Basking in the euphoria of the bye-election it recently won in Ibarapa East State Constituency, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party is looking forward to overrun the ruling All Progressives Congress in the 2019 general election, writes Ademola Babalola
What is in a name? Good name they say is better than riches according to an African proverb. This illustration fundamentally played key role in the emergence of Adebo Ogundoyin, 31-year-old son of an Eruwa-born philanthropist, Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin.
Ogundoyin was declared the lawmaker-elect in the bye-election into Ibarapa East Constituency, which became vacant following the death of the lawmaker representing the area, who doubled as Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly on April 27 this year.
The electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had penultimate Saturday declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adebo Ogundoyin, winner of the said election.
Amid tight security, the election was generally peaceful as the PDP candidate polled 6,277 votes as against his closest rival and brother to the late Speaker, Kunle Adeyemo, of the ruling APC who scored 4,619 votes. An Accord Party candidate, Adebodun Adedeji, who left PDP days to primary election, came third with 2,859 votes.
The governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who won the elusive second term as governor of the state had lost two consecutive bye-elections within one year. This was in addition to similar re-run election way back in 2012 which the then Action Congress of Nigeria lost to the PDP in Oke Ogun area of the state. The governorâ€™s party lost rerun election of Oorelope/Irepo/Olorunsogo federal constituency in 2012; Oorelope State Constituency in 2017, and now, Ibarapa East State Constituency.
The senior Ogundoyin, died 27years ago, four years after the lawmaker was born. He lived all his life for the promotion of the sleepy town and advancement of its course not forgetting its people, whom he empowered to be great in the academic circle, private sector and as eminent citizens of Oyo State.
Then the bye-election of penultimate Saturday came along. Few days to the election, the ruling party, APC had become factionalised across the state, because of the emergence of a splinter group â€œAPC Unity Forumâ€ due to what they described as the highhandedness of the governor in the running of the party activities. They cited the last local government election, where only the governorâ€™s loyalists were picked as candidates for the council election to the exclusion of the interest of other party stakeholders.
In this group are the serving Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu; a lawmaker in the Senate, Monsurat Summonu; and nine members of the House of Representatives, including Hon. Dapo Lam-Adesina; son of Ajimobiâ€™s late godfather and former governor of the state, Alhaji Lam Adesina.
Instructively, however, the late Speaker Michael Adeyemo, also won the election into the state assembly way back in 2011 as a PDP candidate before defecting to the ACN, which later metamorphosed into the APC.
Furthermore, Ibarapa East comprises 10 wards with Eruwa having six while Lanlate has four. While Eruwa, for ages, has predominantly been conservatives, Ibarapa with larger land mass has always been progressive in their style and mode of politics. This might have informed why they have always alternated the elective positions between the two main communities that make up the local government.
So, naturally, the election was for the conservatives to win for reasons advanced earlier and more importantly, the choice of Ogundoyin as PDPâ€™s standard bearer.
A frontline APC chieftain and former Senator (names withheld) spoke on why the party lost the election to the opposition.
He told THISDAY that he informed Ajimobi in Abuja not to dissipate so much energy on the election, because if conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) one million times, the PDP would always have its field day. He said the ruling party would have picked its own candidate too from Eruwa (with more wards and larger population) but for the tension in Lanlate over the recent death of the speaker.
The senator was of the view that if the party had jettisoned the idea of picking a candidate from Lanlate and primarily from Adeyemoâ€™s family, the governor and the party might be seen as bunch of ingrates especially if the level of loyalty displayed by the late speaker was anything to go by. He promised that the APC would take back the seat in the 2019 general election, because PDP chieftains like Sharafadeen Alli, who left his Ibadan base to coordinate the bye-election for the opposition would not be in the area next year for obvious reasons of general election.
With this scenario, the integrity of the recent local government elections conducted by the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) is now called to question. It begs serious of questions that three weeks after the commission conducted what many, including the aggrieved APC members described as â€˜sham electionâ€™ and returned all APC candidates from councilors to chairmen as winners across the 33 councils and 35 LCDAs, as winners, the â€˜truthâ€™ is becoming to unfold within that the local government election can never pass the test of time if subjected to rigorous debate and intellectual interrogation.
In this bye-election, the PDP led by a former governor, Rashidi Ladoja, appeared smarter and the frenzy that followed the victory among the supporters has since continued unabated
But in the APC, mum has been the words save for the analysis given by the former senator and gubernatorial aspirant for the 2019 race. And with the APC splitting into two across the state, the party appears doomed except urgent reconciliation and fruitful realignment is put in place to calm the frayed nerves.
The party today still parades some of the quality personalities to govern Oyo State especially, when people like recently retired Deputy-Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bayo Adelabu; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Niyi Akintola; a retired Head of Service, Mr. Soji Eniade, a serving Finance Commissioner, Mr. Bimbo Adekanmbi; a former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Babalola Owolabi; former OYSTROMA boss, Remi Olaniyan; a former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala; Ex-Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin; Kehinde Olaosebikan; Senators Fatai Buhari and Soji Akanbi, among others are anything to go by.
But in the other group â€œUnity Forum,â€ you have eggheads like Professor Adeolu Akande, Dr. Yunus Akintunde, Communications Minister, Bayo Shittu; Dr. Kola Balogun, and â€˜neutral aspirantâ€™ and serving House of Representatives member, Olatoye Temitope.
Any of these â€˜APC Aspirantsâ€™ will be looking ahead to confront the PDP strongmen like Senators Ayoade Adeseun and Femi Lanlehin; a former Secretary to State Government, Chief Sharafadeen Alli; a billionaire businessman Seyi Makinde; Femi Babalola; Dr. Nureni Adeniran and an Oke-Ogun born Senator Gbenga Babalola.
Until and unless they all come together in APC with the governor providing the right leadership as Ladoja is presently doing in the PDP, the hope of the party retaining the coveted seat of Agodi Government House may become a forlorn hope.
And very curiously, the average Nigerian politician hardly learns from history, because this was the way PDP fought to the finish since 2011 to bid goodbye to the Government House for eighth year running, till they managed to come together recently, albeit â€˜in a marriage of convenienceâ€™.
The recent bye-election has again sprung the PDP into reckoning as the Ibarapa winning template is now being canvassed for the coming elections in Ekiti and Osun States respectively. But for now, Adebo Ogundoyin is the new poster boy in the town for the umbrella party in South-west, coming behind last yearâ€™s victory of another PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke of Osun West, Osun State.