…Akala, Lanlehin, others square up
From OLUSESAN LAOYE, Ibadan
With less than a week to the governorship election, in Oyo State, it is now evident that the battle royal for who takes over from the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi dangles between five heavy contenders who have entrenched themselves in Oyo politics and who have been mapping out strategies, on how they would outwit themselves in the contest.
In the last three months, the gladiators have been campaigning vigorously for the job. The atmosphere in the State is now very tense with violence here and there, which has been putting fear into the minds of the people; a situation which the people believe could lead to voter apathy during the election.
The battle is not limited to physical violence, but war of words, and bill boards which indicate that they are all desperate to win the election. In the last three weeks there had been allegations and counter allegations over the violence in different parts of the state, which have led to loss of lives and valuable property. The pockets of violence in Oyo State have left families and many homes in tears.
Despite all these, it is not certain who has upper hands out of all the contestants, however the following report to highlights their strong holds, weaknesses, strengths and how they stand among the people in the three zones of the state.
Otunba Adebayo AlaoAkala
This is a candidate who is contesting under the platform of the African Democratic Party ((ADP). He ruled the state after the impeachment of Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja and eventually contested and won election for four years, between 2007 and 2011. Since he left power, he tried to regain power in 2011 and 2015 but failed. He is having another attempt this year; a situation which people believe could be his last attempt given growing age.
Akala of all the five contenders is the oldest. He has the experience and a lot of good-will that may work for him because he is known to have performed and very generous while in office. He executed many projects, which he is now using as his strong points as the most capable and experienced for the job.
Akala is known to have empowered many people and it was also argued that there was economic boom during his six years in government. All these have been his selling points.
Apart from his past antecedents Akala has a strong and formidable base which is Ogbomosho. For the past 20 years he has been in the politics of Oyo state, no politician has been able to outwit him in that area. All the elections have always been in his favour and the camp he belongs to. His base Ogbomosho is second to Ibadan in terms of voting strength in the state.
Based on the bulk votes from the area, his generosity, empowerment of the people, and performance while in office, he has a very strong hope that he is likely to win the election. Despite this he has a lot of followers in Ibadan who are
even the ones that encouraged him to come out for the contest. What also brightens his hope is the fact that the votes of the candidates would be shared in Ibadan as he is the only candidate who is not from Ibadan of all the contestants.
Lanlehin is the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). This is another experienced politician who has even been in politics before all the other contestants. Apart from the fact that he has politics flowing in his blood, his late father, Chief S.O. Lanlehin was a strong politician and the treasurer of the Action Group in the first republic under the leadership of the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo. His father was the mentor of the late Strong man of Ibadan politics, AlhajiLamidi Adedibu.
Lanlehin is a reputable politician and a lawyer, who has been in politics since the period of the Social Democratic Party, (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) and he was the chairman of the party in Ikeja Local government in Lagos. He was in the struggle for the actualization of the mandate of the late Chief MKO Abiola. He was a member of the NADECO, and PRONACO.
He is a tactician and a quiet politician who was in a political pressure group in Lagos PRIMOS that backed the candidature of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu to emerge as the governor of Lagos State in 1999. He was therefore in Tinubu’s cabinet as the special adviser to him on Local government and chieftaincy Affairs. Due to political intrigues, he was asked by Alhaji Adedibu to relocate to Oyo state his home base to carry on with his political activities and this made him to pitch his tent with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
He held some key position as the Campaign coordinator of Obasanjo/Atiku during their second term in Oyo state, Pro chancellor of the Ladoke Akintola University, (LAUTECH) Ogbomosho, and Chairman of Ogun/Osun River Basin. It is a known fact that he and the incumbent governor Senator Abiola Ajimobi were contenders, but he was side tracked by the powerful people in ACN then, a situation which caused serious disaffection among the party loyalists.
It was even argued that the late governor of the state AlhajiLamidi Adesina was disenchanted with the situation which prevented proper primary to be conducted as it was believed that if they had gone into normal primaries, Lanlehin would have emerged as the candidate of the party. He was however compensated with the Senatorial ticket of Oyo South Senatorial District of the State, which he eventually won. Lanlehin tried again in 2015 to go back to the Senate under the Accord Party but did not make it.
He is believed to have a very great chance of winning the election because of his political antecedents. He is well respected and described as a very humble politician who worked to touch ever part of his constituency with one project or the other when he was a Senator.
The good name of his late father is also working for him. He himself is known to be kind, soft spoken, articulate and a tactician who is rugged politically and who has not given anything to chance in the race since he has signified his intention to rule the state.
He is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). This is actually the third times that he would be aspiring to rule the state. He once tried to contest in PDP but did not sail through; he therefore went for the senatorial seat but could not clinch the ticket of the party. In 2015, he faced the governorship squarely and when the ticket failed in the PDP, he joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was the one that popularized the party and brought it to lime light in Oyo State. His campaign then was so massive to the extent that the youths were formidable for him but unfortunately he lost the election to Ajimobi.
