The election of Seyi Makinde as the governor-elect of Oyo State might have repositioned the PDP in the South-west, writes Kemi Olaitan
When the Oyo State Returning Officer, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who is the Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, declared Oluwaseyi Abiodun Makinde, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of March 9 of the governorship election, polling 551, 621 votes to defeat his closest rival, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 357, 982 votes, the reverberation was felt all over the pacesetter state as the victory signalled the end of the eight-year rule of APC in the state.
While Makinde is expected to assume the leadership of the state come May 29, when he alongside other governors will be sworn in, political watchers could not be more interested in knowing the implication his victory hold not only for the state but the entire South West come 2023.
Clearly, many Nigerians are of the opinion that the fierce contest exhibited in this year’s election by political gladiators in the two dominant parties, the ruling APC and the opposition, PDP, was not about 2019 but because of 2023, when power is expected to move back to the South based on the nation’s present North/South dichotomy. And whatever happens in Oyo State, which is more or less the political headquarters of the region, would be of paramount concern.
At the inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, Oyo state like the other states in the region was won by the Alliance for Democracy (AD) with the late Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, elected as the governor. But the PDP tsunami of 2003 was to sweep the party from the region with Lagos State as an exception as the National Leader of the APC, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was to be the last man standing among the six AD governors.
The state was to fall back into the hands of the progressives with the election of the present governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi in 2011, after eight years of Governor Rasheed Ladoja and Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, both of the PDP.
The election of Makinde has thus returned the state back to the PDP. Given the fact that the state as the political headquarters of the South West will be governed by the PDP for the next four years, many political analysts believed that whatever Makinde makes of his administration would determine the fate of the party come 2023.
With congratulatory messages pouring in for him from far and near despite the fact that the ruling APC in the state did not give him chance to thrive in the election, his electoral success which cuts across all the five zones of the state – Ibadan, Oyo, Oke Ogun, Ogbomoso and Ibarapa – was overwhelming.
This immediately compelled the Ibadan people to start passing judgment on one of their own, Governor Abiola Ajimobi that he failed them and subsequently voted against his party, the APC. It is thus important that Makinde owes it a duty to avoid the mistakes made by Ajimobi, which led the people of the state to turn their back against his party.
The many sins of Ajimobi, which political analysts want him to avoid include involving himself in matters that concern traditional rulers such as the one involving Olubadan, owing salaries and seeing the position of governor as the all-in-all and all-knowing, among others.
Though Makinde in his acceptance speech assured the people of the state that all the promises he made during the campaigns would be kept, commentators insisted that the future of the PDP in the South-west region is in his hands to make or mar. According to them, with only him as PDP governor in the midst of five other governors, who are from the APC, the task ahead of him cannot but be enormous if at all he wants his party to be relevant in the region in the struggle for 2023. His acceptance speech read in part: “The political struggle of the past weeks by the people of Oyo State, particularly the elections which took place yesterday leading to my being elected as your next governor come May this year, reminds me of the Agbekoya struggle of 1968.
“I compare the two historical events, because while the original Agbekoya struggle of 50 years ago was a peasant revolt that kicked against high taxation and tariffs, particularly of farmers by the powers that be, Saturday’s voting pattern, clearly showed your dogged determination in spite of spirited efforts to frustrate you.
“The needless bloodletting, maiming and killings of members of opposition parties, which led to the death of a federal legislator, Hon Olatoye Temitope Sugar and some others was an unfortunate dent on our democracy. I assure the families involved that they will not die in vain. In your valor, you stood up against what you perceived to be mismanagement of your common patrimony brought about by collusion with forces outside of our shores to fleece our treasury, among other obvious misdemeanors.
“Well, there is no need crying over spilled milk and it is for us to move forward together and for me to fulfill my campaign promises to you in the clear understanding that we will take realistic decisions together, because you did not elect me to compensate me for anything, you elected me to fulfill your desire for a better life and God helping me, I will not disappointing you.
“You also made it easier for us by voting in majority of our legislators, which means that we can push through, without ado, all of our people-oriented policies particularly, in critical sectors of education, health and job creation.”
Apart from being in charge of the political headquarters of the South-west, political watchers look forward to seeing Makinde from May 29, playing the yeoman’s role of Tinubu as the only governor left, when the progressives were swept away in 2003.
Indeed, with the support he got from the people of the state, analysts believed that he must deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of the state such that it would leave up to its name as pacesetter. For the four years that he will be occupying the Agodi Government House, it will not be permissible for him to give excuse for failure as he is the eye of the party, not only in the state but the entire region as a whole.
Despite winning the election for the PDP through a coalition formed with other political parties that include the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) led by Senator Ladoja and Chief Sarafadeen Alli as the governorship candidate; the African Democratic Congress (ADC) of Senator Olufemi Lanlehin and Social Democratic Party (SDP), led by Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), commentators are of the view that the composition of the people that will work with him will go a long way on how he does the job expected of him.
Interestingly, the state is not in short supply of bright minds, who can deliver at any time. This, of course, will require him picking the best hands rather than relying on political patronage, which can be counterproductive.
Similarly, as the only governor from the party in the South-west, it is incumbent on him to be its rallying point as he is expected to provide the necessary war chest the party would need for any political war that will crop up.
It is worth stating that the victory of Makinde as the governor-elect 12 years after he joined the political fray in the state, puts him in a position to change the fortune of the PDP in his state and the entire South-west region such that come 2023, the party can compete favourably in the region and the country as a whole.