Going by the elections time-table, as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in June, Ekiti State is next in line, after the recently concluded Anambra state governorship election held, on November 6, 2021.
The electoral body has since fixed the next governorship poll in the state for June 18, 2021, four months to the time the governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi will bow out of office.
Fayemi, who was elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on July 14, 2018 will on October 16, 2022 complete his second term as the helmsman of the state.
Although the election is about seven months away, political parties and their members are already in the trenches, working hard to ensure their candidates emerge as the next governor of the state.
The frenzy is more pronounced within the two major and leading political parties in the state, the APC and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with some of their aspirants swinging into actions over a year to make their governorship aspiration known to the people.
With other parties like Young People Party (YPP), African Action Congress (AAC) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) have been making efforts to be more visible, it is believed that aspirants from other registered parties will also join the race in the days ahead.
No fewer than seventeen PDP governorship aspirants, including nine women have been screened by the National Working Committee NWC of the party after obtaining the nomination/expression of interest forms of the party to vie for the plum seat.
The aspirants include: Chief Olusegun Adebayo Oni (Ido /Osi Local government), Hon Ajijola Lateef Oladimeji (Ado Local government), Otunba Bisi Kolawole (Efon Local government), Albert Kayode Adaramodu (Ekiti South West Local government), Hon Aribisala Adewale (Ikole Local government), Hon. Ogunsakin Kazeem Ayodeji (Ado Local Government).
Others are, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka (Ikere Local government), Otunba Yinka Akerele (Oye Local government), Sen. Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti East Local government), Hon. Mrs Olumide Ojo Olukemi Olubunmi (Ido /osi Local Government), Mrs Deborah Alo (Ido /osi Local government), Hon Chief Mrs Arogundade Olutoyin A, (Ekiti East Local Government).
The rest are, Princess Adekemi Adewunmi (Efon Local government), Mrs Cecillia Ebiesuwa (Emure Local government), Mrs Adewumi Adesoye (Ado Local government), Hon. Mrs Titilayo Owolabi Akerele, ( Ikole Local Government and Mrs Modupe Asaolu (Ekiti south west Local government).
These PDP governorship hopefuls are known to belong to different groups within the party, which include, the one loyal to the former governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose, the repositioning movement backed by Senator Olujimi and the progressive group, rooting for the candidature of Chief Segun Oni.
For the APC, three governorship aspirants, a House of Representatives member, Hon Femi Bamisile (Ekiti East Local government) and Otunba Ademola Popoola (Oye Local government), Reuben Famuyibo (Ado Local government) have openly declared intention to contest the poll on the platform of the party.
Another aspirant, who contested the party governorship primary election in 2018 and came third, Hon Kayode Ojo (Ijero Local government) is also making subtle pronouncements about his aspiration for the plum position just like the former Special Assistant to the governor, Adesokan Adedeji Israel.
Quite a number of APC chieftains presently in governor Fayemi-led administration or serving at the national assembly who are nursing such ambition are still keeping it to themselves while others are consulting and covertly selling their aspirations to party members as they observe the governor’s body movement and awaiting the governor’s directive on the 2022 poll.
Fayemi had at different fora told his political appointees that any of them who is nursing any political ambition to resign from his or her position saying he does not want any distraction for his government.
Those said to be in this category are the House of Representatives member, Hon Yemi Adaramodu Ekiti (Southwest Local government), Senator representing Ekiti Central, Hon Opeyemi Bamidele (Irepodun/Ifelodun Local government), Special adviser on Federal matters to Governor Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti Southwest Local government).
Others are, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Funminiyi Afuye, (Ikere Local government) Commissioner for Infrastructure Bamidele Faparusi (Gbonyin Local government) former Deputy governor, Abiodun Aluko( Ikere Local government), Prof. Mobolaji Aluko( Gbonyin Local government), among others .
Dr Oluwole Oluyede (Ikere Ekiti Local government), who contested the party primary in 2018 was also said to be in the race.
However, there were reports that the governor is considering the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon Biodun Oyebanji, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Wale Fapounda and the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mr Biodun Omoleye to succeed him as the governor of the state.
Though, none of the top state cabinet members have openly declared intention to contest the governorship election, pundits are of the view that their true status of the person who got the backing of the governor would be unfolded by January, 2022.
The schedule of activities for the 2022 Ekiti state governorship election as released by the National Secretariat of APC recently showed that sales of form starts on Tuesday, 16, November, 2021 while the primary election of the party will hold on Saturday 22, January, 2022.
As the politicians are making moves to succeed Fayemi, the two leading political parties, that is the APC and PDP are still battling with internal wrangling which has polarized both in a way.
The crisis within opposition PDP is yet to be resolved as two parallel state executives emerged in the party’s Congresses held in 2020 as Fayose group and that of Olujimi battle for the soul of the party in the state.
The situation is not different in the state chapter of the APC. A group within the party, Southwest Agenda for Tinubu 2023 (SWAGA) recently inaugurated a parallel APC executives at the ward and local government level a few days after the state chapter of the party constituted theirs.
Various party stakeholders have also spoke about the impending election, their level of preparedness and the aspirations of their members regarding the governorship poll
Speaking on the number of the governorship aspirants in the party, the PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, Hon Rapheal Adeyanju said the party is lucky to have such a huge number ,because it gives room to select the best out of them .
“The first step is to create a level playing field for all the aspirants. We are going to be fair to all during the primary , this will make the post primary reconciliation process easy for us.
“We shall present a credible and realistic manifesto that will attract the electorates . We are also going to reconcile all conflicting interests in order to present a united team against the common enemy of Ekiti people”.
On the crisis rocking the party, Adeyanju said”The party has no option than to unite .The last national convention has taught us that there are lots of gains working together for the common interest. All our members will be encouraged to put the collective interest of the party before our individual interest”.
Also, the African Action Congress (AAC) in the state, expressed readiness to participate actively in the election.
The Acting Chairman of the party in the state, Hon Dare Adekolu said the party is set to begin a tour of 16 local areas of the state to bring more members into its fold and consolidate its structure across board.
“We recently inaugurated our state executive and we want our presence to be felt and identified across. This encourages more people to contest using our platform.
“It is not good to just be part of the crowd without making an impact but we will not only participate but present a vibrant candidate to win the poll” he said.
When contacted to speak on the preparation of the party towards the polls and the governorship aspirants, the party state Chairman, Paul Omotoso said he cannot say anything about it for obvious reasons.
According to Omotoso,”We have not been inaugurated as the state executive of the party. I will not want to talk regarding that viz a viz all the activities of the party in the state”.
There were also claims that the former Minister for Works and the National Chairman, Southwest Agenda for Tinubu 2023 (SWAGA), Senator Dayo Adeyeye may join the race.
Adeyeye while inaugurating the parallel APC executives at the ward and local government levels said, “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will be the next president of this country and one of us will become the governor in Ekiti state. I am happy that the new executives have passion for this group and this will lead to action and eventually victory for all of us”.
It is believed that the real contenders will be separated from the pretenders before the end of the first quarter of the year 2022.