OYO INSIGHT’s Biliaminu Olatunji writes on the dilemma of Governor Abiola Ajimobi over who to anoint to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in next year’s governorship election in Oyo State.
As members of the All Progressives Party, APC, wait with anxiety for Governor Abiola Ajimobi to announce his annointed gubernatorial candidate tomorrow, indications have emerged that the governor’s plans are troubled by developments in the Oke Ogun zone of the state.
Sources close to the governor this morning said he kept changing his mind over who to annoint for key positions of govermor, deputy governor and senator for Oyo North senatorial zone.
Ajimobi shortly after winning his second term had promised the people of Okeogun that the zone will produce the governor of the state come 2019.
However, recent indications emerging frm the governor suggested that aspirants from Okeogun zone are not on the top chart of those in his consideration for the post. The aspirants from the zone are Minister for Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu from Saki and Commisdioner for Lands, Hon. Ajiboye Omodewu. Shittu is a long standing adversary of Ajimobi and has never been in the good book of the governor. Sources close to the governor claim the governor is not considering Omodewu for the ticket either.
Ajimobi at different times have been reported as considering one of Olasunkanmi Tegbe, Adebayo Adelabu, Adesoji Eniade and Abimbola Adekanbi for the ticket. All of them are from Ibadan although many politicians still contend that Tegbe is not from Ibadan. Tegbe has denied the charge at different fora.
The governor is said to be considering that if he picks a Christian from this list, he will pick a Muslim from Okeogun as deputy. Vice versa, he would pick a Chistian from Okeogun if the annointed gubernatorial candidate is a Muslim.
This calculation, it is said, has however been put in jeopardy by the insistence of former governor Adebayo Alao Akala to contest for the governorship. Alao-Akala collected the N22.5M nomination form this morning. Ajimobi had assumed that Alao-Akala will run for the senatorial ticket in Oyo North so that he could pull Ogbomoso votes to the APC.
The bloc votes from Ogbomoso have become important to APC because it is feared that failure to pick its governorship ticket from Okeogun will deny the party the Okeogun votes which it had relied upon to win previous elections. Okeogun was the only zone that gave Ajimobi bloc votes in 2015. The party shared the votes in Ibadan, Oyo and Ibarapa with Accord while Alao-Akala received bloc votes from Ogbomoso. Ajimobi won 9 of the 10 local councils in Okeogun.
The renege on giving Okeogun the ticket coupled with the loud agitation for a governor of Okeogun extraction has put Ajimobi and APC on the spot and fears have gripped elders of the party that they might lose Okeogun votes which had given the party victorious advantage in previous elections. Top members of the party including aspirants for diffetent offices confided in OYO INSIGHT that it would be almost impossible to win in Okeogun if the governor does not fulfil his promise of an Okeogun candidate. Okeogun controls 22 percent of the votes in the state, trailing Ibadan with 52 percent but ahead of Ogbomosho with 15 percent, Oyo 8 percent and Ibarapa 3 percent.
The plight of APC is compounded by the emergence of strong candidates from Okeogun in other political parties. Prof Adeolu Akande, a former Chief of Staff to Ajimobi, is being speculated as candidate of the Action Democratic Party, ADP, and he enjoys enormous support of youths, the elite and traditional rulers in the Oke Ogun area in addition to his appeal to youths and the intelligensia across the state who crave for a relatively new face in the leadership of the state. There is also Engr Rauf Olaniyan in the ADC.
It is feared by leaders of the APC that if any of these candidates emerge, they will take hold of the bloc votes in Okeogun and deny APC the traditional bloc votes it has always used to win elections.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a serving member in the House of Assembly from the APC admitted that as things stand now, all parties will share the votes in Ibadan, Oyo and Ibarapa. He fears that if Alao-Akala insists on contesting for the governorship and leaves APC if the nomination process is manipulated against him, he will take Ogbomoso votes with him, denying APC of the only possible bloc votes to compensate for the loss in Okeogun.
OYO INSIGHT gathered that Ajimobi is working out ways to handle this dilemma on Okeogun.
Whichever he thinks will determine which way he goes tommorrow.