Amidst strong protest, the Ekiti governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Thursday produced a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, as the party’s candidate in the June 18 elections.
Declaring the result of the poll held across all the 177 wards last night, Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Governor Muhammed Abubakar Baduru of Jigawa state said, Oyebanji scored the highest number of votes to defeat other contestants.
According to him, Oyebanji won the election having scored the highest number of votes in all the councils.
Statistics used for the exercise showed 183,560 registered party members, 107,877 accredited out of which 104,983 participated.
Of this figure, Oyebanji scored 101,703 with Kayode Ojo and Senator Bamidele coming distant second and third with 767 and 760 votes, respectively.
Addressing journalists after the exercise, Governor Badaru appreciated party members for their display of maturity and cooperation which led to the success of the poll.
He said the election was transparent and devoid of any manipulation, noting that the mode of election was agreed on by all aspirants during a stakeholders’ meeting held Wednesday.
Badaru called on the winner to be magnanimous in victory while those who lost should be strong in defeat.
But Senator Bamidele and the six other governorship aspirants had, prior to the commencement of the exercise Thursday, called on the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party to call Ekiti state Governor Kayode Fayemi to order.
They specifically called on the party leadership to heed their call and stop the process to avoid putting the party to shame in the open court.
Other aggrieved aspirants are Dayo Adeyeye, Femi Bamisile, Kayode Ojo, Bamidele Faparusi, Olusola Afolabi and Demola Popoola.
They called on the leadership of the party to mandate the election committee under the leadership of Jigawa state Governor Abubakar Badaru to suspend the process in the interest of the party, threatening a legal tussle would embarrass the party.
The aggrieved aspirants told journalists that the primary election committee allegedly compromised the process by handing over result sheets to loyalists of Governor Fayemi across the 16 local government areas of the state, to the advantage of one of the aspirants – Biodun Oyebanji – the immediate past Secretary to the State Government perceived to be the governor’s favoured choice.
In a statement by himself and the six others in the early hours of Thursday, Senator Bamidele accused Fayemi of influencing the appointments of his aides and government functionaries in the state as returning officers of the primary elections scheduled for its 177 wards.
The statement reads: “I am one of the seven Governorship Aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who vehemently condemned the parade of functionaries of the Governor Fayemi administration as returning officers for the APC gubernatorial primaries billed to hold in the State on Thursday, 27th January, 2022.
“We had jointly expressed our utter displeasure against the undemocratic, lopsided and highly manipulative arrangement.
“I hereby make an additional statement to place on record that it is quite disheartening to realise that some leaders of the party such as Otunba Niyi Adebayo and Governor Kayode Fayemi have anointed a candidate at the detriment of other gubernatorial aspirants whereas they have on several occasions denied the accusation of anointing a candidate ahead of the primary election. Even the blind can see and the deaf can hear that the Fayemi administration is clearly working towards manipulating the primary election inspite of Governor Fayemi’s promise to create a level playing field for all aspirants during the governorship primary.
“Let it be on record that contrary to the guidelines for Ekiti State APC Governorship Primary Election as released by the party’s National Leadership, Governor Kayode Fayemi is parading officials of his Government, including elected House of Assembly Members, Local Government Chairmen and other top functionaries of his administration, as electoral umpires for the governorship primaries.
“How can you expect Fayemi’s loyalists and cohorts to conduct a free and fair election in the 177 wards across the State? Where is fairness and fairplay in that charade primary election aimed at forcefully foisting an aspirant on party members without recourse to democratic ethos, credibility and decency?
“To further worsen the sad situation, thousands of political thugs were reportedly brought to Ekiti State in the course of the week by top functionaries of the Governor Fayemi administration in their desperation to impose the anointed candidate, Biodun Oyebanji, against the wishes of APC teeming majority members and leaders in Ekiti State.
“In the last five days, we have been inundated with sad reports of gruesome attacks, harassment and intimidation of innocent party members by Government officials, security operatives and political thugs. These criminal elements have made life unbearable for our members. Many people have deserted their homes while several party members are running helter skelter for their dear lives.
