Oyo guber: 3-horse-race as Makinde, Adelabu, Folarin tango

Oyo state, in the last few months, has witnessed a flurry of the activities as preparation for the governorship election in the state goes into full gear. In this report, KEHINDE OSASONA looks at the three-horse-race towards the Agodi Government House.

The commencement of electioneering campaigns in Oyo state, few months back, practically turned politicians to ‘nomads’ apparently in a bid to fulfil their ambitions through any platform they could contest seats.

There have been movements from one party to another, as well as from relatively unpopular parties or even struggling ones just to get tickets to contest for the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the House of Assembly.

The exodus were noticeable in All Progressives Congress (APC), People Democratic Party (PDP), the Accord Party (AP), and Labour Party (LP), among others.

At the last count, the ruling PDP and the main opposition party, the APC were the worst hit.

However, the race to the Agodi Government House appears to have overtaken all of that as familiar gladiators were currently on each other’s jugulars as the race to claim the exalted seat hots up.

For keen followers of political events, the 2023 governorship contest appears to be a three-horse race between the incumbent, Governor Seyi Makinde; Adebayo Adelabu of the AP; and Senator Teslm Folarin of the APC.

Adelabu who has been all out criticising the incumbent on what he termed failure of the current administration, has somewhat become the greatest threat to Makinde’s second term bid.

Blueprint Weekend reports that Adelabu, who came second in his first attempt during the 2019 governorship election, was now relying heavily on the support of AP Chieftain, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, and his new party to galvanise support to rattle Makinde in his strong political base.

Adelabu had resigned as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to join the race and emerged the candidate of the APC within months in the run up to the 2019 poll.

He rode on the back of his popular grandfather, Adegoke Adelabu, and the endorsement of Senator Bola Tinubu to become the party’s standard-bearer.

Tinubu was reported to have prevailed on then Governor Abiola Ajimobi to endorse Adelabu instead of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s close associate, Joseph Tegbe, whom he had reportedly earlier supported.

Blueprint Weekend information has it that what transpired in the epic movie ‘Game of Throne’ would be a child’s play if the way actors in the Pacesetter’s State were going about their consultations and political gatherings are anything to go by.

Findings further revealed that the APC might have been demystified immediately after the defeat suffered by the party’s candidate in the 2019 polls despite the incumbency advantage conferred on the party by late Governor Ajimobi, who was still the governor then.

Pundits are of the view that with the strides the incumbent governor has made, coupled with internal wrangling may in the APC in some states across the country; it might be difficult to defeat a more united PDP in Oyo state.

However, given the state’s dynamic and sometimes unpredictable politics it may not yet be Uhuru for Governor Makinde and it’s not too cohesive PDP house.

The rhetoric of sophistication of western electorates notwithstanding, more than anything else, political history, and areas of strength, weakness and particularly interest of the voters will again likely determine the Oyo election.

Makinde’s strength, weakness

While speaking at a political gathering recently, Makinde stated that apart from the administration scrapping education levies and putting in place an educational grant for public primary and secondary school students per term, its administration has embarked on the massive building of education infrastructures and repositioned the sector.

He also mentioned four major pillars of his administration: education, health, security and economic expansion, boasting that the state has experienced a great turnaround across the four sectors and other areas in the last three years.

Besides, the governor said that the administration had made progress in the area of healthcare delivery across the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare strata, with the completion and commissioning of abandoned projects at the Adeoyo State Hospital, Ibadan.

Makinde also relayed how his government had begun a massive infrastructure development drive across the agro-business corridors of the state.

However, despite the incumbency factor and his strides, there are still other factors that might work against Makinde’s re-election.

Checks by our correspondent revealed that the growing popularity of APC and the ‘Omo Ibadan’ factor may give the party’s candidate a level of advantage which may truncate the governor’s much-craved second term.

