BY GBENGA ARIYIBI
AFTER months of horse trading, accusations and counter-accusations, campaigns and rallies in various towns and villages, the 18 political parties registered for tomorrow’s gubernatorial election in Ekiti State are set for battle.
Though the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC through its Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Alhaji Useni Halilu Pai had assured the people of the state of the readiness of the electoral umpire to conduct free and fair polls, for the people of the state the general feeling is that the pudding is in the eating.
With all the facts on ground, the contest will mainly be between three gubernatorial candidates namely Hon Opeyemi Bamiddele (Labour Party), Ayo Fayose (Peoples Democratic Party) and the incumbent, Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Ekiti has about 732,156 registered voters and has 2,195 polling units with Ado Ekiti having the largest chunk of voters estimated at 134,141; Ilejemeje Local Government area of the state has about 11,795 registered voters making it to have the least number of registered voters in the state.
A lot of factors would determine the winner of tomorrow’s election, some of which are past record of the candidates’ achievements, their popularity among members of electorate, religion, key and prominent supporters of the candidate in each of the local governments, ability to mobilize fund etc
The issue of rotation of governorship slot between the three senatorial districts of the state, especially the agitation by the people of the Southern Senatorial District of the state prior to the PDP primaries has died down, as non of the three leading gubernatorial candidates in persons of Fayemi, Fayose and Bamidele of APC, PDP and LP respectively is from the district. running mates.
But the duo of Fayose and Bamidele picked their running mates in person of Dr Olusola Eleka, a former university lecturer from Ikere Ekiti, while Bamidele settled on Alhaja Mariam Ogunlade, a former civil servant in the state from Emure Ekiti as his running mate.
However, Dr Fayemi running mate is Prof Modupe Adelabu, a former university lecturer from Ado Ekiti.
Chances of each of the candidates and the factors that would assist them are analyzed below:
Ado Ekiti, the state capital has been the focus of the candidates mainly because it has the highest number of voters of all the 16 councils in the state -134,141 representing almost one in five of the voters are resident in Ado.
There is the likelihood that the three candidates would share the votes of the electorate in the town but Fayemi and Fayose are expected to share the highest number of votes.
Some goodwill arising from the pioneering infrastructure development schemes initiated by Fayose such as the dualisation of township roads, the New Governor’s Office, Fountain Hotel, Adetiloye Trade Fair Complex, Presidential Lodge and the Ajilosun Market among others stand him in good standing in the state capital. Many also remember his violent aggression against the traditional institution in the area.
Counting for Fayemi is the pace with which he has sustained the development of the state capital and what has come to be described as legacy projects around the town including a new Government House, the Civic Centre and the pavilion among others. Bamidele on his part has touched the people of Ado Ekiti through his welfare programmes.
Key political figures that will determine the outcome of the vote in Ado Ekiti include Senator Babafemi Ojudu, the Deputy Governor, Prof Modupe Adelabu, Bisi Egbeyemi, a former Ado Local Government Chairman, Sunday Ibitoye, also immediate past chairman and the present chairman, Tope Olanipekun. All of these key actors from the town are committed to Fayemi making Fayemi to be the favourite in the town.
Fayose would be helped by key actors like former Senator Bode Ola, Dr. Sikiru Lawal, a former deputy governor under Segun Oni’s administration, Taiye Fasuba, a former chairman of Ado-Ekiti Local Government, Hon. Segun Ola and a former chairman of NURTW, Chief Omolafe Aderiye would work vigorously for the success of Fayose in Ado Ekiti.
Boundary of the town
Bamidele has his own team to drive out the votes, the most conspicuous being Chief Remi Oguntuase.
Ikere-Ekiti, a one town local government area with a voting population of 45,747, is the second largest town in the state with a great population of youths. It is not surprising that it is leaning towards Fayose. Fayemi has, however, lately been received with enthusiasm following the award of the construction of a dual carriage road to run from Ado-Ekiti end of Ikere road to the boundary of the town with Ondo State.
The three candidates have key political actors to pull out the votes for their parties. Among the prominent supporters of the APC in the town are the former governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua, Hon. Funmiyi Afuye, a commissioner in Fayemi’s cabinet, Bolu Akomolafe, a former member of the House of Assembly and the prominent politician, Babade Kayode, who just defected from PDP to the APC.
Fayose would count on the support of his running mate, Dr Olusola Olubumi Eleka who is from the town, former member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Dayo Okondo and maybe, two of the deputy governors who served under him during his stint in office, of Suvr. Abiodun Aluko and Chief Bisi Omoyemi who are all from the town.
Fayose would also count on the goodwill arising from what he did for the town while in office, especially the extension of the dual carriage way from Ado Ekiti to the town which helped to link Ekiti State with Iju-Ita Ogbolu in Ondo State.
