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Nigeria: Oyebanji, Oni, Kolawole in Three-Horse Race to Succeed Fayemi as Ekiti Governor 

Thousands of voters will on Saturday file out in Ekiti State to elect a new governor that will succeed Kayode Fayemi who is at the tail end of his second

Thousands of voters will on Saturday file out in Ekiti State to elect a new governor that will succeed Kayode Fayemi who is at the tail end of his second four-year tenure.

No fewer than 16 political parties are fielding candidates for the election, but it is expected to be a fierce battle involving Biodun Oyebanji of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
For most of Friday, tension remained very high across the state, with voters bitterly divided among the three leading candidates. Fear of violence was palpable.

For seamless conduct of Saturday’s election in Ekiti State, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, on Friday ordered the restriction of vehicular movements along entry and exit points to the state from 12:00am on 18th June, 2022 to 6:00pm of the same day.
The police added: “To this end, operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and the military, as well as other security agencies have been deployed across the state borders to enforce the restriction order to the letter and ensure criminal minded individuals do not infiltrate the State.”

The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Johnson Kokumo had earlier disclosed that Ekiti State would be properly secured to avoid any breakdown of law and order during the poll.
He also revealed that a total of 17,000 personnel had been deployed for the poll.
The DIG added that soldiers would be at the borders of the communities to prevent any form of intrusion.
According to him, all security operatives with VIPs should be withdrawn and returned to base for the purpose of the election. The DIG called on the people to be law abiding and to respect all the processes of the elections to be able to have a peaceful governorship election in the state.

INEC Says it is Ready
INEC spent most of Friday moving sensitive voting materials to the wards, while assuring all that the election would be free and fair.
The electoral umpire had earlier revealed that 988,923 voters captured in the Commission’s register would decide who becomes the new Ekiti State Governor.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu appealed to staff of the commission to be neutral and abide by the code of conduct signed by them.
He said: “I appeal to you to uphold our Code of Conduct, display your usual sense of responsibility and professionalism; remain above board and firmly resist any unethical behaviour.”
He further charged them to ensure that no political party or candidate was accorded any advantage over the other.

“We must also always stick strictly to the oath of neutrality to which we have all subscribed and continually live up to the trust that Nigerians repose in us,” Yakubu said.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said 734,746 persons had collected their Permanent Voters Card for the election.
Okoye assured electorates of the commission’s readiness to conduct a free, fair and credible election.
He said: “It is now a matter of common knowledge that we have 16 LGAs in Ekiti State and the election will be staged in 177 registration areas.”

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, yesterday said it would deploy 9,747 personnel drawn from FCT, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara and Edo commands to provide security for the election.
Addressing personnel at the Ekiti State Command headquarters of the NSCDC in Ado Ekiti, before they moved to their respective places of deployment, Acting Deputy Commandant General Operations, Lawal Haruna, disclosed that some flash points had already been identified and would be properly monitored.

Oni Alleges Intimidation
The SDP candidate yesterday alleged that some desperate politicians were already violating the peace accord signed this week before the Abdudalami Abubakar-led National Peace Commission.
Oni said rather than adhering to the tenets of democracy in the conduct of the June 18 Ekiti election, those he described as “oppressors”, had allegedly been dehumanising and demobilising his supporters through unlawful arrests.

Oni, who addressed pressmen in Ado Ekiti, alerted INEC, international community, security agencies, observers and other stakeholders, saying “for this election to be acceptable, the REC must stamp and sign all forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C and EC8D and not by any other agent or staff. Once the REC stamps and signs, nobody will be able to smuggle any form of fake results.”
On the imperative of peace for the election to be successful, Oni said: “I will keep to the peace accord. But when you are kidnapping people, it renders every peace document invalid. Let us tell them not to set this state on fire.
“Those who had been going round to kidnap my supporters should be called to order now. They are testing the patience and tolerance of the people. They shouldn’t set this state on fire. If anybody commits an offence and they think they are the authorities to go round and arrest people at night, then the peace accord becomes shattered immediately.”

How the Battle will Be Fought
The APC looks good to win Ekiti South Senatorial District, comprising six local governments – Gbonyin, Ekiti East, Ikere, Ekiti Southwest, Emure and Ise/Orun. Oyebanji’s running mate, Mrs Mojisola Afuye hails from Ikere. With the votes from Ikere and party chieftains in the area, APC may likely win the zone.
In Ekiti South, the APC boasts of bigwigs like the Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Funminiyi Afuye; two members of House of Representatives – Hon Femi Bamisile and Yemi Adaramodu; the APC State Chairman, Paul Omotoso; former Minister, Dayo Adeyeye and Chief Afolabi Ojuawo. These big wigs that can make things happen for the APC.

Oyebanji and Kolawole are from Ekiti Central Senatorial District, comprising five local government areas – Ado, Irepodun/Ifelodun, Efon, Ijero and Ekiti West. This is going to be a battleground. Oyebanji is from Ekiti West while Kolawole is from Efon.
In the last election, APC won four local governments in the senatorial zone and may still retain at least three this time, with the exception of Efon and Ado Ekiti.
The PDP may spring surprise in Efon because Kolawole hails from the town.
The influence of Segun Oni’s Deputy, Ladi Owolabi in Ado Ekiti is also enormous. The large concentration of pensioners and civil servants, who seem to be backing Oni may also help the SDP tremendously in Ekiti Central.

In Ekiti Central, the APC also parades political heavyweights like the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; Deputy governor, Bisi Egbeyemi and Senator Opeyemi Bamidele; These people are capable of doing the magic for APC. Victory for APC Ekiti Central may be by a narrow margin.
Ekiti North Senatorial District has always been a natural habitat and stronghold of Oni since 2007. The district has five councils – Ido/Osi, Moba, Ilejemeje, Ikole and Oye local governments. Oni is from Ido/Osi.
APC won the five councils in Ekiti North in the last election, but Oni was still in the ruling party then. As strong as Oni is in Ekiti North, he will meet a match in Fayemi, who is from the area.
The Director General, Biodun Oyebanji campaign council, Cyril Fasuyi, is also from Ekiti North. But Segun Oni still has visible and electrifying presence in Ido/Osi, Moba and Ilejemeje
APC also has influential politicians in Ekiti North. Whichever way it goes, Oni may likely carry the day in Ekiti North.

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