Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared Abiodun Oyebanji, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as the winner of the Ekiti governorship election held on Saturday, the contest has also thrown up a number of winners besides the governor-elect, as well as a number of losers.
According to INEC’s Chief Returning Officer in the election, Kayode Adebowale, Mr Oyebanji polled the highest valid votes cast – 187,057 – in the election to defeat his closest rival, Segun Oni, of the Social Democratic Party, who bagged 82, 211 votes.
Bisi Kolawole, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, came third, though he won in Efon Alaaye LGA, while Mr Oyebanji won in the rest of the 15 local government areas of the state.
With his election, Mr Oyebanji, the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, is the fifth democratically elected governor of the state. Ekiti State was created in 1996 by the military administration of the late head of state, Sani Abacha, an army general.
Niyi Adebayo: He is considered a major winner in the election because he is the first political godfather to the governor-elect, Mr Oyebanji.
Mr Adebayo, governor of Ekiti State between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the defunct AD, was the first person to appoint Mr Oyebanji into a political position.
He appointed Mr Oyebanji first as his Special Assistant on Parliamentary Affairs before elevating his status to that of a Special Adviser. Mr Oyebanji later served out the administration as the Chief of Staff to Mr Adebayo who failed to win his reelection in 2003.
Mr Adebayo is believed to have recommended Mr Oyebanji to Kayode Fayemi when the latter retrieved his mandate as the duly elected governor of Ekiti State in 2010 on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Now that his political godson is the governor-elect of the state, Mr Adebayo, the current minister of trade and investment, could be said to be back in power.
The APC, the ruling party in Ekiti State, has, by the new victory, extended its tenancy in the Ekiti State Government House, Oke Ayoba, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, beyond 2022.
Despite the schisms in the party as a result of the primaries that produced Mr Oyebanji as the party’s gubernatorial candidate and the fallout of the recent primaries held for various elective seats, the party still went to the poll as a formidable unit.
The visit of Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the party, to the state to canvass support for the party’s candidate, according to local observers, also boosted the chances of the party in the election.
According to INEC, the APC won in 15 of the 16 local government areas in the state thereby making the victory a massive one.
The party had also become the first political party to win back-to-back gubernatorial elections in the state in – 2018 and now 2022.
The outgoing governor of the state, Kayode Fayemi, would have received the biggest blame had the APC lost the 2022 gubernatorial election.
The governor-elect, Mr Oyebanji, is believed to have been unilaterally imposed on the party as its gubernatorial candidate to the chagrin of some stakeholders who felt the governor as the leader of the party should have provided a level-playing field for all the aspirants.
Mr Oyebanji has been with Mr Fayemi since 2010 serving as a commissioner in some ministries before being appointed as SSG in 2018, a position he held until December 2021 when he resigned to vie for the governorship ticket of the APC.
By the latest development, Mr Fayemi, whose tenure is about to end, is the first governor to have successfully installed a successor in the history of the state.
Although he might have stepped down for Mr Tinubu in the APC’s presidential primary election, the latest victory of the APC is an indication that Mr Fayemi remains firmly rooted in the politics of the state.
The First Lady of the state, Bisi Fayemi, is also a major winner of the election as the governor-elect is believed to be very close to her.
She canvassed support for the election of Mr Oyebanji, rallying the women folk in the state and the elderly to see the election of the APC candidate as her own personal project.
Some political analysts in the state say Mrs Fayemi prevailed on her husband to make Mr Oyebanji the governorship candidate of the APC.
The governor-elect is described as a proper ‘home boy’ having lived virtually all his life in the state as a lecturer, banker, farmer and politician serving in various ministries up till when he was appointed the SSG in 2018.
He is believed to have a grounded understanding of the issues and challenges of governance and government in the state.
It is, however, too early in the day to predict how his administration will pan out eventually.
A two-term governor of the state, Ayo Fayose is believed in some quarters to be the biggest loser of the Ekiti governorship election.
He failed to install a successor in 2018 at the conclusion of his own second term tenure in office even as an incumbent governor and has also failed to make Bisi Kolawole governor, the man he single-handedly imposed as the governorship candidate of the PDP, despite protests within the party in the 2022 elections.
Although Mr Fayose still retains his firm grip on the leadership of the party in the state, with the fallout of the just-concluded election and the way the recent primaries of the party were conducted, there may be a serious challenge to his leadership from within and without.
Already, the senator representing Ekiti South, Biodun Olujimi, is squaring up to Mr Fayose by leading a faction of the party in the state.
Also, a former deputy governor of the state, Kolapo Eleka, whom Mr Fayose tried to make his successor in 2018, has begun to challenge Mr Fayose’s leadership of the party in the state.
The Peoples Democratic Party has now lost back-to-back governorship election in the state; thus leaving the party in the lurch gasping for breath.
Since the winner of the election was declared in the early hours of Sunday by the electoral umpire, many supporters of the party have continued to bemoan their fate and the fate of the party in the state.
A handful of the supporters on their social media handles, especially Facebook, have blamed Mr Fayose as the cause of the party’s heavy loss, saying he should not have imposed Mr Kolawole on the party as its governorship candidate.
It is yet to be seen how the party will recover from its recent loss and brace ahead for the 2023 general elections.
Mr Kolawole, the candidate of the PDP in the just-concluded election, came third in the election.
He is believed to have been imposed on the party by Mr Fayose who preferred him to other aspirants who vied for the governorship ticket of the party.
Mr Kolawole, a former state chairman of the party and strong supporter of Mr Fayose, is perceived to be an unpopular candidate, which observers believe contributed significantly to the relatively poor performance of the party in the elections.
He has reacted to his loss by thanking his supporters and essentially accepting defeat.
A veteran gubernatorial candidate, Mr Oni may have had his last attempt at being the governor of the state having been judicially removed from power in 2010.
Mr Oni, in the events leading to the 2022 governorship election, left the PDP for the SDP where he emerged as the governorship candidate of the party which made the election a three-horse race.
Before his second missionary journey to the PDP, he had pitched his tent with the APC in 2014 and even served as the party’s chairman for the south before he dumped the party in 2018 to rejoin the PDP. He claimed he and his supporters were maltreated by the party hence his reason for dumping the party.
While he has a lot of local supporters, some also blame him for moving from one political party to the other once he fails to secure the governorship ticket of the party.
Of the three dominant contestants in the just concluded election, Mr Oni was the oldest at 67. He will be 68 by September. It is unclear at the moment whether he will vie for the governorship seat in 2026.
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