Gubernatorial candidates in Ekiti State are taking part in a televised debate to canvass support for their individual ambitions, two days to the showdown on Saturday.
Major contenders, Kayode Fayemi and Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, standing for the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, respectively, are expected to slug it out tonight.
Akin Aiyegbusi of the Social Democratic Party, Segun Adewale of the Advanced Democratic Party and Abiodun Aluko of Accord Party are also participating in tonight’s debate, which is the second round. The first edition held in the afternoon amongst candidates of other parties.
The candidates would counter one another on which direction the state should go. While the opposition candidates are arguing for a breakaway from the dominance of incumbent Governor Ayo Fayose, Mr Olusola-Eleka wants the electorate to show appreciation for the remarkable strides of the incumbent by giving him a chance to continue.
Mr Fayose, whose tenure winds down in October, nominated Mr Olusola-Eleka to succeed him, and paired him with a 39-year-old deputy.
Major issues up for passionate arguments tonight include the plight of state public works personnel, state external debts and the divergent views on how to curb the activities of herdsmen.
Mr Fayose signed a law against open grazing by predominantly Fulani pastorialists in 2016, but some candidates have criticise the policy, even though they are largely non-committal about their solutions.
Political analysts have found it difficult to predict a definitive favourite, even in the remaining 48 hours to the election.
The debate was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m., but logistics and other unavoidable factors appeared to have put them well behind schedule.
As at 6:04 p.m., only Mr Adewale has been seen at the venue. There are widespread insinuations that Mr Olusola-Eleka may not appear for the debate, but this has not been categorically confirmed by the organisers.
Yemi Adamolekun, director of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, which is partnering Television Continental to host the debate, announced at 6:21 p.m. that the live broadcast will commence at 7:00 p.m.
PREMIUM TIMES’ Samuel Ogundipe and Nicholas Ibekwe are at the venue to bring live updates on crucial aspects of the night.
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Segun Adewale of ADP speaking with Premium Times outside the venue of the debate
More than 43 minutes after the official start time of the second round of the Ekiti State gubernatorial debate, organised by the Enough Is Enough group and Television Continental, the event is experience a slow start as most of the seats in the audience are still empty and only one of the debaters, Segun Adewale of Advance Democratic Party, is believed to be around the venue of the debate.
There are also little activities going on at the registration desk as members of the audience appears in trickles.
A source close to the the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Kayode Fayemi, just told Premium Times that Mr Fayemi may not appear for this evening debate. Our source, however added that top members of his campaign organisation and the APC are still trying to convince, Mr Fayemi who is the immediate past governor do the state to appear for the debate. This is as the moderator of the debate just kicked off debate proper.
The second belt of the Ekiti election has commenced.
Candidates will be questioned on their plans for Ekiti people on security, education, health care, job creation, the anchor announced.
“You need not have billions of Naira, you need not to have stolen to contest in our party,” Temitope Omotayo, 35-year-old, gubernatorial candidate of Young Progressive Party (YDP).
Candidates are now being called to the podium. Candidates present for the debate are;
Abiodun Aluko – Accord Party
Akinloye Aiyebusi – Socialist Democratic Party
Segun Adewale – Advanced Democratic Party
Kayode Fayemi of the People’s Democratic Party and Olusola Eleka of the All Progressives Congress are not yet to show up.
Temitope Omotayo, candidate of the Young Democratic Party, addressed the audience in the hall. He argued that the youth can achieve a lot for Nigeria if there is a unison and sincerity of purpose amongst them.
Mr Omotayo, 35, said the senior citizens who dominate the country’s political landscape have no fresh ideas to offer in a fast-chanhing world.
Three candidates at the venue at Mr Aluko, Accord Party; Mr Adewale, ADP; and Mr Aiyegbusi, SDP.
Mr Fayemi and Mr Olusola-Eleka, candidates of the two biggest platforms, APC and PDP, failed to show up.
Ms Adamolekun says it is not the first time Mr Fayemi will shun debate. She said the politician similar ignored invitation to participate in June 2014 gubernatorial debate when he was then the incumbent.
Mr Fayemi lost that election, failing to win even one out of 16 local governments areas in the state. He was roundly defeated by Mr Fayose, who was himself ousted from office in 2006 amidst allegations of corruption.
Mr Aluko says he will prioritise the welfare of the people if elected. He is from Ikere Ekiti.
Mr Aiyegbusi, an investment banker, said he would as a matter of urgency attract investments to the state. He said the state has always been know as thorough and hardworking.
Mr Adewale, an aviation executive, said the state is too reliant on federal allocations rather than generating income internally.
He said the state is too educated to be poor, producing a high turnover of professors and other highly-educated personalities. He also said the state has raw materials that could be converted into good use for the overall benefit of the state economy.
The debate moderator says the Mr Fayemi and Mr Olusola-Eleka were invited, but did not show up even though they did not say they will not be available.
First set of questions:
Biodun Aluko of Accord Party promised to advance the human capital of Ekiti people, create wealth through investment in agriculture, mining and tourism.
“I am devastated by the level of poverty we have in the state. I am contesting to eradicate poverty. If i’m elected, my manifesto is simply to eradicate poverty as a matter of urgency,” Akinloye Aiyebusi – Socialist Democratic Party
“The main reason why i came to Ekiti is to create a shift from living on federal government allocation by creating wealth,” Segun Adewale of Advanced Democratic Party
Mr Aluko of Accord Party, said he would train and support people with technical skill.
“We would exploit and us the natural resources we have in Ekiti State sustainably.”
Our IGR is so people we have to beef it up. We have to make educational functional.
We have to treat the problems we have with a sense of urgency.
Mr Akinloye then started talking about agriculture when the question was about education. The moderator had to stop him and asked him to talk about education specifically.
