If all heroes wear capes, Professor Adeolu Akande should be invariably draped in academic robes. His path is lined with laurels as a seasoned journalist and university teacher. Even after taking a detour to the fastidious sphere of public administration, he has remained consistent on upward trajectory. His tenacity is most enduring. It was after attaining the immense rank of professor that he proceeded to earn a degree in law to cap off an already robust resume.
From a distance, he comes across as a man who exudes an absolute confidence that could outbrave audacious challenges head-on. If an individual with such a boundless will-power is gunning for Oyo state gubernatorial seat, one should not negate his chances. Being a fan of the thrills that animate every election year, having him in the mix of other hopefuls is exciting. It would be exhilarating to witness a contest between scholarly giants and grassroots mobilizers, all in their fabled finery in a battle of wits where only one winner can emerge.
But can Akande wrestle the war chests and social capitals that set the tone for political schemes in the state? Well, politicians are incurable optimists. They tend to see a glimmer of opportunity where none seems to exist, and to their credits, it often pays off. Throughout history, there is no shortage of dark horses who later emerged winners in fiercely challenged contests. Even the emergence of the present governor of the state is a confirmation of this time-tested truism. A few months before 2019 elections, Seyi Makinde didn’t stand the faintest chance of having a clean sweep in the polls. During the build-up to the election, Governor Alao-Akala called a reporter’s bluff when asked if he was working for the PDP candidate. Akala went on a caustic verbiage, striping Makinde of all honours. He called him a rookie who was just finding feet in the slippery terrain of politics. He claimed Makinde can’t be ranked among top ten politicians in the state. But as fate would have it, Makinde effortlessly put scorn to shame and marched his way to the Agodi government house from the extreme rear.
While nobody can confidently call Akande a political neophyte after learning the ropes from established doyens of the game like Atiku Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo and Late Abiola Ajimobi, all whom he served as top aide at different times, but his clout has never been tested in any elective position. So, the burden to prove his mettle lies firmly on him at this crucial stage.
However, the most apparent albatross hanging around his dream is tied to his birthplace. He hails from the agrarian zone of Oke-Ogun, a zone which has never produced a governor in the history of Oyo state. It will require a well-planned and splendidly executed battle of ingenuity to ensure that Ibadan looses grip on power.
Oke-Ogun best shots at the summit of leadership in Oyo state always end up in the assistantship role of Deputy Governor. While Oke-Ogun boasts of one third of local government areas in the state, political circumstances have not been fair to them. Ibadan dominance has always been overreaching.
Akande should be prepared to water down the parochial sentiments and humongous numbers that Ibadan zone parades. Unless, a movement like the Otoge revolution that took Kwara by storm and relegated the Sarakis is repeated in Oyo state, Ibadan would never surrender power with ease.
It is a no-brainer that politics in our clime has not evolved beyond tribal claws, and a man can be at a total disadvantage owing to the part of the nation he took his first breath. But can the gap-toothed man from the backwoods of Otu break the tribal jinx in the state?
Also, in aiming victory, the handlers of Adeolu Akande should discharge more efforts in bringing his stellar academic achievements and leadership traits to the fore, rather than joining the bandwagon of Amala politics. His consultations and awareness campaigns should be more intensive with abundant reference in the media. He has earned a magnificent living from journalism. Here, is the time to deploy enduring media engagements for the purpose of gaining absolute regards of all and sundry.
However, politics predisposes to mutual concessions. Like a popular eastern proverb says: If you want to get anything under the bed you must bend. Akande needs to close ranks with the self-styled leaders, age-long stalwarts and opinion makers within the APC if he wants to secure his party’s nomination, to start with.
Dele Oluwanishola writes from Ibadan via email@example.com