Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala
The ongoing rapprochement between two former governors of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, has started to generate ripples in political circles in the state. What are these two up to? Tunde Sanni asks.
By late afternoon on Tuesday, there were speculations on the social media that the immediate past governor of Oyo State, Otuba Adebayo Alao-Akala has formally joined his former principal, Senator Rasidi Ladoja, in his Accord Party. The speculations came barely 24 hours after he stated at a public function to celebrate his 63rd birthday that he had no plan dumping his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He had told some newsmen who stormed his house on his birthday that “some people are misconstruing the inauguration of a reconciliatory committee we're putting up at Senator Rashidi Ladoja's house as me joining Accord party. I am not joining Accord and I will never join Accord. We're just trying to see how we can work together and bring some PDP members who are not happy back into the fold and make them happy.”
Alao-Akala has not been alone in the anti-Accord Party switching denial. One of his foot-soldiers, Kehinde Olaosebikan, has been vehement that his former boss would not go to AP. Olaosebikan, a former chairman of Oluyole local council and a House of Representatives aspirant for 2015 polls stated that the former governor as the mainstay of the PDP in the state is at present full of activity, making solid efforts towards fortifying the party in the 33 local governments of the state in a strategic manner that is already yielding great results.
Simultaneously, the rapprochement between Ladoja and Alao-Akala has started to cause serious political unease in AP with Ladoja using every opportunity available to him to dispel the rumour of his switching to the PDP. However his denial has been limited to his wall on the social network. THISDAY checks indicated that the political activities which gave impetus to the speculation was the joint 14-man alliance committee to work out modalities for synergy between the two groups with the purpose of upstaging the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2015.
The inauguration which took place at Ondo Street Bodija home of Ladoja, witnessed a huge turn-out of supporters from the two political camps, singing and praying for the synergy to work out. Emerging from the closed-door meeting after about one and half hours, Ladoja and Alao-Akala boasted that their grassroots-oriented politics will be sufficient for them to upstage Governor Abiola Ajimobi in 2015
The committee which is made up of 7-man from both Ladoja's Accord party and Akala's PDP faction has one month to submit their report. Speaking further, Alao-Akala lashed out at opponents of the alliance saying they are blustered by the formidable forces of the two political icons.
The committee members are Barrister Bayo Lawal, Abubakar Tawakalitu, Adeola Akintola, Hon. Adeolu Adeleke, Wahab Oyelade, Yinka Adewuyi, Hon Ademola Ojo, Chief JG Adetoro, Mrs. Kemi Olorunsogo, Nureni Adeniran, Mr. Wale Ohu, Professor Soji Adejumo, Mr. Wole Opadeye and Wahab Gbadeyero.
Ladoja confirmed that they have been on the neck of the governor to conduct local government election, which he has continued to rebuff with Alao-Akala challenging him to conduct the council polls to test his popularity and that of his party, adding that Ajimobi and his party would not win a council if he dares conduct it.
Alao-Akala pointed out that he was working with his former boss for the good of the masses, saying political alignment and realignment was not strange to democracy. On 2015, the former governor said it was certain that 'they shall be at the government house' saying the two of them were sufficient in upstaging the governor.
“You know our antecedents. You know our polls in the last election; calculate it and tell me the total. You must know that grassroots politics is different from what the person there now is doing. We are grassroots politicians and our support bases are growing. Can anybody beat the two of us? Let him try to conduct the local government election if he can, he will not win one local government. He cannot win any. Let him conduct it and test his popularity,” he said.
The alliance between the two former governors is already exciting the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, who expressed support for the ongoing rapprochement and described it as “a step in the right direction”, pointing out that her position has consistently been to encourage the return of Ladoja, a founding Board of Trustees member and former PDP Governor, to the party.
She commended efforts by the PDP Governor's Forum, the Governor Shema-led Committee and the South-west Zonal reconciliation committee of the party led by Dr. Yomi Finnih, for finding lasting solutions to the current disunity in the party in the state and submitted that no one could hijack the party machinery, rather, every loyal party member must unite to form a cohesive and inclusive executive.
However, if the political rapprochement of the two political gladiators found the support of the minister, certainly not the party mainstream led by Yinka Taiwo and the ruling party, both of which had queried the essence of such alliance.
The PDP mainstream disassociated itself from the 14-man committee set up by Ladoja/Alao-Akala, saying the duo were merely touting the party’s name in the political agenda to front their own parochial interests and not that of the party.
The party’s spokesman, Kehinde Salawu, declared that the touted inauguration of the proposed committee under the platform of PDP did not have the blessing of the State Executive Committee of the party and that neither the National Working Committee nor the National Executive Committee of the party was aware of such a move.
While seeing the motives of the two former governors as self-serving, the party warned Alao-Akala, in particular, to desist henceforth from using the collective name of the party in the state for his selfish aggrandizement. The party also accused him of being disrespectful to the party hierarchy in the reconciliatory moves brokered by the national chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, stressing that the foul language reportedly used by Alao-Akala against Tukur’s visit to the state was condemnable.
The party then gave Alao-Akala a hard knock following allegation that he had never benefited from President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. Specifically, it urged him not to bite the fingers that fed him and referred him to a number of Federal Board appointments recently given to his associates in the party and the opportunity he has had to serve as governor of the state.
On its part, the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), in the state has said that the gang up of the two former governors was an indicator that the party and its governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s ratings had risen to a formidable level, hence the gang-up of former governors.
Publicity Secretary of the party, Dauda Kolawole, said the gang-up had shown the political desperation of the two former governors and an admission of the fact that, individually, they could not face Ajimobi and the ACN in the 2015 elections.
“We are very happy about this gang-up. Wonders, indeed, can never end. That these two strange bedfellows, who had, a while ago, fought a titanic battle to destroy each other, one releasing details of the corruption of the other while in government and the other telling the world that his successor was crass illiterate, could come together to fight Ajimobi shows that our governor is now a mighty Iroko tree that these two gladiators needed to come together to fell. But, combined, the two cannot measure up,” the ACN said.
The party said against the thinking of the two former governors, politics in Oyo State had moved beyond brickbats, hatred, personal animosities and selfish ego gang-up.
ACN said the two former governors could no longer insult the intelligence of the people of the state and maintained that the two should tell the people what they achieved in government beyond the cases that they are both answering to in court as they are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“They have both been governors before. They should show us what they did that was pro-people. Ajimobi and Oyo ACN do not have a ten-man committee but God and the people of the state who are more potent than them. We counsel Akala and Ladoja not to dissipate their energy but direct their energy on how to wriggle out of the EFCC charges against them so that they won’t be sent to jail, rather than fighting a man whom God has destined to be in power,” the ACN statement stated.
The political cross puzzle is the essence of the alliance in view of the fact that none of them was willing to join the other in his party. There are still some politicians who argue that the pendulum of the political switch could fall on either side.
Just last Sunday, Ladoja and the Akinjide faction of the PDP were in Abeokuta to meet the former chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. No comments or communiqué was issued after to ascertain their mission at Obasanjo’s Hilltop residence.
It is early in the day to conclude the political direction of the gladiators in the alliance. But if the two of them are nursing gubernatorial aspiration, they sure can’t occupy the Government House at the same time. But the question still is: where will the alliance lead them?