A senator, an ex-minister and former commissioner top contenders for Ekiti APC guber ticket


At the last count, seven aspirants have declared their interest in contesting for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti state. The primary poll is scheduled to take place in Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti, on Thursday.

While the APC is seeking to retain power in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is determined to wrest power from the ruling party.

Ultimately, the Ekiti people will decide who will govern them on June 18 — the date fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the gubernatorial election.

Come October, Kayode Fayemi, the incumbent governor of Ekiti, is expected to hand over to his successor after completing two terms in office.

Among the contenders for the ticket are a serving senator, a former minister, a serving house of representatives member, and a former chief of staff to Fayemi.

Here are how the seven aspirants stand:

Bamidele, the senator representing Ekiti central, is a major contender for the ticket. The lawyer served as an aide to Bola Tinubu while he was governor of Lagos state.

He also served as a commissioner of information in the first term of Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos.

Apart from serving a term in the house of representatives, Bamidele was the director-general of the Fayemi campaign organisation in 2018.

Many believe that these public offices which he has held over the years, and experience garnered, have prepared him for the job in Ekiti.

Oyebanji is a seasoned administrator who has served in at least three governments since Ekiti was created in 1996 by the late Sani Abacha.

The aspirant, who is from Ekiti central, has worked as a university lecturer and a banker. Oyebanji is a former secretary to the state government (SSG). He served as the special adviser on parliamentary affairs in the administration of Niyi Adebayo, a former governor of Ekiti.

He was chief of staff to Fayemi in his first term and also worked as liaison officer between Ekiti state and the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission.

Oyebanji is rumoured to have the backing of Fayemi for the ticket, and although he has consistently denied the alleged support, he has been quoted as saying: “I think I deserve it if I get it.”

Adeyeye, former minister of state for works, is the antonym of a neophyte in the Nigerian political terrain. He, too, has held a number of public offices.

If picked by the APC in the primary poll on Thursday, the former minister will be looking at using the experience he has garnered over time to effect change in the state.

Prior to the return of democracy in 1999, the former senator was a member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) — a group that fought for the return to democratic rule.

Adeyeye has served as spokesman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), the PDP, the senate, and Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation.

He was a minister in the PDP administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Many believe that his time in the opposition party may work against his ambition to clinch the governorship ticket but that is left for APC members in the state to decide.

Bamidele Faparusi, the immediate past commissioner for infrastructure and public utilities in Ekiti, is also in the race for the ticket.

Before serving as commissioner, he was in the house of representatives between 2011 and 2015.

Under his stewardship as commissioner for public utilities, the state is said to have recorded good water supply across the councils.

While the former commissioner may not have the popularity of the other contenders at the national level, he is known to be a grassroots politician.

Faparusi is said to understand the workings of the state, and if he eventually becomes governor, the knowledge will prove useful in meeting the aspirations of the people.

Ojo is an engineer who is well known in the Ekiti political scene. He aspired to be governor in 2018, but came third in the APC primary poll.

Aside from politics, Ojo is a successful businessman who is active in the oil and gas industry.

The aspirant had recently said if elected governor, he will work towards increasing the revenue of the state without burdening the people.

His entrepreneurial skill is believed to give him an edge over other aspirants.

Ojo is from Ekiti central senatorial district.

Bamisile is a current member of the house of representatives and a grassroots politician.

The aspirant was first elected into the Ekiti house of assembly on the platform of the PDP in 2007 and later became the speaker.

His tenure was short-lived after falling out with some members of the assembly. He later stepped down from the speakership position.

Bamisile also served as PDP deputy chairman in the state but he defected to the APC after a row with Ayo Fayose, a former governor of the state.

The aspirant is from Kota in Ekiti south senatorial district.

Popoola is relatively new to Ekiti politics.

The aspirant who is from Ekiti north senatorial district is largely known for a football tournament he sponsors in the state.

Popoola believes that football could be an avenue talented youths in the state could make a livelihood from, hence the tournaments he organises.

The aspirant is gunning to make Ekiti an “industrial state” and he has boasted of having “international connections”.

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