Adebayo Waheed writes that despite being the ruling party in the state and the good harvest of defectors it recorded last year, the All Progressive Congressive, APC in Oyo State may have to fight hammer and tong to overcome a now Senator Rashidi Ladoja-led Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state to win anything in next year’s general election.
The recent defection of some topshot politicians, led by the former Oyo State governor, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala and others from the Peoples Democratic Party, Labour Party and the Accord Party to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has continued to generate a lot of concern in the political circle.
The political exercise which has been described as the first of its kind in the state has no doubt changed the political permutation that existed in the state before now.
The defections from the PDP followed the failed reconciliation exercise among the aggrieved party members in the state. If the reconciliation exercise had been successful it would have made the party come out strongly to wrestle power from the ruling APC in 2019.
But rather than achieve its goals, the reconciliation exercise further led to the disinteration of the party as most of the aggrieved members ended up pitching their tents with the APC.
Apart from the former Governor Alao-Akala, the defecting pack included former Senate leader, Senator Teslim Folarin and former secretary to OyoState Government, Chief Ayodele Adigun. Other defectors from across Labour Party, Peoples Democratic Party and Accord Party respectively included Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, Hon. Segun Odebunmi, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan, Hon. Ayoola Makanjuola, Alhaji Rasaq Gbadegesin alongside their teeming supporters in the state.
Some of the bigwigs who had defected to the APC in the state all through last year and the latest pack were unveiled at a rally held at Mapo Hall, Ibadan on December 16, 2017.
With the caliber of active and experienced political players coming on board to reinvigorate the APC ahead of the 2019 general election, some guess that that the battle to determine who takes over from Governor Abiola Ajimobi, would be fought and won within the APC. They may be wrong.
In the area of opposition, what the combination of PDP, LP and Accord Party had offered in the last couple of years in the state fell below reasonable standard, necessitating the ruling APC to claim to have activated its own internal check and balance mechanism against itself.
What the defections indicate is that the activities of the governor in relation to his reformation, restoration and transformation agenda for the state would getting added boost as many active stakeholders in the state would be getting more involved in driving Ajumobi’s agenda in the state.
Ahead of the 2019 general elections in the state, the fight is no doubt going to be betweem the APC and PDP. The gladiators have begun subtle moves to ensure they emerge victorious in their drive to succeed the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, whose second term tenure expires on May 29, 2019.
Former Governor Alao-Akala still has a measure of political clout. Since 2007, he has maintained a grip on the five local government areas in Ogbomoso. He decides who get what in the political equation of that zone. He is still relevant in Ibadan politics as former governor in the state.
However with Akao-Akala’s defection, the votes from Ogbomoso zone of the would be shared between his camp, and that of former House of Representative member, Mulikat Akande who is an influential politician in PDP, but the fact remains that Alao-Akala will draw more votes.
Folarin’s political relevance is in Ibadan and that is even just within the local government areas he represented in the Senate as a Senator.
His political relevance cannot be said to be enough to match that of PDP members like Senator Rashidi Ladoja and former Minister of State FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide.
Most of all the other defectors to APC are just going to ride on the achievements of Alao-Akala’s government as most of them, if not all of them worked with him at one time or the other.
As the 2019 general election fast approaches, the race to Agodi Government House is indeed becoming interesting. Pretenders and contenders are surfacing on the daily bases. Parties have began sourcing for sellable candidates across the three senatorial districts while defection is taking place across political divides in the pace setter state.
With the recent defections of the political heavyweights across political parties in the state, the game is strictly between the ruling APC and the PDP in the state.
The national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Hameed Tinubu has noted that the defections by Alao- Akala and company was the end of the road for opposition parties in the state and noted that APC was on the path of becoming the only party in Oyo State.
According to him, the party had a stainless kitchen and was ready to accommodate as many cooks as possible because it had a variety of menu in the political kitchen.
“We have a stainless kitchen and we can accommodate as many cooks as possible and because we have a variety of menu in the political kitchen. We love those big wigs and we can accommodate them all. It is in the same forest that you find a hippo that you find an elephant and you will find a rabbit. In political platforms, you must look for the addition not the minus.
“You can see that the opposition has finished in Oyo State. It is finished for them all. The APC house is great for all of us. We are proud of you for joining us. APC is the only progressive party in Nigeria and Africa,” Tinubu said.
He declared that the party no longer has opposition in 2019 general elections as, Govermor Ajimobi has even broken the jinx of the second term.
Tinubu noted that what was important was that the party would win the 2019 general election.
“What is important is that we, APC government will win the forthcoming election as most of the people will vote for the party,” he said.
He commended the governor for building the party and urged the defectors to join hands in ensuring the success of the party.
The governor also declared that all opposition political parties in the state were dead and morribound.
“There is only one political party in the state, Others are morribound,” he declared.
The governor who disclosed that the local government election would take place in March this year, urged the defectors to work for the success of the party.
Alao-Akala also declared that the PDP was dead in the state, saying “There will be no problem in Oyo in 2019.
