The contest for Ekiti South Senatorial District promises to be an epic battle between two political big wigs – Senator Biodun Olujimi, who is currently representing the zone in the National Assembly and Yemi Adaramodu, a member representing Ekiti South Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives.
Olujimi’s political trajectory in Ekiti State is outstanding; she has records of winning elections even when everybody thought her opponents were politically stronger. Since the return to democratic dispensation in 1999, she has been moving from leaps and bounds.
She was an ally of the late Chief Olusola Saraki, as national publicity secretary of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) until 2003, when she joined Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and became Special Adviser to the then governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose.
In a twist of fate, that same year, she became member, House of Representatives when she replaced the late Abiodun Talabi, who represented Ekiti South 2 Federal Constituency. She spent just five months at the National Assembly when Fayose nominated her as the Deputy Governor to replace Bisi Omoyeni, who returned to Wema Bank as the Managing Director /Chief Executive Officer. She almost became the acting governor of the state after the impeachment of Fayose in 2006, but she was outsmarted by the political elite in the state.
When Segun Oni took over in 2007, Olujimi became Commissioner for Works. At the national scene, she has always been part of the Presidential Campaign Organisation of the PDP. It was Olujimi, who allegedly persuaded President Goodluck Jonathan and PDP leaders to consider Fayose‘s return to Ekiti in 2014 as governor. Fayose quickly resolved his differences with Olujimi, who teamed up with him to win the election.
In return, Olujimi got the ticket to return to the National Assembly, but this time, the Senate. Her political move in the Senate, earned her the Deputy Minority Whip. However, she became the Minority Leader when Senator Godswill Akpabio left the PDP for All Progressives Congress (APC).
On the other hand, Adaramodu, an alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, joined the Nigerian Tribune Newspapers, Ibadan in 1987 and rose to become Assistant Editor, Deputy Editor and Corporate Affairs Manager of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc. At 29, he became the Chairman of Ekiti South West Local Government Area.
He joined Alliance for Democracy (AD), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which later metamorphosed into APC. Adaramodu was the Director of Communications at the Dr. John Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation, and later became Chief of Staff to Fayemi, during his first term in office between 2010 and 2014. In 2019, he was elected into the House of Representatives, where he is currently serving.
Olujimi’s return to the senate for the second time was tough because Fayose did not only oppose her candidature, he took paid advertisements on local radio to campaign against her, asking the electorate in the South senatorial zone not to vote for Olujimi.
She lost the election in a controversial circumstances, but used the instrumentality of the court to retrieve her mandate from Senator Dayo Adeyeye, almost a year after the election.
Getting nominated again in the current political exercise was a herculean task, because Fayose, who has become her political foe, had the PDP in his firm grip. Fayose nominated all candidates into various positions, as he had the listening ears of the leadership of the party in Abuja.
To block Olujimi’s chances of getting return ticket to the senate, Fayose picked candidate of the House of Representatives from Olujimi’s local government. However, being a dogged fighter, she took her case to the national leadership of the party and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who prevailed in on Fayose to give Olujimi the ticket. The outcome of the shenanigans was that a local government now produced two candidates. One Emiola Jenifer, who is the candidate vying for the House of Representatives, and Olujimi who is the candidate for Ekiti South.
As it was in the past, Fayose and Olujimi have returned to the trenches and familiar terrain. Fayose had gone a step further by calling a meeting of PDP critical stakeholders from the six councils in the senatorial district, including State Executive Council members, House of Assembly candidates, ward/local government chairmen, former House of Assembly members and former political office holders, and urged them not to vote for Olujimi. He, however, endorsed the candidature of APC candidate, Adaramodu to represent the zone in the Senate.
He also held a rally to drum support for Adaramodu at Ise-Ekiti, where he urged PDP members to cast the senatorial vote for the APC candidate. Speaking, on his behalf, one of his foot soldiers, a former House of Assembly member, Dare Pelemo, who said the campaign rally, which would be held in the six council areas, was to sensitise party members on the need to vote for the current member of the House of Representatives representing Ekiti South Federal Constituency 1, in the senatorial election.
“We in Osoko (Fayose) group are not going to vote for Senator Biodun Olujimi, because she has not done well for our senatorial district, our communities and for us as a people. We are here to tell our people who to vote for. Our leaders have agreed that we should vote for Adaramodu, the APC candidate for the Senate. It is not about party, it is about interest. It is better to vote for a person who can do it very well, that is what our leaders have seen in the APC candidate,” Palemo said.
On whether it is possible to canvass vote for the candidate of another party, Pelemo said: “It is very possible because the ballot papers are different and party logos are there, which will let people know where to vote. We are telling our people in Ekiti South that they should vote APC for Senate. We have enlightened our people how to vote, so that they will not vote for wrong person. We are going to vote for Adaramodu for the Senate; it is not about party, it is about interest.”
