Ekiti State electorate will be going to the polls on Saturday, July 14, to elect a new governor to take over governance from Governor Ayodele Fayose in October; but from the list of 40 candidates jostling for the job, only two are regarded as frontrunners in the election
By Olu Ojewale
IT is election time in Ekiti State. On Saturday, July 14, the electorate in the state are to file out and elect a new governor who will take over from Governor Ayodele Fayose in October this year. Interestingly, the state electorate have a good number of choices to pick from. There are 40 candidates jostling to get the state plum job.
In May this year, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, published the names of candidates who emerged from the primary conducted by their various parties.
According to the INEC, the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state is fielding Kolapo Olusola Eleka, 49, the incumbent deputy governor, Kayode Fayemi, 53, erstwhile minister of Mines and Steel Development, is running on the platform of the main opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
Two women are among the candidates jostling for the Ekiti governorship seat. They are: Margaret Ilesanmi of Accord Party, AP, and Olajumoke Saheed of the Democratic Alternative, DA.
Similarly, on the list of candidates are: Shola Omolola of the Action Alliance, AA; Lawrence Ogundipe of the Advanced Congress of Democrats, ACD; Jide Ayenibiowo of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN; Olaniyi Agboola of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and Ayodele David Adesua of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.
Further on the list are Segun Adewale of the Action Democratic Party, ADP; Lucas Arubuloye of the AGA; Stephen Oribamise of the All Grand Alliance Party, AGAP; Tunde Afe of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, ANRP; Saheed Jimoh of the African People’s Alliance, APA; Tope Adebayo of the Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance, APDA and Gbenga Adekunle of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.
Others are: Adegboye Ajayi of the Better Nigeria People’s Party, BNPP; Olalekan Olanrewaju of the Democratic People’s Congress, DPC; Stephen Oladejo of the Democratic People’s Party, DPP; Adewale Akinyele of the GPN; Tosin Ajibare of the Independent Democrats, ID, and Temitope Amuda of Kowa Party, KP.
The list also has Sikiru Lawal, a former deputy governor, of the Labour Party, LP; Olabode Jegede of the Masses Movement of Nigeria, MMN; Sunday Balogun of the Mega Progressive People’s Party, MPPP; Sunday Ogundana of the National Conscience Party, NCP; Bode Olowoporoku, a former senator, of the Nigeria Democratic Congress Party, NDCP, and Adebisi Omoyeni, a former deputy governor of the PANDEF.
Others are: Ayoyinka Dada of the PDC; Goke Animasaun of Progressives People’s Alliance, PPA, Stephen Obasanmi of the Providence People’s Congress, PPC; Ebenezer Ogunsakin of the People’s Party of Nigeria, PPN, and Akinloye Ayegbusi of the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
The rest are: Olusegun Adeleye of the United Democratic Party, UDP; Femi Bade-Gboyega of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN; Ayodeji Faokorede of the Young Democratic Party, YDP, and Temitope Omotayo of the Young Progressive Party, YPP.
As obligatory, a good number of the candidates have been travelling round state to sell their ideas and canvass for votes.
Nevertheless, reports from the state have shown that only Fayemi of the APC and Eleka of the PDP, are considered to be really in contention and that either of them is likely to win at the polls.
Indeed, Fayemi is not a stranger to Ekiti State politics. He had been the state governor for four years between 2010 and 2014. He was defeated by Governor Ayodele Fayose of the PDP while seeking for a second term in office. Incidentally, Fayose was also seeking a second term in office, having earlier served as governor between May 2003 and October 2006 when he was impeached and removed from office by the state legislators.
Since Fayose assumed office for the second term, the outgoing governor has been at loggerheads with Fayemi, his predecessor. If it were to be left to him, Fayose would not want Fayemi to be on the ballot for the July 14, governorship election.
In fact, the Ekiti State government under Fayose, in January banned the former minister from holding political office in the state and other parts of the country for 10 years.
This was based on a government white paper released in Ado Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State, on Monday, January 15, on the outcome of the report of the Justice Silas Oyewole-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the financial transactions during the tenure of Fayemi as state governor between 2010 and 2014.
According to the white paper, both Fayemi and Dapo Kolawole, his commissioner for Finance, were found culpable in the mismanagement of funds belonging to the state. They were thus, declared unfit to hold any public position in the state and any part of Nigeria.
Specifically, Fayemi was asked to account for N2.75 billion allocated from the N25 billion bond obtained by his administration.
Both Fayemi and Kolawole, during the investigative hearing, refused to appear before the commission, citing a court action filed against the probe by the former governor.
