With the successful completion of governorship primaries of various political parties participating in the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State, the race to Oke Ayoba Government House has started in earnest but attention is now focused on few of the many aspirants.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave May 15 deadline to political parties fielding candidates in the poll to submit the list of their candidates to the commission.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ekiti State, Prof Abdulganiyu
Candidates that had emerged from parties’primaries are Prof. Kolapo Olusola, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Dr. Kayode Fayemi, All Progressive Congress (APC) Mr. Sunday Balogun, Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN); Pastor Tunde Afe of the ANRP; Chief Ayodele David Adesua, African Democratic Party (ADC); Mr. Akinloye Aiyegbusi of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Sur Abiodun Aluko of Accord Party, Steve Oribamise for All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP). Amb Dare Bejide of Labour Party (LP).
All the candidates and their parties are already canvassing for votes, promising to better the lots of the electorate when voted into power in July.
Even though the candidates are busy making promises, the contest has been narrowed to be between the two strong contenders –. Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the APC and Prof. Kolapo Olusola of the PDP. Olusola, who is the present deputy governor of the state is the anointed candidate of Governor Ayodele Fayose, who had earlier said at the inception of his administration that he and his deputy would leave government at the same time at the expiration of their tenure
Dr. Kayode Fayemi:
He is a second term contender for the post even as he was in the saddle between October 2010 and October 2014. He was stopped from being re-elected following the defeat he suffered from the incumbent governor, Ayodele Fayose of the PDP. Some people were of the opinion that Fayemi lost the election because of the controversial competence test his administration intended for civil servants and the deployment of federal might by the PDP then at the centre.
Issues likely to work for Fayemi in the coming election include the federal might as his party, the APC, is at the centre and has the resources to prosecute the election. Fayemi was also noted for the prompt payment of salaries and pensions to civil servants/ pensioners during his reign.
Realizing the need to bail out the state from the club of states that go cap in hand to the federal government for finance, he established investments that could generate money for the state.
He took N25 billion bond from the capital market which he invested on Ikogosi Warm Spring. Other projects that stand to his credit are the building of state pavilion located along Ado new road, reviving Ire Burnt Brick that was inaugurated by former Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. He also set a solid foundation for youth engagement in agriculture, set up of state security outfit through which many unemployed youths were paid monthly allowances. The moribund Ikogosi Warm Spring was also put on stream and was reportedly generating about N45 million into the state coffers monthly. The Ire Burnt Brick had begun skeletal production and was attracting serious patronage within and outside the state..
Fayemi’s administration also set up social security scheme for Ekiti elderly people through which N5,000 was being paid to the senior citizens from the age of 65. No fewer than 25,000 had been captured in the programme as at the time of winding up his administration in 2014.
He also established 19 local council development areas, bringing the total number of LCDAs and council areas in the state to 35. Fayose, however, cancelled the LCDAs when he came on board, citing inadequate funding and alleged poor preparedness.
Fayemi also renovated public primary/secondary schools, building, renovated and dualized roads, improved hospitals among other programmes.
However, issues such as his administration’s insistence on competence test for teachers in public primary/secondary schools may work against Fayemi at the poll.
The leaders of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and the organised labour rose against Fayemi over the policy as they were of the view that the government intended to use the test to prune down the workforce. Fayemi, had, however, denied the insinuation since. The outcome of the controversial judicial panel of inquiry set up by the Fayose-led government to probe Fayemi’s administrarion may also affect his chances at the poll.
The panel had placed a 10-year ban on Fayemi from holding any political post either in the state or any part of the country. The minister had however challenged the constitution of the panel in a higher court. Fayemi went to court seeking disbandment of the panel on grounds of partisanship of members, explaining that members of the panel were Fayose’s appointees over whom he exercises authority.
His party, the APC, through its publicity secretary, Taiwo Olatubosun, had also described those seeking to stop the former governor from seeking a second term through the report of the panel as a “wasteful move.” A political party, the All People’s Party (APP) had filed a lawsuit praying the court to disqualify Fayemi from contesting the July 14 poll on grounds of his indictment by the Judicial Panel of Inquiry.
Olatubosun in a statement said, “It will amount to futility to file this matter before a lower court after the Supreme Court had ruled in similar cases involving former Vice President Atiku Abubakar versus INEC and former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State versus Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso when the highest court in the land ruled that no White Paper or indictment by any tribunal or commission, except the courts, can bar Nigerians from contesting election.”
In the same vein, some people are also of the view that the minister should not have presented himself now for another term having ruled the state for four years and shortly after his defeat by Fayose, he was compensated with a ministerial position.
Prof. Kolapo Olusola:
He is the current deputy governor of Ekiti State. Before he emerged the deputy governorship candidate to Fayose in 2014, little was known about the Ikere-born politician in Ekiti’s political circle. He was a professor of building technology at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State before his election as Fayose’s deputy in 2014. He emerged candidate of the PDP for the July 14 poll after beating a former national publicity secretary of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, during the party’s primary on May 8 held at the Eagle Hall in Ado Ekiti.
His chance of becoming the governor is very bright since his godfather, Governor Fayose, whose political patronage he seems to enjoy, still has the sympathy of the downtrodden in the state, who would automatically determine who becomes the next governor of the state.
Fayose, who has vowed to repeat the feat he recorded during the 2014 governorship election, when he defeated Fayemi, is boasting that the projects his administration had been able to put in place since his inception, are enough to campaign for his successor.
However, some odds that may likely work against Olusola include non-payment of salary arrears to civil servants, teachers and other categories of workers in the state. Though the amount owed workers vary, it was gathered that the government is owing the core civil servants five months, teachers seven months, local government staff between seven and nine months. But Fayose had promised to settle all salary arrears and complete all ongoing projects initiated by his administration before his final disengagement.
Another serious issue that Olusola would have to contend with is the intra-party crisis within the PDP that has forced many to dump the party for the opposition political parties such as APC, SDP, MPN and LP. Some people are of the view that electing Olusola as the next governor of the state is the continuation of Fayose’s legacy and alleged autocratic tendencies.
To express their dissatisfaction with Fayose over the adoption of Olusola as his preferred candidate for the topmost job, former governorship aspirants on the platform of the PDP, Chief Abiodun Aluko, Amb Dare Bejide, Dr Sikiru Lawal, a former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General under Fayose, Mr. Owoseni, left the party for other political parties.
Aluko went to MPN to contest the ticket of the party but lost and later went to Accord Party (AD) where he is now the candidate. Bejide, who left for the SDP also lost the ticket to Akin Aiyegbusi, a banker. Aluko had accused Fayose of intimidating other aspirants like Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Abiodun Olujimi and the party’s former national spokesman, Prince Adeyeye to drop their ambition for the 2018 gubernatorial poll. Shortly after losing the primary to Olusola, Adeyeye also announced his exit from the party to another party he is yet to disclose. It is believed that these defectors might work against the emergence of Fayose’s candidate at the poll.