If the magnitude of crowd at political rallies is the only determining factor in deciding who wins the next governorship election in Oyo State come April 11, 2015, then the Monday rally cum road show organized by the Labour Party to drum up support for the aspiration of former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala in Ogbomosho and adjoining autonomous communities has won the race for the shrewd politician.
In what looks like a testament of Alao-Akala’s popularity and acceptability in his hometown, the rally took the party faithful and supporters round the length and breadth of Ogbomosho and environs. It was witnessed by a mammoth crowd consisting of both old and young. The leadership of the various major markets in the land filed out in their uniforms singing praises of the son of the soil in the epic Oyo State governorship election in less than three weeks.
Various youth groups also thronged the venues of the rally which culminated at the Ogbomosho town hall where various speakers took turns to address the electorate and reminded them of the achievements of Akala during his first shot at the coveted seat at Agodi Governor’s house in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State.
In consonance with the Yoruba adage; you don’t have a beautiful child as a daughter and go ahead to put beautifying beads around the waist of another man’s child. Hundreds of old women in their 70s lined-up the major streets to welcome their illustrious son and wish him well in the battle of the titans in Oyo State. Although, about a dozen of candidates are vying for the governorship seat in Oyo State, nonetheless, four of them are most prominent and almost carry equal weight on paper in terms of popularity, followership and acceptability.
They are the incumbent Governor, Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi, candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, the Labour Party’s flag bearer, Adebayo Alao-Akala, and Rashidi Ladoja of the Accord Party. Others are Tesilim Folarin of People’s Democratic Party and Seyi Makinde of the Social Democratic Party SDP.
While four of the major candidates hail from Ibadan, only Alao-Akala is not from the capital of the state. The road show which traversed all the nooks and crannies of the ancient town of Ogbomosho was used by the Akala team to enlist the support of the people of the town for one of their own. The party supporters defied the scorching sun to enlist their support for Akala.
Alao-Akala received the blessings of the paramount rulers of Onisape of Isape, Oba Braimon Adewunmi Amodu. The Oba lamented that Akala was not declared winner of the 2011 governorship election in Oyo State. He commended the governor for his populist approach to politics. He said many people in the state would not forget his administration as governor of the state in a hurry. ‘’Your kindness and generosity place you well above other candidates in the race for the governor’s seat in the state’’, he said.
He assured Alao-Akala of the votes of his subjects irrespective of whose ox is gored. He prayed for Akala and his team for God’s guidance and protection in his journey to the governor’s house in Agodi. In his earlier remarks, Akala had introduced other members of his team to the king and his chiefs, starting with his deputy, Sharafadeen Alli and other Labour Party’s candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives.
He made it abundantly clear that he had left PDP. He however, urged his supporters to vote for the candidates under the platform of Labour Party in the elections.
The rally took the LP supporters through Arowomole, Ago-Ife to Isale Lagbedun to Ijeru and Sabo Atenda. At each point, Akala in a motorcade danced to the admiration of his supporters who hailed him for being the man of the people. At each venue, he addressed the mammoth crowd and assured them of his desire to make life more meaningful for them if voted into power. He said he would revamp the economy of the state and enhance the purchasing power of the people one more time.
He lamented the agony of economic crunch being experienced in the state under the Abiola Ajimobi administration. He said if voted into power one more time, he would reverse the ugly trend and make every person in the state enjoy a decent living standard.
In a convoy of over three hundred vehicles, the road show culminated in a mega rally at the Ogbomosho town hall where the chairman of Labour Party, Gbenga Olayemi summed up the whole exercise as a display of genuine love for Adebayo Alao-Akala. He described the crowd that witnessed the road show and rally as unprecedented in the history of the town. He said Labour Party was the party to beat in the general elections. He explained that three political parties merged to form the present LP in Oyo State. According to him, leaders of LP were at one time or the other members of PDP, APC and Accord Party before they looked for people of like minds to strengthen the Labour Party.
Olayemi however, assured the people of the state of better governance in Oyo if Akala was voted into power. He condemned the present administration in the state, describing it as insensitive to the plights of the people of the state. He noted with dismay the agony many citizens of the state were going through as a result of maladministration of the APC-led government.
He noted that those of them that decamped from the three major parties in the State decided to join forces with Alao-Akala to liberate the people of Oyo State from the shackles of slavery which the present administration had subjected the people to, in the past four years. He urged the people of Ogbomosho to vote en mass for their son to enable him do more for them.
Mogaji Iba Oluyole in Ibadan, Nureni Akanbi assured Alao-Akala of the total support of the people of Ibadan. He challenged any Ibadan indigene who claims to be a more Ibadan-man than him. He said ‘’as a true son of Ibadan, I’m assuring you of the total support of the Ibadan electorate’’. He however, urged the people of Ogbomosho not to be deceived by allowing some people to split their votes for Akala.
He said all the eleven local government areas that constitute Ibadan are solidly behind Akala. He described the April 11 governorship election as a liberation war for the people of the state. He said Ajimobi must be sacked from the Agodi governor’s house through the ballots. He however, urged the people of Ogbomosho to vote en mass for Akala.
Another LP leader, Bayo Oyewusi said he decamped with Akala to LP from PDP. He however, assured Akala of the ten local government areas in Oke-Ogun zone of the state. He said if Oke-Ogun should deliver its ten local government council areas for Akala, Ogbomosho Township with three council areas would not have any excuse not to deliver all for Akala. He highlighted Alao-Akala’s achievements while in power as governor, stressing that he would do more if given another opportunity to serve the people.
In his final remarks, Alao-Akala urged the people of Ogbomosho to vote for him en mass. He said he would not disappoint them as he has never done. He said he would ensure the development of the town if voted into power.
In a voice laden with grief, Alao-Akala recounted how he was betrayed by some characters in PDP who hailed from the state. It would be recalled that the leader of the House of Representatives, Mulikat Adeola-Akande was a political daughter of Akala while Senator Hosea Agboola was the commissioner for Local government and chieftaincy affairs under Alao-Akala administration.
Akala noted with dismay how he labored for their present political attainments at the federal level. He lamented that he spent his personal money to ensure that the two characters and others win their respective elections while they both betrayed him when he needed their support most. He said Adeola-Akande used the police to arrest LP members in Ogbomosho for supporting Akala.
One of the party members who were arrested by the police on the directive of the House Leader and whisked away to Abuja had earlier recounted his ordeal in detention for no just reason. He said having been incarcerated for ten days, he was released by the police and brought to the residence of Adeola Akande in Abuja where the House leader offered him N200, 000 to abandon Alao-Akala’s political family.
He however, urged all members of Labour Party in the State to vote for the candidates of LP in the March 28 elections for the Senate and House of Representatives, stressing that all the occupants of the positions at the National Assembly that betrayed him must be flushed out through the ballots on Saturday.