Crowded race to Ekiti Government House

THE clock is ticking towards the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State and aspirants across the major political parties are oiling their machinery towards the big contest. ODUNAYO OGUNMOLA reports on the gladiators, their antecedents, their pedigree and what the electorate should expect from them, if they pick the tickets.

Next year’s governorship race in Ekiti State is gaining momentum. Consultations are on as politicians across the divides perfect their plans to win their parties’ tickets. The last governorship election was held on June 21, 2014. This suggests that the next one is due in the middle of 2018. Governor Ayo Fayose is expected to vacate his seat on October 15, next year, when his four-year term expires.
Ahead of the election, two political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), are talking tough and insisting that the governorship seat belongs to them. Fayose, who contested on the platform of the PDP in 2014, defeated Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was the APC flag bearer. The result was challenged by the APC up to the Supreme Court. But, the apex court affirmed the victory.
While there has been a flurry of activities in the APC, ahead of the 2018 poll, the same cannot be said about the PDP. The crisis in the party at the national level has cast a long shadow on the preparations of the Ekiti chapter. Nevertheless, the governor is believed to be strategising on the choice of his successor.
Aspirants in the APC have been declaring their ambition at the ward, local government and state levels. Many of them have been unfolding their blueprints for the development of the state. No fewer than 10 aspirants in the party have visited the state executive to declare their intent to run for the highly-coveted position.
No aspirant so far has declared in the PDP, owing to the “overbearing” posture of Fayose who is expected to play a crucial role in anointing his successor. Another factor slowing down activities in the party is the protracted factional crisis at the national and state levels.
While Fayose belongs to the faction loyal to the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, a good number of the party stakeholders, who are not comfortable with the governor’s leadership style, belong to the faction led by the National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
Observers believe that the determination of the case by the Supreme Court will decide the fate of PDP aspirants. A possible loss at the apex court by the Makarfi faction could compel the faction led by Fayose to move to another party.
Aside the litigation at the national level, the Ekiti factions are also slugging it out for the control of the party machinery. The battle has shifted from the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti to the Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti Division.
The Federal High Court has declared the faction loyal to Sheriff led by Williams Ajayi as the official exco. This suggests that the Makarfi faction, headed by Fayose’s acolyte, Gboyega Oguntuase, is illegal.
The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accord the Ajayi-led exco the official recognition. This prompted the Oguntuase faction to head to the Appeal Court where the case is still pending.
That explains why the governor has floated a campaign platform, the Osoko Mass Movement (OMM), the nucleus of which would be taken to a new party, should the Makarfi faction lose at the Supreme Court.
Although the APC is not bogged down by any court case, the party has a long list of aspirants. Some observers believe that the number is unwieldy and that it could trigger intra-party bickering as witnessed recently in the run-up to the Ondo State governorship poll.
But, the party’s Acting Chairman, Mrs. Kemisola Olaleye, denied the claim that the chapter parades over 30 aspirants. She said the party only recognises the aspirants who have visited the secretariat to officially inform the state executives of their ambition.
At the last count, about 10 aspirants have officially declared to run, by officially informing the state executives of their intent to vie for the party’s ticket.
Zoning still dominates the Ekiti governorship race. Out of the three senatorial districts, only Ekiti South has not produced an elected governor. Ekiti North has produced governor twice (2007 – 2010, 2010 – 2014). Ekiti Central has equally tasted the governorship thrice (1999 – 2003, 2003 – 2006 and 2014 to date).
This accounts for reasons why there has been a loud clamour for the governorship slot to be ceded to Ekiti South. The senatorial district has the highest number aspirants ahead of the 2018 election.
The motley crowd of aspirants is expected to be pruned down in the first quarter of 2018, when the parties are expected to hold their primaries. While some aspirants can be regarded as “serious contenders”, others are “mere pretenders” who are only out either to test the waters or to be noticed.

The PDP is the ruling party and cannot be ignored. Its victory in the 2014, although aided by federal might, still confounds a lot of observers. Although beset and weakened by the fratricidal crisis at the national level, the party is still hopeful of re-enacting the 2014 feat.
PDP aspirants cut across the two camps. Aspirants in the Makarfi camp include Dr. Kolapo Olusola, Mr. Kayode Oso, Senator Biodun Olujimi, Dr. Sikiru Lawal, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Chief Adebisi Omoyeni and Hon. Olatunji Odeyemi. Chief Biodun Aluko and Chief Dare Bejide are the aspirants from the Sheriff camp.

