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Oyo 2023: Inside Details Of APC, PDP Scheming For Agodi

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In this piece, WALE AKINSELURE looks at how various tendencies are playing out in the Oyo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2023 electoral contest.

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Notwithstanding the longstanding divisions in the Oyo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the race towards the emergence of its governorship candidate for 2023 elections is on with seven persons obtaining their nomination and expression of interest forms.oyo

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Those who have obtained their forms, so far, are the party’s candidate in 2019, Chief Adebayo Adelabu; Senator representing Oyo Central, Teslim Folarin; governorship aspirants in 2019: Dr Azeez Adeduntan, Mr Akeem Agbaje and Mr Niyi Akintola (SAN); Chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Adeolu Akande and a new entrant into the party, Mr Hakeem Alao.


Via various avenues, the aspirants and party stalwarts have said the ultimate aim of the Oyo APC is to unseat the Governor Seyi Makinde led government at the poll. Whether overtly or covertly, party members and stalwarts have, however, voiced the fact that disunity, might be their greatest undoing in their ultimate aim to reclaim power at the state level.


Despite setting up of reconciliation, advisory committees, meetings, all-is-well proclamations, the Oyo APC has since continued to roll from one crisis to the other. The crisis rocking the party dates back to the 2018 congress, when two groups held parallel local government congresses and a state congress.


The congress festered factionalisations and culminated in the party losing the 2019 governorship election. After the loss, various reconciliation committees have been set up recognising that only a united Oyo APC can defeat the Peoples Democratic Party-led state administration. But, it seems that just when the fire of the crisis is about to die, it inflames again.


Among other meetings, the February 1, 2021 meeting of the Oyo APC was epochal as in the same room seated were the late Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, Chief Akin Oke, Professor Adeolu Akande, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu, Senator Teslim Folarin, Mr Sunday Dare, Senator Ayo Adeseun, Dr Fola Akinosun, Chief Iyiola Oladokun, among others.


The members had converged to strategise ahead the then commencement of party registration and revalidation. The members resolved to forge a strong and united front towards reclaiming the governorship seat in 2023. A month before the February, leaders and stakeholders at the meeting had also me, stating that the party’s new focus is to mobilize all its members, beg members to forgo their misgivings, mobilize for unity, harmony and cooperation.


Despite preaching on the need for members to shun their differences, the then ward, local government and state congress of the party showed that the divisions subsisted. For the ward and local government congresses, parallel congresses were held with those aligned to Chief Adebayo Adelabu on one side those aligned to the late former governor Adebayo-Akala on another side.


The ward and local government congress was a tip of the iceberg as the state congress threw up more crisis that the party is still dealing with. The state congress held at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Liberty, Ibadan, produced Isaac Omodewu as party chairman but this was rejected by several party members.


Those party stalwarts opposed to the emergence of Omodewu, led by Senator Ayo Adeseun, had on day of the congress addressed journalists at a press conference to state that the congress held at the Liberty Stadium is illegal and unacceptable.


Those on the side of Adeseun held that Alhaji Abu Gbadamosi was the consensus choice of stakeholders not Omodewu. They alleged that one of the governorship aspirants was backing Omodewu and was intent on hijacking the structure of the APC and impose executive committee that will serve his own governorship ambition rather than the overall interest of the party members.


While Omodewu was inaugurated as chairman by the national excos of the party, at national secretariat of the party, Abu Gbadamosi emerged factional chairman with an inauguration done at the Trans Amusement park, Ibadan. And the division has continued.

The division at the state level coupled with its lack of a rallying figure is also affecting the party’s reckoning at the national level.
With the deaths of former governors Abiola Ajimobi and Adebayo Alao-Akala, the fact that Omodewu does not enjoy general acceptability as chairman of the party, the state appears to be suffering the consequences of not having a rallying leader. Not having a sitting or former governor, many have questioned whether former deputy governors Iyiola Oladokun and Moses Adeyemo can assume that leadership role to rescue and lead the Oyo APC out of its crisis and restore it to reclaiming governorship of the state. Not having rallying leader may be responsible for the fact that the various governorship aspirants are working at cross purposes, only intent on achieving their own ambition whether or not the party is together or not.