Considering its strategic location and being great determinants of the political pendulum in Oyo state, the Ibadan zone now has an Ibadan man in person of Folarin to stand against Makinde.

While still contending with the controversial impeachment of his erstwhile deputy, which may likely count against him, critics equally castigated Makinde for failing the state in the area of security, education, health, agriculture, and other areas, insisting that the mistakes of 2019 will be corrected in 2023.

The popular Agbowo Shopping Complex built by the late Chief Bola Ige administration was allegedly sold for N50 billion by the Makinde-led administration.

Also, APC actors, who hitherto were sworn-political enemies that worked for Makinde in 2019 appear to have buried their egos and pride to collectively battle their political enemy.

… Adelabu’s too

Immediately after he was affirmed as the AP governorship candidate in Oyo state for the 2023 election, Adelabu hit the ground running and has been declared in some quartes a star boy of the coming election, having plied the terrain in the past.

The development followed the crisis, which rocked the APC with Adelabu defecting to the AP after Senator Teslim Folarin won the APC governorship ticket in May.

Ayodele Oyajide had stepped down and relinquished his mandate to Adelabu in the presence of the AP National Chairman, Mohammed Nalado; National Secretary, Alhaja Bukola Ajaja; Oyo state Chairman, Ojo Kolade; as well as other prominent leaders of the party.

Addressing party faithful, Adelabu said: “The change is here. Our coming to Accord is not by accident; it is a divine arrangement. This is the time Accord Party will produce its first governor in Oyo state.

“We are ready to do everything to make sure we win. We will win the three senatorial polls; 14 House of Representatives seats and 32 House of Assembly seats. We need oneness. Adelabu cannot do it alone; we need your support. Work has started today.

“The electorate will determine who they want in this election and who they want is the son of Adelabu. Insha Allah comes 2023, Adebayo Adelabu will be sworn in as the governor of Oyo state.”

The party flag bearer, who polled over 300, 000 votes on the platform of the APC to come second to the incumbent governor in the 2019 election, said it was not the will of God for him to win then.

This is as he maintained that the votes he polled in 2019 were still safe in his kitty, stating that he only needed additional few thousands to be governor in 2023.

However, Adelabu’s arrogance, and penchant of not carrying party faithful along in the scheme of things are seen as the major shortcoming of the governorship candidate which was part of what cost the APC victory at the 2019 election.

There has also been another argument that Adelabu lacked structure as it was Asiwaju Tinubu and not the late Ajimobi’s influence that helped Adelabu scoop votes back then.

For this school of thought the case was not the same now as Tinubu had a candidate in APC, even as he was busy prosecuting his presidential project.

Despite his much acclaimed experience on how to manage men and resources, some critics still insist that the former deputy governor of the CBN still needed to work on his stinginess.

Folarin, no pushover too

The greatest thing that has conferred advantage on Folarin’s 2023 ambition is the Asiwaju Tinubu’s presidential ambition and the South-west disposition to it.

Despite some flaws occasioned by governance by APC at the federal level, analysts are of the opinion that it would be a different ball game during the forthcoming election.

For them the whole thing has resulted in tribal politicking and each region is now advancing its own cause.

Speaking to Blueprint Weekend exclusively, an analyst Takuro Adeoti told Blueprint Weekend that apart from the fact that the former Senate leader has been around for some time now, there was likelihood that imminent ballot revolution will help his cause.

“If you recall, at the last Osun election, many voters were caught on camera saying Tinubu will not suffer Oyetola. The defeated governor’s fate that is exactly what is going to play out in South-west states,” Takuro stated.

Folarin, a third time Senator and a revere title holder, who hails from Ona Ara Local Government, has its constituency people to contend with as they have consistently cited his not too impressive outing as lawmaker as his greatest undoing.

Having undergone political tutelage in the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu political school, Folarin is a staunch supporter and ally of late Governor Alao Akala and would likely rely on handful of the late governor’s supporters in Oke-Ogun to coast to victory.

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