Ekiti Guber Race: Why Segun Oni Stands Out

By Yemi Idris-Aduloju (PhD)


As the governorship election in Ekiti State scheduled for June 18, 2022 is fast approaching, the campaigns toward the election are gaining more grounds.


The question of whether or not the voting exercise would come and go with the usual deficiencies and questionable outcomes resulting in litigations is a concern for residents of the state.


In preparation for such exercises in the past, due to the resultant voter apathy, prospective voters have been found inactive in registering for permanent voter cards.


The reasons for this lull are not farfetched. Even many of those who registered might eventually decide not to come out to vote.


This attitude unavoidably affects their ultimate need to vote the candidates of their choice only to give room for another round of nonperformance in governance at the end of the day.


No doubt, the nonperformance of successive past leaders had pauperized the people and underdeveloped the state.


The people, most especially the less privileged, have consequently become so necessitous that the scars of biting penury conspicuously dot their faces in public places.


The inability of the leaders to deliver the dividends of democracy to the masses over the years apparently manifest in declining economic fortunes, giving rise to impoverished and in some cases, malnourished people as well as crime infested society.


This development is quite unfortunate as economic factor remains the yardstick to measure the success of other development variables. Once the economy suffers, other determinants of human existence become dormant.


The above scenario is a negation of the postulation of a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Sir Winston Churchill that ‘’the people of any country have the right and should have the power by constitutional action, by free unfettered elections, with secret ballot, to choose or change the character or form of government under which they dwell’’.


Yes, this statesman is right as all Nigerians are entitled to the constitutional right of performing their civic responsibility but many of the people seem to have lost interest in the game that had not favoured them these past years in Nigeria and particularly in Ekiti state.


This time around, there is the need for concern by all stakeholders to put heads together in redefining the political path that leads to a truly democratically elected government.


This becomes necessary in order that dividends of democracy would no longer elude the electorate in the state.


As part of the preparation to the June 18 governorship polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has since listed the names of the governorship candidates for the forthcoming exercise in the state. They include Mr Abiodun Oyebanji, the immediate past Secretary to the State Government for the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Olabisi Kolawole, a former commissioner for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a former governor in the state, Engr. Segun Oni the flag bearer of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). Both the APC and PDP candidates are tied to the apron springs of the incumbent governor Dr Kayode Fayemi and a former governor Mr Ayo Fayose respectively while Engr. Segun Oni has no godfather except his teeming admirers and political supporters.


Although, the stakeholders such as the INEC and other political parties in the race have been playing their roles toward the success of the forthcoming election, Segun Oni has been notably emphatic on the need for improved political participation through massive turn-out of the voting public to ensure a genuine change in the state’s political landscape.


The politician’s concern is justifiable realizing the fact that democratic governance is only attainable when it is installed by the majority of the masses, who would vote candidates of their choice.


The SDP flag-bearer has repeated the call for residents of the state to obtain their PVCs and exercise their franchise without fear or favour everywhere he campaigns, emphasizing that no circumstances should hinder them in performing their civic responsibilities.


This clarion call implies his total abhorrence to any form of electoral malpractices such as rigging, ballot box stuffing, snatching and vote buying to ensure fair, free and credible election.


The logic in this enterprise is that the poverty and insecurity monsters lodging everywhere in the country are even dreadful enough to stir the electorate from the slumber of apathy and spur them into action of emancipation.


This is with a view to changing the extant leadership which had failed them to a promising and hopeful future.


To this end, any form of manipulation or inducement should not stand on their way to freely express themselves through the ballot paper. It is not funny that some money bag politicians in the state have been using a kind of enticement, tagged; “dibo ko s’ebe’’ that is ‘vote and cook soup’ to trap the money conscious prospective voters, especially the semi-literates and stark illiterates into voting unintended choice of candidates.


It is high time this unwholesome practice aimed at corrupting unsuspecting electorate into wrongdoing stops in the state. In other words, responsible political office seekers must ensure that all hands are on deck to stamp out this dirty game laced with ignominy, which is capable of undermining the political integrity of the state.


