All eyes are on Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State ahead of the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) slated for January 27 this year as seven aspirants slug it out for the party’s ticket.
The governorship primary of the APC in the state has opened the political space for the mighty and the lowly as some contenders have signified interest in the race.
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While some are standing on their own capabilities and political experiences, others are relying on the strength of their political godfathers, including Fayemi and the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Among those who are aspiring for the number one seat of Ekiti are Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, Femi Bamisile, Bamidele Faparusi, Biodun Oyebanji, Demola Popoola and Kayode Ojo. All these men have opened up the space for serious politicking towards victory later this month.
Senator Opeyemi Bamidele
Bamidele chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. The senator, who is from Iyin-Ekiti, is seeking a second shot at the governorship race. His first was in 2014 on the platform of the Labour Party. His declaration to run again has changed the political space and is giving other aspirants a run for their money. Bamidele is self-made and very popular in the state within his party and other political parties in the state. He described himself as the best to govern Ekiti, in view of his experiences in public service, spanning over 30 years and cutting across the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
“I was a member of the State Executive Council as commissioner in Lagos under two governors for 11 years. I had been a member of the House of Representatives and now a senator. So I have experience in the judiciary, executive and legislative arms,” he said.
Bamidele, popularly called MOB, enjoys huge support in Ekiti, which is considered a boost to his ambition.
Senator Dayo Adeyeye
Adeyeye is a grassroots politician who has traversed both the state and the national arena. It is said that he has a native political intelligence. He is a former member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and spokesperson of the Afenifere, as well as a former minister of state for works
He is currently the national coordinator for the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA). It is believed that he has the capacity and intelligence to deliver the state for the APC if he wins the primary election.
He contested the gubernatorial primary under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2018 before joining the APC. Adeyeye, who is from the southern senatorial district of the state, will be hoping for the support of his senatorial district and members of the SWAGA.
Bamisile, popularly called BAFEM, is the current chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA). He is a well rooted grassroots politician. The former speaker of the state House of Assembly contested the governorship primary election of the APC in 2018, which he eventually lost to Governor Fayemi.
He remains the only politician that gave the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state a huge run when APC members were in disarray. He also has a credible support and comes from the southern senatorial district, which has been clamouring to occupy the governorship seat in the state.
Oyebanji is the immediate secretary to the Ekiti State Government. The former senior special assistant under the Otunba Niyi Adebayo administration was later promoted as a special adviser and later, chief of staff during Fayemi’s first term as governor.
When Fayemi came for a second term in 2018, Oyebanji was appointed as secretary to the Ekiti State Government, a position he held until he resigned to join the gubernatorial race.
Although he has been tagged Fayemi’s anointed candidate in the race, the rumour has been denied on many occasions. It is believed that he enjoys the support of political officeholders and other stakeholders. He will be banking on the structures of Fayemi to realise his dream at the primary election.
Faparusi is the immediate past commissioner for public utilities in Ekiti State and a former member of the House of Representatives. He contested for the governorship primary of the APC in 2018.
He is also a popular grassroots politician from the southern senatorial district of the state. Faparusi, popularly called “Fappy” in the political circle, is a great mobiliser of men and resources in the APC family in Ekiti and in the South-West.
Support for Fappy is expected from his district and loyalists across the state.
He is an engineer and a popular politician in the state. It is said that he is acceptable by the people and has the financial resources to actualise his ambition.
In 2018, Ojo contested in the governorship primary election and came third. He also boasts of supporters across the state.
Popoola, an aviation expert, joined the political race from the northern senatorial district, where Governor Fayemi hails from. He has launched an empowerment programme of N50 million to realise his governorship ambition. He has also engaged in humanitarian gestures, football competitions among the youth in the 16 local government councils, called ODEP. He also has some supporters.
The governorship primary election of the APC may be decided from three angles —Governor Fayemi’s support base, the clamour that the southern senatorial district should produce the next governor as they have not done so since the creation of the state, and the influence of the national leader of the APC, Tinubu.
Three of the seven aspirants in the party are from the south, three from the central and one person from the north.