Of note against Governor Ajumobi is that some of the politicians who worked for his second term success at the poll might not be there again for him, considering his unpopular interference in the Ibadan Chieftaincy Tradition Council which has led to an endless face-off between the governor and the revered Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji.
All explanations by Ajumobi to make the monarch understand the need for the controversial review of Ibadan Chieftaincy Tradition Council have failed to yield any positive result.
Apart from the monarch who have not seen the need for the review, there are influential some clan chiefs and indigenes who have perceived the governor’s action as an attempt to diminish the status of Olubadan and distort the tradition and customs of the large ancient town.
Efforts by prominent Nigerians including traditional rulers both from within and outside the state to find an amicable solution to the crisis generated by the review between the governor and the monarch have not made either Ajumobi or Oba Adetuji to shift ground.
Irrespective of whatever the governor wants to achieve with his interference in the Ibadan traditional council setting, there is no doubt that the action has diminished the governor’s popularity among the people and may likely affect the chance of his APC in Ibadan land. This is worsened by the fact that Ibadan before the Ajumobi-Olubadan tiff has hardly been in the grip of either the governor or his APC as the city was prior to 2015 elections.
In Oyo, the alleged lopsidedness in the creation of additional local government areas and local development council areas which led to a court case also obviously reduced Ajumobi’s acceptance among the people.
In Oke-ogun zone from where the governor has promised to produce his successor, unless the APC produces its candidate from there, winning. anything there might be difficult if not impossible for the APC.
The recent defection of the former governor of the state, Senator Rasidi Ladoja, former secretary to the State Government, Akogun Sharafadeen Alli, former Senator Femi Lanleyin, Senator Ayoade Adeseun, and Engineer Seyi Makinde to the PDP suggest that the defection of Alao-Akala and company to the APC might not guarantee electoral victory for APC in 2019.
Senator Ladoja has noted that the exit of those chieftains the PDP to the APC cannot stop the PDP from winning the 2019 governorship election in the state.
Ladoja noted that the defectors are not up to five per cent of the voting population.
“Do you know that all the politicians are not more than five per cent of the voting population? So, one person moving from one party to another does not matter, it is the population that matters. The population is still solidly behind us.
Ladoja, a revered politician in the large city of Ibadan, the state cspital notes that “Akala has been in APC since two years ago after he left Labour Party (LP)m immediately after 2015 elections. I think it’s just now they have time to celebrate him because election is coming.
“Teslim is there. I don’t know how many people he has been able to take along, though he contested in the last election. He is welcomed to contest in another election again. Dele Adigun, is a good technocrat and I hope he will play the game according to the rules by being fair to everybody.
“I’m not contesting, I’m already an elder statesman, but I have flair for the PDP,” he said.
Ladoja also described as untrue the allegation that since the structures of PDP in the state have been handed over to him, he has sidelined those that were strong supporters of the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, based on the roles they allegedly played in his impeachment as governor of the state between 2003 and 2007.
“All those claims are not true. The PDP congresses were transparent, “he stated.
Ladoja further stated that PDP in the state would participate in the local government election which the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, said would hold in March this year, adding that the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) must give a 90-day notice before the conduct of the poll and do things transparently if it must avoid the scorn of the people.
Ladoja declared that it was only the PDP that can bring about the much needed development for Nigeria as a country especially at this crucial period in the history of the country.
“In Nigeria today, APC is not an option. If you are talking of getting power to lift Nigerians out of poverty, serve them, it is those of us in PDP who are going to do that,” he said.
Ladoja disclosed that as at present, himself and other national chairmanship aspirants at the December 2017 PDP National Convention held discussions and resolved that they will all remain in the party.
“You would have observed that something dramatic happened at the convention when aspirants from the South-west picked a consensus candidate in Professor Tunde Adeniran. Since the convention, those of us from the South-west have been talking and all of us are remaining in the PDP,” he said.
The current leader of the PDP in the state and former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja in view of the 2015 general election, formed the Accord Party which recorded little successes in the election.
Speaking, a member of the Governor Seriake Dickson-led National Reconciliation Committee of the PDP, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide maintained that “Oyo is a PDP state and we shall reclaim Oyo in 2019 by the grace of God. We are here to plead that you should not retreat in Oyo, but to help us in the South-west and at the national to reclaim the presidency,” she said.
The defections in Oyo will no doubt shape the elections of 2019 in Oyon and perhaps the March council poll if those currently in command in the state would permit it to be free, fair and credible.
Politics is a game of numbers of which the Oyo PDP boasts of a large and formidable army that consists Senator Ladoja, former FCT Minister Jumoke Akinjide; four former Senators; Ayoade Adeseun, Gbenga Babalola, Hosea Ayoola Agboola, and Olufemi Lanlehin; a former majority leader of the House of Representatives, Mulikat Akande Adeola; a former secretary to Oyo State Government and 2015 running mate to Akala, chief Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli, a billionaire business mogul and 2015 SDP flagbearer, Seyi Makinde; a former deputy Governor, Hazeem Gbolarumi, the party’s state chairman, Alhaji Kunmi Mustafa and Alhaja Bose Adedibu, among numerous others. The electorate and indeed the generality of the people of the state await the politicking for 2019 with baited breadth.