Bamidele also has his trenches in the town through the support of some of the youths and one of the wives of former Governor Olumilua. Indeed, the Olumulia family is unique in its political spread as one of the sons of the former governor, Muyiwa, who is a Special Adviser to Fayemi, is also strongly backing his boss.
Oye local Government
If the home boy advantage, a theory propounded by the former governor, Segun Oni during the rerun election, is anything to go by, Fayemi who hails from Isan Ekiti is expected to benefit from this advantage. Besides Fayemi, other party bigwigs in the party chieftain who are also from the council area include, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ganiyu Owolabi, from Ilupeju and the Director General of Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Hon. Bimbo Daramola, who is also from Ire-Ekiti.
However, to run bone to bone against these APC political iron pillars, are former Senator Ayo Arise, who was instrumental to the establishment of the Federal University with the main campus in the town, while he is expected to be supported by other party chieftains like Dr Jimi Oke, Chief Segun Olanrewaju and Otunba Davis to get substantial votes for the PDP. But Fayemi would sweep the polls in his home Local Government Area.
Eyes are on the influence former Governor Segun Oni, who hails from Ifaki community, in this local government area can do following his defection from the PDP to APC with some of his supporters.
Apart from Oni, the only member of the PDP in the House of Assembly, who has also defected to APC, Mrs. Oriniowo Olubunmi Anike is from the council.
Therefore, with Oni leading others including Senator Olu Adetunmbi, Otunba Femi Olanrewaju a.k.a Ijakoko and Babatunde Odetola, APC stands the chance of winning the area.
The PDP would push the likes of Prof Tunde Adeniran, Chief Segun Ilori and Chief Femi Akinyemi, who are staunch members of the PDP into combat while Labour’s troops are being marshalled by Chief Akin Olayisade. Given Oni’s entrenched dominance in the state, the opposition to Fayemi may not count much.
Efon Local Government
Although, Efon-Alaaye, another one town council area, was a stronghold of the PDP during the Fayose era, the permutations changed under the present administration on account of the huge number of political appointees in the town
It is an incontrovertible fact that the likes of the present commissioner for Culture and Tourism, who was a commissioner in the old Ondo State, Chief Mrs. Ronke Okunsanya, former deputy speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Mr. Dapo Karunwi and the incumbent chairman, Dr Adio Folayan, are prominent indigenes who are likely to work for the success of Fayemi in the election.
The PDP can boast of people like Chief Bisi Kolawole, his brother Prof Dipo Kolawole, Mrs Busola Oyebode, the PDP Women Leader in the state to drive out the votes.
Bamidele has Chief Odunayo Ategbero as one of his prominent supporters.
This arguably would be the most keenly watched race in the state given the deep political interests at play by the prominent indigenes from the area. Fayose, the PDP candidate, Bamidele the Labour candidate and Niyi Adebayo, the former governor of the state are all from this local government area and would be determined to win the Local Government Area to their parties.
Although, the three parties are popular in the council, but observers are of the opinion that the influence of Adebayo (son) and father may work in favour of the APC.
Other APC henchmen on ground include former Information Commissioner, Chief Taiwo Olatunbosun, who just defected to the party from PDP, Mojeed Jamiu and his brother Hakeem from Igbimo-Ekiti, Churchill Adedipe, Ayodeji Odu and Deji Adesokan all are there to provide succor to APC.
While Mrs Bola Olatunde-Bruce and Martins Ibikunle are of the LP, the state secretary of the PDP, Dr Tope Aluko, Dipo Anisulowo and Ambassador Toye Olofintuyi are there to fight for the success of Fayose at the poll.
Ekiti South West
This is the home of some of the most prominent politicians from the state some with name recognition from the second republic among whom is Senator Bode Olowoporoku, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ambassador Dare Bejide and Chief Idowu Odeyemi who are all of the PDP.
Marshalling the forces for Fayemi is his Chief of Staff Yemi Adaramodu, Hon. Ife Arowosoge, Richard Apolola and Modupe Ogundipe, a former chieftain of PDP and now of the APC in the council. Though overtly apolitical, eyes would be on the human rights activist and legal luminary, Femi Falana (SAN) who is also from this council.
Change in calculation
Although, PDP used to be popular in the council, especially with the presence of the likes of Bejide, Chief Idowu Odeyemi and others, but since the coming on board of Fayemi the calculation has changed, and this has overshadowed the influence of the PDP.
The only prominent members of LP in the council area include a former member of the House of Assembly, Abiola Olowokere and another politician, Femi Oloniyo. Their effort may, however, not count for much for Bamidele in this Local Government Area.
No doubt that PDP has a long list of politicians in this council area, but the challenges before the party is its ability to translate this asset to pulling out the votes. The PDP chieftains include the ministerial nominee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Bimbo Owolabi, Ropo Ogunbolude, who are all former governorship aspirants of the party, Owoseni Ajayi, the deputy Director-General of the Ayo Fayose Campaign Organisation (AFCO), Dare Omotosho, Chief Afolabi Ojuawo and former member of the House of Representatives, Titilayo Akindahunsi among others.
