Odds favour Opeyemi Bamidele as eight jostle for Ekiti APC primaries

0
173

The stage is set for the Ekiti State governorship primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, last-minute permutation favours the emergence of Senator Opeyemi Bamidele from Ekiti Central District.

Eight aspirants are vying for the APC ticket, to fly the flag of the party during the June 18 election to pick Governor Kayode Fayemi’s successor. The governor’s tenure would elapse on October 15 this year.

The Ekiti political firmament is fully now charged, following a series of activities such as rallies and meetings. There are jingles on radio and adverts on television stations; each aspirant is now more frequent on the local stations. Political programmes are being sponsored by various aspirants. Towns and villages are flooded with posters of many of the aspirants.

Social media are not left out of the current political activities, as many sponsored write-ups to market and de-market those perceived as rivals of their preferred aspirants using pseudo names.

READ ALSO: Telecom Operators Rule Out 5G Interference With Flights

Although there are many political parties that are likely to field candidates in the governorship election, only the APC and the main opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) are firmly on the ground in the state’s political hemisphere.

The aspirants include those who contested the 2018 primary against Fayemi and new entrants. Many of those who obtained the nomination and expression of interest forms were cleared to run by the panel set up for the purpose of screening by the APC National Caretaker Committee under the chairmanship of Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni.

The aspirants are: Senator Bamidele; the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Biodun Oyebanji; serving member of the House of Representatives, Femi Bamisile, and Prince Dayo Adeyeye.

Others include former Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Bamidele Faparusi; former governorship aspirant, Kayode Ojo; renowned aviation expert, Otunba Demola Popoola, and Olusola Afolabi.

Looking at the calibre of aspirants eyeing the party’s ticket, especially their political background, experience and the belief by many that the APC is a major platform in the forthcoming governorship election, the shadow poll is going to be a tough battle among the contenders.

Already, Governor Fayemi is feeling the heat of a looming showdown going by the utterances of the gladiators jostling to replace him at the hilltop Oke-Bareke Government House.

Although the governor is not contesting the poll having served the two terms of eight years, as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution, he would be keenly interested in who succeeds him.

Meanwhile, many aspirants have called for the direct primary, so that all members of the party can participate in picking the flag bearer; rather than the indirect mode where only delegates, many of whom were handpicked by the governor will determine the winner.

While the governor’s camp was rooting for the indirect primary mode to elect the flagbearer, no fewer than six of the seven other aspirants insisted on the direct mode. They premised their argument on grounds that the indirect primary would not produce a popular candidate as the outcome of the primary would have been predetermined by the governor who controls the party’s structure.

To the utter dismay of the governor’s camp, which prefers indirect primary, the Buni-led APC National Caretaker Committee has adopted the direct method for the shadow poll. It was learnt the decision of the APC to adopt direct primary was informed by a lot of factors. First, the party took into consideration the ongoing litigation filed by done aggrieved members challenging the congress that produced the current executives from ward level to state level.

The APC national secretariat was said to be adequately cautious of the naked fact that concentrating the sole power to choose the APC flag bearer in the hands of delegates whose legality was still a subject of litigation would be suicidal if the court eventually nullifies the congresses. It was also gathered that the invisible hands of vested interests influenced the decision.

This was also coupled with the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s determination to ensure that members took ownership of the party in order to entrench proper democratic ideals and solidly build the APC from bottom to up.

An impeccable source at the APC national secretariat told our correspondent that the party’s decision to adopt the direct mode was sequel to President Buhari’s directives that direct primary should be adopted in states where the APC has a sitting governor, in order to prevent hijacking of the process, while the indirect primaries should be used in states where the sitting governor is not of the party.

With the direct primary, the temptation to buy delegates in today’s APC governorship primary would not be feasible because such undertaking would prove too costly as the exercise would involve all APC card-carrying members across the 177 wards.

Unlike the indirect mode, which requires only approved and sizeable delegates who emerged from the congresses, the direct method involves all registered and card-carrying members of the party. They are entitled to vote for aspirants of their choice and the aspirant that secures not less than 25 per cent of the votes cast in at least two-thirds of all the 16 local chapters of the party would be declared winner of the contest.

Keen observers of Ekiti politics are of the view that the adoption of the direct primary for the governorship primary has partially removed the rugs from the feet of Governor Fayemi and has given a lifeline to the other six aspirants to win the primary, particularly the ones that are popular among them.

