#EkitiDecides: Should we pretend like this election is not all about Fayose?

In less than 24 hours, the people of Ekiti would file out to elect their Chief Executive for the next four years amid a number of  ‘theatrics and stage plays’ that has greeted the political arena in that state in the last one week, with the most recent being the alleged siege on the Government House and harassment of incumbent Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose, leading him to appear on national television weeping with a neck collar and an arm sling after he was reportedly teargassed by security operatives.

Ekiti, until recently had its slogan as ‘Fountain of Knowledge’ depicting largely the high literacy rate in the state reputed to have produced the highest number of professors in the country, but this indeed has not translated to quality leadership for the people, as the state with a history of political instability has produced 6 governors and one military administrator since 1999.

In Saturday’s elections, according to the list released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 35 candidates are running for the governorship but only the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a former governor and immediate past Minister of Solid Minerals and incumbent Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola Eleka of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are known to be the contenders in the race.

In what may seem like a repeat of the June 21, 2014 elections (although in a twist of fate this time), the candidate of the PDP, Prof. Eleka would be relying on the endorsement and backing of Governor Fayose who is known to have a lot of goodwill among his people, while the candidate of the APC, Dr. Kayode Fayemi on the other hand, will be relying on federal might (in the form of security agents) and the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari to return to Ayoba Hills.

Already, thirty thousand policemen have been deployed to the state on the orders of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, based on a threat analysis conducted in the state, police authorities consider “a flash point when it comes to politicking”.

While both parties are not known to have run an issue-based campaign or state in very clear terms what they seek to do or undo with the platform of the governorship seat, most worrisome however, is the manner in which the incumbent Governor, Ayodele Fayose has conducted himself since 15th April, 2018 when the ban on campaigns was lifted in the state.

 

 

Fayose seems to have practically abandoned governance in the state for the elections, despite his name being nowhere on the ballot, thus demonstrating that the Ekiti election is all about him. Otherwise, how can one explain a case where no major campaign promise or statement of note can be traced to the PDP candidate in this election except from his boss, the governor?

But what really could Fayose be afraid of should his party and candidate lose the election on Saturday?

As it stands, there is so much at stake for him as this appears to be the final battle for the governor, who although claims to be running for the Presidency in 2019 under the umbrella party, is believed to be positioning himself for the Vice Presidential slot, as his party had long after the excruciating loss it suffered in 2015, zoned the Presidency to the North. And so, it is expected that, for him to be taken seriously, beyond using his position as the Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum (PDP-GF) to help the party function well in its largely unusual role of being in the opposition, he must have a bargaining chip to offer, of which retaining the Governorship in the state would provide for him.

In this light, he remembers more than anyone, how Ekiti’s sister state, Ondo fell into the hands of the APC in November and so, despite his party being the ruling party in the state, as well as his acclaimed achievements (including owing civil servants), he is not resting on his oars, in order not to be a victim of such.

In the event that ‘Peter the Rock’ hands over to an APC governor in October, one is almost sure that the PDP’s stay in office would be probed (just like he did to the immediate past governor) and this would readily put him in ‘good stead’ for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to pursue a case against him, in this season where the anti-graft body is celebrating the conviction of two former governors.

Again, Fayose could not have forgotten so soon, how the results of the 2014 elections were allegedly swayed in his favour, following allegations of vote buying (stomach infrastructure), the militarisation of the polls with the help of then Minister of State for Defence, Musliu Obanikoro, (who by the way, is an APC chieftain currently) through the use of the military to facilitate access for PDP operatives and supporters, as well as former President Goodluck Jonathan allegedly instructing the then Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh, to use the military in arresting and intimidating opposition politicians before and during the election.

As it has been witnessed in recent elections in the country, Saturday’s polls is again likely to witness vote buying between a wounded APC army backed by federal security forces who will be attempting to pay Fayose and the PDP back in its own coin, and a dramatic governor who many say has mastered the psychology of his people and knows just how to get their sympathy towards his cause.

This may indeed be the decider at the elections which the PDP is likely to emerge victorious.

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