In what could be described as a strong message to political parties, politicians, academia, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in Ekiti state on Wednesday, demanded the zoning of the governorship seat to the south senatorial district ahead of the June 18, 2022, governorship election in the state on the principle of equity, justice and fairness.
The political bigwigs, including aspirants on the platforms of the All Progressives Congress(APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) clearly informed those perceived as godfathers, including the state governor Dr Kayode Fayemi, that no effort will be spared to resist the attempt to sideline the zone that has not produced the governor since 1999.
There has been subtle campaigns and mobilizations for the current Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji from the central senatorial district as governorship candidate by close and senior appointees of the governor in recent in which many party members interpreted as the endorsement of Fayemi and his wife.
The southern stakeholders spoke on Wednesday at a political summit tagged, ‘Ekiti South Conference Towards 2022 Governorship Election’, held in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital and convened by a group called Concerned Ekiti Citizens for Southern Agenda under the leadership of Femi Babalola.
Prominent politicians at the event were: Former Speaker and serving member of the House of Representatives, Femi Bamisile; Senator representing Ekiti South, Biodun Olujimi ; former works minister, Senator Dayo Adeyeye ; Commissioner for infrastructures and public utilities, Bamidele Faparusi; former deputy governor, Biodun Aluko; Special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Federal Matters, Mr Makinde Araoye, former Commissioner for Special Duties, Adewumi Apalara; PDP governorship aspirant, Kayode Adaramodu and an ex-Commissioner, Mr Debo Ajayi.
Others include; Former deputy governor, Professor Kolapo Olusola-Eleka; ex-Speaker, Adewale Omirin; former acting governor, Tunji Odeyemi, Special Adviser to the Governor, Office of Transformation, Strategy and Delivery, Professor Mobolaji Aluko; former Commissioner for Lands, Mr Remi Olorunleke, commissioner in the Public Complaints Commission, Mr Kayode Bamisile.
Addressing the mammoth party members that thronged the venue of the political event, a member of the House of Representatives and APC governorship aspirant, Bamisile boasted that the south will produce the next governor of the state.
According to him, “We are beginning to feel that the elites from the North and the Central are conspiring to sideline us. How can the south with six local governments higher than any other zone be treated as the minority? This is unfair and unacceptable.
“We are not here to fight anybody, it is our time to produce the governor. Even our dialects in Ekiti are not the same, it will be deceptive to say we speak the same dialect. Let us tell the government and the governor, that it must do what is right, O to ge (enough is enough).
“We have so many good and competent people in the present cabinet of Governor Fayemi and if they need people, we have too many competent people in the south. We are not going to fight, because Governor Fayemi is a reasonable person. The presence of appointees of government here today shows we are not fighting the government, we only want to correct this anomaly. On Ekiti south agenda we stand.”
In her submission, a PDP chieftain and aspirant Senator Olujimi maintained that there is no doubting the fact that Ekiti South has the highest number of local governments, regretting that the district remained the one that has not produced the governor, adding that the neglect must stop if truly Ekiti is one.
“What we are asking is that all parties’ candidates must emerge from the South. That is when we will know that you have us in mind. What we want is equity, justice and fairness and this is the time justice must be done to the South in the eyes of God and man.
“Why should they be insulting us? The reason for the insults was that we are not united. This is not about political parties, but about being responsible. We have the majority and we can work together,” the former senate minority leader said.
A serving Special Adviser to Governor Fayemi, Professor Aluko, who advised that affirmative action must be taken to address the injustice being meted to the South, saying the state was created on the pillars of justice, fair- play and equity, declaring that they would frustrate any moves to impose candidate from other zones on the people.
Aluko said, “We are capable, able, willing and ready to rule this state. Some people might want to entice you with deputy governorship, they had even spoken to me about this, but I declined. Let us be united. Many of those from the North and South are supporting us, let us reach out to them.”
On his part, Adeyeye said it was sad that Ekiti South indigenes are now having the psychology of second class citizens, saying this is the time for the trend to change.
“How can a state that was formed on the basis of Justice and equity now become a centre of injustice? We must work together and resist this oppression in the interest of our today and our future,” the national chairman of SWAGA noted.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Oyetunde Ojo who is from the central district said the people of Ekiti must encourage the leadership of the parties to hearken to the voice of reasoning and pick their candidates from the South.
Ojo said: “The likes of Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Bimbo Daramola and myself are with the Southern agenda and that was why we picked Senator Adeyeye from the South as the candidate of our group in APC.
“If Southern Nigeria is saying that Presidency should come to the South in 2023, what has Ekiti South done to deserve marginalisation? It is your time to produce the governor. Some of us from the Central and North of Ekiti are in support of a southern governor in 2022.”
According to a governorship aspirant, Kayode Adaramodu, the southern zone has the nest brains and credible individuals that could pilot the affairs of the state, advising the political parties to follow popular demand in zoning the governorship seat to the zone.
Speaking on the way out of the zoning conundrum, a professor at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Dr Philips Adetiloye, said it is a democratic right for the South to produce the governor, adding that this is part of the ways to further unite the state.