By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The July 14 governorship election in Ekiti State is no doubt going to be a fierce battle. Though, political realities point to the fact that it is going to be a battle between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party (PDP), other parties are also making efforts to ensure they have remarkable presence in the impending electoral battle.
The PDP backed by Governor Ayodele Fayose is determined to retain Ekiti as the continuity agenda that has become the campaign slogan of the party is being virulently pursued so that it can gain traction and acceptability among the populace.
Also, the APC is determined to abort the ruling partyâ€™s continuity agenda. APC is fielding an old horse, former governor Kayode Fayemi,Â and the party is determined to reclaim the seat it lost to the incumbent four years ago.
There are 35 parties vying for the governorship seat this month but many of them are just in the race on paper because they do not have any significant presence in the state and their candidates are largely unknown, though a few of the unknown parties suddenly came to life with the emergence of their flagbearers who had been key players in politics.
In the past few weeks, some of these candidates have been moving across the length and breadth of the state canvassing for votes and making promises to the Ekiti electorate. Here are 10 of those candidates:
Kola Olusola (PDP)
The PDP is fielding Prof. Kola Olusola, a 50-year old academic and current deputy governor of the state, as its candidate. Olusola graduated from Obafemi AwolowoÂ University, Ile Ife in 1990 with Bachelorâ€™s Degree in Building Technology. He was retained in the university where he served until his appointment as the stateâ€™s number two man. He is a Professor of Building Technology.
Olusola never held any political office until his current position as deputy governor. Though, he may have little knowledge of the dynamism of Ekiti politics, being backed by Fayose, Â a two-term Â governor and Â experienced politician, is an impetus for the realisation of his governorship ambition.
Olusola has traversed many towns and villages in the state seeking the votes of Ekiti electorate. His campaign promises are anchored on the continuation of the 6-cardinal programmes of his principal. They are: qualitative education, infrastructural development, health services, stomach infrastructure, human capital development and women development.
Putting it succinctly, Olusola has never taken time to expatiate on how he would bring radicalÂ development toÂ Ekiti State. But he never shied away from saying rhetorically that he wonâ€™t deviate from the populist and grassroots approach adopted by Fayose to gain upper hands in the politics of the state. Olusola believes that Fayose is well revered and loved by the populace for his style of governance. This Olusola has been displaying by buildingÂ strong ties with commercial motorcycleÂ riders and other strata of the society. Despite being a professor and deputy governor, Olusola has been going about on motorbike as a way of demystifying the highly exalted position he is holding and the one he intends to assume just to prove a point that he wonâ€™t be haughty as a governor.
In actual fact, Olusola has many things going for him in this campaign. One, Fayose is a grassroots person and the PDP candidate has been savouring this and relying on it to win this election. Two, his achievements in the Ministry of Education he superintends over are lubricants for his campaign. The state came first consecutively in NECO examinationsÂ in 2016 and 2017 under Olusolaâ€™s watch. Giving him the latitude to be in charge of education has brought him closer to the teachers in all the public and private schools across the state. He may use this as a weapon to outwit his man challenger, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, because teachers are known to be firm and operate in a cult-like manner when it comes to election. Many still believe that the frosty relationship between Fayemi and the teachers largely accounted for his failure in 2014, while seeking reelection.
Added to the foregoing is Olusolaâ€™s simplicity. Even though he is one of the elites in the academia, the deputy governor has been living modestly and this shows vividly in his dressing and lifestyle. Ability to work with Governor Fayose for four years without any row has made people to believe that he must be exceptionally tolerant, because many perceive his principal (governor) to be exceedingly tough, brash and haphazard in decision-making.
Getting funding for his campaign may also not be a problem because PDP is the ruling party in the state and many PDP controlled states, particularly in the oil rich Niger Delta are interested in Ekiti election.Â Apart from this, the PDP kick-started its continuity agenda campaign two years ago when Fayose Â celebrated his two years in office. This enabled Fayose to build strong ties with teachers, market men and women, motorcycle riders, artisans, driver unions, civil servants among others. Those ties are being activated for Olusolaâ€™s election.
Added to these is that Olusola hails from Ikere Ekiti in Ekiti South senatorial district. Ikere is the second largest town in the state and it falls within a district that has never produced the governor since 1999. This sentiment has percolated deeply into the psyche of the people and it may help the PDP candidate.
