pray they don’t kill me and put Ekiti in crisis.
“I plead with the international community to intervene and save Ekiti from this siege. How can a state governor be treated like this in his own state? I am passing through these pains because of my people. I will go back to the hospital after addressing you to receive further medical treatment.”
The candidate of the party, Prof. Olusola Eleka , who had earlier addressed the crowd before Fayose’s arrival, said Ekiti was under siege, just because the “APC is desperate to take over the state.”
He added, “A situation whereby a policeman will slap a sitting governor, this is not good. The President must be warned. The international community should warn President Buhari.
“When they were beating me and Mr Governor, I told the Commissioner of Police in charge of MOPOL Unit that you are beating a deputy governor, he told me ‘who is a deputy governor?’ The same thing he said to the governor.
“My mandate is a divine one and the army that is with us is more than those with them. We are not going to be intimidated. We shall go to the election on Saturday and win.”
But the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Operations, Mr. Habilal Joshak, while justifying why the crowd was dispersed, told journalists that the PDP did not obtain a permit for the rally.
He said, “We are not going to allow any unauthorised rally that can trigger violence in the state. You can see that the state is tensed up. As law enforcement agents, we must be proactive and take actions that can prevent crisis rather than trying to quell it after it might have broken out.”
However, analysts said the background of the free for all between the two parties had been linked to the anticipated backlashes from the expected outcome of the polls.
Notwithstanding all these, political observers said the PDP candidate may likely win the election due to what they described as desperate moves by the APC-led Federal Government.
Apart from seeing Fayose as part of them, most people in the state believed that the Wednesday attack might have negative impact as they expressed dissatisfaction over the development. Observers said this might sway votes in favour of the candidate of PDP.
Whichever way the pendulum swings today, the decider of the fate of the 34 candidates in today’s election is the Ekiti electorate. They know where the shoe pinches and know which balm to apply for succour.
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