Head or tail, the jinx of one term per governor in Oyo State has been broken! The only contention which may involve the judiciary to address is about the rightful breaker of the jinx. The incumbent governor, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or his brother, the former governor, Sen. Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, of Accord?
It is not that the governorship election in Oyo State was inconclusive; no, it is far from it, governor Ajimobi was duly certified and returned as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but Ladoja felt aggrieved and threatened that he would challenge the result at the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal. The fact had been established before the election that the only thing that could sustain the jinx was for either of Sen. Teslim Kolawole Folarin of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or Engr. Seyi Makinde of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) out of the five major contenders for the exalted seat to win the election. Thus, with what is on ground now, nothing again can alter the setting of either Ajimobi or Ladoja becoming the governor for the second term since the third person in the same category with the duo, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Labour Party (LP) had conceded defeat to Ajimobi.
Without prejudice to the litigation threatened to be instituted by Ladoja, there were certain lessons to be taken from the election to guide against the future and whether one likes it or not, the political calculation of the state will continue to be guided by the events of this last election if care is not taken. Taking a critical look at the voting pattern, it was evident that out of every eight people that voted in the governorship election, only three of them voted for the eventual winner of the election, governor Abiola Ajimobi which suggested that his candidature could not be said to be that popular in relation to the other five voters. But did the other five voters concentrate their votes on just one candidate? No, in fact if three of the five had concentrated on just one of the other governorship candidates, there could have been a stalemate. The seed of discord that had been sown between the four other major contenders, Ladoja (Accord), Alao-Akala (LP), Folarin (PDP) and Makinde (SDP) did the magic for Ajimobi as it was later gathered.
After the presidential and National Assembly (NASS) election, a clean sweep of which the APC made, attempts were said to have been made by the combined forces of the four main contenders to checkmate Ajimobi from emerging as the winner, knowing fully well that he was very much favoured by the bandwagon effect of the previous election. But, the differences between them were so fundamental that they could not agree on a common front, yet, only a coalition of those forces could perform the magic. For instance, it is more than certain that the animosity generated between Ladoja and his deputy (Alao-Akala) by the impeachment of the former in 2006 would continue to linger and just as it was a factor in 2011 when Ladoja preferred emergence of Ajimobi to Alao-Akala, so it was in this last election, it was better for Alao-Akala for Ajimobi to continue in office than to lend support to Ladoja. The same Alao-Akala would not touch Folarin with a long pole over what the latter did to his second term ambition in 2011 as well as his ensuring that he (Alao-Akala) left the PDP late last year. Folarin too would prefer Ajimobi to continue in office rather than lending his support to the emergence of either Ladoja or Alao-Akala.
While he believed that Alao-Akala prevented him from going back to the Senate in 2011, following which he contributed to the scuttling of his second term ambition, he knew that Alao-Akala left the PDP late last year because of him and that his exit did a great blow to his own chance of winning the last election. There was no way Folarin could trust Ladoja going by the alleged betrayal suffered by him as a result of Ladoja’s exposition of what transpired between the duo in far away London here in Nigeria on a live radio programme. Ladoja, by his own calculation believed and assumed that he was the most popular of them and the only card on his own table was for others to que behind him, yet, here is somebody that others have one thing or the other against.
Otunba Alao-Akala was said to have called him after the first election to let the two of them back out of the race and push forward the youngest and the most neutral of the five contenders, Seyi Makinde, but, he turned down the request, insisting that the people of Oyo State were waiting for him. The enthusiasm with which the other candidates reacted to the victory of Ajimobi confirmed their joy at his emergence to the effect that if it would not be any of them, they were pleasantly okay with Ajimobi continuing in office rather than Ladoja.
As things are now, the regrouping of the PDP in its original form when the Ladojas, Alao-Akalas, Makindes and Folarins of this world were together seems the only feasible potent opposition to the APC in the state, but, how that will be is a matter of conjecture in view of the manner of the party’s defeat at the poll and the reaction of some of the members to the emerging development. Aside the gale of defections already witnessed from the party to the ruling APC and the ones to still come, the deep seated animosity being nursed against one another by some of the leaders may make genuine reconciliation somehow difficult though not impossible. Equally, the way some of the leaders hold on to the past, always making reference to how somebody’s action or inaction at a point in time prevented them from becoming what and what and how such leaders always wait for a pay-back time, a case of ‘you dabor me I tarka you’ will also be a cog in the wheel of genuine reconciliation.
Another issue that may continue to play divisive role in the PDP is ambition and unless the young elements among them realise the need for them to forge a common front, the party may remain in the opposition far more than expected. One thing is certain, with the result of the last election, Ajimobi has already ‘sacked’ two of the former governors, Ladoja and Alao-Akala both of who will not venture again into governorship contest due to their ages. While Ladoja will be 75 in 2019, his former deputy, Alao-Akala will be approaching 70 by that time.
Meanwhile, there’s a fear in some circles now that should the tribunal upturn the victory of Ajimobi and declare Ladoja the winner of the election as being claimed by the Accord governorship candidate, the state may not know peace unless changes occur in the configuration of the House of Assembly membership as presently composed with APC having 18 as against eight members belonging to Accord and six belonging to LP. An observer has pointed out that if with PDP controlling the House of Assembly between 2003 and 2006 and the then governor Ladoja, also of the PDP could not manage the lawmakers, following which he was impeached, though wrongly, as later affirmed by the Supreme Court, how would he handle opposition dominated House of Assembly this time around? It is a future question and it is part of the future of Oyo politics.