With various campaign strategies, at least, 63 people have been identified as number of aspirants jostling to succeed Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, seat, the race of which is expected to be finalized among 22 political parties that were been given 30 days to conduct primaries in preparation for July 14 gubernatorial election in the state.
As learnt, the aspirants figure jumped from 47 aspirants, to present 63 among whom were three clergymen including Rev. Tunde Afe of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Pastor Taiwo Oladeji of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the state Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola-Eleka, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church, also in PDP.
From the look of things, All Progressive Congress (APC) emerged with highest number of 41 aspirants, with 11 from the state ruling PDP, while 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.
There were views from the political quarters within the state that the figure is expected to deplete by the time all the parties conclude their primaries because of the huge cost involved.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had fixed between April 15 and May 14 within which to conduct primaries in the state and only PDP and APC have fixed dates for their primaries; with the APC has fixed May 5, and PDP to conduct its, 8 of same month.
As gathered, only 17 aspirants of the APC’s 41 have obtained nomination forms from the party’s national secretariat, while only six of the PDP’s 11 persons obtained the form.
Meanwhile, sources at the state office of INEC disclosed 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.
Sources within the state political parties said that contenders including the state former governors Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi and current Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu, were to watch as political events unfold in the state.
They indicated that others aspirants were former Ekiti Assembly Speaker, Femi Bamisile, Ayo Arise, son of former governor of old Ondo State, Muyiwa Olumilua, as well Opeyemi Bamidele, Bimbo Daramola and Mr Bamidele Faparusi who had served in the House of Representatives.
In PDP, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, was said to enjoy the support and sponsorship of Fayose and that former Minister of State for Works,Abiodun Olujimi, Dayo Adeyeye and Amb. Dare Bejide, were also in the thick race.
The 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 was a sign of absolute confidence the members reposed in the party.
He explained that it was 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 was 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 NAN 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.