Ekiti2018 –Top 10 Contenders from the Multitude of Pretenders

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Ekiti2018 –Top 10 Contenders from the Multitude of Pretenders

Ekiti2018 –Top 10 Contenders from the Multitude of Pretenders
April 17
18:58 2018

Ekiti2018 –Top 10 Contenders from the Multitude of Pretenders

Arguably, Nigeria has never witnessed proliferation of ambitions like the Ekiti State gubernatorial election has thrown up since the country’s return to democracy in 1999. As at the time of this report, no fewer than 60 aspirants are jostling to take over the mantle of political leadership of Ekiti State from Governor Ayodele Fayose in October, this year.

Of these three scores, about 40 would be filing out with one another on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC); and 27 of them have obtained nomination forms so far. In spite of the fact that Fayose appears to have cornered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) slot for his deputy, Professor Kolapo Olusola, five aspirants have indicated their boldness to slug it out with his anointed candidate by obtaining the party’s nomination form.

Besides this unprecedented proliferation, zoning is another contentious issue in the political firmament of the state. Since its creation in 1996, Ekiti has had four civilian governors. Ekiti North senatorial district has produced two governors in Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi for a combined period of seven and a half years while the Ekiti Central has also produced two in Adeniyi Adebayo and Ayo Fayose for a combined period of twelve years by the time Fayose rounds up his tenure in October. The number seat has been elusive to Ekiti South aspirants; thus their agitation for zoning, which to a certain extent has received some listening from few gladiators.

It is against this background that TheCapital is analysing the chances of contenders who have few aces up their sleeves against pretenders who have only put up an appearance just to be noticed.


Except it is decreed otherwise by some celestial bodies, the Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Professor Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, appears to be coasting home to victory, at least, in the fast approaching primary election of his party, the PDP. He has four factors in his favour. The Ikere-born academic-turned-politician is from Ekiti South, a zone that has never produced a governor, and whose agitation has assumed militant clamour. Incumbency factor also places him in good stead. Fayose has told whoever cares to listen that he would deploy all he has to Olusola-Eleka’s victory at the poll; and he does not appear to be flippant about it at all. The PDP machine is in the firm grip of Kolapo’s camp. That camp does not only control the state assembly, all local government chairmen and councillors, the party officials from state to local government areas have rolled up their sleeves entering every nook and cranny of the state with Olusola-Eleka gospel. Olusola-Eleka is the candidate to beat in the election.


No ambition has been as polarising in the opposition party in Ekiti State as that of the immediate past governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. This is because the bespectacled academician-turned-politician left his declaration a bit late after some of his followers and co-travellers in the last election have indicated interests. After his loss in 2014, Fayemi, in his concession speech, had questioned the mind-set of Ekiti voters in the light of his abysmal performance at the poll losing in all 16 local government areas of the state. As one of the most influential ministers in the current administration with a juicy ministry and with huge financial war chest now at his disposal, pundits have picked him as the most likely candidate to fly the APC’s flag due to resurgence his ambition has brought to the party. Once beaten, twice shy. Fayemi’s critics are of the opinion that he may have embarked on an electoral trip with a likely unsavoury outcome because a sizeable number of Ekiti electorate still find it difficult to connect to him due to his elitist demeanour; a trait Fayose explored to his advantage in the last election. The white paper banning him for public office for ten years is also an albatross. As things stand, only a court of competent jurisdiction can help him remove the impediment. He is from Oye Local Government in Ekiti North, which has produced two governors and has the highest number of aspirants in the contest.


Oni, like Fayemi, is a former governor of the state who is seeking to find his way back to the government house after he had been kicked out courtesy legal fireworks that saw Fayemi take over from him in 2010. Like Fayemi again, he is from Ekiti North senatorial district. In 2014, he decamped from PDP to APC after Fayose had clinched PDP’s ticket. Oni is presently the APC’s Deputy National Chairman (South) and is adjudged to be a very accessible party man. Oni is reputed to possess a wide political network of friends that cut across party divides. Of even temperament and humble disposition, Oni has been touted to have the endearment to win the governorship election if given the opportunity to fly the APC flag. Oni’s progressive orientation has been called to questions severally of late due to his PDP background (he was a PDP governor) and association with some PDP elements in Ekiti. This constitutes a snag for him as the bulk of the delegates to the primary election is drawn from the former ACN stock.


Prince Dayo Adeyeye’s gubernatorial ambition dated back to 2006 in the then Alliance for Democracy (AD), and it is fully back on stream. He is one of the ‘bold’ contenders waiting to confront Olusola-Eleka at the PDP’s primary election. He is from Ikere just like Olusola-Eleka. He recently announced that he and other aspirants have entered into an alliance that would see Fayose’s anointed candidate kiss the dust. Call him a perennial governorship aspirant; you might be hitting the nail just on the head. He emerged runner up to Kayode Fayemi in the controversial primary elections that led to the defection of 13 out of 16 aspirants to PDP. He was twice unlucky in 2014 when he was schemed out, prevailed upon to shelve his ambition and work for Fayose’s emergence. Gist has it that he agreed to work for Fayose on a gentlemanly agreement that his gesture would be reciprocated in 2018. From all indications, the weight of that agreement, if any, can only compare to that of a feather. He has promised to remain in the PDP even if the outcome of the primary election turns south for him. Adeyeye has his exceptional grassroots mobilization abilities going for him but it remains to be seen how he intends to trump Fayose with that.


