As the race to the Ekiti Government House heats up, potential candidates are juggling their hats for a chance to fly their respective parties flags.
One of the prominent names weaving his way to replace Governor Kayode Fayemi is aviation expert and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Emmanpop Ventures, Otunba Demola Popoola.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain has declared his interest in vying for the ruling party’s ticket ahead of the 2022 governorship election.
Popoola, who hails from Oye Local Government Area in Ekiti North Senatorial District is a successful aviation consultant. He has carved a niche for himself in the aviation sector and a philanthropist who has touched lives in and outside the southwest state through his Otunba Demola Popoola Foundation (ODEP).
Though seen by some of his opponents and many in the ruling party as a novice, but with a robust and vigorous campaign exercise in the southwest state, the successful businessman has carved a name for himself in the race to succeed Fayemi.
Popoola, who recently organised a grassroot football tournament across local government areas in the state, hopes to use it as a tool to positively engage Ekiti youths and build capacity through sports.
He also has important connections in the countrys political and business space which are going to come handy in his governorship bid.
Otunba as he’s fondly called has the network to develop Ekiti especially in the area of industry and through mechanised agriculture that will enhance effective output, he is for serious business.
At the just concluded retreat in Ibadan with his economic, political and historical team, Popoola hinted ” I am coming with workable blueprint\roadmap for Ekiti”.
The philanthropist has refused to pay attention to distractors as he keeps building momentum across the length and breadth of the state and the nation in general, soliciting the support of those at the grassroots.
While addressing APC stakeholders from Ekiti North Senatorial District in Oye-Ekiti during the unveiling of his governorship ambition, Popola unveiled his plans to turn the state into an industrial hub and lift residents of the state out of poverty.
While insisting that he is ready to use his wealth of experience to govern the state if he wins the poll, Popoola admitted that the capacity of guber candidates would play a crucial role in the 2022 election.
He explained that part of his immediate social intervention programme (SIP), if he emerges as the leader of the state, was to institute a N50 million empowerment in the sixteen local government areas of the state.
He added that about 100 successful beneficiaries in each of the 16 local government areas would benefit from the SIP programme.
I want to touch the lives of the people and I am not interested in deceiving them. I can assure you that support for me is support for Ekiti development, he added.
The businessman also promised to build on the foundation laid by Governor Fayemi, stressing that Ekiti state is endowed with many natural resources waiting to be harnessed.
The governor (Fayemi) has done well in the area of agriculture, education and infrastructure. The foundation he has laid, that is what I want to build on; I want to industrialise the state. There are lots of natural resources in this state that have not been tapped. We have to develop our skills and create jobs through vocational training for our youths,” he stated.
I recently went to Turkey , over there, I discovered they have a machine that produces gold and I have told them to come to Ekiti. I believe we can make it here in the state.’
“We will also establish cottage industries that will give jobs to our graduate youths to transform the state. I am not happy that a lot of our youths are idle.
Speaking on his chances in the poll, Popoola noted that the 2022 governorship election is not about political parties but about individuals.
He stated that: “I am alone and I dont belong to any of the tendencies within the Ekiti APC. This coming election, people are not going to vote for political parties, people will vote for the individuals. I am the only neutral person that has joined the race and I am working and people are accepting me.”
I dont want to get involved in the internal crisis of the party, I am a lone ranger, I am going to work out my plans towards getting the ticket of the party. Go and write it down, the election will be surprising, he added.
Otunba Popoola however believes a lot still needs to be done to boost the economic life of the state that would attract investors, despite Governor Fayemi’s achievements so far.
In another gathering with newsmen, the governorship hopeful revealed that he didn’t grow up with a silver-spoon, hence his urge to industrialise the state to help the ordinary Ekiti indigene.
According to him, all necessary methods to industrialise the state and create a conducive environment where people are willing to invest must be adopted to lift the youths from poverty.
Clearing doubts over his inexperience, the Oye-Ekiti born politician recalled that he has been involved in the running of the state since the tenure of Otunba Niyi Adebayo who he described as his mentor. Note that Adebayo is now a minister under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He disclosed that he played an active role during the struggle of Governor Kayode Fayemi to challenge the 2007 election.
Popoola revealed that the current governor also acted as the chairman during his birthday 14 years ago, even before he won the Ekiti State governorship election.
He stated that he was active during the election campaign of Fayemi, adding that he held key positions.
The guber aspirant urged party stakeholders and members to resolve all disputes amongst themselves and stay united to ensure the ruling party retains power after the governorship election in 2022.
The philanthropist called on newsmen and APC members in the state to back his ambition to take over the Ekiti State government House.