Abiodun Oyebanji, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the just-concluded gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, has been declared the winner of the election by the electoral commission, INEC.
Announcing the winner in the early hours of Sunday, INEC’s Chief Returning Officer, Kayode Adebowale, said Mr Oyebanji, the anointed candidate of the outgoing governor, Kayode Fayemi, polled 187,057 votes to defeat his closest rival, Segun Oni, of the Social Democratic Party, who polled 82,211 votes.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bisi Kolawole, who is believed to have been imposed on the party by a former governor of the state, Ayo Fayose, came third, polling 67,457 of the total valid votes cast.
Mr Oyebanji won in 15 of the 16 local government areas of the state while Mr Kolawole won in the remaining one – Efon Alaye LG.
With the election of Mr Oyebanji, a jinx has been broken in the annals of the electoral history of the state: an incumbent governor has successfully produced a successor from the same party.
It is also the first time a party will bag a back-to-back victory in gubernatorial contests in the state.
The first civilian governor of the state, Niyi Adebayo, of the defunct Alliance for Democracy(AD), could not win his re-election in 2003 as he was swept out of office by the candidate of the PDP, Ayo Fayose, who later got impeached over allegations of corruption and was made to flee the state in controversial circumstances.
Segun Oni, then the candidate of the PDP, won the 2007 election but his victory was hotly contested in courts by Kayode Fayemi, the candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
The court later awarded Mr Fayemi victory in the election and he was subsequently sworn in in 2010 after a re-run election in Ido-Osi local government area.
Mr Fayemi, however, failed to secure a second term in office as he was defeated by the candidate of the PDP, Mr Fayose, in the 2014 governorship election.
Mr Fayose won in all the 16 local council areas of the state in that election. The election was characterised by allegations of voter suppression and intimidation of opposition elements.
However, Mr Fayemi staged a comeback in the 2018 election after serving as a minister in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari. He defeated the candidate of the PDP, then deputy governor to Mr Fayose, Olusola Eleka, thereby preventing the PDP from winning a back-to-back gubernatorial contest.
Who is Abiodun Oyebanji?
Mr Oyebanji is the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and had previously served in the first tenure of Mr Fayemi, from 2010 to 2014, traversing a couple of ministries as commissioner.
At the return of Mr Fayemi to the governorship seat in 2018, he was appointed the SSG, a position he held until he resigned in December 2021 to vie for the governorship ticket of the APC.
Before then, he had served as a special assistant to the pioneer civilian governor of the state, Niyi Adebayo, on parliamentary affairs before his appointment as a special adviser and then later as the Chief of Staff to the governor in the concluding part of the administration.
He is described as a proper ‘home boy’ by local analysts who say he has a deep understanding of the issues of governance and development as they relate to Ekiti having been in the state for the best part of his public life serving in one government or the other.ⓘ
During the struggle for the creation of Ekiti State from the old Ondo State, Mr Oyebanji was appointed the secretary of the committee that negotiated and lobbied for the state creation at a relatively young age of 27.
Born on December 21, 1967, after his secondary school education, Mr Oyebanji, who hails from Ikogosi Ekiti in Ekiti West Local Government Area, proceeded to the then Ondo State University, now Ekiti State University, where he bagged a BSc in Political Science in 1989.
He also bagged an MSc in Political Science from the University of Ibadan in 1992.
He was a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the Ekiti State University from 1994 to 1997 before branching out into private practice and farming.
He is married and blessed with children.