By Richard Elesho
The Saturday governorship election is a big deciding factor in what will happen in Osun in July and the 2023 presidential election. On Tuesday 14th June 2022, the creme de la creme of the ruling APC congregated in Ado, Ekiti State, revealing the importance the party attaches to the poll. They were there for the grand finale of the party’s campaign for the imminent Ekiti State Governorship Election coming up this Saturday, 18th June.
A cursory look at the catalogue of people in Ekiti that day will immediately reveal the importance the party attached (and still does) to the poll. Leading the delegates was the generalissimo of party politics in Nigeria and APC Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Current National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and pioneer Chairman, Bisi Akande were also present.
The party set aside the behind-the-scenes imbroglio of the nomination of Tinubu’s Running Mate for next year’s poll. No less than 14 out of 22 State Governors under its purview, an impressive number of National Assembly members and other stakeholders were also in attendance.
Biodun Oyebanji is the anointed standard-bearer of APC. He is contesting against candidates of fourteen other political parties. Notable among the other parties are Social Democratic Party, SDP and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
The Ekiti election it seems is a must-win for the party. Outgoing Governor Kayode Fayemi who recently pocketed his Presidential ambition to boost Asiwaju’s chances hopes to be a trailblazer in successfully anointing a successor.
Since its creation, no former Governor of the state has handed over power to the candidate of his choice, just as no party has governed the state back-to-back.
This is the jinx Fayemi plans to break with Oyebanji’s candidacy.
On another front, the poll is a litmus test of the party’s popularity in the southwest geopolitical zone. APC controls five out of six states in the zone. The party is eager to win the remaining state. If not, it will certainly not be in a hurry to cede any of the states in its fold.
APC won the last July 14th 2018 Governorship Election by the whiskers. The then Governor Ayodele Fayose tried everything possible to retain the state for his People’s Democratic Party, PDP. When APC polled 197,462 to defeat PDP Olushola Eleka who scored 177,927 votes, the latter cried blue murder. All matters considered analysts posit, that the ruling party is better positioned to extend its margin of victory this time.
The aura of next year’s presidential election in which Tinubu, from the southwest, is the party’s flagbearer, is expected to sway more votes for the party. Many voters may cast their ballots for the APC in solidarity with the Presidential candidate whose popularity resonates across Yoruba land.
Tinubu said that much in his remarks at the Ekiti Parapo Pavilion rally. “President Buhari, a man of honour and dignity, had kept his promise by passing the ball to us in the south that we should produce the next President and it is now left for us to vote APC to maintain the unity and progress of our nation,” he said.”
He appealed to the people to discard their divisions and close tanks in the interest of the party. “This is our first test after my emergence, don’t let us fail; don’t let us disappoint President Buhari. We must put Nigeria on the path of progress and you will never regret voting for APC in this election.”
The Ekiti election is anticipated to provide a leeway to other states in the region. Osun Governorship poll follows in about a month. The performance of APC in Ekiti may be a possibility pointer to its performance in subsequent elections, especially in nearby Osun.
Olufemi Oladipupo an indigen of Ekiti said the poll is crucial to the success of the party in next year’s polls. “If every ethnic group in Nigeria including Hausa, Igbo, Tiv, Ijaw and others decided to pick a Yoruba as the candidate of the ruling party, it is only fit and proper that we should all rally around the man and the party. This election means a lot and I think APC will clinch victory.