Abiodun Aluko (Accord Party) on what he’ll do on education
“Ekiti has the highest concentration of PhD holders and professors but it has not translated to wealth. This is because of the type of education we receive has been tailored towards government job.”
If elected, Mr Abiodun said he will differentiate education for government jobs and technical education. Skill development will be well supported under his government, he said.
“We’ll make sure we add skill and competence to the certificate you have. Our education will be made functional, not just certificate,” he added.
Segun Adewale says it is worrying that Ekiti has so many professors yet the state is poor.
He said education for the sake of it is not enough. He called for a new syllabus.
O am an entrepreneur, my plan is to create vocational centres teaching leadership.
Mr Aluko says insecurity is a fallout of dislocation in governance chain. He wants the youth to be adequately cared for.
He also says he supports state police. But first, a conducive environment must be ensured for businesses in order to increase economic prosperity and decrease runaway unemployment.
Mr Fayose’s policy against open grazing has been quite popular amongst people of the state, which is historically agrarian and still largely remains so.
Mr Aiyegbusi said of herdsmen, “if you give them an inch they take a marrow from you.”
We will not give any of our land for ranching. We will not give our land for Fulani. I would not want to gave a serious security issue at my hands, he adds.
The Buhari administration has been pushing for a policy that will see vast expanse of lands allocated to herdsmen to avoid their continuous roaming during which they regular come into contact with farmers.
Mr Adewale says Mr Fayose’s policy appears to have significantly reduced violence linked to herdsmen in Ekiti. He however calls for a better use of security earmarks for governor, especially in the area of security agents mobilisation.
What do you plan to do to fix security?
Biodun Aluko said insecurity in the country fuels from ‘government dislocation.’ He maintained that joblessness remains a major factor increasing Nigerian insecurity situation.
“Most kidnappers are graduates because they don’t have jobs. The first way to fight security is to make sure jobs are created for the youth. I’m in support of state police.”
On herdsmen crisis
Akinloye Aiyebusi of Socialist Democratic Party said he will increase neighborhood watch to increase security in the communities. He maintained that herdsmen will not be allowed under his administration if elected.
“We are farmers, we cannot share our land with cows. We cannot give up our lands to Fulanis because it will still lead to violence,” he said.
On situation of security outfits
The police should be properly taken care of to increase security situation in Nigeria, says Segun Adewale -of Advanced Democratic Party
What will you do to fix poor state of health in Ekiti?
Mr Akinloye Aiyegbusi said he will import the concept of Abiye from Ondo State to grant women in Ekiti free medical care.
“In every community, we want to have what we call primary health care services to make sure that at every short distances to where you have, their will be a doctor,” he said.
Mr Akinloye said he will implement free health care for people aged 60 and above of he becomes governor.
Segun Adewale, “Their is no facility to conduct MRI test in the whole of Ekiti. My plan is for us to have the basic equipment in his state.”
He wants the rich to fund the health sector in partnership with the government.
Mr Aluko: “We have developed a holistic programme towards healthcare delivery in the state.”
He said his plan includes refresher courses for healthcare practitioners, free healthcare for people between ages zero and six and those above 70 years old.
Mr Akinloye: Free medical care for pregnant women and the aged. Spreading of primary healthcare facilities to as many communities as possible. He says many people die of preventable diseases.
Segun Adewale: To provide quality healthcare in Ekiti State, which include the basic equipment. The wealthy should fund the health sector in conjunction with the government. He promise to creat health insurance for all in the state.
What do you plan to do to create jobs and create enabling environment to harness potentials?
Mr Abiodun Aluko will make sure that human capital development of youth will be enhanced.
Agriculture and mineral resources will be explored to create more jobs.
“The government will create a job search centre when anybody can use ICT to search for job,” he concluded.
Mr Akinloye Aiyebusi said his government will make sure that youth access loans easily. He will use his relationship with international organisations to attract funds for youth.
The ADP candidate, Segun Adewale, says he knows how to create wealth. Unlike other contestants who rely on monthly pay.
He said, “APC candidate, professor, this one, OAU professor, they earn salaries but i’ve been paying salaries for the past 22 years.”
Mr Aluko: Human capital development and to invest and industrial development. “If you deposit a million naira in the bank of industry, the back will give you two million naira.
We would create a job search centre.
Mr. Akinloye: He would create an enabling environment for the youth to access loans. I want to de-enphasise white collar jobs. We would get funds from international organisations to provide fund to grow small businesses.
Mr. Adewale: I run businesses. I know how to create wealth. My opponents have been earning salaries. They have not paid anyone before. But I have been paying salaries for 22 years. I will create jobs.
I will create industrial parks in the three senatorial District.
Is there a way you can fix electricity?
Abiodun Aluko – Accord Party
Though creation of electricity is the function of the federal government, his government will make explore abundant dams in Ekiti to generate locally. He will achieve this through a public/private partnership.
Akinloye Aiyebusi – Socialist Democratic Party
He said foreign investors bring forth many disadvantageous regulations. He’ll surmount this challenge by investing in what he called ‘step down.’ to bring more power to the people.
Ekiti state has to discontinue reliance on Benin Disco.
The anchor moves to rebuttal section where candidates can ask each other questions
Abiodun Aluko of Accord Party said he has no question for any of the other two canidates
” I don’t have to take them up on their programmes, its my own that is important to me,” he said.
Mr Segun Adewale insisted on speaking on power having being excluded earlier.
He said he will invite partners to generate power through gravity energy at the cost of about N10 per kilowatt.
He also didn’t have question for the other two candidates.
Akinloye Aiyebusi of Socialist Democratic Party also does not have questions to challenge his colleagues.