News

June 21, 2022

Ekiti 2022 governorship election: The losers, the gainers

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By Miftaudeen Raji 

The Ekiti governorship election has come and gone, but the election has left notable mark in the Nigeria’s electoral and political history.  For some political camp now, it’s an amazing one and time to celebrate, but for some, it’s time to heal from their wound.

A governorship election, which was earlier described as three-horse race saw Biodun Oyebanji of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) poll 187, 057 votes; Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) poll 82, 211 and Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) poll 67,457.

Accord (A) scored 166; African Action Congress (AAC) 409; All Progressives Grand Alliance,(APGA) 17 while Action Democratic Congress (ADC) polled 141 votes.

Action Democratic Party (ADP) scored 5,597; Allied Peoples Movement (APM) -290; Labour Party (LP) polled 195 votes; New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) scored 529 and National Rescue Movement (NRM) 347.

The rest of the political parties: Young Progressives Party (YPP)-618; All Peoples Party (APP) polled 1,980 and Zenith Labour Party,(ZLP) polled 282; Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) polled 856.

Against this background, the election ended in landslide victory in favour of the APC candidate, a top gainer, Oyebanji, who was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), having won 15 local governments out the 16 local governments in Ekiti. 

Although only INEC has the authority to declare a party or candidate winner or loser in an election, Vanguard x-rays how power, control, influence and relevance have been won and lost along the lines of political parties; institutions; party leaders; candidates as well as the people.

INEC:

It noteworthy to commend the INEC for its demonstrated preparedness and delivery on the day of election.

The Ekiti governorship election so far is a big win for INEC. The election was measurably free, fair, effective,  but for the challenge of vote buying and electoral violence in extremely few local governments. 

For the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria, INEC  transmitted results electronically, and the Ekiti election was the first to be conducted after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Act 2022 into law.

The election served as a litmus test and gives Nigerians idea of what to expect in Osun State governorship election in July and ultimately what to expect in the 2023 general elections.

Prior to the day of elections, INEC had deployed eight Resident Electoral Commissioners and four National Electoral Commissiones, a total of 10,269 personnel for the Ekiti State, according  to Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Adeniran Tella.

The INEC’s preparedness also manifested with the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), an electronic device designed to read Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and authenticate voters.

The commission  ensured delivery of no fewer than 3,346 BVAS equipment for the election, which eventually made voting proceeding faster, as against the old way.

On security, INEC also partnered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to tackle votebuying, just as the Police also deployed 17, 000 officers to the State to ensure compliance.

APC

Either you hate them or love them, the ruling party has hacked the game. APC approach the Ekiti election with a united house. This signaled its readiness for the business of 2023 presidential election. The win in Ekiti further illustrated the APC’s strong resolve towards going into larger battle of 2023.

The party has retaibed the control of the State and resources. It has called the shot for the narrative of how the South-West votes will trickle down in its favour. 

Right from its Mega Rally, the party made the rally enjoy social media trend, while also benefiting from earned media, with various political melodrama and “E dibo E tewo” (Vote and touch money) teasing from the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Governor Kayode Fayemi and the ‘Eleyi’ Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.

Asiwaju Tinubu:

The biggest winner is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The APC presidential candidate has left a memorable impression for the Ekiti people and the opposition party ahead of 2023, when he would return for his presidential campaign rally. 

The victory of Oyebanji shows that the people still have affinity for the ruling party, which is good for Tinubu’s presidential ambition. It has also helped to show the APC political strategy including the campaign for Tinubu to ascertain where to concentrate on.

Governor-elect Biodun Oyebanji:

Oyebanji did not just win the Ekiti governorship election, but his victory came with a new record.

With his landslide victory at the election,  Oyebanji has set a new record  in  the political and electoral history.  Since inception of the State, it was the first time an incumbent governor would  produce a successor from the same party.

From the get-go, Oyebanji, the candidate of the APC leveraged on the strength of grassroots presence, incumbency and support of governor, Kayode Fayemi whose second tenure will be coming to an end in few months.

Oyebanji also enjoyed the support of the APC presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the leadership of the party, as well as President Muhammadu Buhari.

Similarly,  Oyebanji’s victory marks the first time a political party will record a back-to-back victory in governorship in the state

Kayode Fayemi:

Fayemi’s story has justified that battle of life dictates that you lose some while you win some. Although he lost the APC presidential ticket, he was able to make amends with Tinubu and put the APC house in order, and this practically helped him return his preferred successor into power in  a landslide election victory.

After completing his second term as governor, Fayemi would have a say as stakeholder in the political affairs of the Ekiti State and would be able to call sway, influence some key decisions and nominations within the ruling party.

The winning of APC at the Ekiti poll also said a lot about how Fayemi has also improved in local politics, as compared to the elitist politician, whom he used to be in the past.

From the Oyebanji’s campaign rally, the Ekiti State governor now seemed to have been speaking in the language that the local Ekiti people understand and vibe to.

Who lost what?

The PDP:

Having finished distant third, the PDP really lost out in Ekiti, as compared to its previous performances in the state election. The PDP outing was unimpressive to observers. 

The implication of PDP’s poor performance at this election simply is that the party proponents are losing their grip on the South-West, which portends a bad omen for the presidential election and the party’s candidate in 2023, Abubakar Atiku.

