The Jagaban

By Olusesan Laoye

As the country move gradually towards 2023 the two major political parties, the main opposition PDP and ruling APC are going through rapid and uncertain power shift and alignment that political observers unable to keep pace.

For ruling party, the issue of zoning the presidency had divided it as the southwest laid claims to it as partner in coalition that brought the party to power. But having settled the question by agreeing to go southwest the immediate challenge for the north is the role of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the national leader and power broker in the zone.

The core north has never hidden its opposition to Tinubu on the ballot for the top job fearful of his humongous wealth and apparent independent mindedness. With Lagos state as the richest state in the country a Tinubu presidency will be a handful.

The country as it has always been, has also witnessed the movement of notable politicians and big wigs especially, serving governors and lawmakers in both the states and at the federal.

No one would have expected the governor of Cross Rivers State and that of Zamfara would dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressive Congress (APC). Since the commencement of the ongoing political dispensation in1999, the trend of cross carpeting by politicians has been the norms and it is no longer anything that is morally wrong.

However with two visits by some northern political leaders to the southwest in one month and to particular individual, tongues are already wagging over the development. First, the visit of the APC governors led by the Chairman of the Extraordinary Convention Committee of the party and the Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni to the former Oyo State governor, Senator RashidiAdewoluLadoja was not a surprise to Nigerians.

Other governors that followed Buni are Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State, and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi. The former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole was also in the team.

Ladoja too was not alone with the APC team during the solid two hours meeting. He was with his former Secretary to his government while as the governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Sarafadeen Alli who is regarded more or less leader of his think tank and political engine room. Those who joined them in Oyo include Abdul Fatai Buhari of Oyo North Senatorial District and Bimbo Adepoju.

Though the outcome of their meeting is yet to be disclosed, BusinessHallmark reliably learnt that it was centered on how the APC would get the support of the new strong man of Oyo politics who has since the death of Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu been the power broker with inputs on who rules Oyo State.

Sources also hinted that other issues which could have been discussed with Ladoja by the APC on who to back among the contestants in APC gunning for the position of Governor Seyi Makinde who is also looking for a second term.

There is also indication that there need for another southwest leader who will provide alternative platform to Tinubu’s hegemony in the region. This is typical of the divide and rule policy of the north.
Already about four people have lined up for the governorship of APC ticket.

They include the last governorship candidate of the party in the last election BayoAdelabu, the former Senate leader who is also in the Senate now, Senator Teslim Folarin, Mr. Tegbe, Dr. Adeolu Akande and the Youth and sports Minister Sunday Dare.

Feelers from the political circle of Ladoja indicated that if Ladoja would back anybody in the APC it may be Folarin whom he has worked together with in PDP. It would also be recalled that Teslim Folarin was at the residence of Ladoja during the last Eid Kabir festival to pay him homage.

They had a closed door meeting which made those who were present at Ladoja’s house to speculate that Teslim may have come for Ladoja’s backing in his quest to run for t he governorship in 2023.

Of all those jostling for the ticket of the APC, Teslim seems the most popular politically and one who has been tested and had contested and won elections. Again it was revealed that the house of Ladoja is divided politically.

While his First Lady Mutiat is said to be a staunch members of the PDP another favourite of Ladoja’s wives who is a lawyer was said to be in the APC while Ladoja has retired from partisan politics and now a father figure politically in Oyo state and a king maker who is now being consulted for support.

One other reason which Businesshallmark learnt may have informed Buni and his colleagues visit to Ladoja was the fact that some top members of the APC are now looking round the country for who could be relied upon to win votes for them.

Ladoja it was said is one of their targets as they intend to look for an alternative to Tinubu in the West probably to back vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is one of the people penciled down to take over from President Buhari.

As a matter of fact Ladoja has always been a beautiful bride right from 1999 after the NADECO struggle for the actualization of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election won by late business mogul Chief Moshood Kasiwawo Abiola annulled by the then Military President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

Ladoja was one of the key and active player in the NADECO struggle and when the military regime of General AbdusalamAbubakar decided to hand over power to civilians, and the political parties were formed, Ladoja was persuaded to run as the governor of Oyo State by all the NADECO leaders but he declined saying that he would want to be in a central government and pitched his tent with the PDP where he later contested the governorship election and won.

Although he was forced to leave the PDP to form the Accord party where he contested another election and lost to Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) he remained relevant in Oyo politics as the ACN could not form the majority in the state house of Assembly.

Ladoja’s Accord Party had a good showing in that election with four seats at the House of Representatives and 10 in the Oyo state house of Assembly.
Since the ACN could not produce the Speaker of the house on its own Ajimobi had to align with Ladoja for an accord which gave his party the Speaker and Ladoja’s Accord party as the deputy Speaker.

When the PDP later felt they needed him after there was a sharp disagreement between his Accord Party and the ACN they persuaded him to come back to the party where he ruled as a governor.

To go back to PDP both former Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo had to intervene. Obasanjo said that the PDP had to admit that they wronged Ladoja and since he held Obasanjo in very high esteem he succumbed. But his stay in PDP did not last as all the promises made to him before he went back were unfulfilled.

It was alleged that the National Executive of the PDP under Secondus was dribbling him and he had to dumped the PDP again and aligned with the Zemith Labour Party of former governor of Ondo State Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.

Because there was the move to wrestle power from Ajilobi’s APC Ladoja was approached by PDP and formed an alliance which was spearheaded by Ladoja. It was the alliance of the Zenith Labour Party’ African Democratic Party, Zenith Labour Party, faction of the Alliance for Democracy, Social Democratic party, African Democratic Congress ADC and the PDP that that made Makinde to win the election.
Though Ladoja and Makinde have parted ways politically Makinde still referred to him as his father and it was said that they are relating cordially on a personal level.

When contacted, the spokes person of Ladoja Alhaji Lanre Latinwo told Businesshallmark that the visit of the APC governors to his boss was personal to them as none of the aides were present and as such he could not say anything on that.

But he was quick to say “yes you can regard Senator Ladoja as a beautiful bride because he is a man of the people who has always been relevant in the politics of Oyo State and even Nigeria.”
“You all know that there is no way you talk about politics in Nigeria that you won’t talk about Ladoja and the same with Oyo State so if the APC came calling it means he is still relevant and a force to reckon with as far as Nigeria is concerned.”

“What I also want you to know is that the High Chief of Ibadanland is a father to all, including politicians and they are all free to come to him as a father for whatever they think they need him for.” Alhaji Latinwo posited.