“From the foregoing developments, the proposed APC governorship primary in Ekiti State is already bedeviled with reckless irregularities, serial violent attacks on innocent party members, the unlawful hijack and manipulation of the entire exercise by government functionaries, falsification of party membership register as well as illicit racketeering of results to favour Biodun Oyebanji, the anointed candidate of Governor Kayode Fayemi, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
“Without mincing words, I vehemently berate and condemn the kangaroo governorship primaries scheduled to hold on Thursday, 27th January, 2022 given the perceived irregularities, high handedness, intimidation and state-induced violence characterizing the exercise.
“To this end, I, therefore, call on the National leadership of our party to discontinue the process of the election before it leads to another round of embarrassment to the party in the Court room because of gross misconduct and deliberate contravention of the party’s Constitution and the Guidelines guiding the exercise by top functionaries of the Governor Fayemi administration, who obviously, have hijacked the process.”
Oyebanji debunks allegations
But Mr Oyebanji, the perceived anointed candidate of the governor, told his fellow aspirants to take their case to APC appeal panel which would resolve all controversies around the exercise.
Contrary to the claim by other aspirants, Oyebanji described the primary as credible, free and fair.
Speaking to journalists at his Ikogosi, Ekiti West local government’s country home, where he voted, the ex-SSG commended the Badaru-led panel for being thorough in the contest of the shadow poll.
“The guidelines of our party gives room for the constitution of appeal committee to attend to whatever grievances anyone has. They have the right to their opinions, but the party will come up with its position on whatever they say,” he said.
Refuting the allegation of fraud and manipulation, he said: “We thank God for the role of technology in our politics. The reports I got was that things are going on well. I have seen people queuing for accreditation and voted.
“In fact, the process has gone on seamlessly and peacefully and the committee should be commended.”
Speaking about his expectation in the contest, Oyebanji added: “I know that God will give me victory, because the process has been free and fair and I have done what was expected of me by campaigning to our people.”
Kolawole emerges PDP candidate
Meanwhile, former Governor Ayodele Fayose’s preferred choice has emerged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the June 18 poll in Ekiti state.
Kolawole, who polled 671 votes, defeated his archrival and former Governor Segun Oni, who garnered 330 votes out of a total of 1,200 delegates that participated in the exercise.
Announcing the results at the Uncle Eagles Hall in Ado- Ekiti, the state capital venue of the election, chairman of Ekiti PDP Gubernatorial Primary Election and Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, said Kolawole polled 671 to defeat Oni and other aspirants.
While former member, House of Representatives, Hon Wale Aribisala, scored 56 votes, former deputy governor, Kolapo Eleka got 93; Ayodele Kazeem, 06, and Kayode Adaramodu, 10 votes.
Also, Mrs. Adekemi Adewumi got no vote, Lateef Ajijola, three votes and Senator Biodun Olujimi got two votes.
Announcing the result, Emmanuel said: “Bisi Kolawole, having scored the highest number of votes cast in this election, is hereby declared the winner in accordance with the guidelines of our party.”
Emmanuel congratulated all the aspirants, saying the process was an internal affair of the party and about PDP.
Kolawole, who hails from Efon in Ekiti Central Senatorial District, was elected a member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly in 2007 and was appointed a Commissioner for Environment in 2014 by Fayose.
In his response, Mr Kolawole commended the leadership of the party for providing a level playing ground for all aspirants, saying no breach of security.
“Let me commend someone who is a good coach who discovered me. He must have seen something in me or read my antecedents. He is a wizard. I thank him for willingly giving me his endorsement making me the winner of this primary. The person is former governor Ayodele Fayose.
“Today, I want to say that we are all winners. Engr. Segun Oni is my brother and friend and I know that he will support this process. I want to commend other aspirants and appreciate them. Nobody can do it all alone.
“We are committed to delivering the people from sufferings being meted out to them in the last three years. You could all attest to the fact that the process of this election was free and fair, so I willingly accept to be the flag-bearer of our great party in the forthcoming governorship election in Ekiti State.