Abubakar Atiku:

Atiku has lost out a measurable part of the South-West with PDP loss in Ekiti, because by their nature, Ekiti people are extremely serious about voting, as demonstrated on Saturday, which may have a repeat in 2023.

Unlike Tinubu, who showed to campaign for Oyebanji,  Atiku didn’t make any appearance for Kolawole. This indicates that the house of the main opposition party is obviously not in order.

When contacted on what to expect from PDP ‘Mega Rally,’ Lere Olayinka, the Spokesperson and Director of Media and Publicity of Kolawole Campaign Organization 

said winning an election, in a State like Ekiti, is way beyond organizing a “Mega Rally” and fanfare.

Lere, who made the assertion in an exclusive interview with Vanguard correspondent, jettisoned the rally, saying the Kolawole campaign organization was in good terms with the real voters.

His statement came barely 24 hours after  Tinubu described the PDP as a “Poverty Development Party,” at the APC “Mega Rally.” 

Olayinka, who stated that the Kolawole camp was not bothered about “Mega Rally” noted that the PDP has adopted a dynamic approach towards political campaigns, as well as addressing the real issues affecting the people and development of Ekiti State.

Ayo Fayose:

There’s a rift in different camps of the PDP and it was really evident in the election. The PDP house was not united before the election.

Again, former governor of the State, Ayo Fayose has lost control of Ekiti State. Fayose’s loss of the State, after losing out his presidential bid are indications of him losing political relevance.

First, Fayose and his preferred candidate, Kolawole are disadvantaged because incumbency and state resources are obviously not in their favour. 

This was further worsened by unending hostility between Fayose and lawmaker representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, Abiodun Olujimi and former Kogi lawmaker, representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye.

Segun Oni:

Oni, after losing the PDP primary and defecting to SDP, to come second with SDP shows he is still a force to reckon with in the Ekiti politics. 

Analysts believe Oni could have helped PDP better if they had fielded him to face Oyebanji of the ruling APC. 

For obvious political reasons both the PDP and APC may be looking forward to pitching their tents with him to deliver more votes for the ruling party ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Bisi Kolawole:

Kolawole lost the election after coming distant third shows that the PDP, which used to call sway before in Ekiti election has now been relegated to the back seat.

Kolawole and his predecessor, Ayo Fayose seemed to have been abandoned by Atiku and particularly Governor Seyi Makinde, who is the leader of the party in the South-West.

Similarly, Kolawole did not even enjoy that enabling physical and moral support of the key people in the national hierarchy of the PDP such as the national chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, PDP vice presidential candidate, Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the like. 

This is an indication that all is not well for the party and the Fayose and Kolawole camp.

Labour Party and Peter Obi:

Unfortunately,  the Labour Party was not on ground ahead and during the Ekiti governorship election.

There is a need for the the supposed third force and change agents such as the Labour Party and the candidacy of Peter Obi to demonstrate capacity in the coming elections.

Alhough Ekiti election is gone and settled, the forthcoming Osun State governorship election is another opportunity for the Labour Party to present a viable candidate, reach out to people for votes, in order to prepare the ground for its presidential candidate in the South-West region ahead of 2023.

What seems surprising is that Obi, who supposed be on ground to replicate real strength and party structure, returned to Nigeria from a 3-day visit to Egypt in the night when INEC was about to conclude collation of result and preparing to announce the official election results.

Obi is expected to do more in the South-West, considering he is an Easterner, and Ekiti governorship election could have been a good grounds for him to rally support for 2023. But, sadly Obi was not on ground. 

While the Labour Party governorship candidate was not visible and party leaders were far away, scores of Labour Party members in Ekiti defected to the ruling APC on Tuesday in Ado-Ekiti before  the election day.

The defectors promised to work to ensure victory for the APC’s candidate, Mr Biodun Oyebanji at the June 18 governorship election in the state.

The people and votebuying syndrome:

Overall, there have been concerns for INEC, election observers and authorities over the  level of alleged vote buying displayed in that election

The challenge of votebuying needs to be addressed. If the culture prevails among political parties, in the end the best man for the job may not win, because in any election where votebuying prevails, logic dictates that the highest bidders win.

Lesson abound in the election, electoral offenses commission now imperative –  Prof. of Political Science

Analyzing the Ekiti governorship election and its outcome, a professor of political science at the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Tunde Babawale described the poll as an eye opener, saying INEC has taken the job seriously and prepared for 2023.

He added that the resort to the use of technology has paid off handsomely, adding that, “we must have to continue with it if we want to get the electoral process right.”

According to Babawale, Ekiti election showed that with determination and determination Nigeria’s electoral process could be near perfect.

He said, “The people hold sway and preeminence in determination of whether a government will be reelected into power or not. Everyone must learn a lesson from there. What earned the APC victory was the wish of the people itself.”

Babawale however, said the it is imperative for government put a stop to votebuying, added that setting up of an electoral offenses commission would be a step in the right direction. 

He said this will be necessary to stem the tide of the epidemic of votebuying, which he described as the albatross on the neck of the Nigerian electoral.

The University don added that the June 18th 2022 Ekiti governorship election was adjudged to be free, fair and credible noting that the election all the required standards. 

Meaningful, Prof. Babawale has said the idea of saying people are losers during elections should not be celebrated by the media 

He said the success of Ekiti election  has made everybody a winner, adding, “Because if Ekito were to be set on fire, both the losers and the winners will losers at the end of the day and the fact that did not happened has made everybody a winner.