The SDP governorship candidate, who began his electioneering campaign on Monday April 7, 2022 in Ido-Osi council area of the state took it upon himself to re-orientate the people by reawakening them on the need not only to troop out en-masse to exercise their voting right but to vote the right person of his calibre into office.


His position is that the electorate should care more for what a responsible incoming candidate has in stock to improve their livelihood rather than succumb to deceits by self- serving individuals who take delight in offering peanuts that could neither sustain nor guarantee a better future for them. Segun Oni recalls his stewardship during his first governorship era thus: ‘’I have done it before, you know that I represent transparency and development and all these I will give you if ‘am elected on June 18, I can’t deceive you. It is the same Segun Oni. I shall keep all my promises with you. I believe in the people and the power will be in your hands this time like I did during my first time’’.


He, however, anchors the pursuit of his governorship ambition on a peaceful campaign devoid of rancour and acrimony in the interest of the state.


In spite of the efforts to ensure a crisis-free electioneering campaign in view of the peaceful atmosphere under which the Segun Oni familiarization tour kicked off, some recalcitrant detractors suspected to be hoodlums from certain political quarters still played the devil’s role when a sound of sporadic gunshots rented the air on Wednesday April 6, 2022 and took the campaign team by surprise during a visit to the ancient town of Efon Alaaye, Efon council area of the state.


The fear and anxiety that accompanied the malicious and nefarious act made the visiting campaigners and other members of the community present on the occasion scampered for safety, running with panic like a herd of sheep would kick off on sighting a band of wolves. In his humble reaction, the SDP governorship candidate, who was shocked to the spines, said in an interview; “I was disappointed…”


This reaction sprang from his well- known character that he had always been a man of peace all through his political adventures and what happened was quite unexpected.

Mr Jackson Adebayo, the Director, Media and Publicity of the campaign organization recalls how “the attack came after the former governor has successfully toured nine local government areas in the state… Some supporters were badly injured and vehicles in the convoy were damaged by the thugs before the arrival of a detachment of police which overpowered them’’. Observation reveals that Oni had since the beginning of the familiarization tour, emphasized the core issues pertaining to the welfare of the electorate and the development of the state, having deliberately and carefully avoided the temptations of censorious remarks on personalities and other political parties, which could trigger such unwarranted attack on his campaign train.


In fact, jostling to occupy a posh seat such as governorship office ideally is a matter of the antecedents of a responsible politician and not the desperation and hooliganism mounted overnight by any political extremist.


Should a man of questionable character from a disorganized political party succeed in using thugs including hired assassins to pave the way to the state government house, no doubts, he will be surrounded by marauders, who would ruin the fortunes of the state rather than turn it around for the good of the people.


This development necessitates the need to strengthen the security network of the state to forestall any further unwarranted attacks by unscrupulous elements preparatory to the June 18 governorship election.


Engr. Segun Oni, who is not new on the political scene, was in the saddle as executive governor between 2007 and 2010 when he demonstrated exemplary leadership and lifted the state to an enviable height.


According to him, his plan to come back to office once more is a response to the call by his admirers that he should seek re-election to continue his good job from where he stopped. Interestingly, he rests the possibility of his second coming to the power of votes when he said while addressing his supporters at a forum in Ado Ekiti:

“Our election is coming up on June 18, 2022 as you are all aware of this. My advice to all of you is to go and get your PVCs and vote for me… Progress has come and that progress is Segun Oni. Your voter card is your power… vote for progress, vote SDP, it is the party of progress’’


In all, the centre-point of Segun Oni’s action plan if elected governor come June 18, addresses the immediate and long- term needs of the people such as the rejuvenation of the state dwindling economic fortunes, strengthening of the state security network to support security agencies in curbing banditry, creation of employment opportunities to absorb scores of jobless graduates, introducing innovations and re-engineering agricultural practice for surplus and sustainable food production.


The action plan also focuses on the promotion of good governance to bring sanity to the political machinery of the state, enhancement of affordable health services to reduce the scourge of poor health conditions and untimely deaths. The chemical engineer is also to embark on massive road infrastructure for smooth transportation of goods and services, revamp the state ailing education development to restore its lost glory as fountain of knowledge among other lofty interventions in the pipeline.


Dr Yemi Idris-Aduloju is former Deputy Editor-in-Chief News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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