Ekiti N’ Assembly Elections: The Intrigues, Oddities and Uniqueness

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By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The outcome of the just concluded presidential and National Assembly elections in Ekiti State were unique in many ways. It was more of an egoistic battle among the political giants and contending forces in the state and an opportunity to settle old and new scores. However, it was brutally done. Little wonder, with the picture painted by the outcome, egos were massaged and bruised across the political divide and
it will take time for the wounds to heal.

In what seems like a harsh reprisal that had confounded many pundits in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) had a surprise and enigmatic showing by reestablishing its domineering influence on the state politics. Like a Tsunami, the party cleared the presidential, three senatorial and the six House of Representatives seats in the state. Most astounding was the fact that the party took over from the Peoples Democratic Party-led (PDP) government in the state barely four months ago.

Those who won the Senate seats were: Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele (Central), Prince Dayo Adeyeye (South) and Senator Adetumbi Olubunmi (North) while Hons Yemi Adaramodu, Sola Fatoba, Peter Owolabi, Ibrahim Olanrewaju, Femi Bamisile and Wumi Ogunlola, won the existing House of
Representatives seats.

As intriguing and unique as this development seems to be , it was odious to some people that the PDP could not have a single seat in spite of the enormous influence former Governor Ayodele Fayose claims to muster
in the state.

In 2015, PDP being propelled by Fayose cleared the presidential and National Assembly as well as the 26 House of Assembly seats. This made the ex-governor to be boastful. He treated the then Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi with scorn and contempt . He publicly branded him a political lightweight without relevance in his home base.

In actual fact, the elections settled a lot of things between Governor Fayemi and Fayose’s camps. It helped in reemphasizing that Governor Fayemi actually won the 2018 governorship poll as affirmed by the verdict of the Justice Suleiman Belgore-led Election Petition Tribunal delivered on December 8, 2018 in Abuja.

In the judgement, the Tribunal, in a unanimous verdict dismissed the petition filed by the PDP governorship
candidate and former Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola for lack of merit.

Again, the poll was a record breaking one for the APC-a party Fayose had hitherto described as too feeble and vulnerable to win Ekiti. A Senator-elect, Hon. Bamidele polled a total of 94,279 votes to emerge the highest vote scoring National Assembly member ever produced in the state since the advent of democracy in 1999. This particular record had been a feat being flaunted by APC members, which had imbued and reinforced members’ confidence that the party will triumph in the March 9 state assembly election.

Having a retrospect of past elections, the highest the PDP which claimed to have better influence in Ekiti ever had was in 2015, when the incumbent Senate Minority Leader and former Deputy Governor, Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi, clinched the Ekiti South senatorial seat by defeating Senator Tony Adeniyi. She scored a total of 62, 344 votes while
Adeniyi could only muster 37, 932 votes in the election. The question now is, which of the two parties is more popular?

Commenting on the outcome of the election, Bamidele said he had that unwavering belief that politics was a game of number and it revolved around the people. He said the most potent weapon to deploy in politics is human support and not money as some erroneously thought.

The Senator-elect said, “The most important weapon for relevance in politics is the people. When you are into politics, don’t take people for granted most especially, when you had enjoyed the opportunity of being elected into political offices, use the position wisely to better the lives of your people and that has always been my belief in politics and it has been working for me,” he said .

Bamidele hinted that he achieved the same trail blazing record in 2011 when he scored a total of 44, 235 votes to represent Ado/Irepodun/Ifelodun Federal constituency in the House of Representatives.

“ I scored a total of 44, 235 votes which nobody that contested for House of Representatives had ever scored till that year. So, I have penchant for breaking records because I took people as my strength. When I was in the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly, I attracted 89 projects to my constituency. Apart from that, whatever empowerment I wanted to do, I used to consider all Ekiti residents regardless of race, ethnic groups, political affiliations, so this has made me popular beyond my party, APC.

