By Dapo Akinrefon
PENULTIMATE Thursday, June 19, 2014, anxiety over the peaceful conduct of the Ekiti State gubernatorial election gained momentum as tension pervaded the air.
There were expectations of violence.
And living up to expectations, the electioneering campaigns of the political parties—the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (CP)— were characterised by violence.
The violence reached the climax, since the commencement of electioneering campaigns, when a clash between the supporters of the ruling APC and the opposition PDP, resulted in the killing of one Taiwo Akinola.
The clash led to a shouting mach between Governor Kayode Fayemi and the State Commissioner for Police, Mr Felix Uyanna. Tongues wagged over the ugly incident. And there were allegations and counter allegations.
However, the frontline candidates, Messrs Kayode John Fayemi, (APC) Ayodele Peter (PDP) and Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (LP) went to town to sell themselves to the electorate.
Interestingly, the three candidates bear biblical names (John, Peter and Michael) but their supporters were neck deep in evil, engaging in attacks and counter attacks ahead of the election.
In the beginning
Having retrived his mandate at the Court of Appeal on October 2010, which sacked the then Governor Olusegun Oni of the PDP who was declared by INEC as the winner of the April 12, 2007 gubernatorial election, Fayemi soon emerged as a force to reckon with as far the politics of Ekiti was concerned.
Also, his party, the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, now APC, gave the PDP a fight for its money.
It was believed that there won’t be any opposition especially within his party, thus ensuring his coasting home to victory four years after. This was based in the fact that the PDP was a non – existent political party having lost the case at the Court of Appeal.
The PDP was in disarray especially in the South-west, leading to its dismal performance at the 2011 general elections.
Opeyemi’s labour romance
No one anticipated a crack in the defunct ACN.
It came and suddenly led to the formation of the Labour Party in Ekiti, ably funded by Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Rahman Mimiko.
Bamidele formally defected to the LP on the grounds that his constituents had asked him to do so.
He, however, explained that he crossed to the LP, since the ACN, on which platform he was elected into the green chamber, had ceased to exist since its merger with other parties to form the APC.
His action followed months of cold war between himself and leaders of the APC in the South-west
Also, the lawmaker resolved to leave the party, when it became clear that Fayemi was to be given automatic ticket to run for second term in office.
Suddenly Opeyemi emerged as the sole governorship candidate of the LP.
The Akure connection
Known as the Lone Ranger in the South-west, the Ondo governor, Mimiko, decided to form a secret alliance with the PDP at centre.
Bamidele’s romance with Mimiko got him support from Akure in all ramifications. As a matter of fact, the LP machinery in Ekiti was handed over to him on a platter of gold.
Aside this, it was reliably gathered that Mimiko presented him to President Goodluck Jonathan.
At the meeting, the president was said to have assured the LP candidate of his support, especially in monetary terms, during the electioneering campaigns.
But the promise from Akure and Abuja never came.
Sunday Vanguard reliably gathered that a last-minute effort to get Bamidele to withdraw from the race to close ranks with the PDP candidate, Fayose, proved abortive as the LP flag bearer in the poll shunned the overtures made at him.
Though Bamidele was assured that all monies spent in the course of his campaign would be returned, as a typical Ekiti man, he turned down the offer.
The PDP and the intrigues of its primaries
Various aspirants, including the Surveyor Abiodun Aluko, Senator Bode Olowoporoku, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (rtd), Senator Ayo Arise, Hon. Aribisala Adewale, Otunba O. O. Akerele, Prof. Adesegun Ojo, Amb. Dare Bejide, Rt. Hon. Femi Bamisile, Rt. Hon. Odeyemi Tunji, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Mr. Bodunde Adeyanju, Chief Obafemi Peters, Hon. Ropo Ogunbolude, Pharm. Bimbo Owolabi and Dr. Kunle Afolayan, had thrown their hats into the ring to become the PDP flag bearer.
But to their amazement, Fayose, also called Osokomale, emerged as the party’s flag bearer.
The other aspirants kicked against Fayose’s emergence, but it appeared the Presidency had made up its mind on who would fly its flag in the Ekiti election.
The three – way battle
The tussle to become the Ekiti governor became a three-horse race.
Thought other political parties fielded candidates for the plum job, Fayose, Fayemi and Bamidele were the frontline candidates. They took the pains to traverse the length and breadth of Ekiti to sell their visions and dreams for the state.
Last- minute horse trading took place but none was prepared to step down for the other.
Barring of APC governors
Also, the harassment of some APC governors, prevented from attending the APC rally in Ado-Ekiti, on Thursday, only two days to the election further heightened the already charged atmosphere.
The plane which conveyed Governors Kwankwaso of Kano State and Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto State, who were coming for the APC rally, was not allowed to land at the Akure airport, while Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State was not allowed to take off from the Benin airport.
Also, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, whose plane landed at the Akure airport, was stopped at the Ondo/Ekiti boundary by soldiers who threatened to shoot him should he fail to heed their order.
The soldiers, according to reports, claimed they were taking orders from the Minister of State for Defence Musiliu Obanikoro and Police Affairs Minister Jelili Adesiyan.
Soldiers at border towns
Military personnel took over strategic positions in Ekiti State ahead of the poll.
When Sunday Vanguard went round the state, the soldiers were seen in a stop-and-search operation.
Vehicles coming and out of the state were thoroughly searched by the soldiers .
The stop- and- search operation caused traffic snarl in many towns across the state. The presence of the soldiers, according to some residents, further helped to tame violence during the electioneering campaigns.
Candidates in last-minute campaigns
The frontline political parties in the election-APC, PDP, LP – in a bid to sell their candidates, engaged in last-minute campaign rallies.
In Ado-Ekiti, the APC candidate, Fayemi, addressed a rally. Also, in Ikere local government, supporters of the PDP candidate, Fayose, went round on a street carnival. In Iyin, the hometown of Bamidele, the LP supporters trooped out to canvass for peoples’ vote.