The forces have aligned and the stage is now set for one of the biggest political battles and contest in modern times in Oyo state. It is going to be a Royal Rumble in the pacesetter state. Clearly now, the contest is between two contending forces and parties; Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressives Congress and Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Though, there are other candidates such as African Action Congress candidate Akinola Laosun, Alliance for Democracy candidate Oyedele Hakeem Alao, Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party candidate Olalekan Ayorinde and National Interest Party represented by Bolanle Sarumi-Aliyu, the general feel among the people of the state is that this contest is between two dominant parties in the state, the APC and the PDP.
The political intrigues that preceded the emergence of the two candidates provide a very good action film seasonal film that can best any around. From the party congresses to the primaries and the campaign to the coalition, all provides both comic relief and some deep suspense that kept people glued to happenings in the political capital of the Southwest.
Adebayo Adelabu’s emergence as the candidate of the APC was a surprise to some and expected for many. Beating aspirants Like Tegbe, Lekan Alli, Akala and a host of others to the slot was a no mean feat. As expected the winner had the backing of the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi who prevailed on others to step down for Adebayo Adelabu. Some who felt sidelined and cheated abandoned ship and decamped to other parties, one of these is the former governor of the state Otunba Alao Akala.
Adebayo Adelabu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is the grandson of the famous Ibadan politician Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi) who held sway in the 1950s during the colonial period. His erudition, academic and intellectual prowess was quite remarkable. He was the writer of one of the first nationalist books to be written in colonial Africa; “Africa in Ebullition”. His nickname ‘Penkelemesi’ is a corrupted version of Peculiar mess; his coinage about the state of political affairs during his time. Adegoke Adelabu died in his prime (sadly). His grandson Adebayo Adelabu, though an achiever in his own right, having proved his mettle locally and internationally; privately and publicly, is blissfully ridding on the name and fame of his grandfather.
Seyi Makinde on the other hand is not a neophyte in Oyo state Political scene having contested for the governorship in 2011 and 2015. In 2015, he remarkable contested under the platform of Social Democratic Party and he did so with great credit. He is a successful business man in his right and has been in the faces and minds of the people with his philanthropic projects.
His emergence as the flag bearer of the PDP though expected was not without challenges as he had to wrestle power from the former governor of Oyo state Rashidi Ladoja who joined the PDP from his own party; Accord Party. Makinde’s refusal to grant Ladoja latitude of overbearing influence in the PDP led to Ladoja decamping to the African Democratic Congress and thereafter to the Zenith Labour Party.
Emergence of a two-man contest is quite remarkable and perhaps finds its bearing in the presidential and National Assembly election. Before this election, there were moves by the various opposition parties to forge an alliance. Parties such as Action Democratic Party represented by Adebayo Alao Akala, the African Democratic Congress represented by Olufemi Lanlehin and Zenith Labour Party represented by Shafarudeen Alli and Ladoja met to fine-tune modalities for coalition towards wrestling power from the ruling APC.
However, the results of the National Assembly Election seem to have changed the calculation. Relatively unknown Action Democratic party was able to win a federal House of representatives seat, a testament to the political influence of Alao Akala who is the most visible face if the ADP in the state. The ADC despite harnessing a proud number of votes across the states could not win a seat despite their perceived popularity and influential figures.
Alao Akala became a hot bride vigorously courted by the ruling APC, just like Omisore’s influence in the emergence of the APC at the Osun election. Within days it became common knowledge that Akala was going to team up with the Adelabu campaign after the ruling party reinstated his son as the chairman of Ogbomosho North local Government. (He was removed from office after he decamped to the ADP, his father’s party) and according to some reports some Naira exchanges hands.
This development in no small way jolted the Seyi Makinde and Olufemi Lanlehin that were part of the planned coalition effort. In a meter of day it has become clear that the coalition was going to adopt Seyi Makinde as the viable candidate to challenge the APC.
With the definition of the coalitions the Oyo state’s governorship election has become effectively stratified. The Adelabu camps banking on the federal might, the party structure within the state and the bloc vote from Ogbomosho axis with the influence of Alao Akala, the Seyi Makinde camp is banking on the bloc votes of Ibadan, Ibarapa and the goodwill of the people.
Judging from the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly election, and the realigning of political forces, the stage is set for a tight race that is really too close to call.
Opinions are sharply divided among the populace. Both candidates are formidable with the backing of the powers that be. Whoever emerges will be unquestionably a worthy candidate with impressive CV, ready to serve the people of the pacesetter state.