It is now three days to the governorship elections in Ekiti State.
Barely 72 hours to the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, the candidates are putting finishing touches to their campaigns. Except something unexpected happens to trigger a major swing in choice, many of the electorates have probably decided whom to vote for.
Naturally, all the candidates are talking up their chances in the poll – nobody goes into a challenge believing they are going to lose. However, every candidate has areas where they wished things were a lot favourable than it is now.
For instance, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s candidate, Ayodele Fayose, is touted as very popular at the grassroots; but this popularity may not resonate across all local governments in the state.
Whilst the incumbent and candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Kayode Fayemi, may have transformed the state capital, Ado Ekiti, into a modern-looking town with monuments such as the Pavillion, the Civic Centre, the laying of fibre optic cable and a number of other projects, he may not be as appealing to those in the rural areas as he would have wished.
Ekiti has always been an interesting state for political analysts.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, no incumbent governor has successfully won a re-election. It would not be a total surprise if that continues, although there is also a possibility of a break with tradition.
Apart from Messrs. Fayemi and Fayose, a third major candidate for the election is the Labour Party’s Opeyemi Bamidele. Mr. Bamdele, a member of the House of Representatives, was a member of the APC until he fell out with Mr. Fayemi.
Below is PREMIUM TIMES analysis, by local governments, of the strength and weaknesses of the three major contenders in the elections:
The capital of the state, Ado Ekiti, is the centre of all electioneering. But this is not just for symbolic reasons.
About 30 per cent of the electorates live here, and the winner in Ado Ekiti stands a good chance of winning the election.
With gleaming new edifices and many more still under construction, Ado Ekiti is shedding its old looks and gradually evolving into a modern town. Mr. Fayemi deserves credit for this and may have won the hearts of some inhabitants of the state. However, his long-drawn battles with civil servants, especially teachers over the competency test, Teachers Development Needs Assessment, TDNA, may be a dent on his popularity in the town. Many teachers believe the TDNA is a ploy by the government to prune their number. Some have pointed at the public humiliation of teachers who couldn’t read in Edo, another APC-controlled state, as an example of what the government intends to do with the TDNA.
That said, Mr. Fayemi is expected to tap from the grassroots influence of prominent APC politicians in the town, such as the former Chairman of Ado Ekiti Local Government, Bisi Egbeyemi, senator representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Babafemi Ojudu, to upturn the chances of his main contenders, especially, Mr. Fayose.
Mr. Fayose is very much at home in Ado Ekiti. He is very popular with the ordinary people who see him as one of their own. Okada riders, local market women and street urchins throng his campaign rallies. Mr. Fayose will depend on these foot soldiers to help build his votes tally in the town.
The Labour Party candidate, Opeyemi Bamidele, is also not a push over in the town. Mr. Bamidele will be relying on the backing of one of the most influential politicians in the state, who also doubles as his campaign coordinator, Remi Oguntuase, to get a sizeable share of the vote in the capital.
Next-door Ikere is another keenly contested local government. The PDP seems to have an edge over other parties here. Ikere is home to some of the most influential PDP chieftains such, former Deputy Governor, Bisi Omoyemi, a former member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, Dayo Okondo, and former chairman of Ikere Local Government, Bisi Aloba.
However, Mr. Fayemi, apart from his popularity as governor, will be relying on the influence of another former deputy governor, Abiodun Aluko, who recently defected from the PDP to the APC; as well as Bamidele Olomilua, Funmiyi Afuye, Bolu Akomolafe, and Babade Kayode to swing the votes in the local government in his favour.
However, things are a little complicated for the APC in Ikere. Even though the son of Mr. Olomilua, Muyiwa, is Mr. Fayemi’s special adviser, one of his wives is a chieftain of the LP while his daughter is the running mate of the Accord Party candidate, Kole Ajayi. The divided loyalty of the Olomilua family is certainly a source of worry to Mr. Fayemi.
With the divergent political forces at play in the local government, Ikere could be one of the flashpoints for violence during the election.
This could be a straight contest between Messrs. Bamidele and Fayose. Afao Ekiti, Mr. Fayose’s hometown, is in the local government, same as Iyin-Ekiti, the hometown of Mr. Bamidele. But the APC will be looking on former Governor Niyi Adebayo to salvage some votes for it in this local government.
As the local government of the incumbent, the APC is the party to beat in Oye. Even if for mere symbolic reasons, Mr. Fayemi will want to win here. He will definitely lose his bragging rights if he loses in his home turf. Easy as this may seem, it is not a walk in the park for Mr. Fayemi as Oye is also home to perhaps the most influential PDP supporter in the state, Ayo Arise.