Former Secretary, Ekiti East Council, Akin Adeyemi, said that in addition to Olujimi’s alleged betrayal of Fayose and PDP, “We are supporting Adaramodu based on the decision of our leader, Fayose. He has foresight; he knows what will benefit the senatorial district and the whole state. For Fayose to decide that Adaramodu is fit to be the Senator for the Southern District despite being APC candidate, he has seen beyond everybody.”
However, Senator Olujimi, had during a senatorial campaign at Ikere Ekiti recently said: “I am here again seeking your support to return to the Senate for us to enjoy more development in the senatorial district and I can say that I won’t disappoint you. We have done a lot in the last eight years and experience will be an advantage for me if I return. Don’t forget, my chance of becoming Senate president is high, if PDP wins.”
On the factors that could determine who carries the day on February 25, 2023, political observers think it depends on the issue of who among the two has more money to deploy and mobilise on the day of the election.
Some political watchers are also of the view that Adaramodu was given the ticket for the senate even when he desired to return to the House of Representatives. In fact, some are of the opinion that some APC members are yet to come to terms with the role he allegedly played or failed to play, which led to the failure of his boss, Dr Kayode Fayemi in 2014 governorship election.
Unlike Olujimi, who has received votes in all the six local governments of Ekiti South on two previous elections, thus having a vote bank, Adaramodu has only received votes from the three local governments making up the Federal Constituency he currently represents. The House of Rep member in the other three local governments, Mr Femi Bamisile, hails from the same local government with Olujimi. The Senator and Bamisile are always attending public functions together. Some even say that they have working agreement just like in 2019 election.
Other factor that seems to favour Olujimi is the massive support she is receiving from Ikere Ekiti, the headquarters of Ekiti South with the second largest voting population after the state capital. Major PDP stakeholders from the community including former Deputy Governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola-Eleka and the Reps candidate, Mr Henrich Komolafe, are rooting for Olujimi.
What more? It was alleged that Olujimi supported the current APC governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji by delivering not only her polling unit, but also her ward to him during the last governorship election. Sources said, her seemingly anti party activities leading to the loss of the election by the PDP candidate, Mr Bisi Kolawole, was part of the reason Fayose is currently waging war against her. Because of her closeness with both Fayemi and Oyebanji, it is believed that Adaramodu may not get the needed support from his party to defeat Olujimi.
While Adaramodu is yet to officially commence campaign, PDP in Ekiti South Senatorial District have kick-started house-to-house mobilisation for the Presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, the senatorial candidate, Senator Biodun Olujimi and other candidates from the zone.
At the 10,000-man rally held in Ikere-Ekiti, party members from the six Local Councils in the district comprising Ikere, Gbonyin, Ekiti East, Ise-Orun, Emure and Ekiti South West were urged to return home and begin house-to-house campaign to woo the electorate for the party’s candidates.
Addressing the mammoth crowd during the rally, the Director General of the PDP presidential campaign organisation in the zone and Ekiti former deputy governor, Prof. Kolapo Olusola-Eleka urged the people to support all PDP candidates in the election for socio-economic development in the society.
“I want to assure you that all our candidates will not disappoint you. We have commenced enormous grassroots sensitisation across the state to ensure all our candidates emerge to rescue Nigeria from her dwindling and precarious condition.
“I urge you to go back home and begin aggressive mobilisation and sensitisation of our people, they should get their PVCs and vote for PDP, a party that can bring succour to them from their current hardship,” he declared.
Speaking on the chances of Adaramodu winning the election, the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Segun Dipe said the PDP candidate only stands the chance to contest but not to win.
Dipe, who stated this in a telephone chat with The Guardian said: “Apart from the fact that Adaramodu is popular, the circumstances in the PDP have made it impossible for Olujimi to compete favourably. If one of their major leaders could come out to ask PDP members to vote for Adaramodu, you can add one plus one and draw the conclusion. I can assure you that our candidate is coasting home to victory.”
On the other hand, the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Raphael Adeyanju, said Olujimi stands better chance to win the election because of her experience in politics and election matters.
Adeyanju said: “She is an experienced person, somebody who was commissioner, House of Representatives member, Senator for two consecutive terms and former Deputy Governor. Added to these is the fact that she has been providing dividends of democracy to her people through various empowerment programmes. She is the face of PDP in Ekiti, being the only elected person and she has been using this platform to galvanise support for the party.
“Today, the ruling APC has lost its goodwill. The people believe that it is the PDP that can liberate them from untold hardship brought on them by APC. So, we are very confident that she will win if the election is free and fair.”