Former governor Rashidi Ladoja and leader of the Zenith Labour Party, ZLP, in Oyo State has said that many people took Senator Olufemi Lanlehin to court after his emergence as governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, because they knew he was instrumental to his nomination.
OYO INSIGHT recalled how Ladoja recently defected from the ADC to ZLP.
In a recent interview, Ladoja said he would
prefer the candidate of ZLP, Barr Sharafadeen Alli, who was one of the 12 aggrieved ADC governorship aspirants, to succeed Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
His words: “I was the one who recommended Lanlehin, but I discovered that with what was happening in ADC, we will not be able to win the election. And, what is important to me is to win the election.
“There are some unseen hands working in ADC. Those are the ones that will not allow us to win the election. Don’t forget that the ZLP is different from ADC. ADC is supposed to be a conglomerate of parties and we have not been able to form a party out of the amalgamation. We have the former members of APC, the Labour Party (LP), the unity group, which was a break away from the APC, and we have the people who came from Accord and PDP to form ADC.
“Sadly, we could not form a party out of this group. I realised that if you go to election with that arrangement, you are bound to lose. In a situation where we could not sit down to plan; everybody seems to be planning their solo runs. The problem we had in ADC was lack of cohesion before we pulled out.
“As I said, I was the one who anchored Lanlehin’s candidature and if you were in Ibadan, you would have heard about the crisis that ensued after his emergence as the party’s candidate. Many people said they were fighting Lanlehin because of Ladoja, as I was the one who anchored his nomination. They didn’t look at the fact that he was the best candidate at that time. I tried to persuade Lanlehin to let us go together, but he felt more comfortable staying in ADC.
He explained how he would sell ZLP to the people as elections are close by.
“The election is not as close as many people think. The first election is still about two months away. In politics, how many times do you have to tell people where you are going before they begin to know where you are going? For me, it is not about how long, but how well. With the level of communication today, there is virtually no area in Oyo State today where you don’t have a radio station. So, you can disseminate your information through radio, television, personal touch and even visits. You can drive round the state in two three days and meet the people you want to meet as you prepare for elections. So, all you need to do is to canvass very well and let the people decide.
“The people of Oyo State trust me; they just want to know where they are going. So, it is not too late to move if you emphasise what you stand for. It is not too late to make the right moves. The people already know where Ladoja stands. They know when I recommend something and they trust me so much.”
Ladoja, however, said his decision to move to ZLP was not aimed at forming an alliance with ADC few weeks to election, explaining that “We don’t have that plan in our party for now. We tried to persuade Senator Lanlehin to join us in ZLP, but he felt comfortable staying in ADC. We told him that the happenings in ADC did not make us feel comfortable. One of the issues was that the Unity Forum decided to choose a deputy governor for Lanlehin without consulting with him. The danger there is that when you get into office, there would be a parallel government because you didn’t choose your deputy.
So, we told them that this Unity Forum group is pretending as though APC no longer exists. But APC is still strong in Oyo State. What reminds us that APC is still strong in the state is the last election held in the state. PDP scored 6,000 votes and was followed by APC with 4,000 votes. Accord came third.
“When the deputy governor was chosen, I said this was not right. How could you have chosen the deputy governor for the governor without consulting him? I told them I chose Alao-Akala; nobody chose him for me. ‘Why do you now do things differently?’ If it was just one party, you would have said the party’s leadership did it. But in this case, you didn’t even consult the party’s leadership.
So, we felt that our chances of winning the election with that arrangement were very remote. We actually zoned the deputy governor to Oke Ogun, but it came from Iseyin.”