Some people would have wondered why, in the last 3 three weeks or so, this column has dwelled largely on issues relating to our amiable Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Of course, I was already editing the article meant for today when the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission, OYSIEC, announced date for council elections. That made me have a change of mind.
One man that has a lot to lose than gain in this whole internal wrangling within the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state is Ajimobi. He has tried so much that he will be remembered for long, even after his tenure, as an architect of modern Ibadan. As lofty as his achievements are, his chances of leaving behind a successor that will sustain the legacies he has laid are threatened. And he does not know! Sorry, he knows this but his advisers won’t let him be.
Only few weeks ago when names of federal board appointees were released, Ajimobi fumed but later realised he had to accept the reality. He was angry because his ‘enemies’ made the list. His nominees, 24 of them, were also considered. He was settling down to the new political reality when some of his aides met him, advising him to challenge the appointment of his ‘enemies’ if he does not want to be politically overrun by ‘invaders’. He was said to have been told that people are saying that those ‘enemies’ are the ones who have President Buhari’s ears. Unconfirmed report has it that a petition was forwarded to the Presidency. But unfortunately, it met stiff resistance. This was after the governor had allegedly told the party chairman, Chief Akin Oke, to forward a petition to Abuja in respect of some of the appointees who are ‘non-members’ of the APC.
With last week’s announcement by OYSIEC, major factions, especially SENACO and Lamists, within the party have picked their gauntlets, ready for war. Remember Ajimobi’s ‘inability’ to ‘impose’ candidates for the LG election, which had earlier been scheduled for last year’s February, was responsible for the many postponements. This was/is because most of the chairmen, whose appointments were influenced by Chief (Mrs) Hannah Olawumi Ogunesan, who has just been announced as the new Head of Service, were obviously going to lose the primaries. The party was said to have insisted on primaries. To confirm that Ogunesan is their ‘mummy’, the 18 chairmen of Oke-ogun LGAs and LCDAs, without shame, in page 37 of Saturday Tribune of 3rd February 2018, congratulated Ogunesan on her new position. That came barely 24 hours after her appointment. One of the chairmen was even pictured carrying the bag of ‘their mother’ during an official programme that same yesterday.
Now, the governor is in a fix! His supporters- members of the SENACO family are mounting pressure, ‘advising’ him, “Oga, if you allow primaries, awon people yi ma teyin gberu wa.” But the governor wanted a situation where everybody would be happy at the end of the day. The party chairman, Oke, is in a fix. Will he allow a ‘doctored’ list from the governor and present to OYSIEC? The majority of party members want him to be neutral. The governor would want him to do his bidding.
All eyes are on the state as the council elections draw near. Primaries must be conducted before February 14. And unconfirmed report has it that Ajimobi has travelled out of the country. And the ‘Akanji’ that I know may not return until he uses two weeks!. During the London trip, he would meet former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, who left Nigeria few days ago and former Senate leader Teslim Folarin who is due to travel tomorrow, over ‘sharing formula’. But it will be good for the governor to continue to administer the council areas with caretaker members rather than handpick candidates for election. But if he decides to pick candidates through primaries, he will be hailed at the end of the day. If I were Ajimobi, I will go for primaries and everybody that emerges is my person. All the losers would also be happy that, at least, they are able to show their strength.
But this did not start today! During his first term, Ajimobi was seen as a leader of all. He was a pride of majority party members. Every party members used him as a unique selling point. APC didn’t only break the jinx, it won all the 3 senatorial seats and 12 out of the 14 reps seats. This was apart from delivering the highest votes’ margin in the South West for Buhari. How did he become somebody they don’t want to see anymore. Party leaders, especially those from Oke-ogun, will never ‘forgive’ the governor for not allowing them a hand in whose chairs any of the 18 LGAs and LCDAs. This council elections provide avenue for party leaders to get their ‘pound of flesh’.
Though the governor may not know this; Ajimobi’s SENACO members have been boasting around, saying “we will fix candidates for chairmanship and councilllorship positions” in all the council areas. This was after they had tried fruitlessly to ‘hijack’ the party structure from the ‘unloyal elements’ who have been running the affairs of the party for long.
Not long ago, in 2017, some members of the party walked out on you at an expanded meeting at Lafia Hotel, Ibadan just because you allegedly planned to impose candidates for this same election. What do we call a situation wherre you impose one of the 7 persons that obtained nomination form? What do you expect them to do? Don’t you think they can form a virile opposition against you? Have you forgotten that those chairmen you ‘used and dumped’ can come back to ‘hurt’ you politically?
One thing I know is that Ajimobi’s political survival is threatened; he would surely have his way especially as he is desirous of ‘installing’ his ‘boy’ as his successor. The election means more than 300 delegates to him. But I don’t foresee a primary election happening in APC as the council elections beckon; the governor’s men would be trounced heavily. That will be a dent on the governor’s political image. But I pray he doesn’t regret his action at the end of the day. Oga, there is fire on the mountain. Nobody goes to sleep when there is fire on his rooftop.
PEN-TA-GUN, Sikiru Akinola’s opinion on political events in Oyo State is published every Monday. He can be reached via email@example.com.