Oyo: Titanic battle of five | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Oyo: Titanic battle of five

Posted: Apr 7, 2015 at 3:41 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oladele Ogunsola / Correspondent, Ibadan


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) records that 12 political parties are in the race for the

Ajimobi and Alao-Akala

Ajimobi and Alao-Akala

governorship election in Oyo State. The election comes up on April 11. However, political observers argue that only five parties are actually in the race. The five are the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), fielding incumbent governor Abiola Ajimobi; the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Engr.Seyi Makinde; the Labour Party (LP) of former governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala; Accord, fielding former governor, Rashidi Ladoja, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has the former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, as its flag-bearer are the only parties in the race. Ahead of the earlier scheduled date of 28th February, some of these pseudo governorship candidates were showing some flashes through pasting of posters and appearances at governorship debates, but since the postponement, they have all recoiled into their cocoons and little or nothing is being heard from them; may be, because there are no more debates where they get free advertisement, so nothing can be so uneconomical than to devote precious time and space to discussing them. Thus, with the separation of men from boys, it is convenient now to weigh the chances of the five gladiators, their weaknesses and strengths as they battle for the soul of the state or the keys to the Agodi Government House.


Abiola Ajimobi of APC

The incumbent governor, he was the Senator between 2003 and 2007 that represented Oyo South Senatorial District under the banner of Alliance for Democracy (AD). Ahead of the 2007 governorship election, he defected from the then Action Congress (AC) which his faction of AD formed to the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to contest the governorship election, the result of which he fought up to the Court of Appeal before he could concede to the declared winner of the election, Otunba Adebayo Adebayo Alao-Akala. He reunited with his other party members thereafter in AC which later transformed to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) under which he contested the governorship election in 2011 and won and which later merged with other parties to form the present APC. In the almost last four years of his administration, he has succeeded in changing the face of governance in the state, at least from what it was just before his emergence by curtailing the activities of the state National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) which had hitherto held the state by the jugular.

Another thing one cannot take away from his administration is the quality of the infrastructural jobs executed by the present government, as the governor prides himself ‘Mr. Quality’, he is truly a man of quality, though his opponents are quick to point to the fact that his bill for the projects has been outrageous, suggesting that there has been sleaze. The governor prides himself as the most workers’ friendly, having made salary increment thrice in the last almost four years and almost doubling the monthly wage- bill he inherited. He also claims his administration has empowered the workers better through both local and foreign trainings, increased both housing and vehicle loans. Ironically, however, the workers seem not to be his apostle of second coming due to his alleged tight-fisted style of governance and some other reasons.  The pensioners too are complaining that he’s not meeting their needs though, the administration has been arguing that the almost N7bn pension fund embezzled by some of the government officials during the previous administration and over which there is currently a litigation had been partly responsible for the suffering of the senior citizens. But how far can he go with all these in his re-election bid? Crumbling under heavy criticism of his urban renewal project, the government has relaxed the street trading prohibition policy following which the traders are now back on the streets and the people are apprehensive that should he return, the honey-moon will be over and the policy against street trading will be more stringent. Another factor that may work against the re- election of Ajimobi has to do with the activities of his wife, Florence, who is seen as being given too much space in the administration to the extent that she’s referred to as the ‘de- facto Deputy-Governor’ to which the governor himself had no apology by his utterances whenever he’s constrained to speak about it. The governor has also made a lot of enemies with his sharp tongue, coupled with his perceived arrogance by the people. At the party level, he has not fared better, having lost the two Senators with whom he won the governorship election in 2011 to the opposition parties as well as the defection of Chief Micheal Adeniyi Koleoso, a traditional progressive politician and heir apparent to the leadership of the party in the state after the death of the former governor, Lam Adesina, to Labour Party (LP), which is now populated by the governor’s former aides. In addition to that was the return of all the members of the coalition that came together to ensure his emergence in 2011 to their respective former habitat, mostly the PDP. How the governor is able to placate all these perceived aggrieved members of the society will show the direction of where to head to after the election- Agodi Government House or his Oluyole private residence.


Adebayo Alao-Akala of the LP

The immediate past governor of the state under the banner of the PDP, he was once a local government chairman before he became the Deputy Governor to the former Governor Ladoja in 2003 and took over from him after he was wrongly impeached in 2006 January. Though Ladoja was reinstated in December of the same year, Akala had picked the party’s (PDP) governorship ticket before the return of Ladoja and he contested the governorship election in 2007 and was judicially declared winner of the election after the fierce challenge by Ajimobi then of ANPP. The Ogbomoso – born retired police officer has been described as a charismatic leader, whose love for the people is infectious. As the governor of the state, he was able to build fanatical followership with the state funds. He made his mark in terms of infrastructure during his administration, constructing roads and rehabilitating some monumental places like the Mapo Hall, Atiba Hall, Adeoyo General Hospital among others. But his opponents don’t score him high on the quality of his projects most of which were seriously calling for attention even before he left office like the Akala way and Atiba Hall.

