Although the governorship primary of the Oyo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has come and gone and a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chief Bayo Adelabu has emerged the winner, many are still talking about the outcome of the primary.
Adelabu’s victory was totally sealed as the last man standing in the contest. Barr. Niyi Akintola (SAN) also pulled out of the race when voting had already commenced. Other aspirants, including the KPMG top-notch Engineer Joseph Olasunkanmi Tegbe; a former Commissioner for Health, Dr Owolabi Babalola and Dr Ayandele Eruobodo, pulled out of the race, shortly before the commencement of the primary, which held at the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan.
Also, former governor Adebayo Alao Akala and the immediate past Commissioner for Health, Dr Azeez Adeduntan both withdrew from the race before the election.
It will be recalled that out of over twenty aspirants that were jostling to clinch the ticket, eight obtained the party’s form and seven among the eight were screened to participate in the primary; the Communication Minister Barr. Adebayo Shittu was screened out for not participating in the mandatory one year NYSC.
Adelabu, at the end of the whole process, scored a total of 4,889 votes, Otunba Adebayo Akala had 65 and Dr Azeez Adeduntan 7 votes.
While Bayo Adelabu’s’ emergence has remained a big surprise to many, however, there is no doubt in the fact that, there were some last minute political moves believed to have worked in his favour.
Firstly, it was so surprising for Adelabu to have emerged, judging by different stories flying about the town before the primary of Tegbe being the most favoured candidate of the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. In fact, we exclusively gathered that it was a very tough decision for the party leadership and Gov. Ajimobi to have supported Adelabu’s candidature at the last minute. This is because all the aspirants in the race are relatively qualified and close to Ajimobi too. It was a rigorous session of meeting upon meeting and consultations before the decision could be taking.
The intervention of some prominent Ibadan elders and that of the business guru Oba Otudeko, no doubt, played a pivotal role in the whole issue. Several calls were said to have been placed across to some top members of APC at the national including the National Leader of the party Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu.
Some also say that the outburst of the former governor Adebayo Alao Akala on the eve of the election somehow worked too. Akala, who announced his withdrawal from the race in a dramatic way, accused Gov.Ajimobi of planning to impose Tegbe on the party and delegates.
But apart from all these, what many don’t know is that there were other underground permutations that really worked for Bayo Adelabu’s emergency as APC governorship standard bearer in the coming election. Not many people know that Bayo’s governorship ambition didn’t just start today, the plans have been there long before now. The few who are privileged to know, understand the fact that his emergence is more like a concluding project of the late business mogul Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao, who had before now taken Bayo to Gov. Ajimobi as the man who can do the job after him. So, even after Arisekola’s death Oba Otudeko, as a loyal friend and confidante of the late businessman, has carried on with the project of making Adelabu the next governor. So, it won’t be out place to say that Bayo has been groomed for the position all along, ever since the first term of Gov. Ajimobi.
Aside from that, Adelabu, having understudied the governor, is one of those who believes strongly in his leadership and that explains why he is so much involved in the Ajimobi led administration. Don’t forget how he facilitated the Technical University, Ibadan (Tech-U) project while still in CBN. He didn’t only facilitate the project, he made sure it was delivered and commissioned, with structures and other facilities. He is also the Chairman, Oyo State Security Fund Board.
Another thing Bayo has working for him is the family name; his grandfather, Alhaji Gbadamosi Adegoke Adelabu (Penkelemesi) was a prominent politician in his lifetime. He was one of those who dominated the country’s political space, especially that of the Western Region. His contemporaries are the likes of Chief Nmadi Azikiwe, Adisa Akinloye and Chief Obafemi Awolowo and co. There is also this belief that since Adelabu died young (he died in 1958 at the age of 43) and was unable to fully explore his political potentials, the legacy should be revived.
Then the Ibadan factor, even though most of those who contested with Bayo are also from Ibadan, but the fact remains that none of them has the kind of political clout Bayo has in Ibadan. The name Penkelemesi is an institution in Ibadan. Also, the fact that Bayo was the youngest of all the aspirants was also to his advantage. But what he lacks in age as far as the race was concerned, he has it in popularity and acceptability; he can favourably appeal to the sensibility of the youths as a 48 years old man.
The elders love him too; they believe in him and they feel for him to have learnt from the feet of the elders like late Aare Arisekola Alao, Oba Otudeko and other Ibadan elders he must have a lot of quality about him. Then comes the issue of money, Adelabu seemed to have been fully prepared, having understood the prominent role of money in politics. That is probably why he could have executed his campaign the way he did before the primary. He consulted widely and reached out to the stakeholders and delegates that matter in Oyo APC.
All the above reasons and many others, no doubt, must have contributed immensely to his emergence as the Party’s candidate.