All set for Ekiti election –

All set for Ekiti election – The Sun Nigeria

From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 18, people of Ekiti State, the Fountain of knowledge will file out to exercise their democratic rights to elect who governs them in the next four years. Expectedly, the state is literally on fire as gladiators gear up for a showdown. In the frenzy for political space, Ekiti has become a theatre of politics and power.

In the build up to today’s election, the state turned into a marketplace of politicking, horse-trading and all manner of shenanigans, all in a bid to gain some mileage. But the ‘D’ day is here and in a matter of hours, it would be clear the candidate and party that would sing for victory.

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On the whole, 16 political parties will be in the field to determine who succeeds the incumbent governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as he completes his second term on October 15.

But realistically, in the view of analysts, out of the political parties on the ballot paper, only a few are visible and ready for the contest, having campaigned in all the 177 wards of the 16 local areas in the state.

Those believed to be strong contenders include Biodun Oyebanji of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Bisi Kolawole of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Debo Ranti Ajayi of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Dr Wole Oluyede of the Action Democratic Congress (ADC), Reuben Famuyibo of the Accord Party and Mrs. Kemi Elebute-Halle, the only female candidate, who is of the Action Democratic Party (ADP).

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Although close watchers of political developments in the state believe that the contest would be a straight fight among the APC, PDP and SDP, there are others who believe that the candidates of Accord, YPP, ADC and ADP, would make serious impacts because according to them, Ekiti people need fresh hands to bring about the long desired change and development in the state.

The incumbent governor, Fayemi and former governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, have done their best for the APC by traversing through the length and breadth of the state, canvassing for votes for the APC candidate. The party held its grand rally recently with the former Governor of Lagos State and presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and 14 APC governors, in attendance.

However, leading the PDP’s campaign is former Governor Ayodele Fayose, while Chief Segun Oni has been leading the SDP’s campaigns, riding on his goodwill and past records as a former governor of the state.

The impression in many quarters is that the election would, no doubt, spring a lot of surprises, especially with the attendant gale of defections that hit both the APC and PDP after their primaries. The candidate of the SDP, Oni is a product of this defection. He left the PDP to join the SDP after the PDP primaries following what he termed as unfair and unequal playing field for all the aspirants. He formed what has come to be known as the third force, even though the major political parties have argued that there is nothing like a third force as the contest would be a straight fight between the APC and PDP.

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The thinking in many quarters is that Oni would likely win the election. Those who hold this view argue that his performance when he governed the state between 2007 and 2010, coupled with the massive support from the aggrieved politicians would give him victory on Saturday.

They further argue that the emergence of Oni has since unsettled the camp of the APC, resulting in unhealthy rivalry between the two parties. The news in town is that Governor Fayemi performed below expectations in the state, and the coming election is the time to pay him back.

They don’t see the PDP candidate, Kolawole, making any serious impact because according to them, the former governor, Fayose sold the party out the moment he imposed an unpopular candidate on the party and ensured that he won the primary election.

Close watchers of developments in the state have also expressed concern over the role of vote buying. They have predicted that vote- buying will likely decide the outcome of the election. This according to them is evidenced in the way and manner  some of the candidates have been going from house to house to meet with the electorate instead of campaigning based on issues.

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Yet, there are those who are afraid that voter apathy might taint the true wishes of the people eventually since the recent clashes are pointing to that. The recent clash between the APC and SDP supporters during the SDP campaign rally at Itapa-Ekiti, Oye Local Government Area is a perfect example. The clash which led to the death of one APC supporter, led to reprisal the following day, heightening tension in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been sensitizing the electorate on the need to obtain their permanent voter cards so that they will be able to exercise their franchise and civic responsibilities during elections.

The Electoral body has also urged the candidates and their supporters to eschew violence, even as adequate security arrangements have been made for the election. Security agents have been deployed to the state to man strategic points and ensure a peaceful election process.

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