Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala’s declaration of interest to contest for the ticket of All Progressives Congress, has raised the stakes not only in APC but also in the state, reports Assistant Editor, Dare Odufowokan
FORMER Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, has declared his interest in contesting the governorship election in 2019. According to the Ogbomosho-born politician, he will be seeking a return to the Agodi Government House on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Akala had months back, dumped his former political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and pitched his tent with the APC.
Akala joins about a dozen of other aspirants seeking the ticket of the ruling party in their bid to succeed outgoing governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. The Nation gathered that Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, currently representing Oyo North; Commissioner for Lands, Isaac Omodewu; Commissioner for Health, Dr. Azeez Adeduntan; a lawmaker at the House , Honourable Temitope Olatoye, aka Sugar and prominent lawyer, Ahmed Raji, are among notable APC aspirants contestants.
Others said to be eyeing the governorship seat on the ticket of the APC include former Chief of Staff, Dr. Adeolu Akande; former Commissioner for Finance, Zaccheaus Adelabu and former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Adebayo Adelabu. Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Niyi Akintola, have also declared their intentions to contest for the governorship seat on the APC ticket in 2019.
Confirming his readiness to go all the way and grab the APC ticket ahead of other aspirants, amidst talks that his aspiration is upsetting a lot of party bigwigs, Akala said, “I, Christopher Adebayo Alao Akala, having communed with my creator, the Almighty God, my immediate family and critical stakeholders, do solemnly offer myself to contest for the governorship seat of Oyo state come 2019. So, help me, God.
“For quite some time now, I have been inundated by telephone calls, text messages from well-meaning citizens, corporate bodies, political associates and friends alike to stage a comeback to the governorship seat of our dear state. I make bold to say emphatically and unequivocally that my laudable accomplishments in virtually all sectors speak volume and without mincing words had earned me the sobriquet of ‘Oyato’ governor.”
But if feelers emanating from the party is anything to go by, then Alao-Akala’s unexpected decision to seek the ticket of the APC may be ruffling some feathers as we speak. According to party sources, not a few chieftain of the APC are of the strong opinion that the former governor, rather than complicate the already difficult governorship ticket race, should have joined others to play the roles of party elders towards resolving the many issues over the APC primary election.
However, there are also those who feel Alao-Akala’s ambition may help break the ice over who should be the party’s gubernatorial candidate. His coming from the Ogbomosho axis of the state is another issue, as many party leaders and members from that part of the state now feel they have a strong aspirant in the race who can snatch the APC ticket and bring the governorship to Oyo North Senatorial District once again.
Meanwhile, The Nation gathered that Alao-Akala’s ambition may not have gone down well with some leading chieftains of the party, especially within the political camp of Governor Ajimobi. Sources within the party said that aside the widespread insinuation that Ajimobi may actually be planning to throw his support behind one of the Ibadan-born aspirants in the race, there may have been an understanding bet ween Alao-Akala and the governor that the former will not run for governor in 2019.
“It came as a shock to many of us in the Ajimobi political family. Sincerely, the governor is yet to discuss the development with us since Alao-Akala declared his aspiration. But I can tell you Ajimobi was not expecting him to do that.
The governor, given his previous utterances before now, saw the former governor as one of those party elders who will help him resolve the issue of 2019 governorship ticket peacefully.
“I have never for once hear him talk about the possibility of Akala contesting the governorship election in 2019. I recall a situation when someone accused Alao-Akala of wanting to join the APC because of his governorship ambition, Governor Ajimobi allayed the person’s fear by saying Alao-Akala was not coming to APC to contest governorship. That is why some people were saying there was an understanding between the two leaders about this 2019 issue,” our source said.
Checks by our correspondent at the state party secretariat also revealed a similar feeling among many party officials. “Yes, Alao-Akala has officially informed us that he is interested in the APC ticket. He has done that even though you are right to say many of us weren’t expecting him to join the already crowded and complicated governorship race. He has a right to contest as a party member and nobody can deny him that.
“Shortly before he declared his interest in the race, we constituted a committee of elders to help see to the governorship ticket race. His name was duly included in that committee as we see him as one of experienced and respected party man that will do well in such capacity. I don’t need to tell you we have removed his name from the committee now as he is now one of the aspirants the committee will be talking to,” another party source revealed.
But leading other party chieftains to throw their weights behind Alao-Akala’s renewed interest in the governorship seat, Dr. Fola Akinosun said if Oyo State is to continue to witness more development, there is the need for a tested, trusted and experienced hand like Otunba Alao-Akala to assume the leadership of Oyo State come 2019 after the expiration of Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s tenure.
“To satisfy the yearnings of the people in the state, it is imperative to make a clarion call on His Excellency, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala to contest in the governorship election of Oyo State in 2019, so that the succor, humane posture, economic activities, infrastructural development that was once entrenched in governance of the state during his past tenure could be repeated with renewed vigor.
The joker to winning the 2019 Oyo governorship by any political platform is to present Alao-Akala because of serious yearnings for him by the generality of people in state. There is a need to separate the wheat from the chaff among the gubernatorial aspirants. Presently, it is an all comers’ affairs, where political lilliputians are gladiating with individuals who have high pedigree in governance,” he said.
While speaking about the reactions trailing his ambition, the former governor said it is wrong for anybody to say his governorship quest is a strange development. According to him, he has never hidden his desire to return to the government house. He was quick to add that contrary to speculations making the rounds that Ajimobi may be shocked by his declaration, the governor was aware that he intended to contest in 2019.
