By Mary Oso-Omotosho
The Ekiti gubernatorial election 2022 might have been won and lost, with the emergence of Mr Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji (BAO) as the governor-elect, one factor that cannot be overlooked in this landslide victory recorded by the All Progressives Congress (APC) is the role Erelu Bisi Fayemi, the delectable wife of the incumbent Governor, played.
On Saturday, June 18, 2022, the Ekiti guber election was held with the candidate of APC emerging winner with total votes of 187,057; the votes won him 15 out of the 16 local governments in the state. This is, indeed, astounding, which made some people think inducement of voters played a role.
It is not only ludicrous but also illogical for some people in certain quarters to be insinuating that APC had this magnificent, landslide success because of vote buying. This is a vague assumption when one looks critically into all the efforts put together by all the APC faithful in Ekiti as well as those who wished Ekiti well during the electioneering. The result everyone saw on the election day was the outcome of rigorous mass mobilisation that these people embarked on towards the enviable success.
Knowing full well the place of women in politics, especially their outnumbering men in population as stats shows, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, being a gender specialist and women mobilizer, capitalized on this and went all out as she always does for the APC every electioneering period, to allow BAO ride on the waves of her activities in terms of promotion and empowerment of women.
It’s a known fact that Erelu Fayemi’s efforts as a promoter and advocate of rights of women and children endeared Ekiti women from all walks of life to her. Her good leadership and mentorship skills earned her a good place in the hearts of Ekiti women both old and young. No doubt her organizational prowess came to play as different women groups which she has structured and nurtured since she became First Lady rallied round her for the election.
Today, Ekiti State can boast of increased number of women in politics and government, all thanks to Erelu Fayemi. As it were in Ekiti today, there are four female House of Assembly members, three LCDA Female Chairs, fourteen Female Vice Chairs, forty three councilors, over seventy female Special Advisers, Commissioners, Special Assistants, Senior Special Assistants and Board Members . The influence of these female political office holders and other women groups aforementioned cannot be put aside as women constitute more than 50 percent of the voting population.
A very strong winning tool Erelu Fayemi explores for electioneering, which works well and is lacking in other parties, is creating a Women Campaign Council aside the main Campaign Council. She chaired the BAO Women Campaign Council and gave every member a task of interfacing with different identified women groups both formal and informal . She has always been in touch with all the women groups; so engaging them to seek their votes was easy and of course most of the groups saw it as a payback time for Erelu’s good deeds to them .
The attraction that Erelu Fayemi draws from Ekiti people during campaign rallies birthed her new title of “Crowd Puller”. Mother General, as she is fondly called, was at the forefront engaging the women and canvassing for their votes on one hand while also carrying out voter education on the other hand which resulted in the massive turnout of women at the polls.
No doubt, APC’s remarkable success at the polls was made possible on the strength of the advocacy and voter education across the hamlets, villages and towns in Ekiti by the Women Campaign Council led by Erelu Fayemi. The council’s outstanding activities in the just concluded election, apparently, cannot be underestimated.
Of course, Erelu’s name was not on the ballot paper and neither that of her husband, but her love and loyalty to her party, APC, is of no limit coupled with the need for continuity of the good legacy of her husband’s administration. She mapped out strategies for the campaign which enabled the council to reach out to a large number of people within the short time the electioneering lasted. Her energetic, intuitive, insightful, visionary and leadership skills were all at display in ensuring the victory on Saturday.
While Ekiti people await another sterling performance from the governor-elect, Mr Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji just as the outgoing governor, His Excellency, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the name Erelu Fayemi, in years to come, will always remain relevant in the outcome of emergence of BAO and of course the APC .
Mary Oso-Omotosho is Special Assistant on Media to Ekiti State Governor .