Early Signs of Epic Battle in Oyo


The gladiators are many and the battle promises to be explosive. Ademola Babalola identifies some of the criteria that will shape the next governorship election in Oyo ‎State

The stake is high. The sky is so unclear. The future of a potentially boisterous and prosperous state looks uncertain. Yet the gladiators are many and the battle ahead promises to be explosive. The coming 2019 race is one gubernatorial election that will shape so many things and indeed the future of the Pace-Setters state.

Not only will it sign a death knell for many traditional politicians to go into early extinction, it also appears one race that will change the course of events as time tickles towards 2019. There is an overall inclement atmosphere of fear, trepidation, deceit, blackmail and possible wanton attacks and mindless destruction of opponent’s credibility and pedigree. For observers, all these are not new in the body politic of a politically sophisticated state as Oyo with many of its shortcomings! The charge to all aspirants is to brace up in earnest for the epic battle ahead.

For a state well blessed with many firsts in education, agriculture, infrastructures of pre and post colonial era; giant politicians in the moulds of notable nationalists that dotted the landscape of Ibadan, Ogbomoso and other parts of the state, to its centre point as the rallying state of the west, can Oyo sustain some worthy legacies of the past and more importantly, relics of the moment under the incumbent administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi?

With benefits of hindsight, there are many wonderful things so far put in place by the Ajimobi administration which a credible successor must strengthen and nurture. Few of these are the enduring peace across the length and breadth of Oyo state; quality roads rehabilitation and reconstruction; environmental face-lift, promising commerce and industrial growth as a number of Chinese and other notable investors are dotting the landscape of the state, sustainable leap in agricultural revolution and  educational reforms.

But with its not too inspiring growth, lack of visionary leadership in recent past and profligate economy to the corruption of many in power, many wonder why a state as Oyo with rich history of great men in the corridor of power like the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, stormy petrel of the west, Adegoke Adelabu Penkelemesi, Bola Ige, and their ilks, is still struggling to entrench sustainable legacies of long lasting quality governance in the mould of Lagos.

And as early as June, 2017; which is about midway into the termination of the incumbent’s tenure, debates are on in many quarters on who will be the possible candidates of existing political parties and impending mega party being touted around the political circles? The questions arising therefrom are; First, will the much vaunted generational shift in who occupies Agodi government house takes its root in Oyo by 2019? Secondly, can a new entrant and relatively unknown aspirant spring a surprise? Thirdly, will there be power shift as being agitated by a section of Oke-Ogun patriots who see 2019 as a divining year for a deservedly end to playing a second fiddle in Oyo politics? Finally, will the people of Oyo be more concerned about post election positive turn around and engendering developments than the perks that come handy during electioneering and booty to be shared on election day alone?

In attempting answers to the posers above, a number of underbelly issues must be taken into the account but for the space constraint here. However, there is growing concern across the state that now is the time for generational shift in leadership. Reason: From Alhaji Lam Adesina to Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala and Ajimobi, age brackets of successive governors have always ranged from 59-65years! This in itself continues to leave tongues wagging on when a relatively younger person who is dynamically attuned to modern realities, well exposed with verifiable background/means of livelihood with penchant only for service and not for self aggrandisement or ulterior motives, will mount the saddle for the sole purpose of good governance and evenly distribution of resources to better the lots of the greatest number of the people? The answer to this lie on how well the people prepare to put forward their “best 11s” in the 2019 race.

Also, that successive governors of the state had never been green horns in politics and by the pedigree of those who had governed the state so far, there has never been a time that a relatively new entrant comes and breaks the odds to be so elected pronto as governor! Records are abound. It remains to be seen if 2019 will present a  new development where a ‘first timer’ can possibly upstage the course and make the impossibility possible!

The ‘first timers’ in this category include but certainly not limited to the current Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Bayo Adelabu, Professor Adeolu Akande, Mr. Debo Adesina of the Guardian, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, Mr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, Mr. Zacch Adelabu, Hon. Ajiboye Omodewu, Hon. Mojeed Olaoya, Barrister Kola Thomas, Ahmed Raji, SAN, Hon. Temitope Olatoye Sugar and  Remi Olaniyan. Instructively, these personalities are people of means, who are doing well in their professional callings as men who can be entrusted with the exalted position of the state governor but time will certainly tell how any of them can muster enough support from the political parties and generality of the people of the state as potential occupant of Agodi government house and be so elected as Ajimobi’s successor.

These personalities above will have to work on how they can beat the following formidable and established frontiers who are becoming veterans in the game and are not hiding their preference for the number one seat especially since about 2007 or thereafter. In this category are Seyi Makinde, Professor Taoheed Adedoja, Elder Wole Oyelese, Professor Soji Akanbi, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi, Senators Teslim Folarin, Femi Lanlehin, Fatai Buhari, Alhaji Yunus Akintunde, Soji Akanbi, Ayoade Ademola Adeseun, Mr Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, Femi Babalola Jogor, Mr. Dele Adigun and Dr. Azeez Adeduntan.

Grapevine also has it that the duo of Ajimobi’s predecessors; Senator Ladoja and Alao Akala are also oiling their political machinery. However, credible sources have it that they are likely to superintend the process leading to the election of Ajimobi’s successor rather than themselves vying for the available governorship tickets. Whatever is the true position, it will soon go out of the realm of conjecture!

The call for power rotation and current struggles by a section of Oke-Ogun axis of the state to have one of their own as the governor of the state come 2019 is also on the front burner. It however, remains to be seen if such request is timely and would receive the blessings of the other geopolitical zones of the state of Oyo, Ibarapa, Ogbomoso and more importantly Ibadan, which appears not leaving anything to chance in retaining the seat. This much is understandable when one considers the undercurrent playing out across political divides and in the number of aspirants from Ibadan extraction alone, infiltrating all political parties.

As the march to 2019 gets underway, questions are many for only the discerning minds to fathom. However, what are the indices and yardsticks for a promising and enduring quality leadership that can midwife good governance that people should yearn for post Ajimobi’s tenure? This should shape the contest and choice of the next governor.