In any case, a Federal Capital Territory, FCT, high court, Bwari division, on Tuesday, July 3, voided the report of the Commission of Enquiry set up by Fayose. Delivering judgement in a case filed by the Action Peoples Party, APP, challenging the eligibility of Fayemi to contest the office of governor of Ekiti State on the grounds that he had been indicted by the commission, Justice O.A. Musa, the presiding judge, dismissed the suit by the APP on the grounds that it lacked merit.
Musa held that the process leading to the report and white paper was tainted with bias as Fayemi, a gubernatorial candidate in the July 14, election in Ekiti, was not accorded fair hearing.
The judge noted that Section 182(1)(i) of the Constitution, on which the suit was based, was no longer in existence having been deleted by the National Assembly through the first alteration of the Constitution in 2011.
Justice Musa who answered the two questions posed by the plaintiff in the negative, refused all its prayers and declared that Fayemi was eligible to contest the next governorship election and that the APC was at liberty, under the law to field him as its candidate.
Reacting, the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation said in a statement: “By this judgment, the Nigerian judiciary has proven conclusively that Nigeria is not a jungle where lawless people can recklessly set their private standards to abuse the nation’s legal system.
“It is also a warning to those still battling in court on similar premise to have Dr. Fayemi disqualified from contesting the July 14, poll.
“The judgement is a victory for democracy and rule of law.”
Despite the court victory, Fayemi has another case to contend with. Segun Oni, his fellow contestant for the APC ticket, is in court challenging his victory at the party primary election held in May. The Segun Oni Campaign Organisation, on Monday, July 2, said the suit was filed because its members had been sidelined in the activities of the party since the emergence of Fayemi as the governorship candidate.
The organisation stated this in a communiqué issued by Ife Arowosoge, its director general, at the end of a meeting of campaign council chairmen, secretaries and notable leaders at its situation room in Ado Ekiti.
“To our greatest surprise, the John Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation has since from outset adopted the attitude of non-inclusiveness, ostracisation, marginalisation, and demonstration of open hatred for Segun Oni and his group.
“That all efforts by Segun Oni and his group in all the 16 local government areas of Ekiti State to make Fayemi and his group treat us as one united political family have proved abortive. It has become more worrisome in that the Fayemi group has continued its acts of marginalisation, maltreatment, harassment and intimidation of our members at our party rallies. For instance, one of our members was recently seriously beaten and injured with a machete at the Ikole Ekiti rally merely for being at the rally.”
Besides, the organisation said it was aware of a pending case before the high court of Ekiti State instituted by the government of Ekiti State against Fayemi, for the purpose of disqualifying him from contesting the gubernatorial election, and expressed fear that the APC might not be represented at the poll.
“That it is on this note we unanimously resolved to support the legal action instituted by the Segun Oni group as this will not only prevent the party from not being part of the governorship election but very importantly strengthen the rule of law and our democracy in Nigeria. Also, the legal action will defend our rights, privileges and interests within the party,” the group said.
That notwithstanding, the three suits may have negative effects on the outcome of the election for Fayemi if not handled carefully by the APC candidate.
Indeed, to prevent any backlash, Femi Falana, SAN, had, while reacting to the 10-year ban placed on Fayemi by the Fayose administration, warned the APC candidate that he would have to explain to the people of the state about the allegations and clear his name if he intended to contest or hold any public office again in the country.
Falana’s statement said in part: “he (Fayemi) may pray the court to annul the report. But he cannot afford to ignore the findings of the panel.
“Since Dr Fayemi chose not to appear before the judicial panel, he has to explain his own side of the story to Ekiti people.
“This is in line with the principle of public accountability enshrined in the Freedom of Information Law and Fiscal Responsibility Law enacted by the Fayemi administration.”
Even if the electorate in Ekiti State are able to reason with him that it was all politics, Fayemi does not have total control of what is happening in his party.
Apart from Oni’s lawsuit, the central ruling APC is not enjoying the best of times. Some aggrieved members of the party, including members of the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party, have announced the establishment of the Reformed All Progressives Congress, R-APC.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, July 4, in Abuja, Buba Galadima, national chairman of the group, said the decision to form the R-APC was borne by the realisation that more than three years after the formation of the APC, the party had failed to live up to expectation. He said with APC’s promise to positively change Nigeria, the party had deviated from its core objectives and institutionalised the same vices the previous administration was punished for at the polls.
The group has in its fold Fatai Atanda from Oyo State as the national secretary and Kazeem Afegbua from Edo State as the national publicity secretary.
