No fewer than 33 All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirants are competing tomorrow for the governorship ticket in Ekiti State. Who becomes the candidate? The governorship primary that will determine the future of the Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) is holding tomorrow in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.

No fewer than 33 aspirants are competing for the ticket. They cut across the three senatorial zones. Their fate will be decided by about 2,650 delegates. The delegates’ list has already been given to each contender for verification. The party’s National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso, said that, so far, no aspirant has raised an eyebrow over the list.

The shadow poll is the first critical step towards the July 14 governorship poll. Unlike the APC, where 33 aspirants are running, only three-Deputy Governor Olusola Eleka, Senator Biodun Olujimi and Prince Dayo Adeyeye-are running in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

There is no evidence that any of the APC contenders will step down ahead of the primary.

The aspirants have been traversing the wards and 16 local governments to woo delegates. This is the first time the APC will record a huge number of governorship contenders. This is worrisome to the party elders who fear that the party may be engulfed in post-primary crisis.

To many observers, the high number of aspirants suggests that chieftains believe in the ability of the party to win the next governorship poll.

However, the struggle for the ticket at the primary may inadvertently weaken the platform, if the exercise is not free and fair.

Aspirants have been locked in stiff competition and antagonism. Their supporters have erected blocs of internal opposition, thereby frustrating pre-primary dialogue. Party leaders are irked by the hate speeches that have characterized intra-party campaigns All the aspirants are exuding confidence. Their backers are full of bravado. But, the wheat will be separated from the chaff tomorrow.

The preparation for the exercise has dismantled the notion of zoning. It is a figment of the imagination. While aspirants from the South Senatorial District have been agitating for power rotation, chieftains from other zones have decried the clamor, claiming that Ekiti is one indivisible zone.

They also pointed out that zoning had no role to play in the selection of previous flagbearers in the days of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the defunct Action Congress (AC), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and in 2014 when Fayemi re-contested on the platform of the APC.

Unlike the previous primaries, tomorrow’s exercise appears to be an exclusive affair of Ekiti. There is no gale of endorsement by powerful forces outside the state. Zonal leaders have also emphasized their neutrality, promising to support whoever emerges as flagbearer.

Religion is also not a factor in Ekiti politics. There is no clamor for power shift from one religion to the other. Neither is gender a factor. Despite the high political awareness, only a woman is in the race.

Expectedly, the emergence of the APC candidate will affect the permutations of the PDP, which is bent on retaining power in the Fountain of Knowledge. The PDP will hold its primary On Tuesday, May 8.

The candidate of the APC may be a factor in the poll, but, victory will depend on the collective support of party members and leaders, most especially the aspirants.

A shadow poll is different from a general election. Therefore, victory can only come the way of the party through a collective effort. The threat to victory is the subversion of strategy for winning.

Post-primary defections may be prevented if the Al-Makura Panel lives up to expectation. Skirmishes may be inevitable. But, according to observers, the onus is on the party leadership to broker peace. If there is genuine reconciliation, the house will not be divided.

The primary will hold at Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado-Ekiti.The people are interested in the candidate of the APC because it is the ruling party at the federal level.

The scramble for the ticket is due to the fact that the party has no sitting governor who could manipulate the process.

Aspirants:

Dr. Kayode Fayemi:

He is the immediate past governor and currently the Minister of Mines and Steel Development. He installed the party structures at ward, local government, senatorial and state levels. But, Fayemi’s ambition is facing serious opposition within and outside the party. Some party members believe that his ambition is capable of dividing the party. The Fayose administration is determined to stop him by all means and the White Paper of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, which indicted him of alleged fraud is putting a question mark on his ambition. He is from Isan in Ekiti North senatorial district.

Chief Segun Oni:

Oni is a strong contender for the APC ticket and he has run a robust campaign. He is the immediate past Deputy National Chairman (South) of the party. He is the Chairman of the Board of Export Processing Zone (EPZ). Oni is popular among civil servants, pensioners, and youths. He is perceived as a selfless statesman who backed Fayemi in the 2014 election despite the circumstances surrounding his removal from office. But, his supporters are still perceived as “PDP decampees.” He is from Ifaki in North senatorial district.