He is the deputy governor and he hails from Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti South Senatorial District where his boss, Fayose, is believed to be favourably disposed to pick his successor from. Fayose has publicly acknowledged Olusola to be a loyal and committed deputy, which explains why he committed some assignments to him. Olusola oversees the education sector and represents his boss at the National Economic Council and Council of State meetings in Abuja, which Fayose seldom attends. The former lecturer in Building Technology at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) has not formally declared for the race. But, Fayose is believed to be considering him for the top job.

He is seen as Fayose’s political son, who had been with him for long. During Fayose’s first term in office, Oso served as Chief of Staff and later, Commissioner for Works and Transport. He returned to the same beat when his boss staged a dramatic comeback to power, but he resigned in controversial circumstances early last year. Oso hails from Ado Ekiti, in Ekiti Central, the same senatorial district where the governor hails from.

Mrs. Olujimi represents Ekiti South in the Senate where she also serves as Deputy Minority Whip. She was in the House of Representatives between 2004 and 2005, from where she became the Deputy Governor to Fayose during his first term in office. After she was impeached alongside Fayose in 2006 for alleged gross misconduct, Olujimi served as a member of the Governing Council, University of Ilorin, Commissioner for Works during the Segun Oni regime and later, Commissioner on the Board of National Communications Commission (NCC) from where she contested for the Senate. She hails from Omuo-Ekiti in Ekiti South Senatorial District.

He hails from Ado Ekiti in the Central Senatorial District. Lawal rose to the position of Director in the civil service during which he was appointed Sole Administrator of Ikere Local Government. He was elected deputy governor in 2007. A devout Muslim, Lawal is the Baba Adinni of Ekiti land and also serves as Ekiti State Representative on the Board of Oodua Investment Limited.

He is a veteran governorship contender; he has been in the race since 2005, when he sought for the office on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He left the progressive fold alongside 13 other aspirants in protest against what he described as the rigging of the 2006 primary, which produced Dr. Kayode Fayemi as the candidate for the 2007 poll. Adeyeye was appointed Chairman of State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) under ex-Governor Oni and he contested against Fayose in the 2014 poll after which he was compensated with the post of Minister of State for Works. He presently serves as National Publicity Secretary of the National Caretaker Committee led by Sen. Makarfi. He is also the Pro-Chancellor, Ekiti State University (EKSU). Adeyeye, a journalist and a lawyer, has revived his political platform, the Prince Adedayo Adeyeye Movement (PAAM) to realise his amibition. He hails from Ise-Ekiti, Ise/Orun Local Government Area in South Senatorial District.

He was Executive Director in Wema Bank before Fayose nominated him as deputy governor, after the impeachment of his kinsman, Chief Abiodun Aluko. He spent two months as Executive Director before the position of the Group Managing Director became vacant within the bank. The board visited Fayose, pleading with him to release Omoyeni to occupy the plum office and the governor obliged. Omoyeni was one of the PDP aspirants in the 2014 race on the platform of Bisi Omoyeni for Ekiti Renewal (BOFER). The Ikere-born politician is warming for another shot at the governorship.

The former senior official of the West African Examinations a Council (WAEC) won election into the House of Assembly in 2007 to represent Gbonyin Constituency. Odeyemi was installed Speaker in July 2008 after his predecessor, Femi Bamisile, stepped down from office, after a long-drawn uproar in the Assembly among the PDP and the defunct Action Congress (AC) lawmakers, who had equal numerical strength of 13-13. Providence paved the way for Odeyemi to sit on the governor’s seat in an acting capacity, following the nullification of Oni’s election by the Appeal Court, which ordered a rerun in some wards. Odeyemi was in office for 79 days before handing over to Oni, who was declared winner of the rerun. During the brief period he held office as acting governor, Odeyemi increased workers’ salaries. Odeyemi, who hails from Ode-Ekiti, Gbonyin LGA in Ekiti South, is currently Chairman of House of Assembly Service Commission and is considered a contender, despite maintaining a studied silence.

