Ekiti APC Primary: Understanding Why Oyebanji scored overwhelming victory
By Mukaila Adebola Salisu
The victory of Mr Biodun Oyebanji at the Thursday All Progressives Congress, (APC) primary held in Ekiti State should be expected.
Many Ekiti people are not surprised about the overwhelming support the former Secretary to the State Government, (SSG) received on Thursday.
Unknown to many people outside Ekiti, the choice of Oyebanji as the APC candidate by the leadership of the party was the best decision the party could have made if it must win the June gubernatorial election.
In the first place, Oyebanji emergence was the first time that two former Ekiti State Governors would work together to support a single candidate. Former Governor Niyi Adebayo and the incumbent, Dr Fayemi are behind Oyebanji unlike what happens in other states of the Federation.
Apart from this, unknown to many Nigerians, the APC leadership had hired independent consultants several months ago that conducted opinion poll among Ekiti people and also within the ruling APC on the best candidate the party should push forward.
The support for Oyebanji was overwhelming. The poll was conducted more than two times. The results were the same.
Though it is rumoured that Dr Fayemi handpicked Oyebanji, this is far from the truth. What happened was that the party leadership took a decision to conduct opinion poll which became binding on the leaders of the party including the state governor, Dr Fayemi.This is simply a wise decision taken with elements of wisdom and knowledge.I have it on good authority that Dr Fayemi and the party leaders were looking elsewhere, especially Ekiti South, for the successor but the opinion poll punctured all their expectations leaving them with the only option to accept the will of the people.
The other factor in favour of Oyebanji is that fact that among the candidates, he is the only candidate that had all his education from primary to Univesity and Masters Degree in Ekiti State. He is also the only candidate that has remained consistent without leaving his political trend since 1999. He was also the Secretary of the Committee for the creation of Ekiti State in the 1990s.
Oyebanji is the only candidate that enjoyed the charm of the civil servants in Ekiti State, a bound strengthened by his emergence as the SSG.
Oyebanji is also the only aspirant that belongs to any Pan Yoruba group. He is a member of Afenifere Renewal Group, (ARG) so his affection among the Pan Yoruba groups, especially artisans is legendary. It would have been a major mistake if the APC had fielded another candidate.
The threat of withdrawal of other aspirants was informed by many factors. First, they saw the handwriting on the wall that they would lose. Secondary, the objections they raised should have been raised earlier if they are honest and upright.
In Yoruba, that is what is called Awawi. They wanted the Committee dissolved, was it the committee that voted? Is the committee the electorate? Why are people so desperate for power at all cost? The front built by the other aspirants will collapse because they do not even love one another. If they do love one another, they would have presented a common front. They are merely united for temporary cause without any elevating philosophy rather than the fact that they do not want a popular candidate except one of them. It simply shows their lack of sportsmanship in the art of politics and their inability to swallow the pill of defeat. One other reason was that the PDP primary shocked the APC aspirants as they saw giants collapsed. The PDP primary held a day before also confirmed the influence of a State Governor in the affairs of any political party at the state level being the leader of the party.
What else did they expect the APC leaders to do? They rejected indirect primary. They rejected consensus and were so ignorantly confident that they would win the primary through direct methodology. The contestants are like sportsmen in involved in a 400 meter race. Lagging behind at 200 meters, when the fastest runner was breasting the tape, they called off their participation accusing the referee and the spectators of bias, yet they had raised no complain about the same referee appointed two weeks before the race.
It turned out they had a bloated ego of themselves. Some of them are not know beyond their wards. Some of them used the campaign as a mere strategy to raise illicit funds from their friends and supporters in the National Assembly obviously to pocket the “profit” after. Some of them have no manifesto. Many never campaigned across the 177 wards. Many of them went to the wards and dropped money and felt that was enough to win.
Some of them built no structure and were so contemptuous of the party leadership in the state even abusing many of them unjustly. One even boasted he was the one bankrolling them.
Yes, some of them merely used the exercise to build personal biodata and to build castles as a negotiating tool for Federal or State appointments. Only a very few genuinely contested.
The fact is that Oyebanji’s emergence recorded one of the widest gaps in the history of primary elections in Ekiti State and probably in Nigeria.
This should be a lesson to other State Governments: Conduct opinion polls and ensure you pick a candidate that is widely accepted by the people. I congratulate Hon Oyebanji for his remarkable feat and I also congratulate the State Governor, Dr Fayemi for his wisdom in assisting in the process that led to the emergence of a popular candidate in APC. Politicians should learn to understand that only one candidate can win and winning at the primary should not be a do or die. I call on Mr Oyebanji to be magnanimous in victory. He should invited the reasonable ones among the contestants. The recalcitrant aspirants he should ignore until they are condemned to the thrash bin of history.
ADEBOLA SALISU WRITES FROM ADO EKITI
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