Senator Gbenga Aluko:

Aluko has a rich political experience. He is the son of the revered economist, the late Prof Sam Aluko, one of the intellectual think-tank of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). He served as a Senator between 1999 and 2003. He was the Deputy Chief Whip. His campaign team is very organized and he has a deep pocket. Critics say Aluko is not a consistent politician. he has traversed the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), PDP, Labour Party (LP) and he is now in APC. He is from Ode-Ekiti in South senatorial district.

Femi Bamisile:

Bamisile is the former Speaker of House of Assembly. He was the first aspirant to declare his ambition.  Bamisile took the fight to Fayose by opening a campaign office directly beside the PDP secretariat He is from Kota-Ekiti in Ekiti South Senatorial District.

Dr. Wole Oluyede:

Oluyede is a successful medical doctor. He was endorsed by an elite group in his hometown, the Ikere Development Forum (IDF), led by the legal luminary, Chief Wole Olanipekun, as the town’s consensus candidate. His critics believe that he came late into the race. He is from Ikere in South senatorial district.

Senator Babafemi Ojudu:

He is a vocal, bold and visible politician who has successfully transformed from an activist, rights campaigner, and journalist to a politician. Ojudu is the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters. He represented Ekiti Central in the Senate between 2011 and 2015. He is from Ado-Ekiti, which has over 180,000 registered voters, the highest in the state

Bimbo Daramola:

Daramola was one of the most vocal members of the seventh House of Representatives and he has a grassroots appeal. He has executed many people-oriented projects in his constituency. Daramola has been very loyal to the party and he is eternally remembered for his “shoot me” bravado in the heat of the 2009 governorship rerun when he dared soldiers and mobile policemen to shoot him while protesting the outcome of the poll.

He was Director-General of the Fayemi Campaign in 2014. He has been sponsoring thousands of JAMB candidates.  outside power. He  the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives. There are many aspirants from Oye, his local government area, and this may affect his quest for votes from delegates.

Opeyemi Bamidele:

Bamidele was a member of the House of Representatives representing Irepodun/Ifelodun Constituency. He hails from Iyin in Ekiti Central District.

Bamidele Faparusi:

He is a former member of House of Representatives representing  Gbonyin/Emure/Ekiti East Constituency. Observers believe that his ambition may be affected by the fact that he and Aluko hail from the same town, a fact that may diminish his support base. He is from Ode in Ekiti South District.

Senator Ayo Arise:

Arise was in the sixth Senate. He represented Ekiti North. He was the Chairman of Committee on Privatisation. Arise is a philanthropist and a grassroots politician who should not be overlooked. He crossed over from PDP to APC last year. He is from Oye Local government, which parades many aspirants. He is believed to have joined the race late.

Dr. Oluwole Oluleye:

Oluleye is the son of former Finance Minister in the Obasanjo military regime, the late Maj.-Gen. James Oluleye. He is a former Executive Secretary of Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) during which he facilitated employment of many Ekiti indigenes.

Dr. Adebayo Orire:

The medical practitioner is a party elder and a grassroots politician.  Orire is canvassing for a home-based governor who understands the people and he believes he fits the bill. His major challenge is that he may be outmuscled by richer aspirants. But,  he believes his integrity is more important than money. He also has a kinsman, Kayode Ojo, in the race and this may deplete his votes. Orire is from Ikoro in Ekiti Central District

Kola Alabi

Alabi is a rich Information Technology investor with a company that employs large number of Ekiti indigenes in Lagos and other parts of the world. He is a renowned philanthropist in his native Ikere and popular among the youths. His critics are of the view that he is an aspirant for the future and the high number of aspirants from his hometown is a knotty issue for him.

Other aspirants are Dr. Bayo Orire, Kayode Ojo, Muyiwa Olumilua, Victor Kolade,  Mr. Debo Ranti Ajayi:  Chief Dele Okeya,

Chief Diran Adesua, Chief Sesan Fatoba, Dr Mojisola Yaya-Kolade, Olumuyiwa Coker, Deacon Adekunle Esan, Mr. Victor Kolade, Mr. Dipo Ogunkoyode, Mr. Bodunde Adeyanju, Captain Sunday Adebomi,  and Chief Bisi Aloba.

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