Though the Accord Party (AP) in Oyo State has said it would contest the results of the last general elections in the state at the yet to be established Elections Petition Tribunal, following its disagreement with the conduct of the elections, the popularity of such move might likely be limited to the generality of the members of the party and not with the members of the inner-caucus of the party, some of who were convinced that the party was flatly defeated in the election, fair and square. One of such members was quoted to have dismissed the last gathering at the party secretariat where the party supporters had gathered to protest the results of the governorship and House of Assembly elections and where the governorship candidate of the party, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja, had assured them of his determination to lead the vanguard to reclaim his alleged ‘stolen mandate’ with a wave of hand, stressing that the party lost the election, pure and simple.
It would be recalled that the same party had threatened to challenge the results of the National Assembly election held in the state two weeks earlier at the same tribunal and with the latest decision, it means the whole of the 2015 general elections were faulty in Oyo State as far the Accord was concerned.
This position by the Accord governorship candidate and his supporters is however at variance with that of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which won the election and which has since been in celebration. Curiously, the Accord is going to be a lone ranger in the struggle to reclaim the said ‘stolen mandate’ because all the other major contenders in the election, like Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Labour Party (LP), Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Engr. Seyi Makinde of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), had accepted the results and subsequently congratulated the APC governorship candidate in the election, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi. Not only did the party, APC, win the election by producing the governor, three Senators, 12 House of Representatives’ seats and 18 seats of the State House of Assembly as against eight House of Assembly seats won by Accord, six by Labour Party (LP), one House of Representatives’ seat each for LP and PDP, the party has become the first in the history of the state to win the governorship election twice, thus breaking the age-long jinx.
As the APC rejoices at the feat achieved in the election and without prejudice to the awaiting litigation to be instituted by Accord as being threatened, political observers in the state would not but agree that it was the opposition that won the election for Ajimobi of the APC. Ironically, that was the same scenario in 2011, though from different perspective. In 2011, virtually all the who-is-who in the then ruling PDP in the state joined hands to assist the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which fielded Ajimobi to win the election in a bid to send the then governor Adebayo Alao-Akala packing. It was even speculated that part of the objectives of former governor Ladoja in floating Accord in the state then was to decimate the votes of the PDP which was fielding Alao-Akala.
Unfortunately for the opposition, when the same coalition that became handy in 2011 to sack Alao-Akala was needed to check out the incumbent governor, Ajimobi, it became elusive. With the outcome of the results of the Presidential/National Assembly election on the 28th March and the glaring sweeping of the votes in what has become known as ‘Buhari hurricane’ by the APC, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Ajimobi would coast home to victory. Before the first election, the popularity of governor Ajimobi was on the low side due to a lot of shortcomings by his administration, including the non-payment of workers’ salaries, the demolition of illegal structures leading to displacement of traders on the streets, and others bothering on the governor’s interpersonal relationship. All these buoyed the confidence of the opposition that he would be mincemeat at the election. Prominent among the front- runners of those angling to take over from Ajimobi was the former governor Ladoja of the Accord because of his seeming acceptability especially by the government workers in the state. But, with the election of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the APC at the presidential poll as well as the clearing of almost all the National Assembly posts in the state by the Buhari’s APC, the chances of Ajimobi became brighter. The bright chance of Ajimobi ahead of the governorship election notwithstanding, it is very much in doubt if there could be any of the states where the APC won the first election and where tension could be that high as it was in Oyo State ahead of the governorship election, the stakes were very high with the opposition looking set, at least in the estimation of the people to upstage Ajimobi.
One glaring thing that surfaced after the first election however was that only a coalition of forces, as noted earlier, could upstage the incumbent governor and the opposition parties were aware of this glaring fact with the available information, following which various moves were made towards pursuing a common interest. But, the fundamental differences existing between them prevented them from coming together. As the incumbent governor Ajimobi rightly noted at one of the media interviews he granted shortly before the election that all the other four major governorship candidates were PDP members, the same wedge that came between them and scattered the party into Accord, LP, SDP and the PDP made it impossible for them to unite for a common cause. While the former governor Alao-Akala was said to be ready to work with Makinde of the SDP, he would not mind Ajimobi winning the election instead of Ladoja or Folarin. Folarin’s camp too would not mind if Ajimobi should come back instead of either Ladoja or Akala while the camp was indifferent to the emergence of Makinde considered as too junior in politics. In the camp of Ladoja, it was either Ladoja or no other person as all the proposal made towards forging a common front was centered around him which could not fly with the other groups. Before the governorship election, one of the top notch of the PDP in the state, Sen. Lekan Balogun told our Correspondent that the opposing candidates to Ajimobi would realise at a later date that it would be better for any of them to emerge than for Ajimobi. But, that may be a fulfilled prophecy already.
Holding all variables constant, if the total votes of just the PDP (79,019) in the election were added to the votes garnered by Accord (254,520), the opposition (333,539) would have led Ajimobi with 327,310 votes by as much as 6,229 votes and if the issue of spread is not in contention, the story would have been different today.