Saturday, May 31, 2014 2:47 pm
As the Ekiti State gubernatorial election slated to hold on 21 June, 2014 draws closer, there can be no clearer evidence that the governorship seat is highly coveted than the lengthy list of candidates that have emerged under various parties.
Apart from the three major contenders, the incumbent Dr John Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress, APC; Ayo Fayose of People’s Democratic Party, PDP and Opeyemi Bamidele of Labour Party, LP, who are the most visible contenders, 17 other Candidates will also be throwing their hats in the ring.
The 17 other contestants vying for the office which from all indications presently is beyond their reach include: Dr. Gbenga Afeni of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA; Barrister Kole Ajayi, Accord Party, AP; Bola Oroko, African Democratic Congress, ADC; Opeyemi Michael Osekita, Action Alliance, AA; Engr Goke Animashaun, Progressive People’s Alliance, PPA; Prince Bamigbade Peter, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN; Victor Oluseyi Osekita, Alliance for Democracy, AD; Mrs. Folashade Aluko, African People’s Alliance, APA; and Mrs. Francis Oluwafemi Idowu of Citizens Popular Party, CPP.
Others jostling for the chance to govern Ekiti state are Engr. Odunayo Babatola Ogundana of United Progressive Party, UPP; Phillips Adeniji Akinropo, United Democratic Party, UDP; Engr. Ayo Adeleke Adekole, Social Democratic Party, SDP; Evangelist Kehinde Rufus, People’s Party of Nigeria, PPN; Prince Banjo Gboyega, People for Democratic Change, PDC; Comrade Ilesanmi Bankole, National Conscience Party, NCP; Ajibola Akinwale, Mega Progressive People’s Party, MPPP, and Pastor Ade Ogunkolade of Kowa Party, KP.
Despite the vast array of contestants, the fight proper is expected to be among Fayemi, Fayose and Bamidele. Banking on his pedigree as an ex-governor who has also been considered worthy enough by his party, the PDP, to be given the ticket that may bring him back to Ekiti Government House once again, Fayose is poised to slug it out with Fayemi, the main contender who is expected to wield the incumbency might to his advantage, and Bamidele, who is also another major candidate expected to pull some weight in the elections.
However, in some quarters, the contest has actually been narrowed down to be between Fayemi and Fayose, each boasting a political clout heavy enough to swing the votes their way. Despite having won considerable applause for a sparkling performance thus far, Fayemi has increased campaign momentum, being fully aware that the Ekiti PDP remains the major party to beat, especially when the party’s flag-bearer happens to be Fayose who has not lost his appeal to vast sections of the Ekiti electorate. Besides, Fayose also enjoys the backing of the executive at the federal level and the PDP, translating to an intimidating reservoir of resources from where the former governor can draw from to give Fayemi a serious run for his money, the incumbency factor notwithstanding.
Although the contest is expected to be keen, Fayemi is emboldened by the fact that his performance ratings speak for him. Counting on the belief that the Ekiti people can now seperate the wheat from the chaff, unlike what obtained prior to his tenure when there was virtually no standard of performance by past governors worthy of emulation.
“Among the governorship candidates recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, two have occupied this position. So, you can put them on the weighing scale and reach objective conclusion about how far they have made life more abundant for the people; how far they have transformed the state”, says Fayemi, who believes that Ekiti people have grown wiser and would not yield to all manners of manipulations by the opposition.
Governor Fayemi also laments the years of the locusts when the opposition ruled, as being marred by criminality and brigandage that put Ekiti State in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, and not for the values that it used to be associated with. According to Fayemi, his mission of establishing the basis for real, unprecedented growth informed his race to restore all the things that were glaringly lacking prior to his administration.
While mentioning that Ekiti State has made progress in the aspects of security, safety, new educational plaform, new platform for health care and new opportunities for empowerment and job creation, Fayemi, also told TheNEWS that it would be delusional to assume at this point that the major problems dragging the state back have been fully tackled. The governor, stresses that continuity would enable further enhancement of the journey towards real development which should be driven by knowledge.
“The very best things in this society should be found first in Ekiti, not anywhere else, because it is a standard saying that knowledge will forever govern ignorance, not the other way round” Fayemi said.
On the accusation that he is too deboneir or that he does not drink alcohol and eat bole (plantain at the bus stop, like Fayose, the governor told this magazine:
“Am I an elite? Absolutely no doubt I am a member of the elite class, but the elite in my view is not synonymous with a tiny minority where inexplicable wealth lies astride abject poverty. No. My own definition of elitism is that those in society that are equipped should lift society out of the rough path. It is only that state that the term elitism adds meaning, not in the pejorative sense that some tend to use it. If I am elite because I don’t go to the street to eat boli, and I don’t associate with owo meji loke fun baba, yes, (my two hand are up in twale greeting) I am. That does not stop me from sitting with okada riders and say: ‘let’s talk about your future. How can I make life better for you? How can you get health insurance with this work you are doing? How do we ensure your safety and security? How do we ensure that the money that you make from this business is not frittered?’”
He said that is what leadership demands. It is not to keep them perpetually down distributing crumbs out of the common wealth to them by way of N200 which would not sustain them over the long term. “I don’t come from that school of politics and I have no apologies to say that I am the product of this community and if I could turn out this way, then you don’t have to be an okada rider, you can also be me,” said he.
In his view, if knowledgeable people live governance to charlatans and brigands, ignorance will forever govern knowledge, with the attendant disastrous results.
Read Fayemi’s full interview in the hard copy of TheNEWS magazine on Monday.