“The main thing has been that my popularity and acceptability transcends APC and that had always been my strength . The votes I got was a challenge and I will not betray that confidence reposed in me by my people”, he pledged.

A lot of factors accumulated to reduce PDP’s seeming formidability in the polls. Since Fayose left office, there has been a gap in the leadership of the party. The PDP looks rudderless and uncoordinated since its natural leader , Fayose absconded from the state only to suddenly return when elections were just few days away.

Before the elections, Senator Olujimi looked good and invincible to clinch the seat in Ekiti South district, because of her strong grassroots connections across the six local governments in the area. Sadly, the intra crisis that sparked up as a result of hostility between her and Fayose over the leadership of the party in Ekiti created a cleavage that affected the opposition adversely.

Shortly, after the PDP crashed out of the governorship race in 2018, a section of the stakeholders was of the opinion that the Senate Minority Leader , Olujimi , being the most senior political office holder in Ekiti should be regarded as leader. But those who were loyal to Fayose perceived the attempt as a confrontation and a betrayal of trust on the part of the Senator.

The strained relationship between the duo degenerated to a level where Fayose went on radio and television hurling invectives at the Senator and directed PDP members to vote against Olujimi. The accumulation of all these factors were the PDP’s greatest undoing in the elections.

Ardent followers of politics were dazzled with the way PDP members had regaled the voters with abuses rather than to be cohesive to be able to tame a more vibrant APC. However, since 2014 when Fayose came like a Tsunami and aborted Fayemi’s second term bid, their hostility towards each other had increased geometrically. With the 2019 elections, the duo seemed to have renewed their enmity beyond the electoral field.

A day before the election, sign that the PDP was not well positioned to have remarkable showing began to manifest , when the party raised the alarm that the ruling APC was approaching the presidential and National Assembly elections with violence. Fayose didn’t mince words when he accused the APC members of tele-guiding the Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies to scare people away with gunshots in the state capital in addition to alleged overnight attacks on PDP state secretariat and harassment of opposition party members.

He said: “With the act of shooting that happened in Ado Ekiti when election is less than 24 hours away, we believe that if these people carrying guns are allowed to be operational without check, the entire state will be thrown into confusion and the idea of having free, fair and credible election will be a mere illusion.”

Responding, Fayemi countered the position canvassed by his predecessor that the elections were marred by electoral malfeasance. The governor alluded to the elections as watershed in the history of the State. The governor stated that election observers’ reports have not only adjudged Ekiti as the most peaceful state with zero record of violence or ballot snatching all through the electioneering process, the state was praised for its timeliness in submitting election results.

“This builds on our record of peaceful election witnessed during the July 2018 gubernatorial elections. Ekiti people are peace loving people and it gladdens my heart that not even contest for political
power has eroded that cherished disposition. Our conduct before, during and after the election is exemplary and worthy of emulation.

“My gratitude is immeasurable to all Ekiti indigenes and residents who came out in their large numbers to cast their votes for the party of their choice. I salute your steadfastness, courage, loyalty, commitment and fierce determination to defend your sovereign rights and the integrity of our nascent democracy. This has earned us prestige in the eye of the world and ensured that Ekiti-Kete is the
winner in the electoral process.

“ I thank you most sincerely for avoiding, ignoring and shunning all negative tendencies that occurred in other part of the country leading to violence and avoidable loss of lives. You came out with dignity and voted for candidates of your choice, leading to unprecedented victory for the APC in Ekiti State.

“Let me assure you that I appreciate this victory and your show of love as a reward for what we have done as a government in the past four months. You have, by this gesture, further encouraged us to rededicate ourselves to the service of our dear State and the people, and we assure you that we will never look back until Ekiti State returns to its pride of place among the comity of states across the country and beyond. Our loyalty remains with you, the people of Ekiti State.

The scenario playing out today in Ekiti was a repeat of history. The APC once had its bad times and its triumph in the polls had invigorated it the more and its rival and main opposition can only wait for another opportunity to vent its spleen and probably regain the state if given the chance by the ruling party.