2019:Ekiti Election, Buhari First Major Popularity Test?

By Stehen Ubanna

President Muhammadu Buhari, appears to have  taken the  Saturday,July 14 , gubernatorial election, in  Ekiti state,  southwest  geo-political region, as a major test case of his popularity  for his re-election bid in the 2019, general election.

Given the importance attached to the election, Buhari was said to have directed Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and national leader of the All Progressive Congress, APC,  to mobilse support for Kayode Fayemi, a former of Mines and Steel  Development and the party  governorship Candidate in the state to unseat the People’s Democratic Party,  PDP, government in the state. The President may be worried that if the  backlash on the  party if it should lose the state   to the PDP.

Many believe that the authentication of the of the June12, 1993, Presidential Election acclaimed to have been won by the business mongul,late Moshod Kashimawo Olawale Abiola,   which was annulled  by Ibrahim Babangida, the then military President and award of the Grand Command of the Federal Republic, GCFR, national, honour which is the highest honour in the country  reserved for the office of  the President and the Grand Commander of the order of the Niger, GCON, to late Gani Faweihinmi, an activist  and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, was part of the high wire politics being played by Buhari in recent times to win sway the south western states vote to APC.

Prof. Olusola Eleka: PDP  governorship Candidate, Riding On The  Back Ayodele Fayose
Prof. Olusola Eleka: PDP governorship Candidate, Riding On The Back Ayodele Fayose

Ayo Adebanjo, theAfenifere, the Yoruba , social political Organisation, leader had  commended the President for the bold decision  but however said it would not influence the voting pattern  in any election in any state in the region. The Afenifere leader may be acting out a script of the group to shock the APC, in 2019, using the Ekiti  governorship election on July 14, 2018 as a starting point.

Many believe if the seriousness attached  by Buhari to see that that the APC win the state had  been attached to  the last Anambra governorship election in the south east,  the party could have unseat the All Progressive Grand Alliance , APGA, government in the state but it lost. The defeat of the party in the election may  have  forced Buhari and the party hierarchy to go back to the drawing to avoid   defeat  in Ekiti  or oOsun gubernatorial elections, that may seen as defeat too many.

Given  Buhari’s  plot to secure victory for the APC in the Ekiti state election, Tinubu, the arrowhead of south west politics, was  said to have moved into the state with his war arsenal to mobilise  support for  for Fayemi, the APC, governorship  Candidate.

Many see him as a reluctant  supporter of Fayemi going  by his attitude to his Campaigns. In one of the major towns in the state where he addressed the people  to solicit their support for Fayemi,   the APC, governorship Candidate, he was said to have appealed  to them: Vote for Fayemi, he is a friend of the Buhari. Political analysts see it as a non commitment to the APC Campaigns to reclaim the state from the PDP. Fayemi, who was broughht to political limelight by Tinubu, was the former governor of the state on the platform of the defunct ACN, but lost to Ayodele Fayose, of the PDP, in the Independent National Electoral  Commission, INEC , organised election in the state in 2014.

It is not surprising why Fayemi , the APC, governorship Candidate is leaving no unturned to see that Olusola Eleka , a Professor and  the current deputy governor  and governorship Candidate  of the PDP, in the state, will not  defeat him.  He is said to be using his knowledge of military Strategies to come to bear in his electioneering  Campaigns to woo the people to vote him in the election.

Take for instance , his message to create a  ” conducive atmosphere for private businesses to thrive in the state” if elected as the governor  of the state in July 14, 2018 election. He has given the people the impression  at Odo- Ayedun-Ekiti, in Ikole  local government  area  that the hostile business environment  created by the Fayose Administration  facilitated the exit  and collapse of many private businesses in the state. He was said to have told the electorate of his plan to revive the economy for the desired development of Ekiti.

As a prelude to reviving the economy of the state, Fayemi was said to have promised  to revive state  Traffic Management Agency, Fire Service, Peace Corps and the Youths in Commercial Agriculture Development which the Fayose Administration had allowed to collapse , thus throwing many people into unemployment in the state.

The  people of Agboniyin local government   complaint of neglect by the PDP led government in the state  may have provided ammunition for  him to promise to step in to ease the suffering of the people. He may have won himself into the heart of the people when he  gave reasons for the neglect because  Fayose, the current governor of the state  never promised them anything in his electioneering  campaigns in 2014.

What may have struck the chord in the mind of the people was when he assured them of plans  to restore all the life-lifting  programmes  initiated during his first tenure as governor of the state  but was cancelled by Fayose, for not supporting his re-election bid in 2014.

Many believe that all the promises so far made at the various local governments visited in the course of his electioneering Campaigns to reclaim his lost governorship mandate in the state to the PDP in 2014,ould only be achieved if elected in the July 14, 2018   election.

