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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Governorship Polls: How Oyo State Will Vote

Atiba Varsity Inaugurates Governing Council Members

Come Saturday, March 9, the last phase of the 2019 general elections would be concluded with the conduct of 29 governorship and State House of Assembly elections. About 14,000 candidates will vie for 991 State House of Assembly seats.

In this piece, The Nation’s Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation, Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor, Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor and Fanen Ihyongo examine the scenarios in Oyo state and other states that would be electing governors and project likely outcomes.
 APC won the Presidential election in Oyo during the last presidential election when President Buhari squared up against former President Jonathan. APC scored 528, 620 while PDP got 303, 376. The state used to be the stronghold of the opposition PDP until recently. But before last weekend’s presidential election, majority of those chieftains who made the PDP thick in the state have jumped ship or gone into political oblivion, leaving the party in assumed limbo.
The likes of former governors Rashidi Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala are no longer with the party. While Ladoja now leads the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the state, Alao-Akala is the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP). Both leaders have also lost some of their chieftains to the ruling APC in recent times, especially Alao-Akala, who joined the APC briefly after dumping the PDP.

Other erstwhile PDP top guns like former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin and former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Ayodele Adigun are now in the APC working for the success of its candidates. Observers of the politics of the state had said PDP in Oyo state was a ghost of its glorious past and cannot put up any serious challenge to the victory of the ruling APC in the general election.
After a serious threat to its peace by a disagreement between Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Communications Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shitu, the APC in Oyo appeared to had repositioned itself to rout the opposition in all the elections. Buhari was expected to win the highest number of votes in the presidential election in Oyo state on the strength of the popularity of his party in the state.
But all the above permutations were put to nought by the shocking outcome of the presidential and national assembly elections in the state. The APC lost the state gallantly to the PDP in what many observers are still calling a surprise performance by the underrated opposition PDP. Even Governor Ajimobi, who had boasted that his party will trounced the opposition across the state, lost his senatorial bid.
Former Vice President of Nigeria and candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, won the Presidential election held across the 33 Local Government areas in Oyo state. The PDP candidate won in 18 Local Government areas while Buhari of the APC won in 15. The final result showed that Atiku Abubakar scored 366,640 to defeat Buhari who scored 365,229 votes.
While many are putting the shocking defeat at the feet of the intra party crises that saw the likes of Alao-Akala moving out after the primary election, others are quick to blame Governor Ajimobi for the defeat. They argued that by taking on powerful individuals and groups like the Olubadan of Ibadan and other elites within the capital city, the governor costed APC its expected support from the Ibadans, who are in the majority across the state.
To further add to APC’s problems, major opposition parties in the state are now holding alliance talks ahead of Saturday’s governorship election. Gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the state, Seyi Makinde, disclosed that opposition parties in the state are currently meeting and have agreed to make their ambitions secondary. He assured that the alliance will bring something good for the people of the state.
The PDP candidate, while confirming that opposition parties were ready to dislodge the APC, maintained that all the opposition parties have to come together for them to achieve the aim of unsitting the ruling party. He said, “We are working really hard to ensure that a workable coalition is able to come forward to challenge the APC in Oyo. “And I believe for the forthcoming election, we’re going to see a grand alliance in Oyo State,” he assured.

It was also confirmed that the ruling party too, recovering from its shocking defeat by the PDP in the presidential and national assembly races, is now seeking alliance with some other parties. The Nation learnt that a serious discussion is currently ongoing between Alao-Akala’s ADP and the APC in the state. This, however, is as the ADP is also in talks with PDP and other parties.

It was also gathered that the offer of alliances to ADP from the two leading parties, APC and PDP, became a source of disagreement among Alao-Akala’s supporters as the party sought to take a decision ahead of the governorship polls. Some of the allies of the former governor were of the opinion that any alignment with the APC amount to Alao Akala going back to his own vomit. They saw an alliance with the PDP as the best for ADP to teach Ajimobi and the APC a big lesson.
But many others felt the politically upright thing to do is to support an alignment with the APC. Those in this school of thought held that Alao-Akala and his supporters would benefit a lot more from joining the ruling party instead of the PDP because the APC is the party at the centre. Meanwhile, there are those who wanted Alao-Akala to shun all talks of alliance and go all the way to contest the governorship election because they felt he looked good to win the contest ahead of both APC and PDP.

However, with the Ogbomosho axis of the state firmly in the grip of Alao-Akala and his men, his latest decision to work with the APC during the gubernatorial and state assembly elections will have a major impact on the eventual outcome of the election. He gave indications that he may be returning to APC after meeting with the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

The ADP governorship candidate visited Tinubu in the company of his wife, Oluwakemi Alao-Akala; his son, Olamiju and the Director General of his campaign, Wale Ohu, at Bourdillon on Thursday. The former governor had asked to be given time to make a formal statement on the meeting with the APC national leader. “It is true. Both of us have been meeting and we will continue to meet. I will call you in 24 hours to let you know the state of things,” he said.

On Friday, in a statement by the Director General, Akala Campaign Organization, Chief Wale Ohu, Alao-Akala said going by the results of the February 23 presidential and National Assembly election, not much can be achieved in isolation. “We have felt the pulse of the people whose support has brought us this far: it is important that we dance when they play the tunes.To this effect, the Oyo state ADP and the Akala Campaign Organisation hereby call on all our members, teeming supporters and well-wishers across the state to come on board in this move towards positioning our state for better national interest,” he said.

Coming on day when the former governor shunned the ongoing alliance meeting of opposition parties in the state on Friday, many observers have concluded that Alao-Akala’s new port of call is the APC, his former party. While governorship candidates of other parties attended the meeting at Sen. Rashidi Ladoja’s Bodija, Ibadan home, Akala, who was the brain behind the alliance, was absent. Similarly, a chieftain of the ADC in the state, Chief Michael Koleosho, has reportedly joined the APC team. Koleosho’s coming is expected to boost APC’s chances in his native Saki and other Oke-Ogun towns.

Meanwhile, The Nation gathered that alliance talks and meetings among the political parties are still ongoing across the state even as the national leaderships of both the APC and the PDP may have intervened into efforts to get other parties into their kitty. With all the going-on in the politics of the state ahead of next Saturday’s gubernatorial elections, the eventual outcome of the election in Oyo state still remains too close to call.

Verdict: Battleground

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