In this report , ADEBAYO WAHEED , gives an insight into what transpired in a meeting between Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and all the aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC)in the state .

Though the much-anticipated meeting between Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship, National and House of Assembly aspirants in the state May have come and gone the message will no doubt continue to linger on in the minds of those concerned beyond 2019 election.

The two-day meeting which was held on Saturday and Sunday, September 8 and 9, 2018, was the first of its kind to be held by an incumbent governor with those aspiring to take over power from him on May 29, 2019. This is an indication that there is a vacancy at the Agodi Government House.

The governor had fixed the meeting with his prospective successors in order to explore ways by which the number of the aspirants could be pruned down from the present over 30 on the platform of the APC alone.

It was gathered from a reliable source privy to the meeting which was held at the Government House, Agodi, that the governor gave a “frank and hard” talk to the 26 aspirants present, asking them to “go and look at themselves in the mirror.”

Prior to the meeting, the governor had assured members of the ruling APC in the state that the party would not impose candidates for the various elective positions in the 2019 general elections.

While speaking at the Oyo South Senatorial District meeting of the party held in Ibadan, he said that the party would provide a level playing ground for all the aspirants during the primaries election.

According to him, the APC leadership would support the best among all the gubernatorial aspirants to become the next governor of the state.

At the meeting which was attended by aspirants for various political offices and party faithful from the senatorial district comprising nine local governments which include Ibadan North, Ibadan North-West, Ibadan South-West, Ibadan South-East, Ibadan North-East, Ido, Ibarapa East, Ibarapa North and Ibarapa Central, Ajimobi said that the meeting was aimed at intimating members of what transpired at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the APC, held in Abuja, last week.

He said that the meeting was hinged on how to reposition the party for victory at the 2019 general elections, saying “The meeting we held with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja last week was to fashion out ways of repositioning the party for victory in the 2019 general elections. The meeting was also used to review the activities of our party.

“We also realized that some faceless people were behind the crisis that we experienced recently in our party in Oyo State that they were the one sponsoring the dissident group.

“I am however happy that despite the insinuations that our party membership has been depleted because of the actions of the group, we still have this huge presence of members here. This is an indication that we are on top of the game.

“It is very obvious that our party parades the best of aspirants, especially in terms of individual accomplishments, academic backgrounds as well as their respective loyalty to the party. Let me assure you all that the party leadership will create a level playing field for you all.”

The governor seized the opportunity to correct what he called an erroneous impression that he showed preference to some gubernatorial aspirants against the others, stressing that he encouraged all of them to join the race.

“The issue is not that I prefer some gubernatorial aspirants than the other. Indeed, I encouraged all of them to join the race. They are all my people and they are all equally qualified.

“Let me assure you once again that I will never impose any candidate but we will support any candidate who has the capacity to win,” the governor said.

He commended the state Party chairman, Chief Akin Oke, for holding the party together in spite of the crisis that recently rocked it.

Oke and the party chairman, Oyo South Senatorial district, Mr. Adekanye Adefioye, were unanimous in praising the governor for his administration’s developmental strides as well as his laudable programmes and policies, which they said encouraged more aspirants to show interest in the gubernatorial race.

Oke said: “If we look at the noise from our detractors, one would think this gathering would not be this big. We have seen so many aspirants jostling for positions. It is an indication of the good work of the governor and his good leadership style.”

He appealed to the contestants not to see the race as a do or die but rather, accept the outcome of the party primaries in good faith.

At the governorship aspirants meeting, the governor did not mince words when he told them that they have to be acceptable across the state to be able to take over from him in May 2019.

In what looked like dashing the hopes of the people of Oke Ogun area of the state having a shot at the Agodi Government House come 2019, the governor declared that there was no zoning arrangement or power shift in the All Progressives Congress  (APC) constitution.

According to him, each aspirant must consider his acceptability across the state seriously, saying that a power shift or zoning arrangement was not on the party’s table, as such could mar the party’s chances.

There had been a clamor for power shift and zoning, especially from the Oke Ogun zone.

Though the governor stressed how important it was for a candidate to possess financial ability and capability, he warned  them against thinking that money alone would do it, saying “anyone who depended solely on money would be disappointed.”

Speaking on the mode of primary election, the governor acknowledged that the party was free to adopt any of the three modes; consensus, direct or indirect, but ruled out consensus because of the crisis and bad blood it might generate, considering the number of aspirants.

e added that direct primary was also not feasible because of the shortness of time as well as the logistics and financial implications, saying “the most feasible mode is the indirect primary election.”

The governor who expressed hope that the aspirants were aware of the financial implication of the campaigns ahead of them especially after emerging at the primaries, stressed the fact that the aspirant or candidate will be responsible for a greater share of the finance required for his or her campaign activities.

The governor was said to have acknowledged the quality of a lot of the candidates but he advised them to consider critically if they were truly prepared for what the office entailed.

The governor asked them to honestly assess how acceptable and popular they were across the state, considering the fact that zoning or power shift was not on the party’s table.

According to a  source, the aspirants were told to go home and assess themselves critically and honestly on the following grounds: competence, financial muscle, and acceptability across the state.

Twenty-six aspirants were present. Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, was absent.

At the meeting with National and State Assembly aspirants, the All Progressive Congress adopted an indirect mode of primary election to choose its governorship and legislative candidates in the 2019 general elections.

While the governorship aspirants had agreed to the decision during a meeting with Governor Abiola Ajimobi the legislative aspirants including those eyeing National Assembly and State House of Assembly seats, agreed to the option after a meeting with the governor and party leaders.

The meeting, which had the over 200 aspirants for all legislative seats due to the state held at Quarters 81 inside the Agodi Government House Ibadan, was attended by the state chairman, Chief Akin Oke; state secretary, Mr Mojeed Olaoya; ex-Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala; former Senate leader, Teslim Folarin; senatorial district chairmen and other state executives members and leaders of the party.

The decision was a sequel to a motion for the adoption of the indirect primary mode of elections for all the primary elections of the legislative aspirants moved by Mr. Olaide Olalere, an aspirant vying for the seat of Ibadan North East State Constituency II.

The motion for the adoption of the indirect primary election which was all affirmed and supported by other aspirants of the party was seconded by Mrs. Olanrewaju Otiti, an aspirant contesting Ibadan North Federal Constituency seat.

Ajimobi while speaking during the meeting, urged them to negotiate with themselves where necessary so as not to waste resources on a futile exercise, especially in view of the high cost of purchasing the nomination form.

Ajimobi said, “I am urging you all to negotiate and come up with a candidate in your various constituencies if such is possible and if not, you all can be prepared for the indirect primaries which you have adopted.”

The governor admonished them to remain committed to the party irrespective of the outcome from the primaries, saying every member of the party would share in the success. He warned them not to take undue advantage of what he called “the ongoing experiment within the party” which he said has offered all aspirants a level playing ground.