After the rancorous emergence of the candidates of some of the various political parties in the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State, the issues that might play major roles in who eventually gets elected.
The common question in Ekiti State and beyond now is: Who among the 38 or so candidates will be elected by the Ekiti electorate come July 14? It is widespread knowledge that with the conclusion of the primary elections, the contest has been streamlined to the individual political parties. And, apart from the strength of the various political platforms, the thinking in political circles is that the person each of the political parties presents is a factor in the result it would come out with at the end of the day.
In 44 days, the election is expected to take place and the Ekiti electorate will choose from any of Professor Kolapo Olubunmi Olusola of the Peoples Democratic (PDP); Dr Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Reverend Tunde Afe of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) and Dr Sunday Balogun of Mega Progressive Political Party.
The others from whom the people would choose are Surveyor Abiodun Aluko of Accord (A); Comrade Shola Omolola of Action Alliance (AA); Mr. Lawrence Ogundipe of Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD); Dr. Jide Ayenibiowo of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Mr. Olaniyi Agboola of Alliance for Democracy (AD).
There are also Chief Segun Adewale of Action Democratic Party (ADP); Mr. Lucas Arubuloye of AGA; Mr. Stephen Oribamise of All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP); Malam Saheed Jimoh of African People’s Alliance (APA); Mr. Tope Adebayo of Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance (APDA) and Evangelist Gbenga Adekunle of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Also among the contestants are Prince Adegboye Ajayi flying the flag of Better Nigeria People’s Party (BNPP); Mrs Olajumoke Saheed of Democratic Alternative (DA); Mr. Olalekan Olanrewaju of Democratic People’s Congress (DPC); Pastor Stephen Oladejo of Democratic People’s Party (DPP); Mr. Adewale Akinyele of GPN and Mr. Tosin Ajibare of Independent Democrats (ID).
Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) is presenting Mr. Goke Animasaun for election; Mr. Stephen Obasanmi will fly the flag of Providence People’s Congress (PPC); Mr. Ebenezer Ogunsakin of People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN) is also in the contest just like Mr. Akinloye Ayegbusi of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Dr. Olusegun Adeleye of the United Democratic Party (UDP); Mr. Femi Bade-Gboyega of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN); Young Democratic Party’s (YDP’s) Mr. Ayodeji Faokorede and Mr. Temitope Omotayo of Young Progressive Party (YPP) make up the list of the available candidates.
However, in the reasoning of political watchers of the Ekiti political scenario, the July 14 contest is actually between two political parties namely: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC). To them, the other contestants are not as much in the mix as to cause any serious problems to the two giants, who are out to drag themselves in a political thug of war. In the words or one of the commentators, “the Nigerian political architectural scene does not yet allow a clear view of the offers being made by the new, smaller political parties and that’s why their candidates often don’t get to move the big political parties that have completely engaged the electorate.”
Among the reigning rumours in Ekiti political firmament is that the candidates of political parties like Mega Progressive Political Party and Social Democratic Party (SDP) are allegedly fronts of big time players in the 2018 Ekiti political game. The arguments to support this rumour is that a member of the mega family in the state is one of the big names in Ekiti politics, a former deputy governor of the state and a surveyor of note, Chief Abiodun Aluko, who was contested for the governorship ticket of the party but now click the ticket in Accord.
The argument further holds that Chief Aluko isn’t new in the party, because he is one of these who had resigned early from the PDP and pitched his tent with Mega. He was said to have worked hard with the party and surprisingly, when the result of the Mega Party primary election was announce, a relatively unknown Sunday Balogun clinched the ticket ahead of Chief Aluko. To many observers, “this is not ordinary politics but and engineered occurrence.”
The second angle to the argument that the big parties control what happens in the polity, took strength from the failure of another notable politician in the state, Ambassador Dare Bejide to clinch the SDP’s governorship ticket. Bejide too is among thiose who abandoned the PDP, but he didn’t join Mega Party. He chose to join the Social Democratic Party (SDP). When the result of the primary election of SDP was made public after its direct primary, it was not Bejide that emerged but also a relatively unfamiliar Mr. Akin Ayegbusi.
Commenators in the state had hunged their argument on the examples of Mega Party and SDP, holding that “the emergence of these unfamiliar faces has something to do with who played what role, at what time and how in the two distinguished political parties.” A radio analyst in the state went as far as claiming that “the failure of Chief Aluko and Ambassador Bejide was engineered to prove to the people of the state that they were not as popular among the electorate as they had claimed in resigning from their original political family.”
