By: Abiola Adesokan
As activities leading to the 2019 gubernatorial election in Oyo State gradually reach their peak, the attendant intrigues and permutations have begun to position some aspirants as having clear chances to clinch their party tickets and subsequently emerge as Governor of Oyo State.
At present, there are over twenty aspirants across major political parties in the state jostling for the Agodi Government House seat. While APC and PDP appear to be the household brands, aspirants from other parties, especially the Alliance for Democracy (AD) are also repositioning as a formidable Third Force.
Recently, I carried out a survey to sample the minds of the people within the state on how the aspirants are faring. This article aims at assessing the leading aspirants based on public opinions and sentiments.
1. Engr. Seyi Makinde
The Ibadan-born oil magnate has been around for quite a long time in the political terrain of Oyo State. Although he has never held a political office, majority of the populace favour his candidature based on his philanthropic antecedent and political branding. Over the years, Engr. Makinde has built his appellation “Omititun” into a political brand and almost every household in Oyo State can resonate with it.
Seyi Makinde is not only the leading aspirant in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) but also across board. However, some people still believe that his association with PDP and most especially, the former Governor of Oyo State, Sen. Rasheed Ladoja may cause him a big setback during the primaries or general election. While Ladoja is undoubtedly a political heavyweight, some people opine that his bouquet of corruption cases, as well as the misdeeds of PDP from 1999 to 2015 may still hunt the party in the coming elections.
2. Bayo Adelabu
The finance guru is the grandson of the late Western region opposition leader, Chief Adegoke Adelabu. Oloye Bayo Adelabu, running on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), is one of the youngest contenders for the position of Oyo State Governor in 2019. Adelabu is riding on the popularity and the love of Ibadan people for his grandfather, PENKELEMESI.
Apart from riding on the popularity of his grandfather, he is also seen as vibrant and full of ideas that can develop the financial assets of the state. He recently resigned his appointment as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable him concentrate fully on his gubernatorial ambition. He is indeed a force to reckon with.
While his chance is bright, some analysts have however described his emergence as an indirect continuation of the Ajimobi government which a bulk of the populace are no longer comfortable with. It is widely believed that Ajimobi will assume the role of godfather and manipulate Adelabu’s government.
3. Engr. Oyedele Hakeem Alao
Oyedele Hakeem Alao is a Structural Engineer with keen interests in the Oil and Gas sector. He is the CEO of OceanSalt Oil and Gas Engineering Ltd. Young and vibrant Alao is the leading aspirant on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD). He and many others are repositioning AD in Oyo State to take over from APC.
His billboards, posters and jingles have flooded the state in recent months. Born in Ibadan from Akinyele Local Government, he is adjudged to be independent, without any known godfather /political investor as is common with the other aspirants. An insight into his campaign shows he understands issues confronting the state and has potentially effective solutions. These can be deduced by the messages on his billboards, social media platforms and website.
Most of his supporters described him as a modern leader that can beat all other aspirants hands down in any debate on economy, education and other aspects of governance. He is not also without a shortcoming. He is a new face and has never been in political leadership. Although some of his admirers are claiming he is related to the late Aare Musulumi of Yoruba Land, Alhaji Arisekola Alao, he is yet to independently verify or confirm the claim.
4. Sen. Olufemi Lanlehin
Sen. Lanlehin is also a well-known figure in the politics of Oyo State. He is an accomplished Lawyer and a former Senator of the Federal Republic. While he’s an alternative to Makinde in the PDP, some people believe he is no match for the oil magnate’s mobilization and financial capabilities. Since his decampment from APC, Sen. Lanlehin has lost most of his grassroots followers, a situation that can make it impossible for him to emerge in the PDP primaries.
5. Soji Eniade
The former Head of Service in Oyo State is also a strong contender. He is banking on his civil service experience and rapport with Gov. Ajimobi. Aside that, Eniade is also believed to be the son of a foremost Ibadan politician. As a late entrant into the race, he may find it impossible to defeat the likes of Adelabu in the primaries.
Eniade is said to be the favourite of Gov. Ajimobi for the exalted office, a decision which might pitch the governor against Bayo Adelabu if confirmed to be true.
6. Prof. Adeolu Akande
Adeolu Akande is a renowned professor of Political Science. He is a leading light in the APC from Oke-ogun zone of the state. The experienced politician is strategically positioned to win the coming election if given a ticket on the platform of APC. It should be recalled that the Oke-ogun zone has vowed to only support their own in the coming election and Prof. Adeolu Akande is the only aspirant that can compete favourably with aspirants from other zones. He is also said to be the favourite of the Aso Villa clique of the APC.
However, the fiasco between warring factions of the State APC may have put his laudable ambition in jeopardy. As it stands, the SENACO faction of the party seems to have taken over the structure of the party while Prof. Adeolu Akande is a chieftain of the Unity Forum.
7. Dr. Abideen Olaiya
Abideen Olaiya is the only known Accord Party aspirant in the state. He may end up being the sole contender in the party. While his chance to clinch the Accord Party ticket is high, the possibility of him winning the election is slim.
Over the years, Accord Party has become depopulated as a result of incessant cross-carpeting by its major leaders.
8. Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala
The Ogbomoso-born former governor of Oyo State is also said to be in the race, although some political watchers have described his ambition as a game that lacks substance. If he decides to contest, it may be difficult for him to get the APC ticket.
9. Barr. Adebayo Shittu
Adebayo Shittu is the Minister of Communication. He is a veteran politician from Saki in Oke-ogun zone of the state. While Shittu stands a good chance of becoming the governor of Oyo State in 2019, the imbroglio between him and Gov. Ajimobi which has seen him and other members of the Unity Forum faction of the party losing out to the other group, is a serious factor.
Apart from the APC crisis, Shittu is also seen in the state as losing relevance as a result of various allegations levelled against him by some of his former aides. His infamous encounter with Presidential Aspirant and Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, also made things more complicated for him.
10. Dr. Akin Onigbinde
Akin Onigbinde is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. The Ogbomoso-born legal luminary is a former Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly. He is contesting on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Should Hakeem Alao not get the party ticket in the primaries, Onigbinde is widely seen as an alternative. However, his chances in the general election are very slim as he is not reaching out beyond the party.
11. Hon. Temitope Olatoye Sugar
Sugar is the incumbent Honourable member representing Lagelu/Akinyele in the Federal House of Representatives. He is a well-known philanthropist. His posters and billboards are also dispersed across major cities in the state.
It is however not clear whether he will defect to another party to actualize his dream, as he appears not to belong to any faction within the APC; a development that can make it difficult for him to get the party ticket.
All well and good. From all indication, it will be a keen contest of ideas in the 2019 gubernatorial election in Oyo State.
Abiola Adesokan is an independet political analyst and writes from the ancient city of Oyo, Oyo State.