The return of former governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja and governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 2015, Seyi Makinde to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has triggered fresh political alignment in the state, writes ADEBIYI ADEDAPO
For the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state, the fear of Seyi Makinde is the beginning of wisdom.
The Ahmed Makarfi led National Caretaker Committee of the PDP recently paid a reconciliation visit to Oyo state with a view to pacifying aggrieved party members who defected to other political parties owing to its incessant internal crisis.
This move seemed to have yielded positive results, as the former governor of the State and Accord Party chieftain, Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, and the gubernatorial candidate of SDP in the last general election, Engr. Seyi Makinde tactically staged their return to the PDP.
Although, it is not clear whether the former governor will contest the governorship primary ahead of the 2019 elections, political observers are confident that if the Accord Party and SDP structures are collapsed into the PDP, the reign of the ruling APC may be close to its end.
Ladoja had defected to the Accord Party to contest the state’s governorship seat in 2011 and 2015 elections, while Makinde, also tried his popularity in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) after losing the bid to secure the PDP governorship ticket in 2014.
The former governor, who won the seat on the ticket of the PDP in 2003, said that he was returning to his home, adding that it was not his wish to leave the PDP when he did.
“When I left the PDP some years ago, it was because of the injustice done to me. We left because the PDP leaders, at that time, were not ready to protect the interest of all members. We are back now because the new leadership has promised to right all wrongs and avoid mistakes of the past.”
Ladoja stated further that; “I have discussed with members of the Accord party and they have asked for amnesty; we need assurance from Makarfi that Accord Party members will be given equal treatment and a level playing ground.”
Similarly, Makinde joined the PDP less than two weeks after Ahmed Makarfi and other leaders of the party visited him and other political bigwigs in the state.
Makinde in the statement said; “following extensive, deep and wide consultations with National Leaders, Oyo State leaders and elders of the Social Democratic Party, and cross sections of strategic partners within Oyo state, I hereby announce my defection, with the entire Omititun campaign structures at the 33 local government areas in Oyo state, to the People Democratic Party.”
He further maintained joining the PDP was not for personal gains but for the development of the state by finding lasting solutions to the array of problems facing the state.
“This repositioning is not primarily to pursue his personal ambition but was largely informed by the resolution of all opposition parties in the state as contained in a recent communique signed by leaders of opposition parties to work together in Oyo state so as to find lasting solutions to the myriad challenges and underdevelopment facing Oyo citizens, such as Educational dysfunction and perennial failure, social and economic woes and lack of adequate security- all which are outcomes and consequences of the ineffective six years of the All progressives Congress rule in our state.”
Makinde thereby pledged allegiance to solving myriads of problems facing the state.
“I am ready to proffer long lasting and far reaching solutions to salvage Oyo state from imminent collapse and needless crises that the current government has bestowed on our people,” he added.
However, beyond reconciliation on the surface, LEADERSHIP gathered that there were underground agreements between Ladoja and Makinde, to work together and ensure victory for the PDP.
According to sources privy to the agreement, Ladoja is willing to support Makinde’s aspiration to clinch the PDP ticket, while the former governor governor is expected to nominate one of his loyalists as Makinde’s running mate.
“They have agreed in principle to work together and defeat the group that chased the two of them out of the PDP, and also to defeat the APC government.You know the former governor is elderly and there is so much clamour for the need to have younger people in political offices, so Makinde is likely to receive Ladoja’s blessings to contest against the APC.”
Meanwhile, Governor Abiola Ajimobi may have cashed into the loophole created by the new alignment to fortify his support base.
The Governor realised that Makinde’s return to the PDP poses a serious threat to his party in the 2019 elections. He also understands that it is very difficult to bring four ‘waring’ factions together to fight a common cause, thereby made the smart move.
On one hand, Ladoja will hardly work with his erstwhile deputy, Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala with confidence of trust in the same political party, while Makinde on the other hand will hardly trust the camp of former Senate Leader, Teslim Kolawole Folarin.
Sequel to this, Ajimobi swiftly arranged a meeting with the immediate past governor, Alao-Akala and Folarin to form a fresh alliance.
Akala had defected to the Labour Party to contest the 2015 governorship after Folarin clinched the PDP ticket in 2014.
Although, Akala’s supporters were part of the reconciliation talks with the PDP, and the former governor was expected to announce his return to the former ruling party. Ajimobi after crucial meeting with Folarin and Akala in London on Tuesday announced that the Labour Party chieftain would not return to PDP.
Source revealed that Ajimobi had offered automatic tickets to both Alao-Akala and Folarin to contest the Oyo North and Oyo Central senatorial district respectively.
However, this development is expected to trigger further realignment as the three Senators from Oyo state may revolt against the Governor.
One of the senators who reacted through his media aide noted that Ajimobi may be defeated in his own game.
“We are aware of the move, but it is mere speculation for now, and I pray it should remain within the realm of speculation. If not, he (Ajimobi) will be defeated in his own game. How can the Governor think of hyjacking tickets from the thre senators at the same time. This is politics, I am sure the senators also have alternatives, one of which is to leave APC an contest through another party,” he said.
The media aide stated further that there is a bigger problem within the party which Ajimobi should better resolve in the interest of the party, rather than create another political logjam.
“Ajimobi has created more problems for the party, especially with the creation of 33 monarch within Ibadan. The party is still battling with that. I’m sure you are aware of the division within the party over who get the governorship ticket. Minister of Telecommunications, Adebayo Shittu, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) an others are ready for a showdown, Ajimobi should rather display his leadership quality in resolving these issues and not create another.”
(1.) Senator Makarfi (2) Senator Rashidi Ladoja