Who Will Ajimobi Send into Oyo Governorship Race?

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Tobi Soniyi writes that the growing list of governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress is disturbing

As the number of aspirants jostling for the All Progressives Congress governorship ticket in Oyo State continues to rise, Governor Abiola Ajiombi must be having a tough time trying to determine who succeed him.

Among those who have shown interest in the race are a former governor of the state, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, a professor of animal physiology and former chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Professor Soji Adejumo, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Adebayo Adelabu, Chief Executive Officer of Costain West Africa Plc, Ayo Karim, a Senior Partner and Head of the Technology Advisory Services and Markets of KPMG Professional Services in Nigeria, Joseph Olasunkanmi Tegbe, Project Director and Director at Integrated Energy Distribution And Marketing Limited and

Dr. Olusola Ayandele. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria,

Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), a legal practitioner, Mr Rotimi Adeniji, a former editor of the Guardian, Mr. Debo Adesina, as well as the chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Oyo State, Mr. Akeem Agbaje,

Members of the Oyo State Executive Council are also not left out. The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Azeez Adeduntan is in the race. His counterpart in the finance ministry, Mr. Abimbola Adekambi is running for the top office as well. Commissioner for Land, Housing and Survey, Mr. Isaac Omodewu has also shown interest.

The deputy governor, Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo is in the race. Ajimobi’s Special Adviser on Political Matters, Mr. Morounkola Thomas has also indicated his interest.

Two senators, Abdulfatai Buhari, representing Oyo North Senatorial District and Soji Akanbi, representing Oyo South Senatorial District have also joined the race.

Members of the House of Representatives from Oyo State are also interested in the Oyo State Government House. They are Dada Awoleye representing Ibadan North Federal Constituency and Temitope Olatoye (Sugar), representing Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency.

Only recently, the Minister of Communication,

Alhaji Adebayo Shittu secured the nod of President Muhammadu Buhari to join the race.

Others are: Mr. Soji Eniade, former Head of Service, Oyo State, Dr. Babalola Owolabi, a former Commissioner for Health, Oyo State and Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan, a former chairman, Oluyole Local Government.

Also Mr. Zacheaus Adelabu, a former Commissioner for Finance, Oyo State has equally shown his interest.

The list continues to grow. At the last count, six members of Ajimobi’s cabinet are in the race.

Until recently, two aspirants were believed to be the governor’s favourites: the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Adebayo Adelabu and Chief Adeniyi Akintola, (SAN). Both are eminently qualified for the job. However, sources close to the governor said Ajimobi was no longer disposed to Adelabu following alleged “unguided’ talk attributed to him which filtered to the ears of the governor.

He was reported to have boasted that he had assisted the governor and his wife, Florence at different times in the past and that it should be a payback period for him. THISDAY could not verify this claim. It is also not unusual in politics for mischief makers to come between politicians.

What is not in doubt is that the governor has since become uncomfortable with Adelabu.

THISDAY checks further revealed that the race is now between Akintola and Tegbe, who is believed to be a business partner of the governor.

Many in Oyo State are of the view that Tegbe will cover the governor’s tracks once installed as governor. His closness to Ajimobi, which should have been his asset is turning out to be a liability.

He claims to be from Ibadan, but many in the ancient city have their doubt.

The governor also appears to be favourably disposed to Akintola. The legal icon has so many factors working in his favour

He is a household name in Oyo State and the social gatekeepers in the pacesetters state are very comfortable with him. He is at home with the traditional rulers: Alaafin of Oyo, the Soun of Ogbomosho, the Aseyin of Iseyin and the Olubadan of Ibadanland– some of the leading traditional rulers who cut across the major senatorial zones in the state.

He is also from Ibadan which controls 54 percent of the voting population in the state. His aspiration has received the blessings of the influential body in the ancient city, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes.

Akintola is also not a latter day progressive as he has deployed his legal services to assist the progressive camp in the past. In those uncertain years when the defunct Action Congress lost election through electoral heist to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Akintola’s services came handy. He was the lead counsel in the case instituted by Oshiomhole challenging the victory of PDP candidate, Professor Osunbor in Edo state. He handled the cases of Ajimobi versus Alao-Akala, Dr Kayode Fayemi versus Segun Oni in Oyo and Ekiti states, respectively.

He was also the lead counsel in Aregbesola versus Oyinlola in Osun states. When Rasheed Ladoja was impeached as Oyo State governor and Akala emerged, Akintola handled the case probono (without legal fees) up to the Supreme Court to the consternation of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes. All these endeared him to the likes of Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and the sitting governor, Ajimobi who now holds the ace on who becomes his successor.

However, one of the factors against him is that other parts of the state feel that after Ajimobi, an Ibadan man, the next governor should not come from the rustic city. Equitable as that sounds, leading APC members in the state are of the view that if the party makes the mistake of not choosing its candidate from Ibadan which controls 54 per cent of the votes, it will amount to conceding the state to the PDP since the opposition party plans to field an Ibadan man.