The battle for the ticket for the 2015 governorship election in Oyo State under the platform of People’s Democratic Party PDP has been a fierce one among political juggernauts in the state as no one is prepared to concede to the other. Several nocturnal meetings in Abuja and Ibadan aimed at finding a common ground for key players in the contest have produced little or no tangible results.
At the beginning of the race, what appeared an all comers affair is seemingly giving way to the real contenders while the pretenders are beginning to take the back seat after the initial hues and cries over who will face the incumbent Governor, Isiaka Ajimobi of All Progressive Congress APC at the polls next year. The Street Journal can reliably report that majority of them have shelved the declaration plans for the big battle ahead.
The list of contenders for the ticket included Dr Azeez Popoola Adedutan, Senator Ayoade Ademola Adeseun, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan, Prof. Toaheed Adedoja, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi, Amb. Toafeek Arapaja, Engr.Seyi Makinde, Engr. Femi Babalola Jogor, Senator Tesilim, Kolawole Folarin, and Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala.
There are strong indications that both the pretenders and contenders are beginning to emerge as inconclusive results emanating from the last Congresses of the party in the state indicated that Tesilim Folarin, Seyi Makinde and Adebayo Alao-Akala are the three major contenders for the ticket that will slug it out with Ajimobi next year.
The Street Journal takes a cursory look at the contenders and pretenders one after the other not necessarily following any specific order.
A journalist from Oluyole Local Government area of the state, he came into politics in 1999 with his appointment as the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the late former governor Lam Adesina. He contested for the House of Representatives seat of Oluyole Federal Constituency in 2003 on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) but lost to the PDP candidate, Depo Oyedokun. Thereafter, he crossed to the PDP where he had since remained.
He was among the local government chairmen sworn-in by the former governor Rashidi Ladoja just before he left office in 2007, but, who were sent packing immediately the former governor Alao-Akala was sworn-in. He was however re-appointed as the caretaker chairman of the same Oluyole Local Government area of the state, a few months to the end of the Alao-Akala administration. He has since then relocated to Abuja where he runs a PR Consultancy firm largely for politicians. He’s seen as a starter and lacks the high level of network, necessary to warm him to the hearts of the people across the state. Besides, he’s seen as an aspirant without the necessary capital outlay that can guarantee him a confortable support base beyond Oluyole local government area.
Prof. Taoheed Adedoja:
A former Minister of Sports and Special Duties stood tall among them all in terms of experience. A former Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), a former state Commissioner for Education, from where he was nominated as a Minister at the twilight of the Alao-Akala administration, he is a veteran in the governorship race. The former Provost of Federal College of Education (FCE) Special, Oyo began his political journey with the defunct Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) during the aborted transition programme of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. He slugged the PDP governorship ticket out with Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Yekeen Adeojo and others in 2003 and this earned him the SUBEB job after the eventual emergence of Ladoja as the state governor. Curiously, he emerged the then Action Congress (AC) gubernatorial candidate in 2007 and came third in the governorship election. Governor Akala later appointed him as Commissioner for Education and later nominated him as Minister. Aside his wealth of experience, the other thing that stands him out is his non-alignment with any of the factions of the party during the fictionalization crisis lasted in the state. He lacks a formidable political structure as his support base has been depleted over the years due to political alignment and re-alignments in the state. This qualifies him to be a pretender in the race.
Currently a law student at the University of Ibadan, he is an alumnus of the late Lamidi Adedibu’s Molete School of Amala Politics. As a matter of fact he qualifies to be the president of the Molete School. Gbolarumi is well groomed in the political style of the late strongman of Ibadan politics. For a considerable number of years, he was the late politician’s point man and it was not a surprise that he was made the deputy governor to Adebayo Alao-Akala after the illegal impeachment of the former governor Rashidi Ladoja in 2006. So, for the 11 months which the interregnum lasted he was second in command at the Agodi Government House. The challenges bothering on his academic qualification which he faced during that time must have contributed to his non-nomination as the deputy to Akala for the 2007 governorship election which he won and also might have informed his decision to go back to school as he’s currently doing.
To lend credence to the decadence in our health sector, he is the immediate past Chairman, Governing Council, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ido, Ekiti State. He obtained the governorship form during the last dispensation, but, the determination to field the then incumbent governor Alao-Akala for another term made nonsense of that attempt. Aside the snag that he will still be a student next year when election will be held, his political background as a thorough-bred of Molete politics is being considered an albatross for him. To hold state power with such political tendency associated with Molete, in the view of some members of the party, will not likely bring about good governance and respect for the party. He’s definitely a pretender in this contest.