The coming on the stream of the R-APC, according to political analysts, may further have a negative on the election of Fayemi in Ekiti.
That notwithstanding, there are some things going for the APC candidate as well.
According to reports from the state, the emergence of Eleka, a professor of Building Technology, as PDP governorship candidate for the July 14, poll has not gone down well with some party chieftains whose ambition to govern the state have been halted. For instance, Eleka’s candidature prompted Dayo Adeyeye, a former national spokesman of the PDP, who contested against him, to defect to the PAC. Notwithstanding, it is generally believed that Fayose foisted his deputy on the party without any opposition from the party hierarchy.
Indeed, basking in the euphoria of his victory and knowing well that he couldn’t have won against Adeyeye without the support of the governor, Eleka described Fayose as his political godfather who he is proud of. In an interview with Channels TV in May, some days after wining the primary, he said: “I have a political father who is Peter Ayodele Fayose and I am proud of him. The issue at stake is Ekiti State and the buck stops at my table when I become governor. If I am Fayose’s boy, good. The most important thing is that Ekiti State comes first and my performance is what matters.”
This, perhaps, prompted Olusegun Osinkolu, an APC chieftain in the state to declare that Ekiti would not make the mistake of electing a governor that would be controlled by a godfather, during the July 14 governorship election.
He warned that people of Ekiti State would be tied to the apron string of Fayose should Eleka be elected as governor.
The former banker and a senatorial aspirant for Ekiti North District in the 2019 elections, who spoke in Ifaki Ekiti recently during Fayemi’s campaign, said Fayemi remained the best man for the job, based on his experience as a former governor and minister.
“What we need in Ekiti , a state with little resources is someone who can think on his own and manage our resources and not an individual that will depend on counsel from his principal before taking decisions,” he stated.
Thus, Osinkolu appealed to Ekiti voters to vote massively for Fayemi in the election in the interest of the collective destiny of the Ekiti populace.
Apart from that, Fayemi has the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari, who praised him to the high heavens when he won the party ticket for the governorship election. Buahri said he was reluctant to release the former minister from his cabinet and asked him (Fayemi) to get Ekiti back for the party. The vote of confidence and endorsement of Buhari on Fayemi may have somewhat be an appeal to all the party members, supporters and other governorship aspirants across the 16 local government areas in Ekiti State to back Fayemi so that APC could get the state back from the PDP. But how much that is going to earn party in the state is a matter of conjecture.
In any case, it is expected of Fayemi to exploit the problem of irregular payment of salary in the state to his own advantage. It is believed that workers in the state are disenchanted with Fayose over non-payment of their salaries. Teachers, civil servants and lecturers at the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti are reported to be battling to survive amidst hunger.
In December 2017, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, raised the alarm over deaths being recorded among its staff. Olufayo Olu, ASUU chairman, said four staff due to unpaid six-month salary arrears to take care of their failing health had died. During the May Day celebration this year, Raymond Adesanmi, the NLC chairman Ekiti State, advised Fayose to make the payment of salaries and pensions of workers and pensioners his priority.
“Workers in the state are hungry, so I call on the governor to pay outstanding salaries owed the workers which include five months for the civil servants, eight months for the local government workers and six months for higher institutions in the state,” the NLC chairman said at a rally held at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti.
That notwithstanding, an independent public poll conducted by the NOI Polls in late June, revealed that Eleka, the PDP candidate, was far ahead of Fayemi.
Consequently, Kola Ologbondiyan, national publicity secretary of the PDP, said in a statement issued in Abuja, on Tuesday, June 26, that it was not surprised at the outcome of the polls conducted by “one of the leading, impartial country-specific and research-based polling bodies in Africa.”
The statement said further: “It is instructive that the poll reflected the fact that the PDP candidate enjoys overwhelming support across the three senatorial districts while leading in goodwill among the broader voting demography cutting across all age and gender categories across the state with a significant eight-point margin against Fayemi.”
While congratulating Eleka, the PDP noted that even without the poll, the APC and its candidate, “who had been rejected by the people, are aware that they have no stand in the election, hence their desperate resort to various clandestine schemes to rig the election.”
Indeed, Fayose, on Tuesday, July 3, confronted the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, with video evidence of pre-loading of card readers in the state.
The challenge came a day after Aminat Zakari, a national commissioner with the INEC, challenged the governor to prove allegations that she had conspired with three others to pre-load card readers, supply faulty card readers and provide ballot papers for stuffing of ballot boxes.
