A major blow was dealt the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday as its candidate in the Ekiti State’s governorship election lost to that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The APC’s candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi, emerged victorious securing 197, 459 votes, defeating the PDP candidate, Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka, a protege of the state’s outgoing governor Ayo Fayose, who won 178, 459 votes.
The election’s outcome was a rude shock to the PDP, which ruled Nigeria from 1999 until it was defeated at the last presidential election in 2015. The PDP, which had boasted of an assured victory at the polls, has alleged vote rigging and vowed to challenge the election’s result in court.
Observers however say the election was largely peaceful and free.
The tightly fought poll was seen as a litmus test for the popularity of Nigeria’s two main political parties.
Fayemi, Nigeria’s immediate past Minister of Mines and Steel Development, had once governed Ekiti State from 2010-2014, when he was defeated by Fayose, also a former governor of the state.
Addressing a news conference on Sunday in the state’s capital Ado-Ekiti, Fayemi urged his main rival at the polls Olusola and Governor Fayose, to emulate him (Fayemi) by conceding defeat the way he did after losing the 2014 election.
“Let them behave the way we behaved in 2014; we should all know that in an election of this nature, you can only have one governor at a time.
“We conceded in 2014 and our counterparts on the other side should accept defeat for peace to reign in Ekiti State and they should refrain from violence for Ekiti to enjoy peace,” he said.
Fayemi is credited with a lot of achievements during his first term in office, especially in the improvement of the state’s roads and the upliftment of its education and health sectors. Moreover, he encouraged investment in the state which witnessed an economic rebound in those four years.
Analysts consider the Ekiti election a test run of Nigeria’s general election in 2019 and the PDP’s loss is a major setback for the former ruling party’s hopes of regaining power at the federal level next year.