He was a successful surveyor before venturing into politics. He was the coordinator of Ayo Fayose Movement (AFM) before he was nominated deputy governor by his former boss. They soon fell out and Aluko was impeached from office in controversial circumstances and replaced with Omoyeni. Aluko contested for the governorship in the National Democratic Party (NDP). He also returned to PDP where he vied for the ticket in the 2014 poll. Aluko, who hails from Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti South, is a top notcher of the Sheriff faction.

The lawyer-turned politician hails from Ilawe Ekiti in Ekiti South District. He is one of the foundation members of the party, who has never defected from the party. Bejide was the pioneer PDP State Secretary and was deputy governorship candidate in the 1999 governorship poll. After the party lost the election, Bejide was compensated with the post of Nigeria High Commissioner to Canada and held the diplomatic office till 2003. He served as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) three times between 2007 and 2010 and also contested and lost House of Representatives seat for Ekiti South Constituency 1 in the 2011 National Assembly poll. Bejide hopes to be considered for the ticket on the strength of his loyalty to the party.

The APC is the main opposition party in the state and believes that it is in a position to regain the seat it lost to the PDP in the 2014 election. The party appears to have overcome the internal wrangling that erupted among members over the circumstances that led to its fall from power. The party is still undergoing its re-engineering process and it has been receiving defectors from the PDP and other smaller parties. The takeover of power at the federal level is seen as an advantage to be deployed at the poll.
Some politicians are waiting in the wings to vie for the governorship ticket of the broom party. There are some aspirants who are interested, but yet to declare their ambition. The list will increase as the primary election draws nearer.

Segun Oni:
The APC Deputy National Chairman (South) and former Ekiti State governor between 2007 and 2010. The chemical engineer-turned politician had a distinguished career in RANK XEROX before plunging into partisan politics. He was Board Member representing Southwest in the Education Tax Fund (ETF) from where he contested for governorship in 2007 and won on the platform of the PDP. He won the governorship poll twice and his election was nullified twice by the Appeal Court for alleged irregularities and was succeeded by his challenger, Fayemi. He later took his case to the Supreme Court, but he didn’t succeed. He was later elected the PDP National Vice Chairman (Southwest). But, some forces in the party used court to ease him and other loyalists of former President Olusegun Obasanjo out of their party posts. Just before the Ekiti 2014 poll, Oni joined the APC with his supporters and they supported Fayemi. In February, he declared interest in the 2018 governorship election and his loyalists have swung into action in selling him to the people at the grassroots. The campaign structure has been set up, but it has not been formally announced. His supporters believe that this is the time for Fayemi to reciprocate by supporting Oni who they said was magnanimous enough to support the man that ousted him from office. He is seen as a serious aspirant who has the experience and exposure to occupy the governor’s chair again. Oni is from Ifaki-Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government Area in Ekiti North senatorial district.

Kayode Fayemi:
Until recently, when he granted an interview where he described the 2014 governorship election as “unfinished business”, his interest in the 2018 poll was restricted to underground moves by his die-hard loyalists, who still believe that he still has lot to offer to the state. The Minister of Mines and Steel Development has been busy marketing the nation’s potentials in minerals other than petroleum and is also engrossed in the politics of APC locally and nationally. Fayemi has been taciturn on whether he would run in 2018 or not. But, the party assignments given to him, which he successfully delivered pointed to the fact that he has learnt new things about politics better then when he was governor. He was chairman of APC Presidential Convention Committee that organised the presidential primary that produced Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the party’s presidential candidate. He was also the face of the Presidency who rallied the field troops behind the party’s candidate in the Ondo State governorship, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who eventually won the election. The “unfinished business” statement, which rattled Fayose, is being given various interpretations in many quarters but time will tell whether it means a return to the Government House. Fayemi is from Isan-Ekiti in Oye Local Government Area in Ekiti North District.

Gbenga Aluko:
He is a veteran in Ekiti politics and this is his third time of gunning for the governorship. In 2007, he was the LP candidate and In 2014, he was an aspirant on the platform of the PDP. In 2018, he is seeking the ticket of the APC to realise his ambition. He was the only PDP senatorial candidate that won in the Southwest, an AD enclave during the 1999 general elections. He was subsequently elected Senate Deputy Minority Whip. Aluko, who hails from Ode-Ekiti, Gbonyin LGA in Ekiti South District, promises to carry out rail project in Ekiti if given the mandate.

