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Extending the Oyebanji Positivism to Ekiti North Senatorial Seat
By Olutosin Dada
One of the major reasons behind governance failures in Nigeria is that fact that many of our political gladiators who have been privileged to superintend over us at different levels hardly see government as a continuum.
This is very common when, for instance, a governor succeeds another governor but the two of them are from different political parties. And matters are made worse if the election that produced the successor was a very acrimonious one. The new governor or president, as the case may be, will just want to undo whatever his or her predecessor did while in office. It is always inconsequential if some of the things being undone are of immense benefit to the people. They are more guided by political expediency and witch-hunting than the strive for public good.
It is within this context one needs to examine the purported endorsement of Biodun Oyebanji as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Ekiti State by Governor Kayode Fayemi. If Oyebanji wins, it will be the first time we would be having a seamless transition from one administration to the other in Ekiti State. And this is very key to the development of the state and the sustenance of the good works which the current administration had started.When Fayemi returned for second term in 2018, he made infrastructural development of the state a priority.
And one signature project of this focus is the dualization of the Ado-Iyin road which has been on the pipeline for donkey years. This road is very strategic due to the traffic between the two locations, that is Ado and Iyin-Ekiti. Besides, the topography of the area makes the current road linking the two towns a very dangerous one due to the fact that it has so many dangerous bends. It was a major relief to commuters who use the road when the construction of a new dualized road was initiated. And now, it has been completed. In the same vein, both Ekiti and Ondo States are said to be discussing on the reconstruction of the old Ado-Akure road which was constructed in the 70s by English construction engineer, Taylor Woodrow.
While the Ikere-Ado end of the road has been dualized, the portion between Ita-Ogbolu and Ikere is a death trap. It is relieving that the two state governments are no longer waiting for the federal government to fix the road as they have taken their own destiny into their hands. It must be noted, however, that Ekiti is one of the states whose governorship elections do not usually fall on the general election year. And that is why the focus of the entire country is on the state during each governorship election year. In 2014, the APC lost to PDP while the PDP lost again to the APC in 2018. If Oyebanji wins this year, as he is expected to, it would be the first time same party will be succeeding itself in the state since 1999.
And this is key for political stability in the state and continuity in governance. And this is one major reason all and sundry should support the candidacy of Biodun Oyebanji. Ekiti desperately needs stability and continuity in governance. Having said this, one issue the ruling party in the state also needs to look into in the area of fairness and equity is the thorny issue of where the senatorial ticket of the party for Ekiti North Senatorial District will go to.
The issue is not only political but also moral. The zone has two constituencies. These are Constituencies 1 and 2. However, since 1999, only once has the senatorial seat gone to Constituency 1. In fact, by the end of 2023, Constituency 2, which consists of Moba, Ido-Osi and Ilejemeje Local Governments would have held the seat for 20 out of 24 years. In fact, it is the only senatorial district in the state that has this kind of lop-sidedness.
This is one lopsided political set-up that needs to be addressed as part of the good works of Governor Fayemi before he leaves office. While this has not been officially confirmed, we are hearing from the grapevine that there has been a unanimous decision to zone the seat to Constituency 1 and Ikole Local Government to be precise. PDP has already done that. And this is understandable. The last and only time the seat to came to Constituency 1, it was Senator Ayo Arise from Oye Local Government that occupied the seat. And Constituency 1 is made up of Oye and Ikole Local Governments.
Leading the park of aspirants is Sir Kayode Otitoju, a former Commissioner for Information in the state and one-time Commissioner representing South-west, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, and immediate past chairman of Lekki Peninsula Phase 1 Residents Association, LERA, Lagos. Otitoju is not new to the contest. He first tried his luck in 2001 when the seat became vacant after the death of the late Senator Olatunji Ajayi. He was prevailed upon to step down so that Constituency 2, where the late Ajayi came from could continue.
That was late Senator Kolawole came in and was there until 2007 when Senator Arise came in till 2011 and the seat returned to and has remained in Constituency 2 since then. Otitoju is from Ikole Local Government in Constituency 1 and has been a loyal party man till now and even when he felt he was hard-done by, he has remained committed to the ideals of the APC. This is not specially making case for Otitoju but actually pushing for justice and fair play. It stands logic on its head if the senatorial seat for Ekiti North Senatorial District goes to any other place than Constituency 1 and not just that but Ikole Local Government.
In writing this piece, which Otitoju himself was oblivious of, a friend asked rhetorically, what would happen if the ticket is not zoned to the Constituency 1 and Otitoju does not get the ticket, I responded that justice must have been murdered and equity sacrificed on the altar of political brinksmanship. And if that happens, then it is left for Otitoju and Ikole Local Government to decide what to do with their political destiny.
The ruling party must also be aware that in Ekiti politics, there is a new third force in town and anyone who dismisses that force does so at his or her own peril. And that third force is the Social Democratic Party, SDP. Since former Governor Segun Oni moved to that party, there has been some frenzy around the party. While we might say it is not yet strong enough to dislodge the PDP and APC juggernaut, if the two parties keep losing members to it, then the alarm bell will begin to sound. Until then, we are trusting the party to be fair in continuation of the good works of Governor Kayode Fayemi which threw up the Biodun Oyebanji candidacy in the state. Dada wrote in from Ado-Ekiti