Home Opinion The Progressive Route To Oyo APC’s Recovery | Olubiyi Aladesanmi

The Progressive Route To Oyo APC’s Recovery | Olubiyi Aladesanmi


No fewer than 15 politicians who have been governors will be part of the 9th Senate commencing in June 2019.

The stories of these senators-elect who are incumbent governors rocked the headlines recently because of the way some of them emerged as candidates of their parties and the unprecedented number of them that contested.
Despite Nigerians frowning at the governors now making the Senate their retirement plan, majority of them still emerged winners in the 2019 elections.
However, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State is the only incumbent APC governor who lost in the senatorial election and he shares that record only with PDP’s Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) who lost to APC.
More embarrassing for Ajimobi is that he also failed to deliver his state as politicians like to say, with President Buhari losing the presidential poll in the state.
But then, it became more disastrous for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the governorship election and swept the state assembly seats.
So much has already been said about how Governor Abiola Ajimobi was the architect of his own political misfortune in 2019, as he became one of the most discussed politicians in South-West Nigeria because of his utterances and attitude.
For his peculiar nature some use different  adjectives to describe him, such as saying, he is “rude,” “arrogant,” “selfish,” “dictatorial” and many more. How fair this is, would be a topic for another time.
In summary, there were three major factors believed to have worked against Oyo APC in the 2019 election – to some, it was “the masses’ hatred for Ajimobi, the damage done to party structure, and the emergence of ADC made up of aggrieved APC members.”
The damage is done and at the moment, the APC in Oyo State is believed to be in shambles and it is believed things will get only worse after May 29 if something is not done.
The bad news is that little or nothing can be done about Governor Ajimobi, his goodwill is dependent on how well he benefitted people of the state in his two-term tenure in Oyo State but the good news is that aggrieved members can be reunited and with this structures will be rebuilt.
The question now is where are the personalities with the capacity, maturity, clout and temperament to do this job? Since APC lost its grassroots mobilisers, things went bad but the party seemed too arrogant to admit it.
Make no mistake, the APC at the national level knew that these internal problems could backfire for them but this is Nigeria, where governors are more like gods.
For the national leadership of the APC, the most painful of the exits was that of incumbent senator representing Oyo South, Adesoji Akanbi whose senatorial ticket, Governor Ajimobi took over.
The APC chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other national leaders made several attempts to impress on Governor Ajimobi to redirect his ambition but he refused to see reasons.
The pressure for Akanbi to recontest led him to the ADC platform and this helped a less fancied PDP to defeat Ajimobi in the Senate race but there are other reasons why Akanbi’s exit was painful to the APC at the centre.
When the outgoing 8th Senate was inaugurated in 2015, the ‘Unity Group’ which Akanbi belonged to quickly established themselves as a major force that will shape the success of the parliament.
You would remember them for being at the forefront when the battle for the leadership of the National Assembly became intense. They supported all candidates nominated by the party against the Saraki “coup” spearheaded by his own “Like Minds” which eventually succeeded with PDP’s help.
Many Nigerians are unaware that Saraki’s emergence as Senate President was a test of loyalty for APC senators. While his colleagues quickly realigned for personal gains, Akanbi was one of the few senators who refused to jump into the Saraki camp.
Of course this did not come without some repercussion. Despite being a high ranking senator by virtue of his rise from the House of Reps, Senator Akanbi was not appointed into any of the leading committees and was not made chairman of any.
Saraki somehow believed he should have enjoyed the support of a man like Akanbi with whom he had a long relationship but the Ibadan man chose to be a loyal party man and bore his pains quietly.
The more vocal version of Akanbi was the controversial Senator Omo Agege with whom they fought for the Buhari cause in the 8th Senate.
The least everyone expected was that APC would reward Akanbi with a return ticket to the Senate but Ajimobi had other ideas.
The handwriting was already on the wall when he refused to join the mass defection on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, July 24 2018 while many of his colleagues moved to PDP.
He must have been confident that the APC would not betray him but Senator Akanbi was consumed by the Oyo State leadership of the party he stood by during bad times.
After he lost his APC senatorial ticket to an overbearing governor, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State approached Senator Akanbi again.
The Oyo PDP at that time was equally playing a game to strengthen their ranks and an incumbent senator was definitely a good idea. So they offered him their party’s Oyo South Senatorial ticket but he refused the offer and stayed in the APC until the last moment.
Party members at the APC primaries in October 2018 were still hopeful that something would happen and Governor Ajimobi would do the honourable thing but they left the venue disappointed.
With three months left to the polls, Senator Akanbi settled for the totally unknown African Democratic Congress (ADC) along with his Unity Forum political family who all were forced out of the APC.
They would rather start a new movement than go to the PDP whose history does not align with their political beliefs.
You start to wonder why some of these politicians who had been so badly treated should have any iota of loyalty left to offer. The answer is simple; they are core progressives.
Senator Akanbi, for instance, came into political prominence in 1991 when he was elected into the House of Reps on the platform of SDP and was one of the young intelligent men that stood on the path of honour during the NADECO struggles.
He also belonged to the Alliance for Democracy (AD) class of 99 and was a major financier of the party in Oyo State for eight years when they were kicked out of office by PDP in 2003, until their returned in 2011 with Ajimobi.
Unsurprisingly, Akanbi has since been on a reconciliation path with his political family after he was invited by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
This is a ray of hope that APC can still rebuild their broken home but the party must grab this opportunity with both hands if they intend to come back to life in Oyo State.
Their house has crumbled and they need to start rebuilding as a matter of urgency but it can only be rebuilt by persons like Senator Adesoji Akanbi and others who have the progressives blood flowing in their veins.
These crop of politicians have the masterplan to revive APC in Oyo politics and because they have remained on the side of the people they will be trusted and listened to.
It is time to get every single person involved and make all members of the family know they are important.
Olubiyi Aladesanmi is a public commentator who writes from Ibadan
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