Fayose also accused Ahmed Bello, the state police commissioner, and Promise Ihenacho, the director of the Department of State Services, DSS, for allegedly deploying security aides of Fayemi to Ekiti State to rig the July 14, governorship election.
The governor pointed out that Hakeem Abiola, Fayemi’s former chief security officer, and Adeyemi Ajayi, his former aide de camp, were already in the state to coordinate indiscriminate arrest of the members of the opposition.
Fayose, who spoke at a town hall meeting organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room for governorship candidates in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday, July 3, tendered the video evidence of people allegedly pre-loading card readers in Akure ahead of the July 14, governorship election to Solomon Soyebi, the national commissioner in charge of Ekiti, Osun and Oyo states.
Fayose said: “This is the evidence of people pre-loading card readers in Akure. Any officer who is seen to be biased should be relieved of any sensitive assignment.”
But Soyebi while dismissing the video, said the card readers to be used for the election were already in Ekiti and had not been configured.
“I know the information will come to you, but they are fake. The card readers will only start working on the day of the election. A lot of people will be giving you information, a lot of them will be fake,” he said.
Clement Nwakwo, the chairman on the occasion, said the essence of the meeting was to extract assurances from the INEC, security agencies and candidates that the coming election would be credible.
He said: “We are going to hold INEC accountable for whatever happens and that is why it is good for the security to be helpful and we know they won’t default in this regard.”
Also, Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, described the governor’s allegations as untrue and baseless.
Yakubu, in a statement by Rotimi Oyekanmi, his chief press secretary, said that it was impossible for anyone to rig the election in favour of any candidate.
Yakubu explained that the SCRs performed three functions: identifying, verifying and authenticating the voter and the PVC, adding that it could only function on the election-day.
“In addition to the results sheets that we issue to party agents at the Polling Units and at every level of collation, the Commission also deliberately introduced Form EC60E to show election results at the Polling Units, which is the most important level. This form is pasted at every Polling Unit after collation,” he added.
On his part, Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of Police, has threatened to dismiss any officer found hobnobbing with politicians or act in a way that could compromise the July 14, governorship election in Ekiti State.
He urged his men to be neutral and apolitical in their engagement before, during and after the poll.
The IG spoke in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday, July 4, during a lecture organised for Divisional Police Officers in the state and other officers and men of the force to sensitise them on the need to exhibit right attitudes during the election.
Idris, who was represented by Abayomi Shogunle, assistant commissioner of Police and the commander in charge of Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit, ACP Abayomi Shogunle, said: “We have no business being partisan. Our duty is to provide security for the electorate, election observers, ballot materials on the day of the election and nothing more.
“I want you to be professional in your duties and wherever you are posted to. The police work is like a service to the people. Don’t intimidate anybody to please politicians. You must think of your careers in the force and prevent enjoyment of one day from destroying it.”
That notwithstanding, an intimidating mass rally was held for Eleka in Ado Ekiti, on Thursday, July 5. The gathering of the PDP big wigs for the campaign included the likes of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Uche Secondus, national chairman of the PDP; Ahmed Makarfi, former national chairman, caretaker committee of the party; Babangida Aliyu, a former governor of Niger State; Peter obi, a former governor of Anambra State; Gbenag Daniel, a fromer governor of Ogun State; Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, and Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, among others.
The rally, it is believed, would hove up Eleka’s image and increase his support base in the state. Besides, the professor has been described as “humble, calculating, intelligent, brilliant and young.”
Eleka hails from Ikere-Ekiti, the town with the highest voting population in Ekiti State after Ado-Ekiti. His supporters see this as added advantage for him as well as the PDP, going into the election.
In the same breath, Fayose has also warned that Fayemi was about to face another defeat at his hand. In a statement issued by Idowu Adelusi, his chief press secretary, Fayose said recently: “In 2014 when he was the sitting governor and I was not in power, I trounced him mercilessly. I gave him 16 – 0, defeating him in all the local governments, including in his hometown. He did not win a single local government.
“Now, I have been in power for more than three years and have served the people of Ekiti well. My legacy projects are there to speak for me, and for my party the PDP, as well as for our candidate in the July 14 governorship election, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka.
“Fayemi will suffer the worst defeat of his political career. After the July 14 election, he will go into political oblivion.”
That, indeed, may be a boast from a godfather. It is now left for Fayemi to prove his mettle and prove that he is the best candidate to govern the state. So, who takes over from Fayose on October 16, when power changes hands? Ekiti State electorate are to decide on Saturday, July 14.
– July 6, 2018 @ 15:55 GMT |