However, with the 2023 general election knocking, there have been renewed efforts at having members of the party come together to achieve one purpose. The most recent effort was flagged off on April 28 at the residence of the late Ajimobi, in Ibadan, with party stalwarts across the two divides in attendance. The meeting resolved to set up a committee to resolve faulty processes that had left the state chapter of the party disunited.


The fallout of the meeting saw the setting up of another committee led by Wale Ohu. But, apart from amending faulty processes, the committee was expected to come up with a consensus arrangement for all elective positions but bearing in mind that all tendencies, camps in the party have a fair share of the positions. The intent was to ensure that only choice aspirants for governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and state House of Assembly purchase forms.


However, in constituencies where consensus could not be achieved, aspirants will be encouraged to test their popularity at primaries. The committee has held marathon meetings to harmonise the various positions but the tendencies have remained. For the past days, the committee has strived to reduce the tendencies to the barest minimum and have aspirants emerge in such a way that the various geopolitical zones of the state are represented.


Despite efforts to reduce the tendencies, party members are still divided along the lines of their choice governorship aspirants and tend to dissociate from the other aspirants. However, a party source did not rule out the possibility of some governorship aspirants dropping their ambition for a consensus aspirant.


The source, however, noted that the aspirants will not be keen to step down for one of them, Senator Teslim Folarin who is seen to have almost absolute control over the Omodewu-led Oyo APC excos. Furthermore, the grouse is that the delegates’ list has been manipulated, with names inserted for positions they never occupied, just to serve certain interests.


Though the number of candidates may be streamlined from its current seven, some party stalwarts ruled out consensus, stating that primary was inevitable to determine who get the ticket as governorship candidate of the APC for the next election. For other elective positions, party sources noted that some aspirants obtained the form amid apathy, uncertainty reigning in the party.


The apathy is informed by the fear that the APC has limited time to reconcile and forge a united and strong front to win the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming election. Some are said to have simply obtained the form to make a statement and have a power of negotiation in the party’s affairs.

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But, in spite of the protracted crisis rocking the APC, some observers argue that the party remains strong, pointing to the fact that it has only lost a few members while gaining members of other political parties. As against the likes of Mr Joseph Tegbe and Mr Mufutau Open Salawu that recently dumped the APC, the party has gained the likes of Senator Kola Balogun, Honourable Muraina Ajibola, Mr Remi Oseni, Honourable Demola Omotoso among others from the ruling PDP in the state.


The incumbent Senator representing Oyo South, Balogun and Ajibola, incumbent member representing Ibarapa Central/North federal constituency, were victims of the consensus arrangement adopted by Makinde and party leaders to choose candidates for the various elective positions for the 2023 general election. Senator Mulikat Akande-Adeola also dumped the PDP for Social Democratic Party (SDP) while Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan has joined the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). Both Akande-Adeola and Olopoeyan were arrowheads for aggrieved members of the Oyo PDP.


According to the Dr Saka Balogun-led Elders Steering Committee of the Oyo PDP report, the state deputy governor, Mr Rauf Olaniyan is listed also one of the aggrieved members of the Oyo PDP. The deputy governor is said to be discontent for been sidelined by his principal, Seyi Makinde, in terms of having stakes in the running of government and politics of the state, and is said to be on his way to joining the APC.


Though not yet official, it is believed that Makinde will not have Olaniyan as his running mate for his second term campaign with another Oke-Ogun man already penciled down. Similarly, some members of the House of Assembly and aspirants for other positions who lost out in the consensus arrangement of the party are reported to have plans to exit the PDP.


While some members of the PDP have left the party, some members of the coalition that brought in Makinde as governor have also dumped the coalition. Among those have defected tothe APC are Mr Sarafadeen Alli, then of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, then of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).


Speaking on the intention of the APC to produce governor of the state in the 2023 election, state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun said it was a wishful thinking. He said six out of eight key political indicators, he won’t reveal, favour Makinde’s emergence for a second term.


Olatunbosun said a volcano would erupt in the APC when the party primaries come up and party members get tickets. “In the next few weeks, you will see splinter groups moving out of APC. The opposition APC is a house built on deceit and that will be so clear by the time the issue of primaries and tickets come up.


