With his victory in the March 18 governorship election, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has become the only member of the G-5 governors of the Peoples Democratic Party who did not suffer the political consequences arising from the group’s political shenanigans to weaken and destroy the party before the 2023 general election, Ejiofor Alike reports
On Saturday, March 18, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was reelected for another four-year term in the governorship and state House of Assembly elections held in the country.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Sunday declared Makinde, who was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner of the governorship election in the state.
According to the Returning Officer, Professor Olusola Keyinde, the Oyo State governor polled 563,756 votes to beat his close rival, Senator Teslim Folarin of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who scored 256,685 votes, while Adebayo Adelabu of Accord Party scored 38,357 votes.
Makinde won 31 out of the 33 local government areas in the state, while Folarin came second by winning two local governments – Irepo and Ore-lope.
The governor contested against Folarin, a former Senate Leader and three-term Senator, and Adebayo Adelabu, who is a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
With his victory, Makinde has broken the record as the only member of the G-5 governors of the PDP who did not suffer any political consequences arising from Governor Nyesom Wike’s failed bids to clinch the party’s presidential or vice-presidential ticket.
Governors Makinde, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State aligned with Wike to work against the PDP on whose platform they were planning to seek reelection, sponsor successors and pursue senatorial ambitions, depending on the individual cases.
Many political analysts had argued that by aligning with Wike, who was not in any way on the ballot in the 2023 elections, the four governors were unwittingly putting their political ambitions in jeopardy.
While Makinde was seeking a second term in office, Ugwuanyi, Ortom and Ikpeazu were pursuing senatorial ambitions, and at the same time, plotting to install their successors.
On his part, Wike who recruited the other four governors into his personal project as revenge for losing the party’s presidential and vice-presidential tickets, was seeking to install a successor.
But having lost both the presidential and vice-presidential tickets of the PDP, and also failed to secure a senatorial ticket, Wike was already a sore loser, who could even sacrifice his anointed successor for his political survival.
Surprisingly, the four governors who were on the ballot, joined forces with their Rivers State counterpart to malign their presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the National Chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu.
They criss-crossed Europe and their states, holding meetings and parties, taunting Atiku, and also engaging in other anti-party activities to make the PDP unpopular.
At the end, having weakened their party, Ugwuanyi, Ortom and Ikpeazu who contested the February 25 elections were the first casualties of their anti-party activities as they all lost their senatorial ambitions.
Ugwuanyi, who had spent 12 years in the House of Representatives for Udenu/Igbo Eze North Federal Constituency, lost his bid to go to the Senate to the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Okey Ezea.
The LP senatorial candidate polled 104,492 votes to defeat the Enugu State governor, who scored 46,948 votes.
Ikpeazu also lost the Abia South senatorial district election to the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Abaribe polled a total of 49,693 votes to defeat his closest rivals and the candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Chinedu Onyeizu, who got 43,903 votes while Ikpeazu polled 28,422 votes to take a distant third position.
On his part, Ortom also lost his senatorial bid to represent Benue South senatorial district to the candidate of the APC, Mr. Titus Zam.
Zam was Ortom’s Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs while they were together in APC before the governor defected to the PDP in 2018.
The former Gwer-west LGA chairman polled 143,151 votes to defeat Ortom who scored 106,882 while LP’s candidate, Mark Gbillah scored 51,950.
In Oyo State, the APC also defeated Makinde’s PDP in the presidential election.
Though Tinubu’s victory in the PDP state had created anxiety in Makinde’s camp, the governor’s close allies had revealed an alleged alliance between Tinubu’s camp and Makinde’s camp.
But the APC Presidential Campaign Committee (PCC) in the state had dismissed any standing agreement between the president-elect, Tinubu, and Governor Makinde.
Chairman of the Central Media Presidential Gubernatorial Council of the party, Mr. Kehinde Olaosebikan, had said in a statement that Makinde was only deceiving his allies.
A member of the PCC, Nike Ajagbe, had also stated that Tinubu’s visit to Makinde on February 16, 2023, during the presidential rally in Ibadan, had nothing to do with endorsement of the governor.
The PDP in the state had also through a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Akeem Olatunji, described as false the claim that it had formed alliance with the APC in the state.
However, under the alleged deal, Makinde was expected to work for Tinubu’s victory in the state, while Tinubu’s loyalists in the APC were also expected to work for the governor’s reelection.
The March 18 election was said to be a payback time as the loyalists of the APC presidential candidate reportedly ditched their party’s governorship candidate, Folarin, to work for Makinde’s victory.
It was also alleged that the Tinubu-Makinde deal also stipulated that the governor would defect to the APC after emerging victorious.
However, the governor had since debunked this claim, stressing that he would not leave the PDP.
Therefore, only the events of the next few months would reveal whether or not Makinde actually reached a deal to join the APC.
But his reelection in the face of the growing influence of the APC in the South-west, was evidence of his excellent performance in the last four years, unlike his South-east colleagues in the G-5 who used the crisis in the PDP to cover their poor performances for eight years and paid dearly for it on February 25.
To make matters worse, while Ikpeazu and Ortom’s anointed successors lost their elections, Ugwuanyi’s preferred choice, Mr. Peter Mbah, was victorious.
But those who know Mbah in close quarters said that he won’t be the type of governor who will be a puppet to his predecessor. Ugwuanyi, it was further gathered did not even play any significant role to ensure his victory.
Though Wike installed his successor, Mr. Similanayi Fubara, and ensured that Tinubu won his state, the governor’s opponents said it would be difficult for the President-elect or his associates to trust him in view of the controversial role he played ahead of the elections, which earned him more political enemies than friends.
While Wike is said to be a political liability, Ortom, Ugwuanyi, and Ikpeazu are licking their political wounds.