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Oyo 2019: The Running Mate Adelabu Deserves

Adelabu and Ajimobi

Ahead of the 2019 governorship election in Oyo State, the major political parties have played their cards with the selection of governorship standard-bearers, with the All Progressives Congress (APC) already being thumbed up for playing the best hand in this round.

Those praising the emergence of the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Chief Abudl-waheed Adebayo Adelabu, as the standard-bearer of the APC, are of the opinion that his selection, without much rancour despite the imbroglio that characterised primaries in other states of the federation, is the best thing to happen to the party in the state.

Oyo State, renowned for its status as the pace-setter, is the political hot-bed of the South-West and many people had expected the party to go up in flames over primaries. But the APC demonstrated a good spirit of sportsmanship and avoided unnecessary disaffection and division in the party ranks.

With the standard-bearer’s emergence came the permutations over who would be the running mate to the seasoned banker. Many names had been touted, with claims and counter-claims flying about regarding who had or had not been picked as the running mate to Adelabu. But informed watchers of politics in Oyo State have maintained that for the APC to continue in the saddle in the state, having picked a credible candidate as governor, it will be in its best interest to have a seasoned, credible and capable candidate as running mate to Adelabu.

While names had been touted for the strategic position, the name of Dr. Wale Okediran, a seasoned medical practitioner, writer and politician, has been in the mix for so long that those versed in the politics of the state have suggested that he should be given a look-in if the APC intends to win the 2019 election.

According to those who know, Adelabu deserves a crowd-puller and a diplomatic politician that can navigate the political murky waters of the state following the crises faced by the party, which occasioned its losing many supporters to other parties. Though many arguments have been advanced to support some of the names being touted from Oke-Ogun as running mate to Adelabu, the feeling is that the APC needs a deputy governorship candidate who is an astute politician and a bridge-builder to complement the governorship candidate.

An interaction with politicians and community leaders in Oke-Ogun and across the APC revealed the general agreement that the party needs a candidate who can unite the party and not someone who is considered as a paper-weight or stooge to some individuals. Some of these individuals, whose stock in trade is character assassination, which they are currently exhibiting, cannot deliver the goods for the APC.

In fact, lovers of the APC in the state have been sending feelers to the governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi to be wary of some politicians and civil servants who are Lilliputians and dwarfs that cannot win their polling booths let alone Oke-Ogun axis of the state.

“The governor can conduct independent assessment on the antecedents of these acclaimed ‘big wigs’. The result will prove otherwise of their claims. We should not play into the hands of the opposition, if we are not doing that already. The local government election of May where they claimed clean sweep cannot be used as a yardstick to measure their performance. None of them can withstand the political standing of Dr. Wale Okediran, the former member House of Representatives, former National President of Association of Nigerian Authors. He should be the preferred deputy governorship candidate if APC is desirous of electoral victory at the poll in 2019 general election,” a notable APC leader in Oke-Ogun had said recently when the issue of deputy governorship candidate came up.

Since 1999, Okediran has been one of the few standing progressives and leaders in Oke-ogun even when some of those backing political minnows for the strategic position were still mid-level civil servants and politicians without base. The former lawmaker gave his house to APC for use as the local government secretariat in Iseyin and the place also serves as the senatorial party office till date. That arrangement has been on for the last five years and it is there for anyone to confirm. This is part of Okediran’s contributions to the party apart from sponsoring officials and party members to some of the functions in the area intermittently. What are the contributions of these self-acclaimed party chieftains?

Okediran was elected to the House of Representatives in 2003 and won creditably on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD) at the same time Governor Ajimobi was a serving Senator at the Upper House. He did not re-contest because of the rotational arrangement among the four local governments in Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Iwajowa/Kajola. Till date, he has remained relevant and one of the few loyal party members standing better than any of the hawks who are denigrating his reputation. In a free, fair and credible election, no opposition candidate can defeat Okediran because of his political worth, note, standing and popularity. Even outside his federal constituency and Oyo State, Okediran has political relevance, as most of his former colleagues in the House of Representatives, like Senator Ahmed Lawan, the current Senate Leader, Rt. Honourable Aminu Bello Masari, Abdul-Aziz Abubakar Yari and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the governors of Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States, still reckon with Okediran. Okediran was among the House Caucus leaders from Oyo State. What is more credible, relevant and desirable in politics than these credentials paraded by the former lawmaker?

Loyal party members would recall an occasion when Okediran brought and introduced Governor Ajimobi to the party members in Oke-Ogun and he was well-received and hosted. Where were these Lilliputians purporting to be calling the shots today? When the chips were down and our party was in tatters and disarray, it was the likes of Dr Okediran from Iseyin, the former Deputy Governor, Chief Iyiola Oladokun from Ado-Awaye, Alhaji Abu Olododo in Ilero, Chief Adeleke in Iganna and Chief Adekola in Ago-Aare and many others across Oke-ogun that rose to the occasion, begging and appealing to the political conscience of the Unity Forum members to return to our fold. None of these name-droppers dared do so because they don’t have the credibility to do so.

The interest and concern in Oke-ogun APC is the success of the party with Adelabu and Dr. Okediran as the standard-bearers in the 2019 election. Adelabu deserves a deputy governor that can complement him politically and not these political dwarfs whose intention is to mess up ‘Penkelemesi’ and the party.

Koleoso writes from Saki, Oyo

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