In the ADC that was chosen as the favourite of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo-led coalition, the centre also seems not to be holding. The party was said to have already submitted the name of its candidate in the election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before a statement from its national chairman, Chief Ralphs Okey Nwosu, announced that ADC would not partake in the election. That statement and position didn’t sit well with the party’s candidate in Ekiti and his supporters.
Chief Ayodele David Adesua, the candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), after the party said it was not going to contest the Ekiti governorship was seething with anger, and insisted that he will have none of that. He contended in a statement in reaction, that it was the candidate that should determine if he would go to the contest or not and that if the party was to take a decision regarding its non-participation, the candidate should have been carried along in taking that decision.
Beyond the surface, however, Adesua is said to be actually in battle with some political power blocs. He claimed recently that it was the failed bid by some big names in the party to install their preferred candidate that led to the alleged unilateral decision not to stand the election.
He also alleged that a top political figure in the party and a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, had planned to make his friend and Nigeria’s former High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador Bejide, the ADC candidate, but insisted that he would not surrender his ticket.
But in denying the allegations, sources said it had not been reported anywhere that either Prince Oyinlola or Ambassador Bejide had become members of the ADC nor has it been heard from any of them where they would pitch their tent as the politics of 2019 unfolds across the country. A concerned member of the party said “It is a cheap blackmail to bring in the person of Prince Oyinlola in the personal troubles of Dr Adesua,” the party source stated.
While the above arguments tend to lend credence to the belief in some quarters that the big players are string-puppetting the elements in the smaller parties, it is obvious that the people are also not losing sight of the issues that would come to play when the big players file out at the appointed time.
What’s the fate of PDP?
The PDP had what many observers saw as a smooth and well-organised primary election. It was a far better arrangement, so much that it led to questions regarding the real motive of the fracas that had ended its rival APC’s congress a few days earlier. After the primary election however, one of the two contestants for the ticket, Prince Adedayo Adeyeye resigned from the party and now joined the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Adeyeye, along with Chief Biodun Olujimi, who is the Senator representing Ekiti South in the National Assembly had stood in the party to challenge what they said was the arbitrariness of Governor Ayodele Fayose in the party. The duo, obviously a strong pair had chosen not to jump ship, and had stayed back in the party to slug it out with Fayose unlike many others who had since jumped ship.
To spice up the PDP primary, Senator Olujimi had stepped down for Prince Adeyeye a few hours to the commencement of voting in the primary election. Her action had ignited apprehension and brought the strength of the pair to the fore, as the sorting and counting of the votes went. But in the end, Fayose and his anointed, his deputy, Professor Kolapo Olubunmi Olusola, popularly known by his father’s Eleka, emerged. It was like Fayose and Olusola Eleka had braved the odds and, in their speeches they sought a rapprochement for the sake of their party.
But in a dramatic twist, Adeyeye announced his resignation from the PDP less than 24 hours after the contest he admitted was free, fair and credible. He told newsmen, on May 10 when he announced his quitting the PDP, that he would make his next political move known “within 48 hours.” Adeyeye now moved to the All Progressive Party on Democracy Day. While Senator Olujimi has not made any public statement about the primary election and its outcome.
It is known to observers that the tension, apprehension, seething anger, frustration, threats over power equation, sharing and balancing that the outcome of the PDP primary had tilted, would be factors on the D-Day July 14. But some observes, in reacting to what may happen, argue that Adeyeye and Olusola Eleka are both from Ekiti South distric, which has made a loud but credible claim to the governorship of the state. In addition to the Ekiti South factor, Olusola Eleka is also from Ikere community, which voting population in the state is only second to that of Ado Ekiti. They argue that “these factors cannot be swept away, especially when we add the fact that Ikere had produced three deputy governors and would settle for nothing other than a governor.”
The people of Ikere are said to be resolute that now that they have a chance to produce a governor of Ekiti State, they would mobilise more than ever before to vote for their son. It was even rumoured that the community had vowed not accept any of their sons who settles for a the post of running mate in any political party and that they would not look kindly at anyone who does anything to scuttle their chance of having an Ikere son as Ekiti State governor.
