From the look of things, the governorship primary of the governing All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State to elect its flagbearer billed for January 27 will be keen especially looking at the calibre of the eight aspirants jostling for the ticket.
The aspirants include the National Assembly member, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele; former Minister of Works, Senator Dayo Adeyeye; House of Representatives member, Femi Bamisile; and former Secretary to Ekiti State Government, Biodun Oyebanji.
Others are former House of Representatives member, Bamidele Faparusi; former governorship aspirant, Kayode Ojo; aviation expert, Demola Popoola; and Olusola Afolabi.
The aspirants appear to have put in lots of effort, especially as many believe that clinching the party’s ticket is synonymous with winning the June 18 governorship election allegedly due to the party’s popularity.
However, a week to the primary, the governing party has unresolved issues which include allegations of imposition, the agenda for south governorship aspiration and polarisation cum litigation over the party congresses.
Although the campaigns by the aspirants have been devoid of character assassination and attacks on other contenders, some of the aspirants and their supporters do not shy away from calling for free and fair exercise without which they said there would be problem for the party.
This, however, is based on the rumour that the governor and party leadership have endorsed a particular aspirant, although the assertion has been denied variously by the governor and the Ekiti APC.
It is also for this reason that some of the aspirants are calling for direct primaries so that party members can participate freely as against indirect whereby delegates, many of whom the government and party leaders might have allegedly bought over, would not determine their future.
Already, some APC chieftains, including former presidential aspirant, Chief Reuben Famuyibo, who had earlier indicated interest to contest in the governorship, dumped the party to pitch their tent with Accord barely a week to the primary.
Famuyibo accused the APC leadership of not providing a level playing field for all aspirants, saying such necessitated the call by his admirers and supporters to pursue his aspiration on another platform.
He said, “The processes leading to the APC primary have been skewed in favour of the alleged anointed aspirant of the governor. It will be unwise to go ahead with that situation looking at our plans for the state”.
The agitation of the people of Ekiti South Senatorial District that governor should come from the zone, which has not produced governor since creation in 1996, is another issue which the party has maintained silence on.
All the three aspirants from the South, Adeyeye, Bamisile and Faparusi and as well their supporters subscribe to the agitation.
Another, which is germane, is the issue of division in the party, which appears unresolved few days to the primary. It began with Stakeholders Forum which started as protest against the manner the immediate past executives of the party in the state emerged and consequent litigation.
The division, which later became pronounced in the South West Agenda for Asiwaju Tinubu, a political group campaigning for Tinubu’s presidential bid, snowballed into litigation which followed last year’s congresses, another resort to court and parallel executives.
SWAGA Chairman in Ekiti State, Tony Adeniyi, SAN, who said that the issue that SWAGA members had with APC is that “Our group has been excluded. You must emerge at the ward level either as a delegate or executive to have a place in the primaries. That did not happen. That is why we are in court with the party.
“You would have known by our resistance or going to court to say our people right from the wards were excluded. It is like a pyramid, you have to start from the bottom. So, since we were unlawfully excluded from the whole thing, I don’t think our interest is taken care of, to be very honest.
“Our member, Adeyeye, obtained form, which is an indication that he will be participating in the primary.
“But I don’t know of any move for recociliation for now. Apart from the court which is guaranteed by Section 36 of our constitution which is entrenched to say for the determination of any right of the citizen, you go to court. I have not seen any committee of the APC for reconciliation.
“Again, I read and hear in the news that some powers-that-be have adopted a candidate and he is demonstrating that he is the adopted aspirant. In fact, if it were in the days I was interested in contesting, I would not have ventured to waste my hard earned resources,” Adeniyi said.
Also, the Secretary of Ekiti APC Stakeholders Group, Femi Adeleye, who said it could be fatal for the party to go into the primary without reconciliation, said, “But there is none from the party. As of today (Tuesday), there is no reconciliatory effort. Everybody is holding to his gun.
“If the APC at the national level refuses to be sincere and our party in the state refuses to be sincere, I foresee a doomsday for us in the general elections if we are not united. It happened before in 2014. What is happening now is worse that the situation in 2014.
“What the leadership should do is to see how it can reconcile everybody. Everybody in the party is important, no vote is invalid. We want genuine and total reconciliation. But I think they don’t want that. They just want to use power to achieve what they want. I don’t think that that will work in democracy”.
Adeleye, who accused Fayemi of using instrument of office and his appointees to manipulate last year’s congresses and allegedly excluded others who had wanted to contest, said, “If the congresses had been done properly, this primary would not have been an issue. From the beginning, there is no sincerity, the game is not fair”.
However, the party says it is making necessary preparations to ensure free, fair and hitch-free primary on January 27.
APC State Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe, said, “We are well prepared and we are the most prepared. We are the leading party in Ekiti and we are sure that the best candidate is emerging from our party.
Dipe, who said that there was no group capable of unsettling the primaries, said, the party’s “ongoing tour of the wards is part of efforts to bring together everybody.
“During the tour, we are calling on everyone, we are waving the olive branch. This is our party, we have no other one to call our own. We have been making overtures, we have been making moves to make sure everybody come into one fold”.
According to him, the reaction in the course of the tour “has been wonderful. People don’t like to be ignored, some people felt they were either ignored or marginalized, it is issues like these that we are resolving.
“Everybody is now coming back home and we are assuring our teeming members that we will always allow a level-playing field in everything we do as a party.
“The best aspirant will emerge as our candidate. The best is good for us and we will get the best from that primary. Whoever emerges as candidate will be embraced by the party and sponsored for the June 18 election,” the party’s spokesperson said.