Abiodun Oyebanji, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State, was on Sunday declared winner of the exercise.
Oyebanji, who secured victory in 15 of the 16 Local Government Areas of the State, polled a total of 187,057 votes.
Segun Oni, his closest rival polled 82,211 votes while Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), trailed with 67,457 votes.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returning officer for the election, Professor Kayode Oyebode, declared Oyebanji winner at 3:04am on Sunday.
A total of 16 candidates took part in the election. The total valid votes in the election were 351,865, void votes, 8,888 and total votes cast, 360,753.
However, PDP’s victory might not have been possible if not for some reasons. Some of the reasons are as follows:
BISI KOLAWOLE A ‘WEAK CANDIDATE’
When Bisi Kolawole clinched Ekiti Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket in January, some political analysts considered him as a weak candidate. However, many felt the Efon-Alaaye born politician might spring a surprise being an anointed candidate of former Governor, Ayo Fayose.
In the PDP primary, Kolawole, former chairman of the PDP in Ekiti, edged out Segun Oni, an ex-governor, and Kolapo Olusola, a former deputy governor of the state.
Biodun Olujimi, the senator representing Ekiti south, had earlier in the day of the primary, pulled out of the race, accusing the party of disenfranchising her.
Out of these aspirants, Kolawole was considered the “weakest”, but he rode on the influence of Fayose to clinch the ticket.
He was a member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly in the year 2007 to 2011. From 2015 to 2018, he served as the Commissioner for Environment under the tenure of Governor Ayodele Fayose. In the year 2020, he contested for Ekiti, PDP chairperson, and he won. He resigned in September 2021 and joined the 2022 gubernatorial primary race on January 26th. Analysts believe a stronger candidate could have brightened the chances of PDP.
THE EMEGENCE OF SDP FROM PDP
One of the biggest gains for the ruling APC was the balkanisation of the opposition PDP. After former Fayose insisted on his own candidate as the flag bearer, Oni left the party to realise his second term ambition on the platform of the SDP. Had PDP fielded Oni as its candidate, the opposition party, according to political pundits, he would have given the APC and Governor Kayode Fayemi, a tough battle at the poll.
The current division and crisis within the ranks of the PDP not just in Ekiti, but the South West is another factor that led to APC’s victory. Ekiti PDP is presently divided against itself. The battle for the soul of the party in Ekiti State between ex-governor Ayodele Fayose and Senator Biodun Olujimi has continued to linger, without amicable settlement from both ends. Also, in the south-west, the party lacks a unified front.
POWER OF INCUMBENCY
Just like PDP’s Kolawole, APC candidate, Oyebanji, is equally not a formidable candidate, but thanks to the “power of incumbency.”
Being the incumbent governor, Fayemi was instrumental in the victory of the APC in this election. Oyebanji being his candidate, Fayemi backed him up to win the election. And Fayemi has set a record of being the first governor to install a successor in Ekiti State.
The APC had held its mega rally with leaders of the party, including 14 governors and the APC Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Ado-Ekiti. This served as a boost to the chances of Oyebanji.
MASSIVE VOTE BUYING
Another deciding factor was the use of vote-buying. Politicians tried to outspend one another in the election. Daily Trust observers witnessed different instances of vote buying and inducement of security operatives and some INEC officials across the state.
The election started on a peaceful note across many polling units and voters trooped out en masse. However, no sooner than accreditation commenced did politicians start reaching out to voters through party agents.
THE TINUBU FACTOR
The election was a battle for the control of the South-West between Bola Tinubu and PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. The PDP controls only one of the six states in the region, Oyo.
For Tinubu, his effort to reconcile aggrieved chieftains ahead of the election showed that he was leaving nothing to chance to retain the state despite the APC controlling five states in the region. The APC presidential candidate was in the state to campaign for Oyebanji ahead of Saturday’s election. He also appealed to party chieftains to close ranks and work for victory.