It is a known fact that the APC in Oyo State is presently in a state of comatose arising from the losses it sustained in the 2019 general Election. The party lost the governorship ekection while its leader, Governor Abiola Ajimobi lost the Oyo South senatorial election.
Since March 2019 when the party sustained these political injuries, there have been a situation likened to Professor Chinua Achebe’s popular Novel-”Things Fall Apart” and the centre cannot hold. The state excos of the party and other organs of the party are so disillusioned that they have not been able to lay on the table the way out of the present ugly situation.
It is to be noted that even those who were lucky to win election into the state and national legislative houses have not been forthcoming with regards to the future of the Party. What we are witnessing is a situation in which most of the people that fall within this category are busy plotting their own individual political journey without any consultation with the larty members and their leaders. Some of them are struggling for leadership position in the state and national assemblies. It is even being rumoured that some of them are preparing to cross over to the PDP after Inauguration.
A number of the political leading lights within the party, who formed the Unity forum are not showing interest in the party. Many of them actually pitched their tents with the PDP in the last election, and those that claimed to have returned to the party on the eve of the election are now dormant. Many of those in government are not politicians in the first place, while those that are politicians were sidelined in the last election. Many of those, who were brought into the government by the governor are already prepared to return to Lagos where they came from. With this situation, it must be said that the future of the party seems bleak, but there is hope if the leadership at the national level can get a few things right.
It is clear that Senator Ajimobi’s leadership of the party has failed. The general feeling is that he majorly was responsible for the bad outing the Party recorded in the last election. It is unfortunate that he has not done anything concrete to mend fences with people within and outside the party, rather he’s very busy pursuing appointment as a minister in the Buhari’s federal cabinet. This is quite surprising, considering the fact that between 2003 and 2019, a period of 16years, when he emerged on the political scene, he has had the singular opportunity to serve for 4 years as senator, and 8 years as governor, totaling 12 years. During these years, he has made little or no impact on the lives of majority of the members of the party. Most of the members have nothing to show for their party being in government for 8 years. What the governor did was to bring those party members regarded as “aliens” into government. He actually ran the system as a private enterprise.
It will be a great mistake if the leadership of the party at the national level should appoint Senator Ajimobi as a minister. It will further deepen division within the party and deprive its members the much desired dividend of democracy. It is a popular fact that Senator Ajimobi finds it difficult to be generous with resources available to him. For the party to be uplifted at this time, it requires a man of immense generosity and large heart, who is not divisive in any way. Governor Ajimobi does not fit into that description.
The emergence of Adebayo Adelabu as the governorship candidate of the party in the March 2019 election has done the party more harm than good. It is quite surprising that the governor was unable to support any of his close aides, who showed interest in the top Job.
It is observed that after losing the election, he started apportioning blames to party leaders for his loss. Presently, there is a cold war going on between him and Governor Ajimobi. If this youngman with little or no political experience is appointed as a minister and the responsibility for putting the party to good health is put on his laps, the APC will rapidly disintegrate in Oyo State. It is a known fact that Adelabu’s arrogant posture is far stronger than that of Ajimobi, and his failure to learn the ropes in basic politicking will make a nonsense of the benefits the party should gain from any ministerial appointment. Less controversial, humble, and generous men were forced to step down for the “arrogant” and politically inexperienced Adelabu, whose grand-father was an arch-political enemy of the legendary Obafemi Awolowo, the grandfather of progressive politics in Nigeria. Part of the reasons why Adelabu failed in his governorship bid was because he deliberately refused to reconcile with supporters of other governorship aspirants as well as with aggrieved party members. Moreover, like Ajimobi, Adelabu is not generous in any way. He was not accessible to party leaders and members. What he did to party members who went to his house on the eve of the governorship Election by pushing them out and cursing.
The national leadership of the party will need to look elsewhere for individuals, who are mature, politically savvy, intellectually sound with national and international exposure. Joseph Tegbe, Niyo Akintola (SAN), and Azeez Adeduntan should be considered for the ministerial slot. Tegbe and Akintola are very popular with the party members, and are very generous and highly accessible. If the party must be saved from rapid disintegration, the responsibility for rebuilding the progressive house should be given to either or both of them.
The general feeling in Oyo State is that Seyi Makinde of the PDP will likely perform to expectation. How he achieves that with an avalanche of booby traps already being set for him by Governor Ajimobi remains a serious political issue. If the APC is to play the role of opposition well, the party will need to embark on reconciliation of aggrieved party members. The “blame game” must stop, and the electoral losses sustained must be seen as history. The national leadership should identify other individuals across the geo-political zones and give patronage with which they can re-assemble the scattered broom.
Adewale Aderemi, a political scientist, lives in Ogbomoso.