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OYO 101: Too Much. Never Enough — Why Tinubu Should Reward Oyo More | Muftau Gbadegesin

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“The best time to enjoy Nigeria is when elections are at hand.” Simon Kolawole

As the new batch of federal appointments briskly rolled in yesterday, the 14th of June, the anticipated razzmatazz, often associated with such big announcements and pronouncements, especially in Oyo State, quickly melted into partial disappointment and muted excitement. For one, the whispers in some quarters coalesced into mixed reactions: many assumed that most beneficiaries’ new official engagements simply fell below their previous job descriptions. However, isn’t a bird in hand better than two in the air? Time will tell.

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While the new appointment list appears to have addressed some of the issues brought up by the previously announced list, it immediately sparked contentious discussions among party supporters, especially those who diligently and tirelessly contributed to the party’s victory in the 2023 election but have not yet been rewarded for their efforts.

‘Like APC, like PDP’

As the race over the choice of PDP presidential flagbearer in the 2023 elections became intensely calcified and charged, a group of aggrieved governors known as the G-5, led by Nyesom Wike, sensing a plot to scuttle power rotation, brokered an accord with the APC’s Bola Tinubu, ditching their party’s candidate, former vice president Atiku Abubakar. Although only two of the governors publicly associated with the APC flagbearer, the rest, including Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Samuel Ortom of Benue, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, undermined Atiku’s chances in their respective states.

However, as the keenly contested election drew close, the demand for political ‘returns on investment’ skyrocketed, resulting in intense negotiations and a race for political influence. In the process, Wike and Governor Makinde quickly became regular and frequent visitors of the Presidential Villa, with the latter shading Alhaji Atiku after criticism trailed his constant visitation to the highest office in the country. While Mr. Wike was handed the lucrative FCT ministry, Makinde’s loyalists watched with dismay as federal opportunities passed them by. Indeed, this polemic dilemma served as the basis for the Oyo Governor’s sharp criticism of President Tinubu’s administration’s certain policy thrusts.

For instance, after supporting the removal of fuel subsidies and the unification of exchange rates as part of the President’s bold economic reforms, the governor shockingly backtracked, describing the “removal of fuel subsidies as untimely,” thus highlighting the growing frustration and disappointment between the President and one of his trusted backers, Governor Makinde.

While observers attribute Mr. Makinde’s drastic change in policy position to demonstrating his growing disaffection and dissatisfaction, many believed that the lingering feud between him and the FCT minister, Nyesom Wike, over the ongoing Rivers political crisis and an attempt to remove Governor Sim Fubara forcefully may be the reason the cold war between the duo has festered and intensified. As speculations gather unprecedented momentum, they have only encouraged rumors to grow with the changing times.

‘No longer the spoiler’

Makinde was considered the 2023 spoiler in the APC, exploiting the party’s impasse to his advantage by deepening the divisions with cash and propaganda. Many within that party contended that without Governor Makinde, the party would still record landslide victories in the presidential and NASS polls. They argued that the perceived division and polarization within the APC in the state, which the governor exploited, contributed to the party’s crushing defeat in the gubernatorial race. However, the narrative has now shifted, as GSM’s perceived closeness and relationship with the President have not been reflected in federal appointments. This reality highlights the complexities of managing political relationships.

‘Born for politics’

When you see people jumping over the roof for politicians, one significant thing is involved: the promise of getting closer to the corridor of power. Simon Kolewole once posited in one of his columns that “Nigerians are born for politics—to engage in intense politics, to script, perform, and watch political drama.” “We forget all our sorrows and plunge into the fray headlong, jumping up and down, chitchatting morning, noon, and night.”

While victory in an election guarantees proximity to power, becoming closer to power is considered the ticket to living the good life. In a poverty-stricken country like Nigeria, no amount of dispute will change this line of thought: work hard during the election and live a soft life afterward. In essence, just work hard for politicians during their most crucial moments, then wait to reap the rewards once the story changes. In most cases, this isn’t always the situation.

‘ROI of politics and politicking’

In acknowledging the significant contributions of Oyo state voters to his victory, President Tinubu’s first appointment in office was a top diplomat from Oyo, Victor Adeleke, as the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP). Prior to his appointment, the Oyo-born legal practitioner was Nigeria’s ambassador to Ethiopia. Subsequent appointments from Oyo include Chief Dr. Zacch Adedeji Adelabu’s appointment as Special Assistant to the President on Revenue, followed by his confirmation as the Executive Secretary of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, fostered goodwill among the party’s faithful. Dr. Adedeji, despite being an accounting wizard, rose to political prominence after cutting his teeth as one of the country’s youngest finance commissioners. He was only 33 at the time. Chief Titi Gbadamosi was appointed as the Special Assistant to the President for Youth Initiative and Project Delivery. Then came the biggest appointment: Chief Bayo Adelabu as Minister of Power. Combined, the handlers of the government at the centre must have assumed Oyo has gotten what it deserved, not minding that states like Ogun, Lagos, and Kwara have eight ministers combined, heading critical ministries despite their respective performances at the poll.

‘Too Much. Never Enough’

The recently announced FG appointment has 21 people in Oyo as beneficiaries. Four of the 21 are to chair the governing council of federal institutions. While the remaining 17 served as members, former Oyo Deputy Governor Engr. Raufu Olaniyan will chair the Governor Council of the Federal College of Education (Special). Oyo, the former minister of communications, Bayo Shittu, is to head King David Umahi University of Science and Technology, Ebonyi, Olatunde Adepoju will chairman FCE, Ilawa, and Mercy Adelabu to the Federal Polytechnic in Ayede. Still, concerns over the fates of other prominent party chieftains in the state linger.

As a widely held, politics is not charity; anyone who plays it expects a reward. Unfortunately, only time will tell whether the expected political reward will justify the electioneering investment when placed side by side.

OYO101 is Muftau Gbadegesin’s opinion about issues affecting the Oyo state and is published every Saturday. He can be reached via @muftaugbade on X, muftaugbadegesin@gmail.com, and 09065176850.

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