The various clashes of interests among the main opposition parties in the state have left their camps depleted. But the ruling PDP under Governor Seyi Makinde hasn’t fared any better. As it stands, no major opposition party can single-handedly win the 2023 gubernatorial election without a strong coalition with the other parties. Like the 2019 scenario, the major opposition parties must learn the art of the deal, walk their various talks, build bridges, assuage feelings and demonstrate inclusivity going into the poll. Interestingly, agreement is far easier to breach once in power than it is to reach outside of it and politicians can lie and trick other politicians into submission the same way they had done with the public over and over again.
Quite frankly, the trust deficits that have plagued and strained the people/politicians’ relationship and perception have also trickled down to the engagement with their colleagues. Mutual suspicion is not just rife between the people and their leaders but disturbing among the so-called leaders. But where interests intersect, politicians hardly go back to the ugly past. In fact, most politicians stand on each other’s necks due to clashes of personal interest. Unfortunately, it is the poor masses that go about destroying relationships because of political interests – and politicians.
To go back in time, it was obvious the main opposition parties in the 2019 election lacked the kind of political and electoral mettle that can dislodge any Abiola Ajimobi-backed candidate. With the state machinery at his disposal, the game was simply off the opposition’s table. They knew this from the onset. Neither the PDP nor ADC had what it took to win at the poll alone. Political observers were blunt in predicting a landslide victory for APC regardless of who the party presented as its flag bearer. No doubt, the opposition was expected to suffer an excruciating defeat with a divided front. Clearly, that stark reality must have informed the fence-mending process that led to formidable opposition. In other words, that reconciliation led to a united PDP and of course, Governor Seyi Makinde’s eventual victory. To go fast, as one African proverb declared, is to go alone. But to go far, as it concluded, is to go with others. But going with others isn’t a walk in the park.
As Makinde’s experience and experiment show, such an undertaking requires political creativity, artistry, and mastery. You don’t go about promising others a fair deal without understanding the intricacies of a deal. You don’t agree with people without demonstrating that openness in your dealing. For a deal to stand, the initiator must be honest, open-minded, and skillful in negotiation. Speaking of honesty, that’s hard to measure once power is involved. Outside the corridor of power, honesty can be a politician’s watchword but once in power, it is a different ball game. As an aside, now that the Wike’s camp of which Governor Makinde is a part has been served the same bitter pill they have served their fellow party men at the National level, they must have realized how cool it is to breach trust and renege on the agreement.
On his part, for instance, Governor Makinde has demonstrated this power dilemma vividly. With the way the coalition that brought him to power has collapsed like a pack of cards, it is evident trusting people seeking power is a risky gamble. Where is Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeniyan? What about Honorable Mulikat Adeola Akande? Those who sweated for the Governor at that critical time are gritting their teeth in frustration. Would Makinde win without them, very unlikely; but it’s safe to say much of Governor Makinde’s victory was connected to that agreement. As a matter of fact, most of those who fought hard for Makinde’s emergence are no longer in the PDP. They are elsewhere in search of greener pastures. While most of the aggrieved PDP members have pitched their tents with other parties, others are within the fold of the party hoping to cause an internal implosion. For Governor Makinde, the thought of going back to his estranged comrades for help can be unsettling. But because it is politics, anything is possible.
For the two leading opposition candidates, striking a deal with other notable politicians can be difficult. Donald Trump observed that deals work best when each side gets something it wants from the other. But Oloye Bayo Adelabu’s chances of winning the 2023 poll are slim. This is probably the bitterest truth his followers may have to contend with. As a former Governor, Senator Rashidi Oladoja could not even steer the party to victory at any poll since its formation. The last time the Accord party had a momentous moment was in the 2015 general election. But the combined effects of Buhari’s tsunami and the modest performance of Late Senator Abiola Ajimobi took away whatever is left of the party’s political chances. Isn’t it ridiculous how such a party would claim victory now? Those who want to stay politically relevant are now wary and vigilant of where they would pitch their tents. Oloye Adelabu might be a good man but the party he joined has little stake in winning the governorship election. Oloye must have realized crossing to another party hasn’t changed much about his political style. Neither has that changed a lot about his chances of claiming victory in the poll. After his defeat at the last poll, Oloye made little or no efforts at reaching out to party members across the state. He simply went back to the business hoping to pick up the party ticket when the time comes. I am not the one to teach Oloye how to play politics, but it is clear his style isn’t turning out deserved results.
Senator Teslim Folarin might appear to be the most politically experienced, but his political style isn’t any much different. Most observers believed the third-term senator is riding on the waves of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Presidential ambition. But that’s a muted observation. Senator Folarin has been in the field for a long time and appears to have a profound knowledge of the game. But given how the party’s congress and primaries were conducted plus their aftermaths, it is evident that all is also not well with the party. While the likes of Oloye Bayo Adelabu, Mogaji Joseph Tegbe, Honorable Shina Peller, and a host of other top members have crossed to other parties, others are either waiting for the Presidential election before deciding what to do. But that’s not to say the party hasn’t made appreciable gains in reaching out to the aggrieved. At least, the peace and reconciliation committee that was headed by Senator Femi Lanlehin had beautiful recommendations but like everything else, it all boils down to trust and importantly political will.
The choice of who the opposition parties with unpopular candidates will team up with in the 2023 gubernatorial election is dicey. For them, the choice is between the devil and the deep blue sea. But as Bernice Johnson Reagon asserted: if you’re in a coalition and you’re comfortable, you know it’s not a broad enough coalition.
OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s Opinion about Issues affecting Oyo state, published on Saturdays. He can be reached via @TheGMAKing on Twitter, firstname.lastname@example.org and 09065176850