Ekiti’s next governor: Who’s running, who’s on the fence, and who’s already out

Ekiti’s next governor: Who’s running, who’s on the fence, and who’s already out

By Femi Soneye

The Ekiti governorship election is about four months away. Campaigning is underway, political consultants are doling out advice and pundits are handicapping favorites and wild cards. According to INEC, the commencement date of Campaigns for Ekiti election is April 15. That close date hasn’t stopped a flurry of aspirants from jumping in to challenge Governor Ayo Fayose’s anointed candidate – but some insiders question whether any of them can actually beat the incumbent in his game with both parties in disarray.

Politicians, anti-Fayose media has seized on the narrative that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state is an imploding hot mess and civil war battlefield. True enough. But that’s only half the story. It turns out that the opposition All Peoples Congress, APC, in the state is also an imploding hot mess and civil war battlefield.  The APC is divided also. The parties are twin-sies!

Nearly 16 weeks out, no fewer than 29 persons from the APC have already declared their candidacies – five of those are legitimate contenders, while 15 are fringe candidates with little chance of advancing beyond the primaries. Still others, most notably former governor Kayode Fayemi and a top Lagos businessman are weighing a run and are expected to decide soon.

The large field brings more uncertainty and possibilities to the race, although key factors remain demographics, geography and, perhaps most importantly, money.

A visibly frustrated APC leader, said she tried to sound the alarm last year and “people didn’t listen. People didn’t believe me, she said under the condition of anonymity.

“We need to understand how to build an inclusive party.” If the APC as a party doesn’t come up with a set of principles and policies that create opportunity for people who haven’t had it, I think a third party is going to emerge and politicians will move, referring to the unpopular comeback bids of some former governors.

The politician was not alone in her assessment of how desperately unorganized the APC is as it still appears to reel from a 2015 defeat few expected and from which some cannot recover.

A Former Governor of the State and Deputy Chairman, South of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Segun Oni, recently cautioned that the party may lose the 2018 governorship election if it fails to present a popular candidate.

By this point in an election year, most people in the state find themselves overwhelmed by politics—the advertisements, the polls, the news coverage, according to Per Second News findings in the state.

With all that noise, its easy for folks to come up with excuses for not participating in the election process—“The parties are divided,” or “I can’t get behind any of the crowded candidates,” or “My vote doesn’t even matter.”

Maybe those excuses are starting to sound pretty reasonable to some voters in the state now. For those concerned about Ekiti state and its future, a great attention must be given to the forthcoming election by voting wisely.

Can APC member become governor in Ekiti in 2018?

It’s a huge uphill battle for APC to win statewide in Ekiti right now.

If so it’s going to have to be somebody who’s a moderate politician, who is going to be somebody who probably talks about the role of government, perhaps in the socio-economic life of the people, education, or in building roads or attracting businesses.

It’s got to be somebody who’s a moderate who can say, ‘Look, the PDP have had their chance. There’s been a lot of problems in the state, there’s been a lot of ethical challenges and it’s time to have another voice.’ And somebody who can work with politicians across the aisle.

Governor Ayo Fayose’s popularity has soared to record levels in heavily APC  region, according to various polls conducted within the last year. His predecessor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, (APC), did not come close to Fayose’s level of approval in his four-year tenure.

Fayose, a straight talker, is not afraid to scold and snipe at politicians who don’t share his priorities. But he also has avoided potentially damaging standoffs with civil servants.

The question in this election is not about who is going to lead Ekiti, but what are the citizens standards for being led.

“Speaking the truth should be the least we require of our next governor, said Toyin Martins, a native of the state and a financial economist with the U.S Department of Energy.

“It won’t solve all our problems, but it is a beginning.”

“Ask anyone, rich or poor, black or white, old or young, “Do you think it’s okay for politicians to lie, or should they tell the truth?” Every single person you talk to will say our leaders should tell the truth.

“People everywhere, regardless of their political views, those in the APC, PDP or other party, can sense it. We may not have candidates in this election who can turn the ship around. But right now, we better vote for somebody who is going to shift our direction and avoid the iceberg, she said.

It’s about demanding honesty and integrity from our leadership—and rewarding that integrity with our votes. That’s how we will elect leaders who will have the fortitude to make the hard decisions that must be made to change course, Mrs Martins concluded.

Even with a crowded, 29-person APC primary for Ekiti governor, two candidates have been at the front from the start. Hon Bimbo Daramola and Senator Babafemi Ojudu.  Both candidates have been crisscrossing the state in the weeks ahead of the primary on April 15. Both candidates were spurred to get involved this year for slightly same reasons. A deluge of nasty national political rhetoric combined with what they saw as dysfunctional in the running of the state affairs.

The duo represent the future, and what is now refered to as digital leadership.

They both understand the problems of the state.

“Where we are today, if by any chance of misfortune, this state slips again, we will come to a situation where in another four years everybody will be afraid to go back to Ekiti state, said Hon Bimbo Daramola, former member House of Representatives in an interview recently in Ekiti.

“Our politics and values have been totally turned upside down; flipped completely. The present governor has invested people’s money in a 2.1km overhead bridge in a state where the total numbers of cars; both the one that people are thinking of buying, the ones in mechanic houses, the ones that are parked, are not up to 50,000. And the governor has committed N5.7 billion to overhead bridge.

Hon Bimbo Daramola addressing Ekiti youths last year at an event he purchased 1,000 JAMB forms

Daramola, who is presently the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, said if he emerges as the governor of Ekiti state, he would ensure that the acronym of Ekiti State is observed and adhered to.

This he said include; “Empowerment, Knowledge driven economy, Infrastructural development, Tourism development and promotion, and Industrialization.

“‎From one of my projects; industrial park project, I am going to raise N5.2 billion, where I will get Diasporas and share the idea. I will put the integrity of the state behind that project.

“I will re-skill people, l re-tool them, retrain artisans, provide jobs for people who are going to sites, get those who are blasting rocks to provide chippings, among others. So, the economy is going to get a sudden boost with that take off money, Daramola said.

“Let me give you the picture of what Ekiti is today- as I am talking to you, what we have in Ekiti is the civil service, the teaching service and possibly, the local government service as well, said Senator Babafemi Ojudu in an interview recently.

“There is no any industry in Ekiti State that employs up to 30 persons. You have petrol stations, small scale sawmills, and I think that is all you can point to. With the way it is, what do we do? You need somebody who can think creatively, who is innovative to now look at it and say, what can we do to make Ekiti State vibrant again? And that thing is agriculture.

“Somebody once asked me, what would be your major preoccupations as a governor? And I told him, number one is agriculture, number two will be agriculture, number three will be agriculture.


Senator Ojudu

“We want to mobilise people to farm in a massive way and we are not talking of farming with cutlasses and hoes. As I am talking to you, I have already started talking to people in the private sector who are ready to invest in agriculture, who want to bring in the finance to clear the land, provide equipment, and get the people involved.

“We are thinking of getting the people involved by building farm settlements in the 16 local government areas of the state, concluded the journalist turned politician.

The ruling PDP party in the state also has at least 5 persons jostling for the party’s ticket.

One thing those running for governor in the state must know is that being governor means you represent everyone and you have to talk about the issues that are important to them.

Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their leaders and representatives. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption.

If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them. If four years from now, Ekiti is not on the path to greatness.… it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture and the morality of the state do not aid in controlling the political forces.