Kayode Fayemi (APC)
Dr. Kayode Fayemi, an old horse and former governor of the state, is the candidate of the APC. Fayemi attended the prestigious Christâ€™s School, Ado Ekiti before he proceeded to the University of Lagos, Akoka where he bagged Bachelorâ€™s Degree in History in 1984. The former minister of Mines and Steel Development got his PhD in War Studies from the Kings College, University of London in 1994. He was the governor of the State between OctoberÂ 16, 2010 and October 16, 2014. He sought reelection and lost to Governor Fayose. He was later appointed in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari as a minister in the Federal Executive Council.
During his first term, Fayemi was able to impact positively on Ekiti through his 8-point Agenda. It was through this that he initiated projects in all the 133 towns and villages in the state.
These achievements have been adding value to his campaign because he has an average of three projects in each town to point at during his campaign visits.
Fayemi has promised to stick with the 8-point agenda he instituted during his first term. These are: good governance, human capital development, infrastructure, tourism development, qualitative education, good healthcare delivery and commercial agriculture. The former governor did well in the execution of his manifesto and that is why he has been confident that he would win based on his past records.
The APC believes Fayemi has done a lot of projects that may sway votes in his favour. The social security scheme, where over 25,000 aged people above 65 years received N5,000 monthly stipends had been widely applauded across the country. It was the first of its kind in Nigeria and he has promised to revamp the policy if reelected. The Youth in Commercial Agriculture (YCAD) that employed 1,500 youths; the Peace Corps with 600 operatives; Volunteer Youth Corps, where unemployed graduates were put on salary of N10,000 monthly for their upkeep; operation renovate all schools, where over 1,000 schools were renovated; cash grants for community associations for the execution of about N1 billion projects across towns; and conditional cash grants to cocoa farmers are among some of his projects that are being showcased at his campaign rallies. All these programmes Â have been abolished by the Fayose government and the over 40,000 beneficiaries may want to take their pound of flesh from the PDP in this election.
Fayemi also enjoys the backing of the presidency. Fayose has been identified as the main opposition to President Buhari. He has issued many scathing statements against the president on various government policies. This may be the right time to pay back the governor in his own coin. The fact that the federal might will be readily available has emboldened APC members in the state.
The former governor is also enjoying the supports of other 32 aspirants that jostled for the governorship ticket with him. None of them has decamped to the PDP unlike the gale of defections that has hit the ruling party in the state. Top politicians like former governors Niyi Adebayo and Segun Oni, Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Senator Gbenga Aluko, Hon. Bamidele Faparusi, Hon. Femi Bamisile, Mr. Diran Adesua, former minister Adedayo Adeyeye, and others are supporting Fayemi. These are politicians that call the shots and this is a boost to the former ministerâ€™s chances in a way.
Sikiru Lawal (LP)
Dr. Sikiru Lawal, a former deputy governor, is the candidate of the Labour Party, Â widely perceived as the third force in this election. Lawal was the deputy governor to former governor Oni. He defected from PDP to LP due to irreconcilable differences with Fayose. Lawal, an indigene of Ado Ekiti, holds a Bachelorâ€™s Degree in Geography Education from the University of Ibadan. He got his PhD in Educational Management from the University of Ilorin.
The former deputy governor is a well loved politician in the state. In fact, his emergence as Oniâ€™s running mate contributed immensely to their victory in the 2007 governorship election that was later nullified by the Appeal Court which returned Fayemi as validly elected governor.
Lawal has a simple approach to life and he has so many things working positively for him as he goes ahead having his eyes fixed on the governorship seat. Lawal has encapsulated his manifesto in the acronym; AWEH – Agriculture, Wealth Creation, Economic Rebirth and Robust Health.
Under this agenda, Lawal promised to adopt a model that would make Ekiti the food basket of the nation by promoting commercial agriculture that will attract the youths into farming. He said he would create wealth by way of promoting local contractors, artisans and market women to be able to synergise with government in the area of business. The former deputy governor promised to attractÂ foreign investors to tap into many untapped resources in the state to shore up the IGR and stop the sole reliance on federal allocation for survival.
Lawal has many advantages working for him. One of them is that he is a Muslim and the adherents of this religion are determined to produce the governor, a feat they have never achieved. He also hails from Ado Ekiti, the largest town where over 40 percent of the voters are domiciled. These are factors that can be deployed to upset both the PDP and APC in this election.
Again, there is this widespread belief that both the APC and PDP have tasted power and have disappointed Ekiti people. It is believed that
time has come for the people to test another platform and see whether the state will be better governed. Those who share the view are holding to it tenaciously and they are making efforts to convince voters.