It is even believed in some quarters in the state that some of the factors that could affect the PDP in the election were the exit of many of its big wigs, who people argue were the factors that gave the Oarty a sweeping victory in 2014. Those who have left the PDP and are already in other political parties are a former state chairman, Chief Ropo Adesanya; Ambassador Bejide, Chief Aluko among others. This time round, what would be the effect of their exit is to be seen.
But other strong personalities like Olujimi, Senator Clement Awoyelu, Senator Dure Faseyi as well as the six members of the House of Representatives and many others are still to formally announce what they would do as the election approaches. However, Kehinde Agboola, representing Oye/Ikole Federal constituency in the House of Representatives has sponsored radio jingles in which he is calling for support of the party. The representative of Ado Ekiti and Irepodun/Ifelodun federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Ayodele Oladimeji, in a recent interview, stressed the need for the people of the state to sustain their support for the PDP and vote for its candidate.
These, some contend, are pointers to the fact that there would still be a lot of support for the PDP in the election, despite the anger and frustration of some of the members. A school of thought in the party argued recently that “since Fayose is leaving office as a governor, those who are angry should just wait for a few more months to take back their party.” The people with this opinion said “this is because Fayose outside government would not be the same Fayose calling the shots at the moment as governor, and Professor Olusola Eleka is not coming with any known baggage other than he is Fayose’s man.”
Is APC taking over?
Since the emergence of Dr Kayode Fayemi as APC’s standard bearer, there has been a lull in and outside the party. Some contend that the APC gladiators have taken time off to cool down and rest, after a thoroughly rigorous primary campaign period. Within the same time, the APC chiefs and aspirants have been to Abuja, where President Muhammadu Buhari hosted them and gave them a directive that they should bring Ekiti back to the progressive fold.
To some people in the state, the election of Dr Fayemi gave a different tinge to the contest. “The expectation was that the APC delegates would pick a candidate from the southern district and therefore leave the people of the state to choose from the two, since PDP has already gone south”, a party stalwart stated.
Dr. Fayemi started by asking for the support of all the aspirants as well as the support of the people of the state. To many of the observers, that was “a good step forward” for the party in its bid to reclaim the state. His acceptance speech had also intoned his desire for a quick rapprochement among the aspirants, and he followed that up with a visit to each of the aspirants.
As things stand, Ekiti State is waiting for the reverberating effects of the directive by President Buhari to the South West leaders of the party. It is believed among various camps that ongoing discussions would extend beyond the aspirants but would extend to even many of the leaders of the party who had, at some point, expressed misgivings when Dr Fayemi stepped up for the contest for the ticket.
While many of his co contestants forthe ticket have stated their readiness to work for and with him in ensuring that the APC wins the election, some of them are still not particularly convinced that things would go as smoothly as expected in the discussions.
For instance, many commentators are still not sure what roles the aspirants that hail from Ikere Ekiti, where the PDP candidate hails from, would play in the general election. Aspirants like Dr Wole Oluyede, Kola Alabi, Chief Sesan Fatoba and Mr. Muyiwa Olumilua are all from Ikere, and they would be in the spot regarding how much they would come out to campaign against Kolapo Olusola Eleka of the PDP. Thus, the analysts are contending that these gentlemen would be torn between party and communal loyalty.
However, the runner-up in the APC primary, Chief Segun Oni gave an insight into some of the factors that might affect the discussions among the leaders of the party, when he hosted newsmen recently. He lamented that there was a pointer to a winner-take-all attitude by some of the supporters of the victorious aspirant. He said “they are saying that those Segun Oni boy will be in the cooler for another four years,” and declared that “if my supporters are continued to be victimised, I will be forced to leave the party.”
There are also fears that there could be a division between “core APC members” and those who joined the party from the PDP. The fears, according to the observers, stemmed from the last minute power play between the two blocs that led to the emergence of Dr Fayemi as the APC candidate.
Some formidable aspirants scored low in the primaries and this was traced to the deal among the core APC members. According to Michael Opeyemi Bamidele “the core APC members, rightly or wrongly believed that the entrants from the PDP could hijack the party from them.” This, some believe could lead to a colouration of the campaigns and might have an impact on the final outcome.
However, there are still a long number of days for the manifestation of the current politicking. The politicians have always asserted that even 24 hours is a long time in politics. What will happen in the well over 44 days leading to the election will be issues for further discussion among both politicians and among the generality of the people.