• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Oyo: Aspirants sharpen ‘arsenals’ ahead of 2015

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Barring any changes in the election timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2015 general election, in less than six months from now, electorates will be going to the polls to elect those who will govern them for the next four years.

The elections slated for February next year will hold at the federal level, and in virtually all the states, except for a few.

In Oyo State, elections will hold to vote in a new governor, senators, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly members.

To this end, the struggle has begun in the pace- setter state as political parties are mapping out plans to win. Already, aspirants are in desperate moves to secure tickets from their individual parties.

There have been permutations, alignment and realignment of forces involving defections from one party to the other by some politicians in the state, all in a bid to realise their ambitions in the forthcoming general election.

The political landscape is getting hot with underground campaigns by aspirants, through the display of billboards, banners and hand bills in strategic places within the major cities and towns.

In Ibadan, the state capital, Ibarapa, Oyo,

Ogbomosho, Iseyin and Saki, the banners and posters of various aspirants currently adorn several places.

Apart from all these, aspirants’ supporters now adorn t-shirts, fez-caps or Ankara on which pictures of such aspirants are printed.

Presently, four political parties dominate the political landscape in Oyo State with substantial membership strength in all three senatorial districts.

The parties are the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Accord Party (AP) and the Labour Party (LP).

So, the journey to Agodi Government House and other elective offices can be said to have begun. The incumbent governor, Abiola Ajimobi of the APC has signified his intention to run for second term.

Already, his posters and billboards are all over the state, while so many groups- pressure and political- have endorsed his ambition.

The other person whose posters are seen in the cities and towns is the governorship candidate of the defunct CPC in the 2011 elections, Bayo Shittu, a lawyer.

Shittu was a former attorney-general and commissioner for Justice during the administration of former governor Rashidi Ladoja

Apart from these two; there are no other aspirants that had shown interest to contest for the number one seat under the broom party in the state.

For the PDP, the competition is going to be tough as eleven aspirants are jostling to clinch the umbrella party ticket.

The state secretariat of the party has no space again to display the banners of those who have signified their intention to contest the primaries.

The aspirants who have approached the secretariat and met with the leadership of the party in Ibadan include the immediate past governor of the state, Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala.

Akala, who was defeated by the incumbent governor, is staging a comeback and will slug it out with former Senate leader, Teslim Folarin that contested in 2011.

Also in the race are Akala’s former deputy, Azeem Gbolarumi and  Taofeek Arapaja, who was his deputy between 2007 and 2011

Arapaja is currently Nigeria’s Ambassador to Jordan.

Others are Azeez Adeduntan, a gynaecologist based in the United States of America; he was a gubernatorial candidate of Labour Party in 2011 election; Taoheed Adedoja, a former minister of sports and professor; Seyi Makinde, an oil  magnate; Femi Babalola, foremost engineer and CEO of Jogor Centre; Soji Adejumo, a professor and former state chairman of the Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB); Kehinde Olaosebikan, who is former media aide to the late Lam Adesina, a former governor and chieftain of APC, and Ayo Adeseun, a serving senator, representing Oyo Central. He was elected under the platform of the defunct ACN in 2011 but defected months ago to the PDP.

Former governor Rashidi Ladoja, leader of Accord Party in the state, had recently declared to contest for governor next year.

Ladoja, who contested under the same platform in 2011, secured the third position. However, the party won some constituencies in the House of Representatives members and House of Assembly.

Since then Accord has been a major player in the system.

Last week, Olufemi Lanlehin, representing

Oyo South Senatorial district, formally defected to the Accord Party. Senator Femi Babalola, an in-law to the late Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, strongman of Ibadan politics, as well as  Semiu Arisekola-Alao son of late business mogul, Azeez Arisekola who were instrumental to the emergence of the incumbent, Abiola Ajimobi moved to Accord Party.

With the defection of Lanlehin and Senator Ayo Adeseun, APC no longer has any senator from Oyo State

Speaking at his defection ceremony; Lanlehin said internal rift and merger with strange bed-fellows with his party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) under which he won made him to leave the party.

Describing Senator Rasidi Ladoja as a worthy leader, he noted that “whoever is ready to win any election in Oyo in 2015 must pitch tent with Accord party”.

Lanlehin promised that Oyo State under Accord would witness massive transformation with focus on people-oriented policies.

National leader of Accord, Ladoja while receiving the defectors, promised a level-playing field for all aspirants under the banner of the party.

The Labour Party (LP)’s state secretariat was formally inaugurated early this year with Dan Nwanyanwu, its national chairman and Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State in attendance.

Following the inauguration, the party has co-chairmen in the state, Gbenga Olayemi and Bashir Apapa. 

Apapa, flew the party’s flag as its gubernatorial candidate in 2007.

Lowo Obisesan, a former commissioner for Environment, and Sarafadeen Alli, former secretary to state government and immediate past chairman of Odua Investment Company, are said to be governorship aspirants of the party.

Alli, who supported Governor Ajimobi to become victorious during the 2011, recently decamped to LP with some other people who had worked in the cabinet of the present administration.

The party has been waxing stronger with massive decampment from other parties.

This was made possible by the influx of about 2,000 defectors from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in four local government councils of the state into LP.

Receiving the new members at Otu, headquarters of Kajola Local Government Area, the co-chairmen said it was evident that the people of Oyo and Oke Ogun areas of the state, just like in Ibadan and Ogbomoso, had embraced LP as a better alternative to APC and PDP.

They expressed the confidence that LP would form the next government of the state and turn around the fortunes of the state, APC and PDP having been tested and found wanting in the estimation of the people of the state.

Analysts believe that the pedigree and capability of individual candidates and not parties will determine the choice of voters in the general 2015 election.

REMI FEYISIPO