Three men-of-God, Rev. Tunde Afe of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Pastor Taiwo Oladeji of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the current Deputy Governor of the state, Professor Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church also of PDP as well as 60 other aspirants have thrown their hats in the ring for the governorship seat of Ekiti State in preparation for the July 14 gubernatorial election.
On the list of the All Progressive Congress (APC) are 41 aspirants, while the state ruling PDP has 11 persons even as the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Accord Party, Alliance for Democracy (AD), Independent Democrats (ID), Young Party of Nigeria and ANRP present the remaining number of persons.
Political observers in the state, however, believe that the figure is expected to deplete by the time all the parties conclude their primaries because of the huge cost involved.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed between April 15 and May 14 for the conduct primaries in the state.
Tthe APC has fixed May 5 for its primaries while the PDP fixed its primaries for May 8.
So far, only 17 persons out of the 41 of the aspirants in APC have obtained nomination forms from the party’s national secretariat, while only six of the PDP’s 11 persons obtained the form. Sources at the state office of INEC told NAN that no fewer than 22 political parties would be participating in the governorship election, as the contest seems to be a straight fight between PDP and APC.
High-profile contenders like former governors Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi and current Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, are to watch as political events unfold in the state, observers note.
Others are former Ekiti Assembly Speaker, Femi Bamisile, Senator Ayo Arise, son of former governor of old Ondo State, Muyiwa Olumilua, as well Opeyemi Bamidele, Bimbo Daramola and Bamidele Faparusi who had served in the House of Representatives.
In PDP, Professor Kolapo Olusola, is said to enjoy the support and sponsorship of the incumbent Governor, Ayo Fayose. Others in PDP are Senator Abiodun Olujimi, former Minister of State for Works, Dayo Adeyeye and Ambassador Dare Bejide, among others.
APC Publicity Secretary Taiwo Olatunbisun, however, said that there was nothing wrong with the large number of persons seeking to be the state governor in his party, saying it is a sign of absolute confidence the members reposed in the party.
He explained that it is a pointer to the “belief that APC parades more qualified and credible persons in its ranks than any party in the state.”
He said that such a scenario also showed that the party is a platform where men and women of substance could pursue their ambition without hindrance.
He promised that all the interested persons would be given a level playing ground during primaries, adding that none of the aspirants would be short-changed during the process.
Also commenting, the PDP Chairman in the state, Chief Gboyega Oguntuase, told newsmen that neither the party nor the governor ever stopped any intending aspirants from pursuing their ambition.
He said that this had been further demonstrated by statements of assurances already given by both the governor and the national secretariat of the party that all aspirants would be given a level-playing ground during the party primaries.