Babafemi Ojudu:
He is the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters. Ojudu was a firebrand journalist, who used his pen to fight Babangida and Abacha dictatorship when he was in the African Concord, Tempo, AM/PM News and TheNEWS magazine where he rose to the post of Managing Editor. He took a leave of absence to run for Senate in Ekiti Central in the 2011 National Assembly poll on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He defeated Fayose, who was the candidate of the Labour Party (LP). Ojudu was at the forefront of the establishment of the Ekiti APC Action Group caucus to “revive” the party. He recently hosted party members from all the 16 LGAs to reposition it, ahead of 2018 poll in what was believed to be a precursor to his declaration of his intent to join the fray. He hails from Ado Ekiti in the Central District.

Olufemi Bamisile:
He served as the Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly from June 2007 to July 2008. Bamisile hails from Kota-Ekiti in Ekiti East Local Government Area, Ekiti South District. He ran for Ekiti East Constituency 2 Assembly seat on the platform of the National Conscience Party (NCP), but lost. He came back and won on PDP platform four years later and emerged Speaker, but later resigned after thirteen months in office. He ran for the House of Reps in 2011 and lost. He was the first to declare interest, set up a campaign office in 2015 and had moved round the 177 wards not less than three times.

Diran Adesua:
He was a foundation member of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) after a distinguished career in the civil service. He served at various times as Commissioner for Works, Education and Special Duties under former Governor Adeniyi Adebayo between 1999 and 2003. He contested as the governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA) in 2007. Adesua is from Omuo-Ekiti in Ekiti East Local Government Area, Ekiti South District. While unfolding his development agenda at the party secretariat, the businessman said he possessed the requisite experience and pedigree to be entrusted with the position.

Bimbo Daramola:
He was in the House of Representatives between 2011 and. 2015 where he represented Ekiti North Constituency 1. Daramola was one of the colourful and outspoken members of the Seventh House in debates, sponsoring motions and bills. He executed key projects in his constituency that are still benefiting the people. Daramola was the Director-General of the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation in the 2014 election. He is the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Lasun Yussuff. Daramola is from Ire-Ekiti in Oye LGA, Ekiti North District.

Bamidele Faparusi:
This engineer-turned politician is a grassroots player, who has his eyes fixed on the state’s top job. He was a member of the Seventh House of Representatives where he represented Ekiti South Constituency 2. Faparusi is popular among the youths and he brought smiles to the faces of party members during the last Christmas with the donation of bags of rice and other gifts items. He is making waves on the field and the social media on his 2018 governorship bid. Faparusi is from Ode-Ekiti, Gbonyin LGA, Ekiti South District.

Wole Oluyede:
He is one of the biggest sponsors of the APC in Ekiti State at a time the party lost power and the attendant patronage. This was publicly acknowledged by the state executives when he (Oluyede) visited the secretariat to unveil his ambition. He is a medical doctor, a farmer and investor in real estate, mineral resources and hospitality industry. He served as a member of Knowledge Zone Committee during the Fayemi regime and he did this without collecting salary and allowance. Oluyede disclosed that Ekiti will benefit from an $18 million investment in oil palm by a Malaysian firm in Africa, pledging that the palm tree project would be executed, whether he realises his governorship ambition or not adding that he sealed the deal with Malaysian investors during a recent trip to the country. He explained that 10,000 stands of palm trees will be planted under the project to give employment opportunities for Ekiti indigenes and make the state depend less on the Federal Government for revenue. He is from Ikere-Ekiti in Ekiti South

Yinka Akerele:
He took Ekiti politics by storm when he came first in the 2007 PDP governorship primary. But, he could not secure 50 per cent of votes to be declared winner at first ballot. A run-off scheduled to be held between him and the runner-up, Prof. Adesegun Ojo was cancelled and the man who came third, Oni, was adopted as the consensus candidate. Akerele rejected the Ekiti North senatorial ticket snatched from former Education Minister, Prof. Tunde Adeniran to placate him and the ticket was later given to an AC defector, Ayo Arise, who won the senatorial seat at the 2007 poll. Akerele contested the 2007 governorship poll on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), but lost. The politician who hails from Ayede-Ekiti in Oye LGA, Ekiti North is back again with a bang.

