If politics of carpet crossing and balancing of numbers in the Oyo State House of Assembly is a reflection of where each party stands as of today, then the All Progressives Congress (APC) has a lot to worry about. The African Democratic Congress (ADC) has come from behind to challenge the dominance of the APC in the state.
As at last week, the APC has 14 members, so also the ADC with the same numbers of legislators, while the African Democratic Party (ADP) has three and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is left with only one member. With this composition, there are fears in the state of a plot to unsettle the government of Governor Abiola Ajimobi by first impeaching the leadership of the Assembly as a prelude to get at him.
Though some opposition legislators who are now in the majority said they had no plan to change the leadership of the House, they quickly admit that nothing is impossible in politics.A Lawmaker said: “The good thing is that we are all colleagues, representing our various constituencies. We don’t have plan to rock the boat now but you can’t rule out anything. We are all politicians. But the good thing is that APC cannot lay claim to being the majority in the chamber. So we are looking at all issues not on party basis but the best interest of the people.”
It was gathered that Ajimobi is also not leaving anything to chance as he has mandated the majority leader, Hon Kehinde Subair to get some legislators to his side. A source disclosed that though APC has 14 members in the House, 17 are actually supporting the governor and will do everything to protect his interest, not minding the parties they belong to. The political strategy in the Oyo Assembly is not essentially to get at Ajimobi, but to win the 2019 governorship election for their different political parties.
The primaries conducted by various parties to elect candidates for the 2019 elections is the source of the confusion that now assail the parties. While the APC and PDP lost many prominent members, ADC and ADP became the major beneficiaries. The intrigues that won the APC governorship ticket for the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Deputy Governor, Adebayo Adelabu against Ajimobi’s favorite, Joseph Tegbe is still a shock to strong allies of Ajimobi in the party.
Adelabu, son of the first republic politician Chief Adegoke Adelabu, popularly known as Penkelemesi (peculiar mess) neither belonged to SENACO, nor LAMIST, the rivalry political groups within the APC in the state. A day to the primary election held at Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan, Ajimobi had openly declared his preference for Tegbe and asked his foot soldiers to inform all party members to vote for him.
The Ajimobi’s support for Tegbe infuriated former governor of the state, Otunba Christopher Alao-Akala, who was also an aspirant, wherein he issued a statement to lambast Ajimobi for imposing Tegbe on the party. He also instructed his supporters to stay away from the “sham” that had been hijacked by the governor and wait for further directives. Not long after, Alao-Akala defected from the party.
It was gathered that less than two hours to the primaries, prominent Ibadan indigenes met with Ajimobi and told him their decision not to support Tegbe. A source said they plainly traced Tegbe’s genealogy to Itshekiri land and denounced him as an Ibadan indigene.
It was said that the national leader of the party, Ahmed Bola Tinubu also supported the position of Ibadan indigenes, after which the name of Adelabu came up. Ajimobi, who had earlier asked all his major confidants like Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) and Secretary to the state Government, Mr Olalekan Alli to step down for Tegbe had no choice at that critical point than to support Adelabu.
A source said: “The governor had no choice with documents presented against Tegbe that he is an Itshekiri man. He had been well groomed for the job by the governor and is eminently qualified to continue with the policies and programs of Governor Ajimobi.”Asked if Ajimobi will faithfully support Adelabu’s election, the source said: “The issue has gone beyond that. It is better for your enemy within your party to win election and succeed you than the opposition. Adelabu and Ajimobi are already working together and we are optimistic that APC will surely win the election.”
It was also gathered that Ajimobi succumbed to pressure from Ibadan indigenes because of his Senatorial ambition and threat from the former governor Rashidi Ladoja, an ADC chieftain whose influence in Ibadan politics is awesome.Though ADC is a relatively new party in Oyo State, it is home to notable politicians who disagreed with their former parties, but needed to seek their fortune in a new platform. ADC’s popularity is spreading like a wild fire in harmattan. It is also home to a number of grassroots politicians who decamped from the PDP and Unity Forum of the APC. Some known members of Accord and Labour Party (LP) are also now in ADC.
