FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pressnews.biz (Press Release) Nov 13, 2014
-- As the Oyo State PDP gubernatorial primary draws near, it is said that incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi is on bended knees praying that the party picks either Chief Alao-Akala or Senator Teslim Folarin, as its flagbearer, two men he believes that he can easily trounce in his bid to become the first governor of Oyo State to serve second term.
A casual observer may wonder why Ajimobi would want PDP to pick either Akala or Folarin. But to seasoned political pundits, Ajimobi's confidence in beating either of the two men is not misplaced.
Folarin, a two-term senator may be a big name on paper and probably in Abuja among his erstwhile colleagues in the National Assembly. But in his Oyo State base, he is a mere paperweight politician without any following, having emerged as senator in 2003 courtesy of the strong-arm tactics of late Lamidi Adedibu. And it was by riding on Adedibu's back again that he was re-elected as senator in 2007 without lifting a finger or trying to create a political base of his own. Even when he emerged as Senate leader and could have used the opportunity to build a following, he spent most of his time in Abuja, playing national politics to the detriment of his constituents at the grassroots who could hardly recognise his face or point to any project that he helped bring to the state.
Folarin's first real attempt to get political support on his own was in 2011. But his violent attempt to wrest the party's governorship ticket from Alao-Akala in 2011 ended even before it began. He tried to intimidate party members with a large contingent of policemen from Abuja which resulted in the death of Lati Eleweomo, a leader of the National Union or Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state and one of Akala's staunch supporters. Akala angrily threw him into detention before yielding to pressure and setting him free. But to this day, the Ibadan-born politician is yet to exonerate himself of Eleweomo's murder.
To hit back at Akala to whom he lost the party's gubernatorial ticket, Folarin co-opted Senator Lekan Balogun, Alhaji Yekeen Adeojo and others to scuttle Alao-Akala's second term bid in the 2011 polls and thereby helped Ajimobi to become governor.
Now that he wants to be governor, he finds it difficult to get off his high horse to campaign for support across the state, the way the likes of Seyi Makinde has been busy doing. Instead, he has been holed up in Abuja begging his powerful friends to install him as the governorship candidate in Oyo State.
He is painfully aware that he cannot get the PDP governorship ticket in a free and fair primary election unless a decree comes from Abuja or the primary is rigged in his favour. Even if this was to happen and by some unusual means he becomes the flag bearer, convincing the voters who have never heard anything good about the two-term senator will be an uphill task. Pitted against Ajimobi, many voters will prefer to boycott the polling booth on Election Day or choose to reluctantly vote for the hated Ajimobi. Added to this is Akala waiting in the wing to seek vengeance by giving Folarin a taste of his own medicine.
In Akala's case, getting the support of the leaders of the PDP from the Ibadan axis which played a major role in aborting his re-election bid in 2011 is a major stumbling block. The enmity runs deep. Interestingly, it is not only the likes of Senator Lekan Balogun, Chief Adeojo and Folarin who are waiting to give Akala a bloody nose once again. There is also the intimidating presence of Senator Hosea Agboola in Oke Ogun to threaten Akala's governorship ambition. Agboola, a former commissioner in Akala's cabinet cannot stand Akala. The extent of their disdain for each other is exemplified in the confrontation between the duo at a recent meeting of Southwest PDP in Ibadan.
Akala is also disadvantaged by the fact that he is not particularly liked among members of President Goodluck Jonathan's kitchen cabinet. As it were, Akala and Folarin seem ready to cancel each other out in their zero sum politics of bitterness. Neither of the two men has tried to go to the grassroots to campaign for support. They don't appear to have developmental programmes for the state and none of them has so far offered any. The only governorship aspirant that the rank and file of Oyo State PDP has seen on the field is Makinde, the young and dynamic engineer who has been criss-crossing the state and making serious effort to sell the PDP to the people of the state. It is a development many consider can make him emerge a compromise candidate for the party in the November 29 primary.
For Ajimobi, coming up with a political strategy with an uncontroversial and scandal free and dynamic aspirant like Makinde is a problem that he unprepared to deal with.
Olanshile wrote from Ibadan, Oyo State