This time around he is still banking on the work of many years and his popularity among the youths. Of all the candidates he is the only person who has spent his persona money more than others to empower the people, especially the youths and the students. He offered several and categories of scholarships to students who are Oyo state indigenes in virtually all the universities of the Federation. As a matter of fact, his campaign is massive and scientific and he has brought maturity and finesse into the game.
The slogan of his ambition ”Omitutun” is on the lips of everybody especially artisans, market women and youths whom he has empowered. He is also a young vibrant politician who is not new in the game. He is from Ona Ara in Ibadan city where great politicians had emerged and are still emerging.
He comes from the same political area with Chief Richard Akinjide, Jumoke Akinjide, the Obisesans and Teslim Folarin who also is running for the Senate again under the All Progressives Congress for Oyo Central.
Makinde is loved by the people and from the feelers in the state he is one of the mostly favoured. If he is able to get some substantial votes in Ibarapa, and Oke Ogunas the votes in Ibadan would be shared, he may coast home to victory. He is also working on having his bulk votes from his immediate constituency Ona Ara, which has a vast population with densely population of villages that stretches as far as to Ijebu- Igbo in Ogun state.
Abdulwaheed Adebayo Adelabu
(Penkelemesi) Is the candidate of the ruling Party, the All Progressives congress (APC). He is the only one who is coming into the politics of Oyo state of all the candidates for the first time. He was at the First Bank and with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a Deputy Governor before he quit the plum job for the governorship contest. As expected from the beginning of the race, he clinched the ticket of the party despite all odds, horse trading, intrigues and maneuverings which characterized the primaries.
Adelabu, according to his followers, is regarded as very lucky person who combined hard work with it. He has been in the race right from day one that Governor Ajimobi clinched the second term in running the affairs of the state. He did not hide his intention for the big position. He contested the primaries of the party with known politicians and who are more on ground than him.
But due to last minute maneuvering and power play, the pendulum changed in his favour. The real fact was that another new comer into the race, known as Tegbe was to have emerged if the primaries were held at the scheduled time slated for it but the delay in the timing of the primary held at Lekan Salami Stadium Adamasingba, changed the tide in his favour.
With what is on ground now, he is popular and banking on the support of and the votes from the main city of Ibadan and especially Ibadan South where the bulk votes in Ibadan Metropolis always come from in any governorship election in Oyo State. The population in this area is very thick. This is also the constituency of the incumbent, Governor Ajimobi , who is also contesting the senatorial seat of the Oyo South. With the combination of Ajimobi in the senatorial race, and still in power, and with the federal might, the notion is that he is likely to coast home to victory.
What is also working for him is the name of his grandfather Chief Adelabu Adegoke whose nickname was Penkelemesi. The majorsnag which he has is entrenching himself in Okeogun, Ogbomosho and part of Ibarapa. Although opinion polls conducted in the state gave it to him, from all indications, despite that, no one is sure of winning out rightly in the first ballot. But Adelabu and his followers believed that bearing all odds he is a person who luck is always smiling on and he is definitely going to succeed Ajimobi.
Alhaji Sarafadeen Ali
He is the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party which he joined just a month ago with his political mentor and god father, Senator Rashidi Ladoja. Out of all the candidates he is the last to emerge from the fall out in the African Democratic Congress (ADC). He was one of the aspirants in the ADC that opted out when Femi Lanlehin emerged as the candidate of the party. He and others aspirants went to court to challenge the candidacy of Lanlehin but later quit the party for the Zenith Labour Party where he eventually got the ticket through his boss Ladoja.
Sarafa Alli is a known politician in Oyo State, who has been very loyal to Senator Rashidi Ladoja. He has always been moving with Ladoja from one political party to the other. He was Ladoja’s Secretary to the Government. They both went to Accord party together but he later left Ladoja for the All Progressive Congress, during which he was giving the appointment as the Chairman of Odua Investment. He later fell out with Governor Ajimobi and went back to Ladoja and they moved back to the PDP during the reconciliation move in the party when the new executive of Mr. Uche Secondus came into office.
There was a crack in the PDP over who controls the party in Oyo State between the camp of Seyi Makinde and that of Ladoja. Since there was no way out for Lodoja’s group, they made a U-turn to ADC. With the situation of things, many followers of Ladoja failed to move with him to the Zenith labour party. This latest political move and calculations by Ladoja outraged his supporters in the entire Oyo state as they believed that as a politician of note, who is well respected, he should be consistent. .
Although Ali is a grassroots politician and mobilizer, who is loved by the people and also known to be generous, his present calculations with Ladoja may be his undoing. Ali who was a former Local Government Chairman in Ibadan is very popular and he has always been a factor in Oyo politics especially when it comes to mobilizing people in Ibadan Metropolis. The fear now is that how he is going to transform his popularity and political know how into victory with his new political party which is not known to the people of Oyo State. What bothers the people is that he waited for too long before moving out of ADC which he helped built and popularized.