By EMMANUEL KEHINDE, ILORIN
Less than a year to the general elections, the political gladiators are gathering their arsenals with a view to clinching the tickets in their parties. The political atmosphere is not only becoming more interesting by the day, but gathering momentum across the federation.
The contenders and pretenders for the various elected positions are daily signifying their intentions to run for the political offices in their various constituencies. For the State of Harmony, the walls of one kilometer fly over, in front of the General Post Office, Ilorin have been littered with posters of political aspirants. At the communities levels however, consultations with various stakeholders are on-going.
With the options provided by the new amended Electoral Act 2022, political parties are at liberty to choose among direct, indirect primaries or consensus arrangement to pick the flag bearers that will fly the parties’ flag. The Kwara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to decide on the formula to adopt in picking its candidates for the various elected positions.
Beyond the method to pitch tent with in arriving at the choice of its candidates, other parameters will also play out in the selecting the party’s flag bearers. For instance, the House of Representatives race within PDP in Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency has commenced in earnest. No fewer than six aspirants have indicated their interests in running for the race though, giving that consultations among the constituent are in top gear.
The gladiators for the plum seat include the PDP candidate for the election in 2019, Engr. Dare Bankole, former member of the green chamber, Barr. Akeem Ayedun, erstwhile Commissioner for Agriculture in Kwara State, Mr. Goke Bamidele, Deputy Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly during Mohammed Lawal’s administration, Chief Christopher Tunji Ayeni, Kehinde Bankole and the only female among them, Mrs. Bukky. Going back to memory lane, Engr. Bankole contested the same political office in 2019 and lost to Hon. Tunji Raheem Olawuyi (Ajuloopin) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by wide margin.
The Ekiti-Kwara born politician is viewed by some pundits as a political novice who has never occupied any elected office in the State. Besides, unconfirmed sources alleged that he is romancing with the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The vox pop conducted by this medium indicated that if fielded by PDP, the party may likely lose electorally to the former (APC).
Ayedun who was a member (2) of the lower legislature house between 2011 and 2015 is the only Igbomina politician among aspirants. During his four year tenure in the green chambers, he initiated many bills. Aside, his empowerment cut across different age groups, religious bodies, artisan and most especially N500,000 startup capital which he gave to different groups to start up business totaling over N50m. The beneficiaries of his empowerment programme also include National Association of Road Transport Owner’s (NARTO), National Union of Road Transports Workers (NURTW), Hairdressers, Barbers, while grinding machines were also given to the less privileged. In addition to this, vehicles were given to all the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Chief Imams in all the council areas within his constituency among others. Aside, his empowerment was not restricted to only his party members. If his achievement as a former member of House of Representative is anything to go by, he stands a better chance of coasting electoral success for the PDP in the next National Assembly polls. Goke Bamidele hails from Odo-Owa in Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State. He served in the cabinet of Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed as a Commissioner for Agriculture. Watchers of political events in the 55 years old State, scored the politician low more so that he has never contested any elective office. This they maintained, coupled with his inability to flex financial muscle with the serious contestants. He is believed to be a novice in the political firmament of Kwara State. Christopher Tunji Ayeni was prominent in the government of Late Rear Admiral Mohammed Lawal from 1999 – 2003 before he decided to pitch tent his with Saraki dynasty. He also served as a Commissioner for Agriculture under the then All Nigeria People Party (ANPP). The Isapa born politician from Ekiti LGA of Kwara State, would to work harder to defeat five other aspirants from his Ekiti bloc. Kehinde Bankole though a PDP stalwart in the State, has never hold any political office in the past. He is also an Ekiti Kwara politician whose popularity did not extend beyond his council area, Ekiti LGA. His political chance is very slim judging by political analysts rating. The only female in the race within the PDP, Bukky is neophyte in the political circle in the State. The deciding factors majorly within the party are leaders at the constituency as well as the State level beyond other yardsticks that may be considered for the best choice of candidate. Investigations conducted by this medium among the constituents, however, revealed that the candidate with the best credentials in all ramifications may not be picked on consensus arrangement. Therefore, conduct of primaries among the contestants may become inevitable. This, they argued, is the only option opened to PDP to win the House of Representative poll in Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal constituents.