Oyo: Tension’ In State Where ‘No Governor Rules Twice
AS five political titans battle for the control of Agodi Government House, Oyo is definitely one of the states to watch in the February 28 gubernatorial polls. The race is definitely not for the faint, considering the history of the state as the political capital of the South West.
Already, three of the gladiators — the incumbent Abiola Ajimobi of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Rashidi Ladoja of the Accord Party (AP) and Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Labour Party (LP) — are treading on a familiar terrain and it remains to be seen whether or not they can re-write the age-long history of the state that no governor has ruled Oyo state twice. Also in the race are former Senate Leader and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Teslim Folarin and 47-year old oil magnate and billionaire businessman, Seyi Makinde who despite being a first timer commands a large following.
The governorship race initially appeared reminiscent of that of 2011 in which Alao-Akala, Ladoja and Ajimobi battled themselves for the coveted prize that eventually went to the latter; but the emergence of Folarin and Makinde as well as the dynamics within the candidates’ various political parties have created a state of flux that makes forecasting an uncertain and potentially embarrassing gamble.
In the build-up to and aftermath of the parties’ shadow elections to pick their respective standard-bearers, there had been massive inter-party defections and realignments of political forces across the state due to different internal strife that beleaguered the major parties which no doubt altered the political permutations.
APC — ABIOLA AJIMOBI
BEFORE the present administration came on board, residents live in palpable fear as rival factions of the road transport union battled themselves killing innocent persons in the process, while business and commercial activities were also disrupted.
The crisis in the opposition parties, particularly the PDP, and subsequent defection of aggrieved persons, may work in APC’s favour at the polls. Basically, the other gladiators for the coveted position are all products of the PDP, who left the party in the wake of the allegedly flawed congresses.
However, internal strife in the APC between Governor Ajimobi and his loyalists on the one hand and followers of former governor Lam Adesina, which led to mass defection to the AP and LP, may affect the fortunes of the APC in the forthcoming polls.
AP — SENATOR RASHIDI LADOJA
SINCE its impressive showing in the 2011 polls, the AP has been making waves across the length and breadth of Oyo State.
Since his inglorious impeachment and subsequent reinstatement, Ladoja has enjoyed public sympathy because of the general belief that he was unfairly treated. His popularity and clout earned the AP, which was formed barely three months to the 2011 election, victory as it won four House of Representatives seat and seven in the state House of Assembly.
However, AP, which had for long enjoyed the reputation of being perhaps, the only major unified party under the leadership of Ladoja, was recently rocked by crisis over allegation of undemocratic attempts by the party leadership to handpick candidates for the forthcoming polls.
Indeed, Ladoja’s Bodija home in Ibadan was besieged and attacked by irate party faithful who hurled missiles and abuses at the leader during a protest when the party failed to conduct primaries to pick its candidates.
Some of the aggrieved aspirants accused the party leader of imposition and have since dumped Accord Party for the LP, APC and newly formed SDP.
The intra party crisis in the AP may be Ladoja’s undoing in the forthcoming election.
LP —ADEBAYO ALAO-AKALA
HE was governor of the state between 2007 and 2011. His effort to seek re-election for second term failed as he lost to the incumbent in 2011. He lost to Ajimobi due to his fall out with PDP leaders as well as Ibadan elders and royal fathers, particularly the Alaafin of Oyo,Oba Lamidi Adeyemi.
Alao-Akala’s effort to take another shot at the Agodi Government House under the PDP in the forthcoming polls failed as he lost the party’s ticket to Senator Teslim Folarin.
Piqued by the process, which threw up Folarin and the role played by party leaders in the primaries, Alao-Akala dumped the PDP and got the LP ticket as its governorship flag bearer. But can he muster enough votes to defeat the incumbent and return as Oyo state governor on May 29? Although Alao-Akala still commands large following, the crisis in the PDP and subsequent fractionalisation may affect his fortunes in the forthcoming polls.
Although the LP looks good to clinch the governorship seat, with the combined forces of Alao-Akala, the Ibadan elements are certain to cut their own slice of the votes of the city and its suburbs. The mutual suspicion by older members of the party that the new entrants have come to hijack the party may work against him.
Besides, the insecurity and incessant violence, which rocked the city during his era may affect his chances as well.
PDP — TESLIM FOLARIN
AFTER the controversial ward congress and an ordered rerun to elect delegates, who would pick the governorship candidate, former Senate Leader, Folarin, eventually emerged the party’s gubernatorial candidate in a congress, boycotted by three of the 10 leading contenders for the party’s ticket – Alao-Akala, Seyi Makinde and Femi Babalola (Jogor).
The mass defection of the followers of the former governor, who commands an almost absolute control on the voting direction of his Ogbomoso zone, made up of five of the 33 local governments of the state with considerable influence in Oke-Ogun (with 11 local governments) and other parts of the state, is, no doubt, bound to affect the chances of the PDP in the election.
However, pundits say that the fact that the former Senate Leader managed to install and sustain the present state party structure in office, despite several moves to have it dissolved since 2012 thus ensuring his emergence as the party’s standard-bearer suggests that he is a shrewd and calculating grassroots politician who may pull similar feat at the general election.
Some sources are quick to recall that Folarin’s mobilisation drive and financial support aided considerably the election of Governor Ajimobi in 2011, for which some of his supporters were offered political appointments under the administration.
Besides hailing from Ibadan where he is a chief and which has the majority of the entire voting population of the state (68 per cent), he is expected to split the ballots from the state capital with the other two sons of the soil — Ajimobi and Ladoja — in the race.
Also, apart from having the advantage and appeal of the youth at his command, the former Senate Leader enjoys some popularity and sympathy particularly after his perceived persecution and unjust incarceration over alleged complicity in the sensational murder of the late factional leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Lateef Salako (a.k.a Eleweomo).
SDP — SEYI MAKINDE
THE youthful Seyi Makinde dumped the PDP after its acrimonious congress, which produced Folarin, reviving the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on whose platform he hopes to battle his better established opponents.
Makinde, who, within a short time of coming into politics, has built a huge state-wide political network of supporters under the name “Omi tun tun” (Fresh spring) and will no doubt alter the political calculation in the state.
Although he is an urbane, untainted, billionaire and a quiet gentleman, whose lingo has been “politics without bitterness”, there are doubts as to the young politician’s capability to turn the new SDP into a winning political machine within the short time available. For instance, beyond the burden of being sole financier, there is the challenge of making the relatively unknown party popular and accepted by the electorate in place of the dominant ones.
With the development in the state, it is difficult to venture to give the governorship prize to anyone of the political parties and their candidates as the prevailing situation merely suggests a balance of powers, with none having a clear-cut edge over the others, due to inherent and potential weaknesses.