Ahead of the 2019 governorship election in Oyo State, contenders for the plum seat in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have commenced underground moves. This is to ensure that they emerge victorious in their quest to succeed the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi whose second term tenure expires on May 29, 2019. ADEBAYO WAHEED writes.
As the succession race for the Number One seat in Oyo State currently being occupied by Senator Abiola Ajimobi has commenced, some of the contenders have been jostling for political relevance. While some of them have openly declared their intention to contest for the governorship election in the state several others are yet to make public declaration. There is no doubt that the race to the Agodi Government House, Oyo State has begun in earnest, knowing fully well that the tenure of the present All Progressives Congress (APC) -led government in Oyo State is running out, there have been moves by various individuals, interests and groups within the party to succeed Ajimobi in May, 2019.
It was gathered that no fewer than 34 members of the ruling party have indicated their interest in the coveted seat.
A lot of people have indicated interest to run for Governor in APC, but the party has narrowed the very long list down to the following top seven candidates. Although, some of them have not publicly declared their interest, it is believed they have strong interest and can be highly favoured because of their antecedents and age. They are Zaccheus Adelabu (40), an accountant and former Commissioner for Finance; Bimbo Adekanmbi (43), an accountant, former Deputy Chief of Staff and currently the Commissioner for Finance and Adebayo Adelabu (47), former First Bank CEO and Deputy Governor of CBN.
Others are Adeolu Akande (52), a Professor of Political Science; former Deputy Chief Press Secretary to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo; Special Assistant Research and Communication to Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Chief of Staff to Governor Ajimobi; Yinus Akintunde (54), a business man with keen interest in real estate, energy and environmental consulting. He was a former Commissioner for Works and Transport to Governor Ajimobi; Niyi Akintola (57), a lawyer and former Deputy Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly and Barrister Abdul Raheem Adebayo Shittu (65), a trained lawyer, former member of old Oyo House of Assembly at 26 years in 1979.
He was also a Commissioner for Information, Culture and Home Affairs under Governor Omololu Oluloyo, Commissioner for Justice & Attorney General to former Governor Rashidi Ladoja and currently the Minister for Communication.
The 2019 governorship election in the state is taking a new form as the the coveted seat is being shifted to Oke-Ogun area of the state. It is expected that the area, Oyo North which comprises ten local government areas is expected to produce the next governor of the state. The council areas include Sami West, Sami East, Atisbo, Irepo, Olorunsogo, Kajola, Iwajowa, Iseyin, Oorelope, Oriire and Itesiwaju. A look at the leadership of the state since the advent of the current democratic dispensation showed that Oyo South has produced more governors of the state than any other zone.
However, as the 2019 election approaches, the major contenders for the governorship seat from the zone include former governor Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala; former editor of the Guardian newspapers, Debo Adesina; a former Chief of Staff to Governor Ajimobi, Prof. Deolu Akande among others, who are yet to publicly declare their intentions to contest. The situation took a new dimension when Governor Abiola Ajimobi supported the agitation of the Oyo North senatorial district also referred to as Oke Ogun axis of the state for the governorship seat in 2019.Like in every other states of the federation, there is already a gentleman agreement for the rotation of the governorship seat among the three zones and it was against this background that Oke Ogun is staking claim to the seat, insisting that it is their turn to produce the next governor of the state.
Governor Ajimobi had during a programme at Okeho in Kajola Local Government Area, publicly declared his readiness to support the zone to produce the next governor. He, however added that the Oke Ogun zone should solicit the support of the other two zones, especially the Ibadan people whose population was put at 52 per cent of the state population. Of the seven aspirants allegedly listed by the APC for the race, though, all of them are qualified but one can say that the present Minister of Communications.
What is the measure for qualification? Is it education, age, experience, acceptability or fresh ideas? Is it about how to bring about a new Oyo State? All of them are qualified but the believe is that Shittu is the only candidate to beat.
In regard to experience, it can be said he is the only aspirant who has been a member of the state House of Assembly before, who has on two occasions been a commissioner, who has contested for this position in 2011 and 2015 and the minister from Oyo State. No other candidate combines all these critical positions. And these positions are about experience.
