Without a doubt, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state will of necessity required some balancing, broadness, fairness , forgiveness, openness and truth to bring back its aggrieved members in the state.
Before former Governor Abiola Ajimobi died, he put in place a broad based reconciliation committee to bring together the warring groups and fragmented caucuses within the Oyo state All Progressives Congress (APC). Many of the genuine and committed members of the party, faced with glim chances to actualise their hopes, aspirations and interests before the 2019 elections, left the party. They teamed up and with ‘Oyo protest votes’ ensured that APC lost the gubernatorial, state assembly election and many other elections into the chambers of federal legislature.
Pitiably, the reconciliation committee has not really made headway as some dissenting members do not believe in the leadership and composition of the committee. However, a party in opposition must quickly gets his act together, as year 2023 draws near. This is very urgent and important.
Akala leadership of Oyo APC
Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao – Akala, a former governor of Oyo state was made the Chairman of the reconciliation committee set up by late former Governor Abiola Ajimobi before he died. In about a year, he has held about three general meetings and has scheduled members of the committee to start making contacts with members that had misgivings against the party to come back. After Ajimobi, the Oyo state APC state leader has died like his predecessor, late Alhaji Lamidi Onaolapo Adesina (Great Lam), also a former governor.
In all fairness, Akala is the only former governor in the camp of Oyo APC now.
Arguments against him had included that the former governor has not been a progressive from inception. The truth is that there is a thin line between Progressive and conservative camps in Nigeria political sphere now. Who could have thought that original Awoist like Ebenezer Babatope could be in the conservative camp of the PDP? Or a hardworking, result bearing Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari representing Oyo North Senatorial District in the National Assembly could find solace and settlement in Oyo state APC that he has been for decades from the PDP where he decamped?
Akala has the clout, remnants of deep financial pockets, political structure, networks and large heart that can enable him galvanise the various interests in the party. More so, unlike many of those against his leadership, Adebayo Alao-Akala is not contesting for any elective political office again. At best, the agitation of many opposers of his state leadership of the party has been that Ajimobi had the political structure of SENACO and cannot impose another SENACO on them; so let a LAMIST be made Deputy state leader then.
A neutral person like Akala is more advantageous to nip in the bud the critical disturbing divisions within Oyo state APC.
The major political Party against the All Progressives Congress in Oyo state is and will be the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Despite being the ruling party in the state as a result of ‘mistakes’ of Oyo state APC in the 2019 elections, PDP is not a particularly strong party in Oyo state. It defeated Oyo state APC because of the coalition and merger with other parties just before the 2019 elections. There was imposition of candidates in APC and many candidates who contested election did not embrace their colleagues in the party who did not win the primaries. It is however, important to note the following:
* No one party, interest or godfather can single-handedly win a gubernatorial election in Oyo state, going forward. Without merger and coalition of groups, interests and parties, Oyo APC SENACO, LAMIST, Amosun elements or Akala PDP splinter group or APC as a party cannot do it alone.
* Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo state is not strong; neither the party , nor the state leader, Governor Seyi Makinde can be underrated. PDP has the concept of ‘first get the power at all costs’ and then ‘share’. By year 2021, Governor Seyi Makinde will begin sharing more than ever before. APC at the National level should empower stakeholders of the party in Oyo state more than before if there will be genuinely committed members to hold party members down before 2023 elections.
* The issue of governorship candidate, especially should be settled as soon as possible by 2021 and even in many elective posts, contenders should be reduced to barest minimum. A major issue tearing the Oyo state APC apart include but not limited to the issue of many candidates for the primary elections pre-2019 who paid huge sums of money to the party and sectional party leaders but were not allowed even to participate in the primary.
Contenders should be spoken to on time and fair screening of all candidates should be done. It will minimize desertions.
Interestingly, politics in Oyo state has a self-regulating system. After Bola Ige, of Oyo plus Osun states, it was only Akala who was able to become governor outside the Ibadan zone. Ibadan voting area has the population and deciding votes. A political party thinking about winning gubernatorial election in Oyo state should be thinking about an Ibadan man.
Even religion-wise, Bola Ige was a Christian, after him came Alhaji Lam Adesina, a Muslim, after the great Lam came Ladoja (Muslim) / and Akala (Christian) who finished the tenure. After Christian Christopher Alao Akala , came Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi, a Muslim. Then a Christian Seyi Makinde is the present occupant of the Agodi Government House. As it is, the vociferous powerful huge Muslim communities are already complaining marginalisation in the scheme of things in Oyo state. Your guess is as good as mine, for the better choice in terms of religion by a party desirous of unseating the incumbent in Oyo state.
* Not everybody will be able to come on board. However, the state leadership of the party must embrace an all inclusive programme to reach out to all former members individually and as groups. Let their former traumas, frustrations, dismay be met with promises of better deals.
Ajimobi has ‘crack team’ of unbiased apolitical, intelligentsia who worked with him in all local governments and they were able to feed him with truths about happenings and gatekeepers who could assist him. So, identifying these people may also boost the party’s chances.
The Oke-Ogun and Oyo North axis should not be neglected in the new emphasis and scheme of things. The Ibarapa Zone is also an area that Oyo state APC needs to work on, as the young speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin has become the new ‘political czar’ in the zone.
Ayodele Idowu writes from, Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.