Reports have it that the former governor made the revelation in Ogbomosho, his hometown recently, while addressing scores of party faithfuls and supporters who thronged his residence to hear him speak and clear the air on his next political aspiration. Among the crowd of politicians were leaders and members of the Akala Support Group (ASG), the former governor’s state wide political platform.
Alao-Akala said he was contesting with a view to consolidating on and surpassing the achievements recorded so far by Gov. Abiola Ajimobi. He said that he endeavoured “to put smiles on the faces of people within available resources” when he was governor between 2007 and 2011. Alao-Akala commended the efforts of Ajimobi who had been governing the state in the last seven years.
“Consultations are ongoing and I can assure you we are getting it right this time around. I have been meeting with all those that matter on this project and the result of those consultations are positive. I am fully in the race and very soon I am coming out publicly to intimate the good people of the state of my plans on continuing with the good works of Governor Abiola Ajimobi.
“As the sitting governor, courtesy demand we intimate him of our aspirations and that we have done. I have informed him of my intention of continuing from where he will stop come May 2019. He is the very first person I consulted on this project. Please go back to your respective localties and sensitise the voting public, let them know, I Adebayo Alao-Akala, is contesting for governor and nothing else.
“I know the people of Oyo State want to know my next political move. I have even received letters from you and many other groups, asking me to declare my aspiration publicly. I am saying that you shouldn’t let anybody confuse you. They are mischief makers. Whoever tells you Akala is going for any other thing other than what you ask of me is still a learner in the game of politics.
“Ajimobi’s remarkable programmes and projects in the areas where people find tough to venture into have been impactful on the citizenry such that the people have tagged him ‘Koseleri Governor. My fellow compatriots, you can see vividly the similarities in our designations, ‘Oyato’ and ‘Koseleri, ‘ both of which are clear evidence of purposeful governance,” he said.
While those opposed to his ambition for various reasons are hoping he will have a rethink and opt out of the race sooner or later, there are those who see his aspiration as one of the ways of stopping another Ibadan son from succeeding Ajimobi. The rotation debate in the state is so fierce that many non-Ibadan indigenes of the state would rather have Alao-Akala return as governor than support any of the Ibadan aspirants.
Chief Tele Hassan, former scribe of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) in the state, while explaining why Alao-Akala should not be overlooked in the race for the ticket, said the former governor, given his political experience, wide network and followership, may emerge as the candidate of the bloc within the party that is clamoring for power shift. He warned the governor and his people to immediately start talking with Alao-Akala.
“The unbridled lust for power by Ibadan aspirants in an arrangement where people are clamoring for zoning will work well for Alao-Akala. He is one aspirant that the people calling for zoning can rally round in their determination to stop another Ibadan indigene from becoming governor. Unlike many other aspirants from Oke-Ogun and Oyo zones, he has the political weight to slug it out with the Ibadan bloc and win.
“It is my candid opinion that given his political experience, wide network and followership, he has what it takes to snatch the ticket from the other aspirants and emerge as the candidate of the bloc within the party that is clamoring for power shift. I think the governor and his people should immediately start talking with Alao-Akala. He is also a politician with immense experience,” Hassan said.
But it appears not all those calling for zoning will easily line up behind an Alao-Akala candidacy in the ruling APC. While some, especially those from the Oyo zone of the state, may gladly do, the former governor will still have the people of Oke-Ogun zone to contend with if he is to realise his governorship ambition on the wings of the current clamor for power shift from Ibadan to another zone.
National President of Oke Ogun Development Consultative Forum (ODCF), Dr. Zaccheaus Ajuwon, in a chat with journalists, insisted that the people of Oke Ogun will not be party to any arrangement, alliance, merger or discussion that is not geared towards producing one of them as the next governor of the state. According to him, what is paramount in the minds of the indigenes of the area was to produce the next governor of the state in 2019.
Ajuwon while describing it as unfair; the second, third or forth positions indigenes of the area have been occupying in the politics of the state, posited that it is funny to hear that the zone which has 10 local governments out of the 33 local government areas in the state has not been given the opportunity to produce the governor of the state since 1999. He recalled that Ogbomosho, Alao-Akala’s zone, has been opportune to produce a governor.
“Our people are resolute and have taken a decision to stand and vote as a bloc for one of our own come 2019. We are determined, ready and motivated to vote to wrest gubernatorial power peacefully in 2019. Governor Abiola Ajimobi had publicly stated his assurance to support an Oke Ogun person for the governorship in 2019 in order to ‘reciprocate the love’ that the people of Oke Ogun showed to him in the 2011 and 2015 gubernatorial elections.
“There is no doubt that democracy is a game of numbers, we in Oke Ogun may be only one third of the voting population of Oyo state but this is definitely significant since Ibadan with about half of this voting public is not all Ibadan indigenes. There are in Ibadan, indigenes of Oke Ogun, their friends, associates and there are non indigenes of Oyo state in this area as well”.
“Oke Ogun has ten (30 percent) out of the 33 LGAs in the state. This position is second only to Ibadan which has 11 (33 percent) of the LGAs. With the exception of the period when Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, an indigene of Ogbomosho areas with only five LGAs, was governor, indigenes of Ibadan have ruled Oyo since the inception of the state. Oke Ogun has not been treated fairly in terms of human and infrastructural development,” he argued.