Funminiyi Afuye:
He was a banker with over 15 years experience before he ventured into law practice. Afuye was a chieftain of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere. He ran for the House of Assembly in Ikere Constituency 1 on the platform of the AD. But, he was unsuccessful before coming back in 2007 on the platform of the AC and was victorious. He served in the state parliament as the AC Leader and later as the Majority Leader. After completing his term in the legislature, Afuye was appointed Commissioner for Information and later, Commissioner for Intergovernmental Affairs and Integration in the Fayemi administration. He believes his experience both in the legislature and executive has prepared him for the duties of governor.

Adebayo Orire:
He is advocating the choice of a home-based candidate as the governor and he believes he fits the bill. Orire has one of the biggest private hospitals in Ado Ekiti, where he has been practising medicine for over 30 years and using the profession to offer humanitarian services to the masses. He is a member of Afenifere and he is also the Publicity Secretary of Ekiti APC Elders’ Forum. Orire, who served as Chairman, Hospitals Management Board during the Fayemi administration, hails from Ikoro Ekiti, Ijero LGA in Ekiti Central.

Kayode Ojo:
He has been engaging party members at the grassroots to sell his vision and blueprint for Ekiti development, but he came out with a bang last week when he donated about 8,000 bags of rice as Easter gifts to party members in the 177 wards. Ojo is also engaged in philanthropic activities. But, he sees his foray into politics as an avenue to serve people better. He hails from Ikoro Ekiti, Ijero LGA in Ekiti Central.

Kola Alabi:
A successful businessman, Alabi is one of the new breed politicians. Alabi, an indigene of Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti South, is an IT consultant and he has big corporations and multinationals as his clients. He was chairman/ chief launcher of the last Ikere Day where he donated N5 million. Alabi purchased transformers for his hometown and he has been paying WAEC fees for candidates across the 16 local government areas through an endowment fund instituted in the name of his father, Chief S.S. Alabi. He has vision to transform Ekiti in the areas of agriculture, health, education, employment and wealth creation.

Makanjuola Owolabi:
He is an aviation consultant and the facilitator of Aerospace Medicine in Africa. Owolabi said his plan to redeem Ekiti brought about the slogan ‘Ekiti Restoration Agenda’ (ERA). He said the redemption would be achieved in seven different phases-”Mentality of honour, Self worth of Ekiti, Collective sense of responsibility, Fertile land, Sense of Dignity, Leadership Endowment and Fear of God/Family Value. He is from Aisegba-Ekiti, Gbonyin LGA in Ekiti South senatorial district.

Olajide Akinyemi Jnr:
He is an investor in agriculture, who believes in using the sector to turn around the fortunes of the state. Akinyemi hails from Ikole Ekiti, Ikole LGA in Ekiti North.

Muyiwa Olumilua:
He is an engineer by profession. He served as Senior Special Assistant to Governor Fayemi. He is the son of former governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua. He is one of the first aspirants to set up campaign offices in Ado Ekiti to demonstrate his seriousness for the battle for his party’s ticket. Olumilua hails from Ikere-Ekiti in Ekiti South.

Sunday Adebomi:
He hails from Ise-Ekiti in Ise/Orun LGA, Ekiti South. Adebomi is an officer of the United States Army and he always come home to participate in local politics. He was in the PDP where he ran for Ekiti South senatorial ticket and lost after which he switched allegiance to the APC. Adebomi has been involved in the award of scholarship to indigent students and empowerment of the aged.

Kole Ajayi:
He was the candidate of Accord Pary in the 2014 governorship poll, but he recently defected to the APC. Ajayi, a lawyer, is a former President of Ekiti State University (EKSU) Alumni Association and a member of the institution’s Governing Council. He is believed to be warming up for the governorship on the platform of his new party. Ajayi is from Ado Ekiti in Ekiti Central.

Bisi Aloba:
He is a former Chairman of Ikere Local Government Council. Aloba was also Chairman of the Governing Council of Federal College of Education, Bichi, Kano State. He is one of the PDP chieftains, who defected to the APC in protest against what they called one-man dictatorship in the umbrella party. Disclosing his intent to party members recently in his hometown, Ikere-Ekiti, Aloba pledged to revive dead industries and create jobs through commercial agriculture. He hails from the South.

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