The APC forces are being marshalled by the deputy governor, Prof Modupe Adelabu, whose mother hails from the town and the Commissioner for Information, Tayo Ekundayo. Although, Adeyeye, a prince of the town, has just been nominated by President Jonathan for ministerial appointment, which is expected to influence the voting pattern for PDP, but records have not really shown that this factor has earned the community more votes in the past.
Ikole Local Government One major factor that is
likely to help Fayose here is presence of top PDP big wigs in this area including acting South-West, National Vice- Chairman of the party, Chief Ishola Filani and the state chairman of the PDP, Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe.
However, Fayemi also has strong followers in this area, including Chief Akin Fasae, Mr. Bunmi Awotiku, Chief Segun Ajibulu and the APC Women Leader in the state, Mrs. Funke Owosemi
The Labour Party has Akogun Bunmi Ogunleye and Alhaji Saka Adeleye.
The APC had until recently had a large sway over this area until the emergence of the Bamidele phenomenon in Ekiti Central Senatorial District which has become a sort of worry for the APC chieftains in the area
However, tomorrow’s battle would be marshalled in the area by the state chairman of the APC Chief Jide Awe, the son in-law of the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, himself a member of the House of Representatives, the former chairman of the council, Hon Tajudeen Akingbolu, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, Hon Fasakin of the State House of Assembly for APC among others.
The PDP’s forces would be marshalled by former Senator Clement Awoyelu, Chief Akin Osuntokun, Hon Tope Ademiluyi and Hon. Kehinde Odebunmi.
Ordinarily, the presence of the immediate past Minister of Police Affairs, who hails from Ipoti-Ekiti community of the local government should have is expected to influence votes in favour of the PDP in the area, but unfortunately, lack of political structure and strong home backing may affect the minister.
Also, PDP chieftains, Kayode Alufa and Yemi Arokodare, a former house Representatives member, former party chairman, Chief Bola Olu-Ojo, from Ikoro are other PDP members, who should have given APC a good fight, but the presence of Hon. Omowumi Ogunlola, a House of Assembly member and Chief Femi Oyebanjo and other stalwarts of the party may give the ruling party a victory.
Apart from the human influence, the performance of Governor Fayemi, with the construction of major township roads and inter-city roads could also be an added advantage to the chance of the ruling party in the area.
Already, Emure-Ekiti still appears tense over the murder of their illustrious son, a 33-year old man, Foluso Ogundare who was a strong supporter of Bamidele of the LP, said to have been shot and killed by people suspected to be members of a rival party during a ward meeting of the party.
Although, Emure used to be a strong hold of PDP, the ruling APC has also made incursion into the place since the coming on board of the Fayemi administration.
Also the choice of running mate, Alhaja Mariam Ogunlade from this town by Bamidele may be an added advantage for the LP candidate.
Two prominent PDP members, including former deputy governor, Biodun Olujimi and former Speaker, Femi Bamisile and Hon Ajibola a.k.a 50-50, the only PDP member of the state House of Assembly may have great influence on the political permutations in this council.
Expectations that Bamisele would have been appointed as running mate to Fayose raised optimism for the PDP here, but to what extent the failure of the PDP candidate to pick Bamisele would affect him remains to be a guess.
Ilejemeje Local Government
The ruling APC has some political office holders such as a serving commissioner, Chief Folorunso Olabode ,the chairman of the council, Prince Adegoroye Bamigboye, Princess Iyabo Fakunle who recently defected from PDP to APC to command its forces on ground.
While the PDP has Hon Duro Faseyi, a former member of the House of Representatives and Chief Dipo Arogunmasa, former council chairman and Chief Kole Akinwumi, a two time commissioner in the state to slug it out with the ruling APC members in the area.
This has been an APC stronghold since the advent of the current democratic dispensation. It has always voted against the PDP. In the 2007 general elections, it produced Saliu Adeoti, the late deputy speaker of EKHA and he was a strong backer of Fayemi. There are no indications that the tide has changed and the PDP may find it difficult to excel here. The APC is in charge here. But the likes of Pastor Kola Oluwawole and Jackson Adebayo of the PDP would try to resist the APC dominance in the area, but it would be to no avail.
The PDP is expected to perform well in this area based on the presence of the likes of former Senator Gbenga Aluko, former Acting Governor Tunji Odeyemi and Senator Sola Akinyede.
However, the APC is expected to parade party members led by Speaker of the House of Assembly, Adewale Omirin, member, House of Representatives, Bamidele Faparuyi, Paul Omotosho and Chief Aderemi Ajayi a Special Adviser to the governor on Chieftaincy Matters to the governor
Election in this area is expected to be keenly contested going by those paraded by the two parties. Be that as it may, watchers of political trend in the state are of the opinions that it may be difficult to conclude categorically at this point that party any of the parties would easily dominate.