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OYO101: Who’s Afraid Of Losing Oyo 2023 ? | Muftau Gbadegesin
Note: This is the second part of my column of last week titled: Rethinking The Changing Dynamics Of Oyo 2023 Election
As the 2023 election beckons, political speculations aren’t just increasing. They are increasing at an increasing rate. In Oyo state, for instance, the dynamics of what started as a two-horse race has morphed into a feisty three horse-battle; ending speculations about Oloye Bayo Adelabu’s crucial decision to enter one of the state’s most decisive political contest– against the party whose flag he flew in the last election. Indeed, the fate of the three most formidable gubernatorial candidates (think Makinde/Folarin/Adelabu) in the state hangs precariously on many factors; most of which will unfold once parties set in motion their various campaign machinery. At this stage in the history of the state’s electoral contest, it is nearly impossible to flip the victory coin in the direction of one candidate. Plus one can only be upbeat about the prospect of various political alliances and realignment that will hit the state like a thunderstorm in the coming weeks and months.
For the most part, defeating an incumbent governor isn’t as hard as it used to be, and with the current reality in the state, no candidate is as scared of losing this election as the one who has spent the past three years exercising real political power, enriching cronies while awarding contracts to his yeomen – partly because winning re-election is the only ticket for a sitting Governor to pick the membership card of some highly influential clubs in the country (aren’t you surprised first term governors are more desperate in their second term bid than they were in their first attempt?)
Governor Seyi Makinde has been out of the country for the past three weeks. While his whereabouts are still sketchy, information from the government mouthpiece says he’s on a vacation – apparently to rethink some of his wobbling re-election strategies (not surprisingly, he was seen posing for pictures with the three leading Presidential candidates in London, with Tinubu at a dinner table, Peter Obi and Atiku somewhere in the heart of the world most beautiful city). To buy time for his ‘smuggled’ Deputy Governor, Governor Makinde asked the state house of assembly to hurriedly transmit power to the state housing corporation former chairman, Barrister Bayo Lawal as the acting governor. As part of the script, Mr. Makinde’s lickspittle in their usual cacophony and guttural voices hailed the Governor’s ‘pace setting’ executive flexibility. They said his decision deserves not just commendation but celebration. They wanted others to join in their pretentious, short-lived rattle.
To further legitimatize that ruse called power transmission, some traditional rulers even paid a courtesy visit to the government house; describing the Governor in his absence as the architect of modern Oyo state. One particular traditional ruler even went as far as saying they and not the government did convey the meeting with the acting governor – to thank the Governor for transforming Oyo state into a beacon of economic prosperity and political stability. Obviously, the kings have no words for the state’s debilitating debt and beatification of political ruffians. In addition, the said monarch warned people to be careful and mindful of cheap propaganda and media manipulation. Specifically, the royal father walked those who cared to listen through the strides embarked upon by the current government – he didn’t mention the construction of bus terminals as part of Makinde’s achievement for the ‘Omo Ijoba’ at Ojoo and Challenge, though. He said this government came to the rescue of his townsfolk to complete a road project initiated but uncompleted by the government of Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi. As expected, the traditional ruler harshly bashed on the late Ajimobi’s tenure in office as the height of insensitivity to the plight of his people. Conversely, to the chagrin of the monarch, the Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho road that was flagged off by Makinde’s government is still grasping for breath: unlikely to be completed before the election. Seems the Governor is interested in completing his predecessor projects than starting his own.
Of course, Governor Seyi Makinde’s choice of Barrister Bayo Lawal as his deputy governorship candidate is an exercise in instructive cleverness. Apparently learning from his first term, the Governor’s choice of a man with little political clout, little financial war chest, and little political spread is telling. When you have a leader who only surrounds himself with yes-men, his politics and policies suffer. Not because the intention behind those policies is not well grounded, but because they leave little room for backtracking. Consequently, such a state as we’ve seen in Oyo risks teetering on the brink of insolvency – due to its rudderless nature. Clearly, this kind of ‘smuggled’ deputy governor can never have the audacity to challenge some of the Governor’s hard-line stands on issues – nor would he be brave and bold to sanction the Governor to rethink some of his positions on critical matters. Psychologists find that admitting we were wrong doesn’t make us look less competent. It’s a display of honesty and willingness to learn. As a seventy-six-year-old man, becoming the deputy governor is more like a retirement benefit – even though he assumed that position through the back door, the fact is that he will be referred to and recognized with that appellate – forever. Unsurprisingly, some online media platforms reported that the Deputy Governor was seen prostrating for the Governor at a function.
Unfortunately, the media frenzy that surrounds the cosmetic handover of power to the deputy governor is only intended to achieve one thing: to thrust the name of Barrister Bayo Lawal into the mouths of the people. That way, those who orchestrated the illegal removal of former Deputy Governor, Engineer Rauf Olaniyan can go home and sleep with their two eyes closed. Curiously, the flip side of that excessive use of power is that people are acutely aware of the treatment meted out to the former deputy governor, Engineer Rauf Olaniyan. Take just one terrible executive rascality and flagrant disregard for the rule of law as an example; it helps to look at the event of October 1, 2021, when Governor Makinde traveled to France for a state assignment. On that National holiday which culminated in the Independence Day celebration, the various ceremonial activities that were constitutionally lined for the Governor whose absence confers the authority on his deputy were carried out by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Adeosun Olubamiwo. It was the height of what one political pundit described as the lowest of political braggadocio.
As Jeff Bezos once quipped “people who are right listen a lot, and they change their mind a lot; if you don’t change your mind frequently, you are going to be wrong a lot”.
OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s Opinion about Issues affecting Oyo state, published on Saturdays. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and 09065176850