Lawal is also counting on sympathy votes from the civil servants across the state being a former teacher and director of Planning in the State Ministry of Education.
Bisi Omoyeni (MPN)
Mr. Bisi Omoyeni, a former deputy governor, is the candidate ofÂ Mega Party of Nigeria. Though, this party has very weak and with little presence in Ekiti in terms of membership, the mere fact that it has adopted a former deputy governor and a renowned banker as its candidate has improved the partyâ€™s popularity.
Omoyeni was a deputy governor to Fayose in his first term, the position he held for three months before resigning to assume leadership in WEMA Bank as the Group Managing Director of the financial institution. Omoyeni is a first class graduate of Insurance from the University of Lagos. He had always been a banker until he had aÂ stint as a deputy governor in 2005.
Omoyeni hails from Ikere Ekiti, the second largest town in the state. He is well accepted by Ikere people, because he was said to have facilitated various opportunities for the youths in terms of employments while in the banking sector. Because of his down-to-earth nature, he is acceptable to the grassroots and the elite across the state.
Being from Ikere Ekiti is an added advantage in this election because the town has the capacity to produce swing votes that can upset any party. The townÂ was said to have appealed to Fayose to field him in the PDP, but because of his preference for Olusola, also an indigene of the town, the appeal was rebuffed by the governor. This underscored his acceptability in his home base. Also, Omoyeniâ€™s mother hails from Ado Ekiti and those who believe in family ties and affinity may want to give him votes.
Omoyeni, being a former banker CEO, has links with moneybags in the society and funding his campaign may not constitute an impediment as being experienced in some weak parties.
Dare Bejide (PPN)
Amb. Dare Bejide, a formerÂ Secretary to the State Government, is the candidate of Peoples Party of Nigeria. A former Nigerian envoy to Canada, Bejide is the pioneer secretary of the PDP in Ekiti.Â A lawyer by training, Bejide is a grassroots politician with wide networks across parties in Ekiti.
He graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife in 1986 with LLB in Law. Being a lawyer and homegrown person, he understands the dynamism of Ekiti politics. Though, his party is not popular in the state, his personality could pose problems for the APC and PDP in this coming election.
His manifesto is being anchored on youth employments, social security for the elderly, reduced tuition fees in state owned higher institutions and free education at both primary and secondary cadres, tourism development, commercial agriculture, and transformed civil service.
Bejide said Ekiti being a predominantly civil service state needs a reformed and energised civil service. He said he would make the civil service the engine room of the government, so that productivity can improve in the public sector. He is of the view that once the civil service can be productive and alive to its responsibility that other sectors will be reinvigorated to be able to deliver.
The former ambassador hails from Ilawe in Ekiti South. The fact that the people of the South are resolute to produce the governor may help Bejide in this election. He is popular in Ekiti Southwest council, his immediate constituency, and winning in that council may be easy for him. He also has sympathisers across other big parties like APC, PDP and MPN. He workedÂ closely with former Governor Oni as SSG, so loyalists of Â Oni may work for him secretly in this election.
Akin Ayegbusi (SDP)
Mr. Akin Ayegbusi is the candidate of the Social Democratic Party. Largely unknown in Ekiti politics until he got the ticket, Ayegbusi clinched the ticket after defeatingÂ heavyweightsÂ like Dare Bejide and other contending forces.Â He is one of theÂ youngest of the 35 candidates thatÂ were screened by INEC for this election. He hails fromÂ Ikole Ekiti in Ikole local government area of Ekiti State. He worked in the banking sector for many years before veering into politics.
Ayegbusi has been working tirelessly to prove a point in this election. He doesnâ€™t want to look like a minnow or callow by the outcome of the poll, hence his resort to serious campaign to be able to outdo the big parties. He said that heÂ threw his hatÂ into the political ring to help liberate the people from poverty and untold hardship occasioned by the misrule of the APC and the PDP administrations.
He has been flaunting the credentials of the late Chief Moshood Abiola to campaign to the people. He promised not to deviate or renege from the manifesto Abiola deployed to win the 1993 presidential poll if elected governor. He also promised to make education free up to secondary school while that of university, polytechnics and colleges would be made affordable for the poor. He promised to set up scholarship scheme and encourage philanthropic gesture to fund education.
Ayegbusi pledged that his administration shall deploy energies to develop tourism, economic, infrastructure and human capital development via youth employments if given the opportunity to serve.
