Preparatory to the June 18, 2021 governorship election in Ekiti state, the two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are to hold their respective governorship primaries toward the end of January.
The PDP had scheduled the shadow election to elect the flag bearer of the party in the governorship poll for January 26, while that of APC was fixed for January 27, 2022.
The ruling party had last year announced January 22 date for the conduct of its primary election but in a revised timetable and schedule of activities for election released earlier this month, the party has shifted the primaries to January 27, 2022.
Quite a number of governorship aspirants on the platforms of both the APC and the PDP in the state, after obtaining their nomination forms have also made their intention known to their party and teeming supporters.
Top aspirants to slug it out in the PDP governorship primary included, the former governor of the state, Chief Segun Oni, the Senator representing Ekiti South, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, former deputy governor, Kolapo Olusola Eleka, former Commissioner for Environment in the state, Otunba Bisi Kolawole, former Senatorial aspirant, Hon Lateef Ajijola.
Others are former PDP national Treasurer, Hon Wale Aribisala, former governorship aspirant, Yinka Akerele, former PDP deputy governorship candidate, Kazeem Ogunsakin, and an account, Kayode Adaramodu.
Senator Olujimi, Chief Oni, and Kolawole arguably, are leading the way in the PDP ahead of the poll with their strong support base across the 177 wards and 16 local government areas of the state.
It is a known fact that, different blocs existed in the state chapter of the party with Kolawole belonging to the group led by former governor, Ayodele Fayose, Senator Olujimi, who is agitating for a governor from the Southern part of the state, is in control of the repositioning movement, while the progressive group is spearheading Oni’s aspiration.
Olujimi at an event recently said, “I am unrepentant advocate of southern agenda, that power must shift to the south. The reason is for equity, fairness and justice for the zone and nothing more than that.
“If you people that treat you with levity, without due respect, then you have got to show them the stuff you are made off and that is the reason why I am an advocate of southern agenda. I am believing in God and my party that a southern person will become the candidate of our party.
“This is because that would be our selling point and that is the best we can do for Ekiti in the present circumstance. That will be the best we can do for a people with six local governments that have been waiting for 25 years. I believe that my party, known for being just and considerate will do that for us.”
Some of the aspirants not mentioned are said to be covertly identifying with some of these groups.
The opposition party is going into the shadow election with tan unresolved issue of two parallel state executives which emerged in the party’s Congresses held in 2020 as Fayose and Olujimi struggled to take control of the party in the state.
The crisis in the party also resurfaced on Saturday, 15, 2022, during the party ward ad-hoc delegates Congress held in Ado Ekiti, when Olujimi, Oni, and other aspirants rejected the outcome of the exercise, alleging that it was hijacked by Fayose.
The aspirants, who also staged a peaceful protest against the conduct of the congress meant to elect 3 delegates from each of the 177 wards who will participate in the party’s governorship primary election alleged the process was manipulated to favour Fayose group.
In the ruling APC, the Senator representing Ekiti Central, Hon Opeyemi, former minister of state for Works, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, a member of the House of Representative, Femi Bamisile, immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Mr Biodun Oyebanji are among leading governorship aspirants of the party.
Others are the former House of Representative member, and immediate past Commissioner for public utilities and infrastructure, Hon. Bamidele Faparusi, Engr. Kayode Ojo, an Aviation expert, Otunba Ademola Popoola and Olutoyin Afolabi.
Senator Bamidele, Senator Adeyeye, Hon. Bamisile, Oyebamiji and Faparusi are on the top of their games to clinch the party ticket, flaunting their political credentials, structures, experiences to sell themselves to the party, members and delegates while others are doing their best to gain more grounds.
On the expectations of the aspirants regarding the shadow election and the election proper, Senators Bamidele and Adeyeye urged the party leaders to adopt direct primary and be fair to all by avoiding imposition of candidate.
Bamisile and Faparusi urged all political parties to ensure that their candidates comes from the southern senatorial district of the state in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.
They premised their agitation on the fact that the zone was yet to produce a governor since 1999, saying both central and northern zones have had it twice each.
Bamidele at a political gathering in Ado Ekiti said, “I am well prepared for any mode of primaries that would be adopted by APC, but direct primary is more appropriate, being ideologically believed in participatory democracy and hold the view that sovereignty lies in the people.
“We will run a campaign that is issue- based and violence -free. I am assuring you that there won’t be any aspirant that would be impose on the party in the primary, so that we can all work together.
Speaking during his declaration to vie for the plum seat, Senator Adeyeye said, “You can see for yourselves that people are with us. In 2018, we told some arrogant people that they won’t have their way through imposition and it happened . It is obvious that only a popular candidate can win for APC in this election.
“The national leaders of our great party must return this party to the people . Let the national leaders adopt direct primary to elect the candidate for Ekiti pill, if truly we want to get a popular candidate . Let us return power to the people . With popular participation, people themselves would decide the candidate in the interest of justice, equity and fair-play. All the aspirants must go for direct primary.
“I still believe that if the process is credible and a popular candidate is elected, we will all support the person. What is difficult in conducting direct primary if truly you are open and popular? The party must go on the side of the people”.
Also, Hon Bamisile while declaring his intention to contest the the election said, “I listened to Governor Fayemi about one and half weeks ago said that all the eight of us contesting for governorship are capable to govern Ekiti. We are not asking anybody to impose anyone, but you must be fair to the South, what is fair is fair. I believe in fairness.
“I represents a people, who are in desperate search of equity and justice in the politics of Ekiti, It is time to support the agitation of the South Senatorial zone of our dear state that has not produced the governor since inception of democracy in 1999, so that we can continue to stand together as one”.
Faparusi at a meeting recently with APC Gbonyin local government area executives lamented that South is being hugely cheated in APC.
He claimed that there was a gentlemen agreement that the APC governorship ticket will be ceded to the zone after Fayemi won the party primary in 2018.
“The South even voted against their own son, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, who was the PDP candidate in 2018, because of Governor Fayemi. We told our people that after four years, it will be our turn to produce the governor.
“PDP had once picked someone as governorship candidate in the South, but the APC had a deep-seated hatred for the South. The party had never picked any governor or Deputy Governor from that zone since 1999. The continuity that we want in APC can only be possible if the party zones its ticket to the South, no other option”.
Oyebanji after his recently concluded tour of local governments in the state urged co-aspirants on APC platform to continue to preach peace and harmony among members of the party and their supporters ahead of the January 27 primaries, adding that violence, name calling and slander should be avoided in favour of issue-based campaigns.
“Of course, I sued for peace and reiterated on the need for our people to respect the right of individuals to aspire. I made it known to our leaders that they can only get the best after respecting other people’s right to contest and listening to their programmes and projections to further lift the state”.
Also, APC in the state has its own challenge with a group within the party, Southwest Agenda for Asiwaju 2023 (SWAGA) last year inaugurated a parallel APC executives at the ward and local government levels few days after the state chapter of the party constituted theirs.
Senator Adeyeye, who is one of the APC governorship aspirant is the National Chairman of the SWAGA, a support group for the presidential aspiration of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Some of the aspirants who initially joined the governorship race on the platform of APC, have dumped the party few days to the party primary.
A former presidential aspirant of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Reuben Famuyibo has dumped APC for Accord Party, while another top aspirant who contested the election in 2018 under APC, Dr Wole Oluyede has also joined the African Democratic Party (ADC) to pick the party ticket.