The Fiditi in Afijio Local Government Area of the state-born engineer is an Ibadan based businessman. He is known much as a business man than as a politician. Until during the last dispensation, when he was actively involved in the execution of some of the Alao-Akala administration’s projects and the platform upon which he actually came into limelight, not much could be said of him politically. His became a household name with his featuring in the on-going trial of the former governor of the state, Alao-Akala and Senator Hosea Ayoola Agboola, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegation of financial recklessness. Observers are of the view that governorship for a starter like him may be too much, coupled with the fact that the low voting contribution of his immediate constituency to the electoral victory of any governor may put him at a great disadvantage.
Elder Wole Oyelese:
Perhaps, the oldest of them all, he’s been around politically for quite some time. A former Local Government Chairman in Egbeda Local Government Area of the state during the aborted transition programme of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), he became a Minister during the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, serving firstly in the Ministry of Power and later as Special Duties Minister. His meteoric rise in politics has since stalled with the ministerial appointment. The Erunmu-born politician has been nursing the ambition for quite some time. Described as opportunistic by those very close to him, he’s said to have been calculative in his desire to govern the state; hence his cautious approach to it over the years. While his supporters are of the view that his political maturity, coupled with his age and experience, stand him in good stead for the exalted position, his antagonists are of the view that his absence in active political office over the years has placed him in a very disadvantaged position for the office and that he should leave the stage for the younger elements.
Ambassador Taofeek Oladejo Arapaja:
The immediate past Deputy-Governor of the state, his rise in politics has been meteoric and steady. He started as local government chairman in Ibadan South-East and he served there for a considerable number of years from where he was elected member, House of Representatives. After his tenure, he became the deputy to the former governor Alao-Akala, the office he held for four years. He was appointed Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan where he is presently. A strong member of Molete political school under the tutelage of the late Adedibu, he enjoys a good relationship with the Minister of State for FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide who initially dropped her ambition for him before the political calculations in the state changed. The relationship between the two of them became pronounced during the last state congress of the party. It was then that the group, Jumoke Akinjide/Arapaja group emerged and the group midwifed the Yemetu, Ibadan faction of the party. Since then, they have become six and seven politically.
While the supporters of Arapaja are boasting of his experience and network as factors to see him through, those opposing him are of the view that his being out of the country on ambassadorial appointment has shut him out of the race already. Since his appointment as an Ambassador, he has been doing everything possible to forge unification among all the various shades of opinions in the party in the state and this has warmed him more to the leaders of the party in the state.
Dr. Azeez Popoola Adeduntan
Adeduntan is a United States of America-based medical doctor, the President, Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of Victory Vascular & General Surgery of Georgia. He is also the publisher of Nigerian Alert Newspaper based in Ibadan.
From the same area, (Olupoyi Compound of Oja-Oba) as the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, Adeduntan contested the 2011 governorship election on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) and lost. He declared his interest in running for the PDP gubernatorial ticket in May this year and has been canvassing support through his Dr. Azeez Popoola Adeduntan Foundation (DAPAF). But it is not clear how far he can go in the race. Political analysts say he’s surely a pretender in the race.
Senator Ayoade Ademola Adeseun
Adeseun is the lawmaker representing Oyo Central in the Senate. Elected on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2011, the Ogbomoso-born politician recently defected from the All Progressives Congress to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the same party he had dumped four years ago to contest the Senatorial slot. At present Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Market, Adeseun was previously in the Federal House of Representatives where he represented Ogo Oluwa/Surulere Constituency in 2003 and 2007. He was the founding State Chairman of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) in Oyo State from 1998 to 2000 and was Executive Chairman, Surulere Local Government Area of Oyo State between 1996 and 1998. A politician with a penchant for moving from one party to another with little or no provocation, it remains to be seen how he would win broad support for his gubernatorial ambition. Besides, coming from Ogbomoso where former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala has a cult-like following, even getting the support of the people there seems a herculean task. He’s also believed to be untrustworthy in the political circle to the point of igniting betrayal sentiments associated with that part of the state, given historically empirical evidence. He’s believed to be a pretender.
He is an Engineer and into oil business. He has not held any political office in the past. Before now, he had tried to go to the Senate, using the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) platform, but did not win. He’s seriously preparing for the exalted seat this time around and confident that if finance plays any role, the game would be a walk-over. Political observers are of the view that with his experience as an oil company worker, he would have been thoroughly exposed managerially to give a good account of himself in office as a governor if he’s given the party’s ticket and he eventually wins the general election. They are however quick to add that his level of wealth may be his albatross in office as he is likely to be full of too much of himself. Again, it is argued that his popularity in the party for now, in comparison with those he will be contending with is low and that may seriously work against him. Political Analysts are of the opinion that if he knows how to play his game well with a dint of good luck, he’s a good candidate for Agodi Governor’s House tenancy in the nearest future. It’s believed that Seyi Makinde does not have a potent political structure that can win the ticket for him let alone the governorship election in 2015 since the election will not be all about Ibadan voters alone. It’s not even likely that Makinde will be able to defeat Ajimobi in Ibadan assuming he was given the ticket by PDP. Only Makinde and Alao-Akala have publicly declared their intention to contest for the PDP ticket in the state with pageantry and ceremony.
Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin:
The immediate past Senate Leader came into political limelight in 2003 when he was elected a Senator, representing Oyo Central Senatorial District through the political shamanism of the late strong man of Ibadan politics, Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu. The same process produced him in 2007, during which period he became the Senate Leader. Described as a schemer, the political intrigues of the state in 2011 cost him, not only the return ticket to the Senate, but also dashed his then governorship ambition. It would be recalled that his opposition in concert with others to the return of the then governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, for the second term gave the incumbent governor, Abiola Ajimobi of the then opposing Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), a boost at the poll. On the other hand, the crisis that erupted at the twilight of the last administration which consumed the late factional chairman of the state chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), (the uncrowned foot soldier of the administration) Alhaji Lateef Salako (alias Eleweomo) brought a considerable public sympathy to him as he was wrongly incarcerated by the police until the contrary judiciary pronouncement. An Ibadan chief, he is described as a humble person and possesses university education. However, the news of his ambition has not been well received by the generality of the people, who have been quick to ask: of what benefit to the state was his stay in the Senate and also as a Senate Leader? The role he played in the emergence of the recognized state executive council of the party has not also gone down well with some of the leaders of the party who are still angry that he short-changed them using the apparatus of the presidency and NASS. While he’s said to be presently mending fences with the aggrieved leaders, those who believe in him have also been making subtle appeal on his behalf that his lack of ‘performance’ while in the Senate was due to the influence of his godfather, the late Adedibu, on him which was said to be too overbearing and enormous. He was said to have lost the favour of the Oyo monarch, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, who told him point blank to forget his 2015 governorship ambition. Besides, many say he is too tightfisted for a politician desirous of winning the governorship ticket.
Although he’s believed to enjoy the support of the presidency, party Exco and NWC, many analysts believe that it would amount to political suicide for PDP to offer Folarin the ticket as he might not be able to win in Ibadan for the party if he should face Ajimobi at the polls.
Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala
The immediate-past governor of Oyo State is unarguably a big masquerade among the aspirants vying for the governorship ticket of the PDP. His image looms large in the race and in the party. The tumultuous crowd that attended his recent declaration to run in the gubernatorial race was seen by many as a pointer to the broad support base he still enjoys among PDP members. Alao-Akala has continued to position himself as the only man who can return power back into the hands of the PDP in the state. However, Akala has a strong force to contend with in the recent gang-up by aspirants of Ibadan extraction, seeking to drum up support for an Ibadan indigene to emerge the flag bearer of the party. In response, he is said to be rallying support from the Ogbomoso-Oke Ogun-Oyo North axis for him to emerge flag bearer. It is surprising, however, that at his recent declaration rally attended by a mammoth crowd in Ibadan, the big names in the state politics were conspicuously absent. He is believed to be extremely generous and this explains his political structure that still remains intact after leaving office about four years ago. Although he’s believed to be one man that can give Ajimobi-led APC a run for its money at the polls, the structure of the party Exco that is far away from his grips is believed to be a huge disadvantage for his ambition.
Interestingly,Senator Rashidi Ladoja Is A force To Reckon With Here:
Former Governor of Oyo State, who was impeached and was reinstated by the Court may emerge the surprise flag bearer of PDP if the on-going scheming and intrigues at the presidency are anything to go by. Ladoja, the national leader of Accord Party has been inundated with appeals by the First Lady, Patience Jonathan to abandon his party for PDP as the party’s flag bearer at the polls against Ajimobi. A brainwork of Minister of State for FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, Ladoja idea was allegedly sold to the president’s wife by the Ibadan born daughter of the Second Republic Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide, as a common ground for a consensus candidate for the party sequel to the failure of the aspirants to come up with a candidate that will be generally acceptable to members. Series of meetings that were held with the aspirants at the Guesthouse of the First Lady in Aso Rock on the need to accommodate Ladoja in PDP however, failed to produce any meaningful results as each of them stuck to his gun. The scheme was also embarked upon in order to checkmate Folarin who is believed to have the party Exco under his control. It is believed that should the party go into primaries, Folarin might emerge winner, a situation the First Lady fears might cost the party Oyo State at the polls against Ajimobi. Ladoja’s success at the 2011 polls where a relatively unknown Accord Party swept considerable numbers of seats at the State House of Assembly and House of Representatives was a pointer to his invitation to run under the platform of PDP. His retail politicking prowess devoid of violence is acknowledged to be second to none in this part of the country. His grassroots mobilization skills are considered to be his major selling-point. But what remains unsettled is whether or not other aspirants in PDP will be favourably disposed to giving him the necessary support that will translate to electoral success at the polls.