There will be a serious volcano in APC that will disrupt whatever plan they are putting in place. They are only deceiving themselves. We still have a firm grip with the people and no amount of propaganda that APC is bringing that we are not prepared for,” Olatunbosun said.


Similarly, Makinde appears unshaken about the exit of some members of the PDP and of the coalition. This also comes against the backdrop of the fact that interventions of reconciliation committees of Dr Bukola Saraki, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Dr Saka Balogun to have Makinde reconcile with the aggrieved members of the PDP seems not to have yielded visible results as some of the aggrieved members have left the PDP.


The thinking among pundits is that Makinde is banking more on the masses of Oyo State for a second term than on politicians. Makinde has stated at several fora that he is in government to serve the people of the state adding that he has no godfather but God the father.


“When I tell people about some developments going on in Oyo State, it is because we have people that are praying for this administration. And when we go out to say that we don’t have any godfather but only God, the father, some people get angry,” Makinde said at a recent event.


Makinde seems to boast of a likeable personality among the grassroots who hold that his government has had them in mind. His regular payment of salary with its spiral effect on the masses is also talked about. For the past three years, Makinde also boasts of road and other infrastructural development projects across all geopolitical zones of the state.


For the 2023 election, such leaders like Tegbe, Akinwale Akinwole and Bisi Ilaka, who are set to get the senatorial tickets of the PDP, will have their hands full against the APC. In Oyo North, it waits to be seen how Akinwole will beat a well-grounded Mulikat Akande-Adeola and incumbent Senator Fatai Buhari to win the district. Should Balogun get the ticket of his new party, the APC, in Oyo South, he certainly will have a point to prove against Tegbe who got the PDP ticket from him.


The political strength of Tegbe, a governorship aspirant of the APC in the 2019 election, will be really tested for the first time in the forthcoming Senatorial ticket. Tegbe also has to prove Makinde right for handing him the Senatorial ticket as a new entrant into the PDP.
In Oyo Central, Bisi Ilaka will be gunning for the senatorial seat of his district for the fourth time. It waits to be seen if experience garnered with three tries will be enough to outsmart the likes of Yunus Akintunde of the APC as well as the political influence of the incumbent Teslim Folarin in the district.


PDP faces an uphill task claiming the House of Representatives seats as the party presently has three out of the 14 while APC has 11. Various consensus candidates have emerged for the PDP and they have their work cut out against the candidates of the APC.


Beyond the grievances of some members of the Oyo PDP, Makinde has continued to show that he has a firm grip of the party. In the recent consensus arrangement to pick candidates of the party, the governor was the final decider of who got what. With PDP in charge of all the 33 local government areas and majority of the seats of the state House of Assembly, some observers say the party is in pole position to mobilize the grassroots for electoral victory in 2023.


Aside from candidates, local government chairmen, house of Assembly members, party excos from ward to local government to state level, the governor can also boast of having the likes of chairman, State Advisory Council, Mr Hosea Agboola, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu; Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, Elder Wole Oyelese, Mrs Mutiat Ladoja, Mrs Bose Adedibu, Honourable Segun Ogunwuyi to work for him to be successful in the 2023 election. Meanwhile, Makinde is also assuming the Jagaban role of the Oyo PDP as some aggrieved party members have left the party.


However, some pundits warn Makinde of the consequences of regarding those politicians leaving the party as inconsequential in his second term bid. They note that he might have to prove his real strength now as he will be running the 2023 governorship election without some key politicians in the PDP and the coalition upon which he won the 2019 election.

While both PDP and APC in Oyo State have one internal crisis or the other, time will tell how each party will manage its crisis to derive electoral success in the 2023 general election.
Some stakeholders said there are implications of the various shades of fresh alliances and realignment of forces going on the state. One pundit claimed that the movements of the key players and actors in the politics of the state is bound to alter the political configurations in the senatorial zones, because of the level of influence some politicians assert across the board.


Another observer said the implications could become more pronounced after the conduct of party primaries and the stage set for campaigns for the general election.


According to some pundits, while the governor will be out to consolidate being an incumbent, the opposition will be determined to create an upset to prove that the gale of defections that has characterized the political space after the 2019 poll is instructive.

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