However, mixed feelings greeted the development. While the six ‘independent’ aspirants are in jubilation galore, it was reliably learnt that the governor’s camp was not that comfortable. Although the atmosphere within the party is calm, there are indications that Governor Kayode Fayemi and his foot soldiers are jittery of the direct mode of primary because any aspirant could emerge, as it will be a test of popularity.

Many believe that the adoption of the direct primary in Ekiti might be a sword of Damocles against Governor Fayemi who many insist is desirous of installing his successor.

Meanwhile, at the last count, seven aspirants have declared their interest in contesting for the governorship ticket of the APC .

While the APC is seeking to retain power in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is determined to wrest power from the ruling party.

Ultimately, the Ekiti people will decide who will govern them on June 18 — the date fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the gubernatorial election.

Come October, Kayode Fayemi, the incumbent governor of Ekiti, is expected to hand over to his successor after completing two terms in office.

Among the contenders for the ticket are a serving senator, a former minister, a serving house of representatives member, and a former chief of staff to Fayemi.

This is how the seven aspirants stand:

OPEYEMI BAMIDELE

Bamidele, the senator representing Ekiti central, is a major contender for the ticket. The lawyer served as an aide to Bola Tinubu while he was governor of Lagos state.

He was also the commissioner of information in the first term of Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos.

Apart from serving a term in the house of representatives, Bamidele was the director-general of the Fayemi campaign organisation in 2018.

Many believe that these public offices which he has held over the years, and experience garnered, have prepared him for the job in Ekiti.

BIODUN OYEBANJI

Oyebanji is from Ekiti central, and has worked as a university lecturer and a banker. Oyebanji is a former secretary to the state government (SSG). He served as the special adviser on parliamentary affairs in the administration of Niyi Adebayo, a former governor of Ekiti.

He was chief of staff to Fayemi in his first term and also worked as liaison officer between Ekiti state and the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission.

DAYO ADEYEYE

Adeyeye, former minister of state for works, is the antonym of a neophyte in the Nigerian political terrain. He, too, has held a number of public offices.

If picked by the APC in the primary poll on Thursday, the former minister will be looking at using the experience he has garnered over time to effect change in the state.

Prior to the return of democracy in 1999, the former senator was a member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) — a group that fought for the return to democratic rule.

Adeyeye has served as spokesman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the PDP, the senate, and Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation.

He was a minister in the PDP administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Many believe that his time in the opposition party may work against his ambition to clinch the governorship ticket but that is left for APC members in the state to decide.

BAMIDELE FAPARUSI

Bamidele Faparusi, the immediate past commissioner for infrastructure and public utilities in Ekiti, is also in the race for the ticket.

Before serving as commissioner, he was in the house of representatives between 2011 and 2015.

Under his stewardship as commissioner for public utilities, the state is said to have recorded good water supply across the councils.

While the former commissioner may not have the popularity of the other contenders at the national level, he is known to be a grassroots politician.

Faparusi is said to understand the workings of the state, and if he eventually becomes governor, the knowledge will prove useful in meeting the aspirations of the people.

KAYODE OJO

Ojo is an engineer who is well known in the Ekiti political scene. He aspired to be governor in 2018, but came third in the APC primary poll.

Aside from politics, Ojo is a successful businessman who is active in the oil and gas industry.

The aspirant had recently said if elected governor, he will work towards increasing the revenue of the state without burdening the people.

His entrepreneurial skill is believed to give him an edge over other aspirants.

Ojo is from Ekiti central senatorial district.

FEMI BAMISILE

Bamisile is a current member of the house of representatives and a grassroots politician.

The aspirant was first elected into the Ekiti house of assembly on the platform of the PDP in 2007 and later became the speaker.

His tenure was short-lived after falling out with some members of the assembly. He later stepped down from the speakership position.

Bamisile also served as PDP deputy chairman in the state but he defected to the APC after a row with Ayo Fayose, a former governor of the state.

The aspirant is from Kota in Ekiti south senatorial district.

ADEMOLA POPOOLA

Popoola is relatively new to Ekiti politics.

The aspirant who is from Ekiti north senatorial district is largely known for a football tournament he sponsors in the state.

Popoola believes that football could be an avenue talented youths in the state could make a livelihood from, hence the tournaments he organises.

The aspirant is gunning to make Ekiti an “industrial state” and he has boasted of having “international connections”.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here