A leading governorship aspirant in Ekiti State, Otunba Demola Popoola (ODEP) has formally declared his interest in the Ekiti gubernatorial race.
The frontline politician and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress(APC) officially made his intention known through a mega rally held in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, at the weekend.
Accompanied by some political big wigs, including the former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan, the APC aspirant stormed the Ajilosun office of the party where he met with state officials.
Hundreds of supporters and admirers trooped out in their numbers to catch the glimpse of the long campaign motorcade as they drove through the heart of the state capital enroute Ajilosun—APC State Secretariat.
In spite of the heavy security presence, it took the governorship hopeful several hours as he struggled with the crowd before making his way to the venue of the official declaration.
Otunba Popoola, who was the first to indicate interest in the party, was also the first aspirant to obtain the Nomination/Expression of Interest Form in Abuja.
Supporting ODEP’s gubernatorial ambition, Alhaji Adesiyan described him as a honest, dutiful and successful businessman who is always ready to support the poor and downtrodden.
The ex- Minister, who urged the APC to look in the direction of ODEP to fly the party’s flag in 2022, maintained that Otunba Popoola has what it takes to sustain Dr Kayode Fayemi’s legacies and move the state forward.
Adesiyan also urged Ekiti people to encourage Governor Fayemi to run for Presidency, saying “Nigeria needs personalities like Fayemi”.
Earlier in his address, Otunba Popoola, flanked by his wife, Erelu Bunmi Popoola, promised to retain Ekiti for APC if he obtains the governorship ticket on January 22.
He also promised to be a good ambassador of the party in power by not only building on the legacies of Governor Kayode Fayemi but ensure more people-oriented policies and programme.
” If God makes me Governor, I will show respect to the party and uplift Ekiti people to a desired level. I started my politics as a Chairman of my Estate in Lagos, where I was consulted to be a leader, which I gleefully obliged. I did that for four consecutive terms and people were still beging that I should remain there because I showed good leadership, “Otunba Popoola assured.
The gubernatorial hopeful, who said commenced his campaign about a year ago by consulting relevant stakeholders assured APC and people in the state that they would not regret making him governor.
The APC stalwart disclosed that he did not believe in the politics of hatred, violence and acrimony, the reason he did not have enemies amongst his fellow contenders.
” I started this journey about eleven months ago and I have visited and consulted with all that matter within the party. Throughout my consultations, I have not abuse or pick fight with any member of our party. I am probably the only aspirant who is free to all others, I visit them and I talk to them on regular basis. I believe we are all members of one big family and we are still going to work together after the primaries.
“I am appealing to our party to look beyond the primaries. I want to assure you that the APC primaries shall be peaceful and I will emerge victorious at the end of the exercise.
“I started with community politics in Lagos and I have been part and parcel of the progressives family in Ekiti since 1999 when we had the first progressive governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, now a Minister,” Otunba Popoola stated.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Ekiti APC, Hon. Paul Omotoso, dismissed claims that one of the aspirant had been endorsed by the State Working Committee, saying it will be undemocratic and uncivil to do such in APC, in view of the dire consequences.
He said, “We don’t harbour hatred against anyone, we are for everybody. Otunba Popoola is a friend of this party. Since he started his campiagn, he has never left us. He has stood by us. He has been mobilising for the party. He has given his best to the party and he deserves the best from the party. He has paid his price and good result awaits him in APC.
“Let me assure you that we will guarantee free, fair, credible and acceptable governorship primary. I was the State Secretary of the party during the primary that brought in Governor Kayode Fayemi as candidate in 2018. We did everything with integrity. We cannot impose because we knew the consequences.
“Mr Popoola has not only campaigned to delegates that will vote during primary, he has extended his tentacles to aggrieved members of the party, thereby making friends for our party. APC will come together after primary to ensure that nobody loses out ”
In his submission, the Former Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Adesiyan, appealed to the aspirant to build on the legacy of Governor Fayemi if he wins the poll.
Describing Fayemi as a good leader, Adesiyan posited that Nigeria needs the incumbent governor to reposition the nation in 2023.