Senator Babafemi Ojudu is one man who is fond of boasting to be the only politician who has ever beaten Fayose in political contest in Ekiti. He defeated Fayose in 2011 in Ekiti Central Senatorial District contest but opted out in 2015 sensing Fayose would take his pound of flesh in another contest. The Political Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari threw his hat into the ring amidst pugilistic tirades against Fayose administration. At his declaration, he boasted of his 2011 rare feat and promised to send Fayose to political oblivion in July. Ojudu is from Ado Ekiti and he is said to be popular in the capital city, which has the biggest electoral strength being most populous in Ekiti, but crossing the primary election is a major hurdle Ojudu must scale if his home advantage must count. Gist has it that he has a lot of repairing to do as he is reported to be at loggerheads with some of the party’s delegates. In an extremely monitised political atmosphere, Ojudu’s conservativeness does not position him well to clinch his party ticket.


Senator Biodun Olujimi, the Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, few days submitted her nomination, indicating her steely doggedness to take the fight to her former boss, Fayose, and his anointed, Olusola-Eleka. The former Deputy Governor to Fayose could be said to be one of the present crop of senators that have put up a fairly good representation in the Upper Chambers with his intellectual contributions during debates. Her ‘Gender an Equal Opportunity Bill’ received rave reviews in the Senate before it was eventually defeated. Since joining PDP in 2002, the Omuo-born politician had been Special Assistant to Fayose after which she was elected the Federal House of Representatives. She was also Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure at a time before winning a senatorial seat in 2015. Olujimi’s strength is her being a core party person. Will her affinity to the party earn her the ticket since Fayose has the party machine firmly under his grip? Time will tell.


When Bimbo Daramola indicated his gubernatorial interest, tongues began to wag that he must have received the blessings of Fayemi to proceed. This was because he former House of Representative member was the one who led and prosecuted the re-election bid of Fayemi in 2014, as the campaign Director-General. His appointment then was based on his grassroots appeal and the Fayemi campaign had hoped to ride on his back to victory. But the electorate had a different thought from Daramola’s conviction in Fayemi. Not a few pundits believe that the 2014 loss diminished Daramola towering political status. Well, Daramola is back in the trenches and has been oiling the same structures he managed in 2014. With Fayemi’s re-entry, those structures appear to have been divided as a huge chunk of them has pitched their tent with Fayemi. Daramola, whom had been reported would step down for Fayemi, has carried on with his campaign and promised to prosecute his ambition to its end. Daramola is from Oye Local Government Area, the same as Fayemi.


Erudite, street-smart, free spending, experienced and urbane describe Opeyemi Bamidele’s personality; as such, he should have less worries if these traits would translate to votes at the APC primary elections but the former legislator knows too well to rely on those traits. Bamidele received his baptism of fire in 2014 when he flew the Labour Party flag as governor, where he was only able to garner around 18,000 votes, coming a distant third behind Fayose and Fayemi. For someone who cut his political teeth in Lagos under the mentoral tutelage of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, much has always been expected of him. Bamidele has been in politics since 1992 when he contested the primary elections under the then Social Democratic Party to represent Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency, which he lost. He has been Special Assistant to Asiwaju on two occasions in different capacities before he was appointed a commissioner in Lagos. A native of Iyin-Ekiti (Ekiti Central), Bamidele is rumoured to enjoy support of Asiwaju and some certain moneybags who have deployed their resources to his ambition.


Senator Gbenga Aluko comes boisterous any day. His zest is as infectious as his conviction. The son of the renowned economist, Late Professor Sam Aluko was Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate 1999-2003. He had a short leave from politics when he took up an appointment as Director of Government Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Mid Africa Strategic Business Unit, a post from which he resigned in January 2018 to pursue his governorship ambition. Aluko is a home-bred politician, as he shown his belief and commitment to the state with his investment in a manufacturing company in the state. He has a sprawling industry on five acres of land producing luxury toiletries, which has generated employment for Ekiti people. Armed with his dogged belief in the state with little or no existing infrastructure to encourage investment, Aluko has been taking his message of confidence in the state to the 177 wards in the state. What may like work against him at the APC primary election is that he is largely perceived as an outsider as a result of his PDP antecedents.


Until he decamped to the Social Democratic Party (SPD) penultimate week, the former Managing Director of Wema Bank Group, had boasted he would be PDP’s flagbearer. His two-month sojourn (perhaps the shortest in the history of Nigeria) as Deputy Governor to Fayose must have been very salivating. The Ikere-born, University of Lagos first class Insurance graduate has opted for SDP as the clamour for ‘the third force’ is beginning to gain ground. He moved to the party alongside a serving senator, Fatima Raji-Rasaki and former Secretary to the Ekiti State Government, Dare Bejide. Reports say he has been anointed to fly the party’s flag in what would be a litmus test for Chief Olu Falae-led party.

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