But the ADC, which many observers in the state have been describing as “a genuine alternative” is also enmeshed in its own internal crisis that may cripple it and stop it from winning the election. The crisis emanated from the consensus option adopted by the party to select its governorship candidate. 13 aspirants had contested for the ticket, but Ladoja was accused of imposing Senator Femi Lanlehin on others.
The disgruntled aspirants were said to have gone to Abeokuta to request former President Olusegun Obasanjo to prevail on Ladoja not to impose Lanlehin on them, but their protests did not yield positive result. Still determined to fight their matter to a logical conclusion, they had approached a Federal High court sitting in Abuja to intervene in the alleged illegal selection of Lanlehin as gubernatorial candidate of the party.
In a suit number FHC/ABJ/65/1145/2018, the aspirants claimed that former governor Ladoja, Chief Michael Koleoso Busari and Olakojo took unjust decision to handpick Lanlehin without wider consultation.The twelve signatories who are plaintiffs in the suit include: Barrister Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli, Hon. Festus Wale Adegoke, Dr. Nurein Aderemi Adeniran, Mr. Ayodele Adigun, Dr. Yunus Abiodun Akintunde and Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja.
Others are: Senator Gbenga Babalola, Dr. Mohammed Kola Balogun, Barrister Ayanlowo Obisesan, Engineer Aderemi Olaniyan, Otunba Oluseye Opatoki and Engineer Aderemi Oseni.The defendants include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ADC, National Chairman of the party, Chief Ralph Nwosu, Ladoja, Dr. Dele Ajadi, Senator Michael Koleoso, Dr. Busari Adebisi and Chief Olayiwola Olakojo.
But a party source told The Guardian that the party has reached an advanced stage in resolving the matter out of court.The source said: “Protest is normal in politics. But the good thing is that we all know the reason why we are fighting this battle. It is not for personal aggrandizement but to return good governance to Oyo State. And this has helped us to resolve our internal crisis to the level we are now. Very soon everybody in the state will be happy. They are waiting for us and we shall not disappoint them.”
The offer of the ADP governorship ticket to Alao-Akala has brought the party to limelight in Oyo State. Apart from the widespread of Akala’s political structure in the state, his control of Ogbomosho, the second town with highest voting population after Ibadan, will work in favour of the party in 2019.
Three members of the State House of Assembly had already decamped to the ADP to Akala’s credit and political influence. He has assured the people of masses-oriented and people-centered programmes if elected in the 2019 general election.The former governor who has picked Prof. Abideen Olaiya as his running mate said his primary mission is to return smiles to the faces of the people of Oyo state through developmental projects that will have direct impact on the lives of citizens.
The battle for the soul of the PDP was lost and won with the harmonization policy of the State Exco as approved by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party. It was this decision that forced Ladoja and his supporters to quit the party, leaving Engr. Seyi Makinde to be in charge of the party.
With little or no opposition, Makinde emerged as the governorship candidate of the party. But the PDP structure is getting weaker by the day in the state because of the gale of mass defection. It has only one member in the Oyo State House of Assembly and one member in the House of Representatives. But the party has structures in all the wards and local councils in the state that can be galvanised to spring surprises.
Makinde is not new to the governorship contest in the state. He has been very vocal in criticising the policies and programs of the state government, especially calling Ajimobi to account for all revenues that accrued to the state.Only last week, he threatened to take legal action over the alleged silence of the government on the finances of the state, especially its debt profile.
Makinde in statement signed by his Media Aide, Prince Dotun Oyelade, said he had “made repeated public demands from the present administration to publish and itemise what it had done with the N157bn debt incurred in the past seven years and particularly, the borrowing of N70bn between 2016 and 2017.”
The PDP governorship candidate said he had “waited for seven months for an explanation from the state government to no avail and has, therefore, taken the decision to go to court and invoke the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) in order to get a public response from the government.”
This is the stage where elections in Oyo State in 2019 will be fought. So far, it is not likely that one party will take centre stage like before. Even the APC will need to work extra hard to make meaningful impact. If the ADC could put its house in order, the 2019 election could be a straight battle between the party and the APC. PDP and others will be onlookers.