The ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State are on the familiar turf once more. They are squaring up for the governorship election billed to hold in the third quarter of next year (2018). Although the PDP has remained consistent as an entity in all the elections held since the advent of this Republic which took off in 1999, the APC is a product of metamorphosis of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the Action Congress (AC), and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Governance in the state which has seen alternation between the two parties, gives the impression that power of incumbency holds no water or counts during governorship elections in the state which prides itself as “Fountain of Knowledge” as no party or governor has been able to succeed self, or win election back to back . In 2003, the pioneer governor, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo of the AD lost to Mr Ayodele Fayose of the PDP. Fayose was in 2006 removed from office through an impeachment which the Supreme Court, in later years, declared a nullity. The sole administrator, General Tunji Olurin, who succeeded Fayose to prevent a vacuum in governance, handed over in 2007 to Governor Segun Oni of the PDP. But Oni was in 2010 booted out of office as a result of verdict of Appeal Court which ruled that it was Dr Kayode of the ACN that won the election. Fayemi also in 2014 lost his reelection bid to Fayose of the PDP. No doubt, the two parties are approaching next year’s election with different perspectives and beliefs. The APC is of the conviction that it is going to the election on a clean slate with sights on victory and that the incumbency of PDP, like other governments before it in the state, will not have any impact on its chances of producing the next governor.
But the PDP, with the persuasion that there is no jinx about self-succession in the state, is counting on the popularity, political ingenuity and experience of Governor Fayose, achievements of the incumbent government, as well the pedigree of the candidate that it will produce to win the 2018 election.
PDP State Publicity Secretary, Mr Jackson Adebayo, who said there was really no jinx about a party succeeding itself in the state, said his party had broken it long ago and will reenact succession in the 2018 governorship election.
Adebayo said: “It is not correct to say no party succeeded itself in Ekiti. PDP had succeeded itself.
After the first tenure of Governor Ayo Fayose, the next democratically elected government was that of PDP, while the sole administrator who presided over the interregnum was appointed by PDP government at the Federal level. So the insinuation does not include PDP in the state”.
The PDP spokesperson said the road to his party’s expected victory in the forthcoming governorship was “not only the question of incumbency, but that of good governance and development of laudable social and infrastructural structure in the state.
“As you can see it is only PDP government in the state that is committed to building roads, improvement of education, committed to workers’ welfare and better lives for the people. So, the people, who are the electorate know that voting any other party especially APC in the state could be tantamount to a disastrous endeavor, hence their resolve to always vote a party that believes in peace unlike the reign of terror that always accompany the other party whenever they are in government”, he said. Adebayo, while expressing confidence that nothing can stop PDP victory in the poll, said: “As a party we cannot entertain any fear based on the aforementioned factors and more important is the fact of the popularity of the leader of the party, who is also the governor of the state, Dr Peter Ayo Fayose whose popularity cuts across all the strata in the state and who is loved by the people because of his accessibility to them as well as the feelings of his friendship to the masses.
“Again if you will recall the PDP of today is more coherent and glued in love and unity a factor that will help usher in an acceptable candidate for the election,” he said.
Meanwhile, as parties are preparing in the build up to the election, the PDP spokesperson has words of advice for the opposition parties, particularly the APC,. According to him: “I will only advise them to join hand with the government of the day in maintaining peace and order before, during and after the election as the best candidate would be presented by PDP. Other parties may, however, choose to work with us in achieving this. Our doors are widely opened for positive collaboration”.
The APC Publicity Secretary, Hon Taiwo Olatunbosun, who said the PDP should forget about incumbency as a factor in the 2018 governorship in the stage, said: “In Nigeria, democracy has got to a level that it will be foolish for any politician or government to assume that being in government is enough win election. Nigeria is fast catching up with developed democracies where people are yearning for development and performance”.
According to Olatunbosun, the 2015 presidential election whereby a sitting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, was voted out of office, is enough testimony for PDP in Ekiti State and Governor Fayose that Nigerians will no longer condone non performing leaders.
He queried what the PDP government in the State would campaign with that will make Ekiti people think of reelecting it, asking: “Is it nonpayment of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ gratuities and pensions? Is it misplacement and misprioritisation of people’s needs? Is it the diversion and misapplication of bailout and Paris Club refunds which run into billions of Naira? Is it the factionalisation in the PDP? Is it Fayose’s dictatorial tendencies that put him at cross purposes with his party leaders? Is it non-payment of traditional rulers’ salaries despite deductions from local government funds?
“Ekiti has come to realise that there is need for change. The influx of people from PDP in the state to APC makes a statement of the people’s readiness to change the PDP government. APC as a party is a political force in Ekiti today and we are the party to beat and Ekiti people are ready for change,” the APC spokesperson said.
As part of the party’s commitment to victory in the forthcoming governorship, Olatunbosun said the party has instituted a system that will ensure emergence of a credible and acceptable candidate who apart from winning election, will perform in office.
The APC spokesperson’s advice to the PDP and other political gladiators is that: “We should all play the game according to the rule. Fayose and his PDP should know there is no room for gangsterism which characterised the 2014 governorship election in the state had managed by the then President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP. People should go about politics in a manner that will not jeopardise the interest of the country and its people”. However, as the two parties are getting set and awaiting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to lift ban on campaigns so they can choose their candidates commencing with party primaries and beginning their campaign for the Oke Bareke Governor’s Office cum Oke Ayoba Government House, time will tell whether power of incumbency is jinxed or not when choosing the governor of Ekiti State.