Mr. Arise, a former governorship aspirant is a dogged fighter and will certain give Mr. Fayemi and the Secretary to the State Government, Ganiyu Owolabi, a tough challenge.
The LP is not known to enjoy the support of any major influence at Oye. Though its chairman, Akin Omole, is from the local government, his influence, if any at all, palls beside that of Mr. Fayemi or Mr. Arise.
From all indications, the APC should nick it here. However, the PDP will be getting some votes here due to the influence of its chieftains such as Bode Olowporoku and Idowu Odeyemi. Their influence is expected to be neutralised by that of the governor’s Chief of Staff, Yemi Adaramodu.
Efon is the stronghold of the LP candidate, Mr. Bamidele, who is overwhelmingly popular here following his projects in the town as a member of the House of Representatives. But the APC could pull the rug off his feet if he becomes complacent.
Ijero Local Government
This is a straight contest between APC and LP, which is beginning to gain ground here. But the APC should conveniently nick this one.
After the killing of Foluso Ogundara, a supporter of Mr. Bamidele’s, by suspected APC supporters, there have been a ground swell of support for Mr. Bamidele in Emure. It is also the hometown of Mr. Bamidele’s running mate, Bolanle Bruce. It is expected that Ms. Bruce should pull some weight here for her principal. Again, Emure should be a direct battle between the APC and LP.
The PDP looks good to win it here. The party will be relying on Former Deputy Governor, Abiodun Olujimi, and a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Femi Bamisile, to make that happen.
On the strength of former senator, Gbenga Aluko, alone, the PDP should win Gboyin without a fuss. In 1999 when the South West region overwhelmingly voted for the defunct AD, Mr. Aluko who was running on the PDP platform won in Gboyin Making him the lone PDP senator in the region. If one adds the influence of former Acting Governor, Tunji Odeyemi, and the former South West secretary of the PDP, Ropo Adesanya, it should be a landslide for the PDP here.
Traditionally, the people of Moba have always voted for the progenitors of the APC. There is no indication that they will break from this tradition on Saturday.
Like in Oye, the APC is expected to grab Ilejemeje. Ilejemeje is in Ekiti North Senatorial District, and the sentiment in this area of the state is that Mr. Fayemi, who is from the district, should win a second term in office. The APC is expected to win a landslide here on that sentiment.
A former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, may indirectly influence who emerges as winner in Ekiti West. His in-law and member of the House of Representatives, Oyetunde Ojo, is from there. Naturally he would strive to impress his in-law by making sure the APC wins here.
However, the APC will have a hard time convincing some electorates after the killing of Ayo Jeje and Juliana Adewumi by suspected APC thugs at Erinjiyan-Ekiti. The killing of these two supporters of the LP candidate will likely increase the number of sympathy votes for Mr. Bamidele. Also, a large number of APC supporters recently defected to the PDP in Ekiti West.
Ekiti West will be keenly contested and is one of the local governments where violent clashes may occur.
It may be payback time for the PDP and Mr. Arise after the PDP chieftain successfully battled the governor over the location of the federal university in the state. Mr. Arise, who wanted the university to be located in his hometown of Oye-Ekiti, got his way over the incumbent who had clamoured for it to be situated at Ikole. For this reason the people of Ikole may want to pay the government back for its support by voting for the APC.
Having said that, Ikole-Ekiti is the hometown of the Acting South-West Vice-Chairman of the PDP, Ishola Filani, and the current State Chairman of the PDP, Makanjuola Ogundipe. These men are not pushovers.
As loyal party men, they will definitely be throwing their weight behind Mr. Fayose irrespective of the misgiving they have for the role played by Mr. Arise in the location of the university away from their town.
This should be an interesting local government to watch as the LP candidate was also warmly welcomed by a throng of supporters when he held a campaign rally there.
This is clearly a PDP dominated local government. Other candidates can only hope to get an insignificant share of the votes here. Some of the most influential politicians in the state: Dayo Adeyeye, Bimbo Owolabi, Ropo Ogunbolude and former member of the House of Representatives, Titilayo Akindahunsi, are from this local government. With these heavy weights working for the PDP (Mr. Adeyeye was nominated minister by President Goodluck Jonathan), it is hard to see how other parties will pull any surprises here.
This is one local government that may go bonkers. Ido-Osi is a major flashpoint for violent clashes during elections. It was at the heart of the 2009 election violence and nothing so far has shown that this will change. Haywire
Ido-Osi is the hometown of the former governor, Segun Oni, who recently defected to the APC and is expected to pull considerable weight in favour of his new party. Mr. Oni was recently elected National Vice Chairman of the APC.
But traditionally, the people of Ido-Osi vote for the PDP. That is not expected to change too. However, Mr. Opeyemi too has been winning supporters from the local government at a speed that should worry his opponents. This could go down to the wires.