This is because Fayose, who is regarded as a grassroots politician in the state is using his popularity in the state to mobilise support  for Eleka, the PDP governorship Candidate in the state. At  a special session with Okada riders and Akoto drivers at Fajuyi Pavillion , Ado-Ekiti, the state Capital, he was said to have promised to  make 10 litres daily free fuel available to them at designated filling stations till the election day.

In return , he was said o have extracted  a promise from  them  to convey commuters to their restive destinations at 50 percent discount to show their support for Eleka, the PDP  governorship Candidate. They were said to have agreed to the agreement as part of their own contribution to the PDP Campaign funds in the state. funds.

Worried that  the APC might use the federal might to sway victory to the party, the PDP was forced to inaugurate the Ekiti  governorship Campaigns Council headed by  Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom. The choice of Emmanuel, to head the Council by Uche Secondus, national Chairman of the party was not unexpected because  he could easily muster funds from the state to support the PDP Governorship election Campaigns in the state. Another PDP  governor who could have headed the party war council to prosecute the July 14, 2018, election in Ekiti state, could have been Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state and Fayose close ally if Udom had turned the offer down.  The PDP may have inaugurated the war Council because of alleged  plots  by the ruling APC to” capture the Ekiti governorship election at all costs”.

Perhaps, to gain people’s confidence in the election, Muhammed Yakubu, a professor and Chairman, INEC,  has assured  the parties that  ”it will be free , fair and credible”. Yakubu  was said to have told the parties governorship Candidates  that INEC would employ a new technology in the conduct of the Ekiti election  that would make the electoral process devoid of rigging and interference.

The INEC boss was said to have promised the parties which are participating in the Ekiti election of a level playing field . He was also   said to promised the parties to ignore rumour of plots to rig the election by the stronger parties, particular PDP and APC , noting that this is the age of technology and thus have deployed  new technology into the country electoral system.

But Fayose, the Ekiti state incumbent governor would not agree that INEC  would be able to conduct a free and fair election in the state for now because of APC’s plot to capture the state with the support of INEC officials While the APC had accused the Fayose led government of conniving with the Director of National Youth Service Corps , NYSC, in the state , to rig the election  on behalf of the party.

Given that the Ekiti election is a test to what would happen in the country in the 2019 , general election, Donald Trump, the United States President has said the world is interested in the  election and would not hesitate to send a team to monitor the July 14 election  in Ekiti state to ensure that the rules are not circumvented in   the poll.

John Bray, the Us Consul General in Nigeria, may have spoken the mind of Trump, the US, President at a meeting with the state Council of Traditional rulers at the palace of the Ewi of  Ado- Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe recently. He insists that the country   would not support anything other than a  ‘free, fair, credible and peaceful election’.  The Us is  committed to peace , during and after the July 14, 2018, election in Ekiti state,  Bray  was said to have told the Council of traditional rulers in the state.

Perhaps, being accused of interfering with the election process in the state, Buhari has avoided going to support Fayemi, the APC , governorship Candidate in the state. Instead he had directed  Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, to lead the park of APC governors selected by the party leadership to mobilise support for APC Candidate in the Eki election.

Notwithstanding the elaborate arrangement  that had been made by the party to capture the Ekiti governorship election, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and Ahmed Makharfi, former a former governor of Kaduna and  interim national Chairman, PDP, who were in the state to boost Eleka, the PDP governorship  Campaigns   Organisation are optimistic that the party would win the election. The duo, who have declared their interest to contest the 2019 , Presidential election  on the platform of the PDP, according to party sources  were in the state to boost their chances of winning the PDP presidential ticket .

In spite of the fact, that the Ekiti  state election  is still about three weeks away, Atiku is optimistic that the PDP will win it.  The former Vice President has told , Fayemi, the APC, governorship Candidate to be prepared to concede  defeat  to PDP Candidate, Eleka, the way Goodluck Jonathan, the former , President, Federal Republic of Nigeria conceded defeat to Buhari, the APC , Candidate in 2015  general election.

But Elijah Babatunde Ayodele, a Clergyman  thinks differently. Ayodele was said to have predicted  that Fayemi, of the ruling APC, will beat  the PDP governorship Candidate in the Ekiti election. He however warned the APC  governorship Candidate in the Ekiti election to watch his utterances if he truly wants take over the Ado-Ekiti government House from Fayose of the ruling PDP in the state.  He is right. Officials of the local government Area in the state were said to be unhappy  with Fayemi, the APC Candidate over   his alleged comment that no local government in the state should have more than 200 employees on their payroll to save money  to execute basic infrastructural facilities at the local government level .The state local government officials,  the Magazine was informed , fear that their jobs may be at risk if Fayemi of the APC was voted into office, an indication that alleged negative utterance may likely have adverse effect on him in the July 14, 2018, election in the state.

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