In terms of ideas, the minister while speaking at a function recently said “I am also a second to none with due respect to all others. I have already my manifesto. I have clear idea of what I want to do if I am elected the governor. I am the only one who has had personal learning process from the late Sage of the Nigerian politics, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. “No other aspirant has had this unique opportunity of learning the process of politics of reality from Chief Awolowo and do my government will seek to re-establish the beautiful days of Awo’s government in the state.”
According to him, at the appropriate time, there will be a governorship candidate debate which will bring out the facts which Oyo State people will appreciate that for once there is a new Oyo State with refreshing kind of governance. However, with present fuelled between the minister and the governor who is also the leader of the party in the state, it may be difficult, if not impossible for the minister to win the party’s ticket at its primary.
It is also a known fact that the minister has no link with the party executives both at the state and local government levels. Recently, the minister petitioned the presidency, the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and National Chairmen, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun accusing the governor of destroying the party in the state.
The minister had alleged in the petition that the party under Ajimobi was primed for failure in 2019 because of the governor’s perceived highhandedness; demolition of an ICT project being financed by him in his hometown of Saki and his alleged lack of purposeful leadership to unite all members of the party. But the party’s leadership in the state in a statement, descended heavily on Shittu. The minister’s sin was the effrontery to write petition to the Presidency, party organs and its National leader, Bola Tinubu that APC under Ajimobi was primed for failure in 2019 because of the governor’s perceived highhandedness; demolition of an ICT project being financed by him in his hometown of Saki and Governor’s alleged lack of purposeful leadership to unite all members of the party.
But the state APC Director of Media and Strategy, Dr. Abdul-Azeez Olatunde described such vituperations by the minister as deliberate falsehood because “his desperation for the governorship of Oyo State is driving him to work at cross – purpose with the overall well-being of APC in Oyo State”.“Contrary to the reckless insinuations made by the minister, the Oyo State APC is doing extremely well. Rather than losing any member to the opposition, the Oyo State APC under the leadership of Governor Abiola Ajimobi has been moving from strength to strength. Barely one month ago, the rank and file of the party membership experienced unprecedented growth and development because of a bumper harvest when notable political stakeholders from major opposition parties in the state declared in an open rally where they submitted themselves to the leadership of the Governor.
“We must state very clearly that the decampees include a former Governor, former Deputy Governor, former Senate Leader, serving and former members of the House of Representatives, former Senators, former Secretary to the State Government, former Senatorial candidate, former State Chairman of the PDP, former State Secretary of the PDP, former Speaker of the House of Assembly, present and past State House of Assembly members, former Commissioners and former Local Government Chairmen and several others.
“It is quite saddening, highly disheartening and a monumental disservice to our party that a serving Minister of Oyo State origin will as a matter of habit stand the truth on its head and close his eyes to the reality of the rising political profile of not only our party but also of our Leader. The fact is that his petition is rooted in falsehood and premised on cheap blackmail.
“It must be stated that while Governor Ajimobi and other leaders of our party have been working assiduously to develop our great party, Barrister Bayo Shittu in his characteristic manner has been moving from one local government to another sowing seeds of discord all in the name of his desperate and inordinate ambition to govern the State. Barrister Shittu was never part of the developmental process of our party.
“Having lost the governorship primary election in 2015, Mr. Shittu abandoned every activity geared towards victory for the party including the Presidential Campaign.“He further took the party to court on the eve of the 2015 governorship election and was working for the opposition Accord Party where his former boss and benefactor contested the governorship election. Today he is reaping from where he did not sow,” part of the statement read.
The current feud between the minister and the governor if not immediately nib in the bud, it will not affect the minister’s chances at the primaries but the party’s chances at the poll. This is because the governor would not want to hand over the state’s affairs to controversial person. Without any external interference, it will be difficult if not impossible for the minister to win the party’s governorship candidate. The governor may be forced to handover to a humble, respectful and “loyal” aspirant from the Oke Ogun axis of the state who would not only be willing but ready to do his biddings.
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