By; BAYO AKAMO
Political activities in Oyo State are on a daily basis gaining more momentum and becoming interesting with politicians across the various registered political parties in the state especially those eyeing the state’s number one seat increasing in number on weekly basis with some veterans in the contest not hiding their intention to run for the race again come 2019.
As at present, several political gladiators are now proclaiming to be in the gubernatorial race though with some of them looking seemingly uncertain of what they are up to as far as the 2019 Oyo State governorship contest was concerned
Till date, some of the visible governorship aspirants in Oyo stayte are Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, Oyo State Deputy Governor, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), Dr Abdulazeez Adeduntan, Chief Rauf Olaniyan, Dr Kola Balogun all in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
For the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). though not much could be said about the party having many aspirants as witnessed in the 2015 general elections with the party only having the trio of Chief Femi Babalola (Jogor), Engineer Seyi Makinde and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin on ground as at present.
A closer study of the present political situation in Oyo State clearly revealed that politicking in the state will no longer be business as usual for the gladiators as the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has no doubt set a new bar for whoever that would emerge as a governor in Oyo State unlike what it used to be in the days of “Amala and Gbegiri” politics of the then Molete Empire, presided over by the late generalismo of Ibadan politics, High Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu.
With the new bar set by Governor Abiola Adeyemi Ajimobi whose second term tenure will end on May 29, 2019, there is no doubt that the “pretenders” among the several governorship aspirants will surely quit the stage unceremoniously on realizing that the office of Oyo State number one citizen is now meant for the real men and not the pretenders.
Considering the antecedents of visible one’s among the governorship aspirants for the 2019 election, there are strong indications that two prominent political figures in the state namely Governor Abiola Ajimobi and High Chief Rashidi Ladoja are to dictate and probably determine what becomes of the 2019 governorship race in Oyo State.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi will no doubt be the major determining factor (if not the sole factor) in the APC. This was even corroborated by the former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin who recently decamped to the ruling APC in Oyo State when he described Governor Ajimobi as “a Transformer in Oyo State politics that whoever wants to be something in Oyo State now like the time of late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu needs to connect to”
In the PDP camp, though with lesser numbers of aspirants be it “the real men and the pretenders” as the case may be, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja will no doubt, decide what goes about in the party as far as the 2019 governorship ticket is concerned. Moreso, when the Ibadan High Chief has publicly declared that he won’t contest for Oyo governorship race again.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi while speaking on the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo staute (BCOS) live programme to mark his six years in office put the number of aspirants in the ruling APC justling for his seat come 2019 at about 34 but quickly added that by his calculation and assessment, about four of them have what it takes to succeed him as the governor of the state, going by the standards he has set.
With the words of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, it is crystal clear that the likes of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Otunba Moses Adeyemo, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) , Alhaji Yunus Akintunde , Chief Rauf Olaniyan, Dr Kola Balogun, Dr Abdulazeez Adeduntan must first pass Governor Ajimobi’s assessment test before even thinking of getting the APC nod for their ambition. No wonder why he cautioned at Mapo hill recently while receiving Otunba Alao-Akala, Senator Teslim Folarin and other decampees into the APC that aspirants into any position in the whole state should recognise him and come to him first before any other thing.
“Those of you aspiring to be somebody, don’t run to Asiwaju in Lagos. Asiwaju does not need your money. Come to me. Don’t short-circuit because I am the Qrantic Prophet Muhammed of Oyo State. The local government elections are coming in March next year and we are going to win all. All other parties in the state are now moribund, their leaders are political pensioners”.
If the above words of Governor Ajimobi are anything to go by, the political experience, wealth, popularity and the spread of politicians like Otunba Akala, Barrister Shittu, Senator Buhari, Alhaji Akintunde as well as those that could best be described as the under dogs in the governorship race may not count or be an added value to their aspiration as far as the 2019 Oyo governorship will be concerned.
For the PDP, which is still an embattled political party in Oyo styate, the race is still open between a stalwat of the party, Engineer Femi Babalola (Jogor), Engineer Oluwaseyi Makinde who was the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in Oyo State during the 2015 general elections and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin who recently decamped from the Accord Party into the PDP together with High Chief Rashidi Ladoja.
To some political observers in and across Oyo State, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin being a political son of High Chief Rashidi Ladoja may stand the chance of clinching the party’s governorship ticket for the 2019 election at the end of it all but others were of the view that Engineer Seyi Makinde being a major financier of the party since it recently achieved “peace” and a politician with its tentacles across the state should not be underated as he might emerge the PDP 2019 governorship candidate if a “free and fair” primary election is conducted against the imposition of candidate which forced him (Engineer Makinde), Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Barrister Sarafadeen Alli to dump PDP for SDP and Labour Party to actualise their ambition then.
The Oyo State Governorship tussle without mincing words is an interesting and as well an unpredictable game but time and unfolding events within the state’s political arena in the days ahead will surely sort out the ‘real men ” from the pretenders among the Oyo 2019 governorship hopefuls.
Akamo is New Nigerian Newspapers Oyo State Editor