We are back in the season of high politicking; the race for various offices in the 2019 elections has reached a frenzy height across the polity. Contestants in the elections are hotly engaged in what can be rightly called Race Against Time (RAT) – a battle of wits in a bid to take over the reins of power. Oyo State, the hotbed of politics in the South West zone, is not left out of the race. Indeed, the state is one of the most interesting states to watch in the 2019 elections.
The list of candidates for the various elective offices ahead the elections is as bogus as the number of the political parties registered to contest in the polls. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 37 candidates will seek to take over the control of the Agodi Government House from the incumbent, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, whose second-term tenure expires on May 29, 2019. Top on the shelf among the Oyo 2019 governorship hopefuls are Seyi Makinde of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Action Democratic Party (ADP); Chief Bayo Adelabu of All Progressives Congress (APC); and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin of African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Others included Saheed Ajadi of Accord Party; Akeem Ayodele of Alliance for Democracy (AD); Olaide Olayiwola of KOWA Party; Akinwale Olaosun of ACC; Mogaji Odelalu of National Action Council (NAC); Olatunji Adigun of Labour Party (LP); Bamigboye Abiodun of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN); Bolanle Asabi Sarumi Aliyu of National Interest Party (NIP); Bolaji Ayorinde of Social Democratic Party (SDP); and Taiwo Otegbeye of PPC.
These governorship candidates can be broadly divided into three categories namely, the contenders, the pretenders and the wannabes (the third group being those who are contesting the governorship election just for the records). While politics is no mathematics, a fact many political pundits in the state rightly attest to is that the Oyo governorship race is a straight battle among the top four namely, Makinde, Alao-Akala, Adelabu and Lanlehin.
Without a doubt, Oyo is presently in a political flux with a plethora of quality candidates to choose from, particularly among the BIG FOUR. But, narrowing down the search for a successor to Governor Ajimobi, while the other three candidates cannot be dismissed with a mere wave of the hand, the odds are in favour of the PDP candidate who has an edge over them, their seemingly imposing profiles notwithstanding.
Alao-Akala, the immediate past governor of the state, is an old political war horse who made positive marks during his first term of office. The Ogbomoso-born politician has never hidden his desire to serve out his constitutionally-approved two-term tenure, having previously lost out in two elections (2011 and 2015) to the incumbent. However, the view is that Alao-Akala’s followership has waned considerably over the years. The factors responsible for his failure in the two previous elections are still potently active, even as it is also held that, at almost 69 years of age, the former governor has paid his dues and should take a deserved rest and leave the field for the younger elements in the spirit of the new fad across the land — Not Too Young To Run (NTYTR) Movement.
Senator Lanlehin is a tested old hand with a considerably good outing as a federal lawmaker. He is however in the same category with Alao-Akala; an old school who should leave the stage for the young Turks in Oyo politics. More importantly, his emergence as the ADC standard-bearer was deeply enmeshed in controversies, with many leading lights in the party, including eight other governorship contestants, leaving ADC for another political platform. The gang-up would definitely impact negatively his chances at the election.
Bayo Adelabu, the youthful APC governorship flag-bearer, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and, being a grandson of the late flamboyant Ibadan politician, Chief Adegoke Adelabu (aka Penkelemesi), has a rich political pedigree. An achiever at a relatively young age, Bayo is a fresh entrant and an Ibadan indigene (a factor that counts in the voting pattern in the state) that also has the incumbency factor on his side, having been unilaterally hand-picked by Governor Ajimobi. However, his freshness is his Achilles’ Heels: He is an over-ambitious young man who has no political structure of his own. He is also a candidate whose imposition on others puts the ruling party in the state in possible jeopardy.
At this critical moment, the election of the next Oyo governor should be based on the capability of the contestants for quality service delivery, education, experience, antecedent and soundness of mind. The question then arises, ‘why Seyi Makinde now?’
Seyi Makinde, engineer turned politician who will turn 51 in another 72 hours’ time, is a very successful businessman who became a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a reputable engineering company at the tender age of 29. Since then he has not looked back as he has dominated the global world of business, especially the oil and gas and engineering sectors. A philanthropist of note who knows where the shoe pinches the people, Seyi did not just dabble into politics; he has been around for about 15 years.
A man of strong political character, the PDP governorship standard-bearer has a firm political structure with a cult-like following, cutting across age and religious divides. A stupendously rich Ibadan indigene with no political baggage whatsoever, he is a politician with strong convictions. Seyi is well focused in his quest to make meaningful and positive impacts on Oyo State and its people.
An acknowledged leader of his political party in the state, he has a very strong and formidable political platform, PDP, which has made a surprise return to the political clime to steadily regain acceptance among the people. The party has eventually become a thorn in the flesh of the ruling APC in the state, nay the entire country. Victory for Seyi Makinde at the 2019 polls is a guarantee for a meaningful development of Oyo State, creating a secured future for its people.
Olayinka, a public affairs analyst, writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.