Returning Officer for the Ekiti 2022 Governorship Election, Professor Kayode Adebowale, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, early hours of Sunday declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO), as the winner and returned him Governor – Elect. Oyebanji polled 187,057 votes to defeat his closest rival, Engr. Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), who got 82,211 and Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) Chief Bisi Kolawole, 67,457.
The Ekiti governorship election and next month’s gubernatorial poll in Osun State are no doubt litmus tests of acceptability of Tinubu in his South West base ahead of 2023.
Though the APC won in Ekiti, the result has great implication for the party and the prospect of its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tunubu not only in the state but South West and nationwide in 2023.
Oyebanji though led his closest rival with a margin of over 100,000 votes, the victory could not be described as landslide considering the fact that the PDP could have scored about 150,000 votes if Oni had not defected to the SDP after losing out at the primary election of the opposition party, The Trumpet gathered.
This result showed that the APC has not convincingly express it’s dominance and it not yet time for Tinubu and the party to start rejoicing or roll out the drums. Should there be a repeat of this result in the general polls in 2023, then Tinubu would not be said to have swept Ekiti State. It is obvious that the APC candidate still has a lot of horse trading to do in Yorubaland. With his dexterity in political bargaining , it is possible for him to react out to Segun Oni to trade off SDP vote during presidential election.
Asiwaju and his foot soldiers across the West still has a lot to do if he must win convincingly in the zone.
The reason is that the Ekiti result clearly showed that the South West is not totally under the control of APC as some political novice would think. In Lagos State which is Tinubu’s base, he will need extra efforts to win 60 percent of Lagos votes. This is because of the soaring influence of Jide Adediran (Jandor), the governorship candidate of the PDP who has in his control a sizeable chunk of former APC members that moved enmass with him to PDP. Also of note is the impressive number of South Easterners residing in Lagos who are sympathetic to the Igbo presidency course as symbolised by Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
In Oyo State, a sitting PDP governor, Seyi Makinde who is seeking a second term will not make the state an easy ride for Tinubu and APC. So, there is no way Tinubu can make 60 percent votes in Oyo.
His chances in Osun depends largely in the outcome of the July 16 governorship poll. He may leverage on the re- election of his blood relative, Gboyega Oyetola of the APC to poll considerable large votes. But, if the result turn out otherwise, the he will still have the opposition PDP to grapple with.
The APC candidate may not have much problem in Ogun State because of its proximity to Lagos. The spill effect of a Tinubu presidency may pull some votes for him than any other party. While in Ondo State, he may also have an upper hand. Going by the above projection, Tinubu could only be said to expect a little above average performance in the South West which is his stronghold in the entire southern Nigeria.
Results of last general election and off season elections have shown that the APC is still struggling for acceptance in both the South East and South South. Both current APC governors in the South East, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi and Hope Uxzodinma of Imo cannot pull any surprise for APC in their states.
They are both only APC in Abuja and PDP at home. In the South South, the APC has lost the control of Edo, the only state it governed before to the PDP. Therefore, the is no magic for Tinubu to pull a meaningful electoral surprise. Going by the above, however, the former Lagos governor is left with little choice than to look across the political divide to the North where he think he has allies. Political conventional arrangement has even made it expedient for him to pick his running mate from the north.
Though he had submitted the name of Ibrahim Masari in holding as his running mate, he still battle with the choice of acceptable vice presidential candidate.
Tinubu, is in a dilemma of dancing to the tune of a Muslim Muslim dictate because of his need of votes of the northern Muslim populace. Knowing fully he has totally less than average assurance of votes from the entire south, his electoral survival is in the north, hence, he is handicapped but to submit his ego about the choice of running mate to factors beyond Hus control as the search continues. Quick take home from the Saturday polls showed not impressive turn out if voters despite claims by stakeholders that there was large turn out.
Statistics from INEC had it that as huge as 988,924 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) were collected across the 2445 polling units in 177 wards across the 16 local government areas of Ekiti State but it disheartening to note that just 360,753 votes were cast in the election, out of which a total of 351,865 were said to be valid. Another thing to note was cases of vote buying and arrest of a few culprits by security agents assigned to election duty. This was confirmed by report of the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room.
“Situation Room received reports of widespread vote buying by political party agents across the 16 Local Government Areas of the State. In many instances, voters were induced with money ranging from N4,500 to N10,000 by asking them to flag completed ballot papers as proof of voting in the specified manner in what they term “See and Buy”. Situation Room strongly condemns this blatant violation of the electoral law,” read the report.
There was a general perception that the Bi-Modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS) widely functional in at least 76% of the voting locations. Though there were reports of delays and malfunctioning BVAS machines in some voting units especially those with many registered voters.
Examples of the locations where the machines malfunctioned include; PU 002 Igbaletere by Mechanic Workshop, Ward 6 Ado Okeyinmi, Ado-Ekiti LGA where the Machine was going on and off intermittently, PU 007 LA Primary School Oke Afin, Otun Ward III and PU018 Igogo Ward II both in Moba LGA where the BVAS failed, and PU 014, Ward I Okemesi, Ekiti West LGA, amongst others. Furthermore, INEC’s distribution of the BVAS devices was not proportionate to the population of registered voters by polling unit. The election was generally peaceful save pockets of disruption by political thugs in a very few polling units.