The administration he led could also not be excused from the notorious and violent activities of the NURTW in the state leading to loss of lives and properties because of alleged too much space granted the leaders of the union. Alongside one of his Commissioners while in office, now a Senator, Hosea Ayoola Agboola, and a business man, Engr. Femi Babalola, the former governor is currently facing litigation over allegation of corruption being pursued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Everybody will agree that the former governor is a very good person at the level of interpersonal relationship, but there will be sharp disagreement on his suitability as a governor and this will reflect in how the votes will go in the election. In short, the election as concerned him is a referendum on his robust interpersonal relationship and his performance in government. His chances might have been brighter assuming he was able to pick the PDP governorship ticket, but with his exit from the party over his inability to pick it and coming to the LP under the umbrella of which he is now contesting, he’s having to contend against certain forces which may be too hard a nut to crack.


Engr. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde of SDP

He is the youngest of all the governorship contestants. A University of Lagos graduate and successful business mogul, Makinde came into politics in? 2007 when he contested for the Oyo South Senatorial seat under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but lost to the son of the late strongman of Ibadan politics, High Chief Lamidi Adedibu, of the PDP, Sen. Kamorudeen. He made similar attempt in 2011 but could not go beyond the primary election under the PDP which he had defected to after the 2007 election.

Makinde was among the leading contenders for the governorship ticket of the PDP last year, but had to defect to his present political party alongside his supporters when it became glaring that there was not going to be justice and fairness in the then proposed primary election of the party. While others are bringing years of experience in politics into the race, he is bringing in philanthropy. The young man has not held any political office before, but what he has done, using his personal resources, dwarfs those of his opponents. His selling- point actually are his philanthropic gestures with his minders claiming that if somebody who has not held any public office has been that compassionate, using his personal wealth, there is no way he will not use public funds to touch many more lives.


Senator Ladoja of Accord

The Ibadan High Chief came into politics in 1992 when he joined the then Social Democratic Party (SDP) and became a Senator during the aborted republic midwife by the then military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. A foundation member of the PDP, he became the state governor in 2003 under the umbrella party, but was wrongfully impeached on 12th January, 2006, about one and a half years to the expiration of his tenure. Though, he got reinstated in December of the same year, it was then too late for him to seek for another mandate because, his deputy and the ultimate beneficiary of the impeachment, Alao-Akala had picked the party’s ticket before the Supreme Court judgement that nullified the impeachment. When it became glaring that his ambition to re-contest the governorship election under the banner of the PDP in 2011 was in jeopardy, he brought up Accord in the state less than three months to the election and he came a distant third when the election result was announced. The party however registered its presence in the state with four House of Representatives seats and seven state Assembly seats. With the performance of the party in 2011 elections, the former governor considered himself well positioned to upstage the incumbent governor Ajimobi in this year’s elections. While in office as the governor, he bonded very well with the workers through regular payment of salaries, introduction of the payment of what is now regarded as the ‘13th month salary’, regular payment of leave allowance among others. Except for the crisis that characterized his regime and which led to his illegal impeachment, he appeared very serious and determined to make a mark in the state, though his opponents would always accuse him of being too slow to act.  The case before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which the incumbent governor recently hammered at a media debate was not in good taste to the people of the state. Besides, another issue that his opponents usually talk about is his age.


Teslim Kolawole Folarin of the PDP

The immediate past Senate Leader had it rough picking the ticket of the party for the governorship election and the challenges encountered along the path of picking the ticket have refused to go away. A University of Ibadan graduate of Political Science, he came into politics in 2003 and through the instrumentality of the late strong man of Ibadan politics, he was elected a Senator to represent Oyo Central Senatorial District. He equally won re- election in 2007 into the Senate and became the Senate Leader. With the death of Chief Adedibu on 11th June, 2008, he lost a formidable godfather in politics and this in no small way has had a serious impact on his meteoric rise. His governorship ambition in that era was met with stiff opposition by the then incumbent governor, Alao-Akala and a hi- tech conspiracy that led to the death of the then NURTW boss landed him in police net. The humiliation he suffered coupled with his loss of the senatorial ticket of his party, PDP informed his concerted efforts alongside others to ensure the non-return of Alao-Akala to the Agodi Government House in 2011. A lot of the party members are yet to be appeased over the 2011 incident following which they resolved not to work with him in his bid to govern the state this time around. Using his position in the Senate, he facilitated some projects to his district, but his opponents are not convinced that he did enough. His emergence as the party’s candidate for the 11th April election which to some of the party members was not tidy enough led to the exit of two of the other aspirants, Seyi Makinde and Alao-Akala to SDP and LP respectively while other governorship aspirants like Profs Taoheed Adedoja and Soji Adejumo, Azeem Gbolarumi, Azeez Adeduntan and others who did not leave the party have not shown serious commitment to Folarin’s cause.


Likely bandwagon effect

With the emergence of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) of the APC as the President-elect and the scintillating performance of the party in the state, clearing all the three senatorial seats and 12 of the 14 House of Representatives’ seats, the incumbent governor Ajimobi ought to go and sleep, waiting for his swearing-in in another clime and on a good day. But the truth of the matter is that Ajimobi can go and sleep at his own political waterloo because of the dynamics of Oyo politics. There seems a concerted effort on the part of other contestants to ensure he does not return, but how far they are able to come together will go a long way to determine what happens on Saturday. One thing is however sure, without a serious alignment of forces as being mooted in some quarters among the other four main contenders, Ajimobi is on the verge of breaking the second term jinx.