Governor Seyi Makinde will face not one but five major hurdles in his quest to seek a second term in office as preparations for the 2023 governorship election are gathering momentum in Oyo State.
Being the only governor on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest region, Makinde will need to carefully navigate through the political landmines, which the dominant All Progressives Congress (APC) will set before him.
The incumbent governor will also need to understand the political traps the Federal Government controlled APC will set for him, including the use of the federal might.
The governor will understudy and understand the clear differences between playing the politics of ‘stomach infrastructure’ and performance, which some of his forerunners in the Fourth Republic failed to realise and it cost them re-election. In Oyo State and especially Ibadan, the capital city, which usually determines where the pendulum swings in the state’s governorship election, Makinde’s performances, even though acknowledged, remains insignificant so long as he is not playing money politics.
The governor will also need to work on the negative perception in some quarters that he (Makinde) is a traitor who can no longer be trusted. He is currently accused of backstabbing the majority of grassroots politicians within and outside the ruling PDP that formed a coalition with which he rode to power in 2019.
The grouse is that the governor is alleged to have, soon after assuming office in 2019, reneged on the agreement he reached with the coalition. Many of them are waiting to take their pound of flesh as the next governorship election draws closer.
While these external hurdles may pose a stumbling block to his re-election ambition in 2023, Makinde will also need to put necessary machinery in place between now and next year, to appease all opposition forces within the PDP, otherwise he will have to apply the force of incumbency to get the party’s nomination ticket. If he achieves this, however, he may risk losing critical stakeholders in his party to opposition APC.
In addition to these is the rumour that Makinde may defect to APC as the last joker in his bid to retain power. The national caretaker committee of APC has however taken a fast decision to woo one of the governor’s supporters and former governor of the state, Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja during a recent visit by Governor Mai Mala-Buni and some APC governors to Ladoja recently in Ibadan.
About two months ago, happenings in Oyo PDP appeared not to be good for the re-election of the incumbent ahead of 2023. Although, Makinde had succeeded in planting a former Deputy Governor of Oyo, Taofeek Arapaja as the PDP vice national chairman, Southwest zone, against the interest of former Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose during PDP’s last zonal congress, he may not have it smooth getting the party’s renomination ticket unless he quickly addresses the crisis within the party. Fayose had preferred the immediate Vice National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Eddy Olafeso.
One of the chieftains of PDP, who actually played key role in Makinde’s victory in the governorship primary in 2018, Alhaji Adebisi Olopoeniyan, who is leading the team of the incumbent’s antagonists in the party, is not hiding his disdain for the governor. The faceoff in Oyo PDP chapter has degenerated to the point that even a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who currently chairs the PDP National Reconciliation Committee, could not mend the fence during his recent visit to the state.
On the watch of Makinde, the Oyo PDP has become sharply divided with the camp of major opposition parties swelling. A sign of severity of the internal crisis manifested not too long ago when heavily armed masked men stormed a parallel party secretariat located at No 2, Abass Okunola Street, Bodija, Ibadan and destroyed many property. The governor was accused of having sponsored the act to intimidate his opponents within the party.
One of the factors that generated the tension, as claimed by party sources, is the way Makinde has deliberately sidelined some key stakeholders in the party in the last two years.
The aggrieved noted the unhealthy way with which Makinde had since pocketed the party leadership and marginalised many that do not agree with his leadership style.
But Arapaja, who is said to be very close to the governor dismissed the allegations, saying, it is true there are some issues but not as they are being portrayed outside. He appealed for understanding and advice on the consequences of anti-party activities that can cost the victory in 2023.
Sources within the party said the reason Makinde is unyielding to the criticisms is because majority of those crying in the party actually played anti-party game against the incumbent in 2019, not realising that providence would give victory to the governor.
“What is the guarantee they will not repeat such again if the governor resolves with them,” they asked? The governor’s antagonists stuck to their arguments that Makinde abandoned party faithful and leaders who worked for his victory in 2019 but has been greasing the palms of only friends and his family members.
With the parallel office in place, there seems to be a balance of force between Makinde and his PDP adversaries ahead of the PDP congresses. Whosoever has the upper hands in the congresses might likely determine where the next governorship ticket would go.
Olopoenia, who is not pretending over his position, distanced himself from the PDP secretariat situated at Molete office, saying his faction is not part of the Molete move. “We are not part of them in Molete. We can’t trust them.” Sources claimed the opening of the factional office is the outcome of a stakeholders’ meeting convened by leaders opposed to Makinde’ leadership, among whom are Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, Hon. Muraina Ajibola, and Engr. Femi Babalola Jogor, among others.
Opposition Mulls Insecurity To Discredit Governor
RECENT happenings in the State have shown that the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is a potent force in politics and especially in the Southwest. Many political gladiators and parties enlist their support to win elections. In Oyo State, the union is so influential that successive governments would always court their patronage.
Although, the level and form of relationships differ from former Governor Lam Adesina, who held sway between 1999 and 2003 to the incumbent Makinde, the narrative is almost the same.
Following Makinde’s victory in 2019, it is alleged that union activities, which his predecessor, the late Abiola Ajimobi succeeded in checkmating, resurfaced after the release of Auxiliary and his team. Afterwards, the Auxiliary faction told Ejiogbe to vacate office. The tussle got to its crescendo on May 29, 2019 inauguration day of Governor Makinde at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, Liberty Road, Ibadan, when the Auxiliary and Ejiogbe groups engaged in a battle of supremacy.