The best favour Ayegbusi has been savouring has been that he enjoys enormous acceptability among the youths. Going by the configuration of Ekiti voter register, youths constitutes over 43 per cent of voters. The SDP candidate can get it right if the youths decide to throw their weights behind him.
Tosin Ajibare (ID)
Mr. Tosin Ajibare is the candidate of Independent Democrat. The youngest candidate in this election, Ajibare hails from Ikere Ekiti in Ikere Local Government Area of the state.
A graduate of Business Administration ofÂ Ekiti State University,Â everywhere he visited, Ajibare has been explicit that he was contesting to save the youths from hopelessness. Noting that the youths have been so much subdued in the country, particularly in Ekiti. Ajibare is of the opinion that efforts must be made to salvage them from slavery and for them to regain their political freedom.
His campaign is anchored on: free tuition fees at primary and secondary levels of education,Â affordable tuition in all state owned tertiary institutionsÂ and youth employment. He has been lamenting that the state has the highest incidences of youth unemployment in the country and that such must be fought to make Ekiti great again.
Being a former studentsâ€™ leader, Ajibare has been making good exploits among the students of Ekiti State University, College of Education, Ikere Ekiti and College of Health Sciences in Ijero Ekiti. His campaign has been gaining grounds among the studentsâ€™ population.
Segun AdewaleÂ (ADP)
Mr.Â Segun Adewale, a former acting chairman of the PDP in Lagos State, is the candidate of Action Democratic Party. Â Adewale, who hails from Ipoti Ekiti in Ijero local government area of Ekiti State, attended Lagos State University. He contested for senatorial ticket in Lagos West on the platform of PDP but lost. In actual fact, Adewale is not a household name in Ekiti politics but his campaign has been thorough and the adoption of a slogan coined from OSA, an abbreviate of his name to â€˜Osaprapraâ€™ has made him more popular among the masses. He is a businessman with interests in aviation, oil and gas and financial sectors. The policy thrust of his manifesto is anchored around improved health, employment generation, human capital development and diversification of economy.
The main advantage he enjoys is the fact that he has a very deep purse and has constantly been distributing phone sets, plasma television and other home accessories to people. His wealth has really been a boost to his campaign that is gradually gaining velocity on daily basis.
Added to his deep purse is the fact that he is a youth and the bulk of his followers areÂ youths, who are passionate to make things happen for him.
Tunde AfeÂ (ANRP)
Reverend Tunde Afe , General Overseer of House of Faith Christian Centre, Ado Ekiti, Â is the candidate of the AbundantÂ Nigeria Renewal Party. Afe, a popular and well-respected man of God, is a motivational speaker that has gained statewide respect and reputation. He graduated from the University of Ilorin with a Bachelorâ€™s Degree in Accounting.Â He hails from Itapaji in Ikole Local Government of Ekiti North Senatorial district. He has a fairly big church in Ado Ekiti with large number of followers. His followers are the engine room of his campaign and they have been going around spreading the gospel that people must embrace change in the upcoming poll.
Afe said he decided to join the ANRP because of its special interest in the youths. The thrust of his campaign manifesto are: improved agriculture, value reorientation, economic renaissance, employment generation, sports and youth development as well as human capital development. His eloquence and power of conviction have also helped his campaign. He talked powerfully with confidence which makes people believe that he has capacity to deliver if given the opportunity.
Abiodun Aluko (AP)
Mr. Abiodun Aluko, a former deputy governor, is the candidate of the Accord Party. He wasÂ deputy to Governor Fayose in his first term, where he served for one and half years before he was impeached over disagreement with his principal in 2005. His impeachment was later reversed by the subsequent Assembly.
He graduated from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, with a Bachelorâ€™s Degree in Geology. He later attended the Federal College of Surveying, Oyo Town with Post graduate Diploma in Surveying. He has been practicing surveying and geo informatics since he graduated from the school.
Aluko , who hails from Ikere, second largest town in Ekiti, is notÂ only a surveyor but a successful one.Â He is well loved by Ekiti people because of his brillianceÂ and humility. He is elderly and respected for his integrity in private and public services.
Aluko wishes to make great impactsÂ in the areas of agriculture, employment generation, sports development, rural and urban renewal programme, solid mineral exploitation, economic rebirth, and healthcare delivery among others.
The factÂ that he is from Ikere Ekiti, popular, well loved, and has a fairly deep purse are added advantages to be able to make remarkable presence in this election.