Wednesday, 22 June 2022 09:20

ANALYSIS: #EkitiDecides2022: Why PDP, SDP returned empty-handed

The routing of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the governorship election in Ekiti State will remain on the lips of analysts and commentators in weeks to come.

The APC performed beyond expectations. It only fell a little short of the famed Ayo Fayose’s 16-0 feat in which the former governor won in all the local government areas in the 2014 governorship election. Mr Fayose’s main opponent then was the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi of the APC.

The ruling party on Saturday won in15 of the 16 local government areas of the state with huge margins. Interestingly, the winner’s closest rival, SDP’s Segun Oni, did not win in any of the local government areas. He even lost his own Ido-Osi to the APC.

A former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, Bisi Kolawole.

Only the PDP’s Bisi Kolawole managed to secure his own Efon Local Government Area to prevent a clean sweep by the APC. The noise of the people prior to the actual election seemed to have misled many analysts who predicted the fall of the APC and a possible victory for the SDP.

What the figures say

At the final tally, Mr Oyebanji recorded 187,057 votes, while Mr Oni polled 82,211 votes. Although he won in his local government area, Mr Kolawole of the PDP came third with 67,457 votes.

Biodun Oyebanji - APC

The figures show that in all the local government areas won by the APC, it polled over 50 per cent of the valid votes cast,. which means that it polled higher votes than the PDP and SDP votes put together. This was replicated in the final tally, as the combined votes of the two parties amounted to 149,668 votes.

The APC also showed its dominance in the areas supposedly controlled by the opposition, especially in Ekiti North and Ekiti Central. While the SDP candidate managed to win his PU 006, in Ward 04, Ifaki, in Ido-Osi LGA, convincingly, he failed to replicate that wide margin in nearly all the wards in the area, except in Ifaki II, which is his home.

The PDP candidate was on a high ground in Efon, beating the rest neatly to come tops in the local government area. Besides Efon, he simply trailed the other two parties.

Set back for opposition

The election on Saturday showed how the opposition had fallen far behind, and failed to rework its structures to be able to win elections.

For example, the APC’s margin of victory in 2018 was not so wide, as it defeated the PDP, which was then the ruling party, with about 19,000 votes. Mr Fayemi had won the election with 197,459 votes to defeat the PDP which had 178,121 votes. In Saturday’s election, however, the two main opposition parties did not receive up to the number of the votes garnered by PDP alone in 2018.

Despite the hype of improvements in the electoral process, the turn out also fell far below what obtained in the 2018 governorship election.

In 2018, the total registered voters was 909,585, out of which 405,861 voters were accredited on election day. But on Saturday, despite an increased voter registration which totalled 989,224, only 365,438 voters were accredited.

PDP’s internal crisis eclipsed SDP

The signs became obvious at the start of the campaigns. Not many crowd pullers were seen either in the PDP or the SDP campaigns. Many sympathisers believe they would have done better working together.

 

The setting of that calamity was the struggle for the control of the party, begining with the aspirations for the governorship ticket of the party.

A chieftain of the PDP, Ayo Fadaka, said the problem began with the faulty primaries over which Mr Oni left the party to the SDP.

 

“The signs of failure began with the party primaries when Segun Oni left for the SDP with a good number of members of the party,” he said.

Segun Oni

“Some key members of the party also quietly left the party for the APC before the election.”

Mr Fadaka said the PDP needed to rediscover itself and must ensure that it does not weave its structures around a single personality, if it wants to be strong as a party again.

However, the National Secretary of the SDP, Olu Agunloye, said the loss of his party was due mainly to irregularities in the election. The irregularities, according to him, bordered on voter inducement by the two leading political parties.

Mr Agunloye said it was on record that voters were coerced to vote against their conscience by being offered as much as N15,000 to vote for a particular candidate.

He said with such development, it was not possible to have a free and fair election.

“Those who voted for us voted with their conscience and without inducements,” he said.

The APC candidate had earlier said those who voted for him did so in expression of their wishes, and thanked them for entrusting him with the mandate of administering the state for the next four years.

Taiwo Olatunbosun, the spokesperson for the Biodun Oyebanji Campaign Organisation, described the APC landslide victory as “remarkable, iconic and unprecedented in the annals of the state.”

He said the icing on the cake for the governor-elect was breaking the jinx of ruling parties never recording back-to-back victory in the state.

 

He also said the victory at the poll was an endorsement of the good works of the administration of Governor Fayemi in which Mr Oyebanji served as the SSG.

APC’s post primary recovery

The deep cut inflicted by the shenanigans of the governorship primaries that sprouted Mr Oyebanji has not healed. However, insiders said that the decision of the agreived parties to work together was informed by a common self-interest.

Most of those adversely affected by the outcome of the primaries were in the pro-Tinubu group associated with the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA). There were fears that they would ruin the game for the party. But after Bola Tinubu became the presidential candidate of the APC, he went to join the campaign and said an APC victory in Ekiti was necessary to boost his presidential ambition.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Photo Credit: @OfficialBAT)

That was enough to make his supporters close ranks with the others and work together. The conflicts are now kept in abbeyance until the agenda is fully realised.

Moses Agbaje, a resident of Ado Ekiti, is convinced that singular interest suspended the fight which earlier threatened the party.

Some have reasoned that the effect of vote buying was a mere incident in the current election, and the APC could have won squarely even without it.

Oluwole Kolawole, a civil servant, argued that in Ekiti, the voters who truly are in support of the SDP could not be swayed with money, noting that the people are yet to get the enlightenment on the implications of selling their votes.

“We are in such a big trouble in this country,” he said. “But one thing I know is that although there was so much noise about Segun Oni, the people were not really serious about voting him into office, otherwise, no amount of vote buying will result in such a huge gap in the results.”

He said although Mr Oni was popular, he needed to match the APC and PDP with money to emerge as governor. “That is another sad story about our situation,” he lamented. “Our road to prosperity is still far away so long as we are collecting money from politicians before we cast our votes. There is no hope.”

Saturday’s governorship election, however, posted an excellent result with regards to security of the ballots and election violence. Although isolated cases of disruptions were recorded in Ilawe and Ikere, there was no widespread occurence.

There is an outcry against vote buying, yet some observers have noted that the act was drastically reduced compared to what obtained in the last governorship election.

What was disappointing in the exercise was INEC’s failure to design the voting area to discourage the act. Most of the cubicles were still open to view by anyone seeking to perpetrate vote buying.

Police officers, as usual, turned a blind eye, while the inducers continued their trade close to the polling units.

Opposition parties’ agents at the state collation centre expressed their grievances over the phenomenon, saying it took away the credibility of the election.

“What we had yesterday were vote-buying centres and not polling units,” one of the agents said. Although they indirectly accused the ruling party of perpetrating the act, election observers asserted that all the leading parties were involved in the malpractice.

There is no let up in the corruption that bedevils the nation’s electoral process. Even with the EFCC’s intervention during the election, there is no sign of the political will to stamp out the malaise. As Mr Kolawole said, only the people themselves can change the narrative.

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