Piqued by this development and the heightened tension in the state, Makinde proscribed NURTW on May 31, 2019.
The governor, however, brought a novel dimension to addressing the conundrum with the setting up of the Park Management System (PMS). Hence, in February 18, 2020, the governor announced the erstwhile factional chairman NURTW, Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi (Auxiliary) as chairman of the PMS Disciplinary Committee with the responsibility, among others, of enforcing discipline in the union.
When Auxiliary was appointed, many bookmakers had predicted that the peace enjoyed during the eight years of Ajimobi would become history. They feared that the state might return to the pre-Ajimobi years, where killing of NURTW members, innocent citizens and wanton loss of lives and property were the order of the day. With recent killings in the state, it appears that the bookmakers were right.
Some had alleged that Auxiliary, whose followers referred to as ‘deputy governor’ is enjoying support from the governor ahead of the next election. During the last local government election, Auxiliary was fingered as the brain behind the violence that characterised the polls in some places, especially the Ibarapa axis. More worrisome is the recent killings and pervasive insecurity, which Auxiliary and his team are alleged to be responsible for.
Fresh in the memory is the Wednesday, June 16, 2021 fracas that erupted between the PMS and phone sellers in Iwo Road, leading to the death of 37-year-old Rahmon Azeez. A day after the Iwo incident, no fewer than six persons were killed at Inalende area of Ibadan. Also, on Saturday June 19, another heart-wrenching killing happened in the city following the killing of a former On-Air Personality (OAP) with Naija FM, Titus Badejo, popularly known as Eja Nla. Badejo was murdered outside 407 Club at Oluyole Estate, Ibadan, Oyo State, at about 11:30 pm. And on Sunday, June 20, gunmen on a motorcycle reportedly invaded Iyana Court, Ile Titun area, Ibadan South East of the state, killing three persons. The spate of killings might have eroded the confidence of citizens in the Makinde administration. As a respondent in Mokola said, “Obviously, the government is losing popularity. It would be a tall order for the governor to clinch the much-coveted second term.”
Speaking on the development, the acting National Chairperson of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye, said if the will of the people is respected in election, it would be very difficult for the incumbent to retain his seat.”
He chided the government over what he described as continuous use of park thugs and to have retained Auxiliary as the head of PMS created to replace the NURTW, a legal body known and created by the law but proscribed.
On its part, the National Association of Public Affairs Analysts (NAPAA) called on the governor to buckle up in tackling the security breaches.
NAPAA, in a statement, signed by Comrades Moshood Erubami and Jare Ajayi, lamented that reports of people being killed in an extra-judicial manner in Oyo State, particularly Ibadan, ‘has become a daily occurrence.’
The analysts, who took note of the attempt by Governor Makinde to strengthen security as reflected in the inauguration of a Board of Directors for Amotekun recently, however, submitted that Oyo State Government “appear to be exhibiting the same wrong perception of security challenges as the Federal Government.”
They said: “By this, we mean a situation where the two governments, Federal and Oyo State, look for scapegoats in explaining the source or cause of insecurity. When it suits the federal government, it says that bandits in Nigeria are intruders from outside the country. At another time, it says that opposition politicians are the ones fuelling and exaggerating the level of insecurity in the country.”
They chided Makinde for blaming the opposition for exaggerating the news of insecurity in the state. “To us, this is not the way to face the problem. While we don’t dispute the fact that the opposition may be capitalising on security breaches to make themselves popular, the reality is that lives are being lost and properties are being destroyed.”
Still on insecurity, the National Publicity Secretary of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Sina Akinpelu, decried that insecurity in Oyo is at an all-time worse. He alleged that the governor refused to listen to those who could advise him to get out of the quagmire.
Speaking on how insecurity might be used against the incumbent in the next election, the Head of Political Science Department, University of Ibadan, Prof. Remi Ayede, said with what is happening, the confidence of the people in the government is being eroded.
Ayede said: “The first implication is that it erodes confidence in the capacity of the government to respond to the needs of the citizens. It is so crucial because security, order and peace are the first functions of any government. And when the government is unable to address these in a very clear way, it erodes confidence. This is particularly important in Oyo State, because there has been a change in government from APC to PDP. Under the previous administration, there was peace. One of the highpoints of performance of the previous administration is in the area of security and the way it was able to manage the NURTW problem.”
But Makinde had persistently said that contrary to the negative pictures being painted by those hell-bent on politicising the insecurity situation, a lot more people and businesses have been coming to the state as a result of the policies of his administration.
APC Master Stroke Versus Makinde’s Perceived Inexperience
THE recent unexpected visit of APC’s Chairman, Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Governor Mai Mala-Buni to Ladoja and National Publicity Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide is a strong signal to Makinde.
Recall that since June 2020 when the committee took over from the dissolved National Working Committee (NWC), led by Adams Oshiomhole, Buni has succeeded in wooing many influential personalities to join APC. Targeting Ladoja this time may be a strategy to weaken Makinde’s support base ahead of the next election.
But some inside sources reasoned otherwise, saying it was a move taken ahead of the attempt to convince Makinde to cross carpet to the ruling APC. Whatever the motive, time will reveal what the intention behind the visit was.
Despite the hurdles, Makinde’s strong point is in the way he adds value to Oyo and without necessarily concentrating in Ibadan. Some group of traders and unionists at Ojoo while chatting with The Guardian said the only excuse the people of Oyo can use to oust the incumbent is if they claimed he didn’t understand politics or play it according to usual rule, because ‘he is doing his best to improve state of infrastructure in Oyo.”