The battle for the Oyo governorship seat has become more intense following the results of the presidential and national assembly elections. Sixteen political parties are jostling to wrest power from Seyi Makinde, the incumbent governor, who is seeking a second term in office.
However, the election is projected to be a three-horse race between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Accord Party (AP).
As Makinde is working to retain his position, Teslim Folarin of the APC, and Bayo Adelabu of AP are striving hard to grab power from the PDP in the state.
The three candidates are also from Ibadan, a massive city with the highest number of LGAs in the state and the highest voting population. This implies that the votes from the ancient city will be split among the three contenders while they scramble to gather more votes in the other LGAs.
Some analysts say Makinde’s election may not be a walk in the park as some believe. He has some forces to contend with given the role he played in the build up to the presidential election.
The Oyo governor is a member of the Integrity Group otherwise known as G5 governors. Other governors in the group are Nyesom Wike of Rivers; Samuel Ortom of Benue; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu; and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia.
The governors fell out with the PDP leadership after Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, won the party’s presidential ticket. The group refused to support Atiku’s presidential bid, arguing that his election goes against the agreement to zone the presidency to the south.
The G5 governors excluded themselves from PDP’s presidential campaign over calls for Iyorchia Ayu to step down as the national chairperson. Their action is believed to have contributed to Atiku’s loss in all the states the party controls, including Oyo.
It was alleged that Makinde worked for the victory of Bola Tinubu, president-elect, in Oyo — a move considered to be anti-party by some members. Also, the three PDP senatorial candidates in Oyo lost their bids to candidates of the APC, with the ruling party (APC) winning eight of the fourteen seats in the house of representatives.
Many of the PDP members were said to be angry with Makinde’s refusal to work for Atiku’s success at the poll, leaving the party divided in the state. Will this come back to haunt the governor?
Among the G5 governors, Makinde is the only one seeking reelection. Three others – Ortom, Ikpeazu, and Ugwuanyi – failed in their quests to secure senatorial seats in the February 25 election. Will Makinde excel where his group members failed? The answer to the question will be glaring after the election on Saturday.
MAKINDE, FOLARIN, ADELABU: HOW THEY STAND
In 2019, Makinde won the governorship election, beating his closest rival – Bayo Adelabu – who was the candidate of the APC then, with a margin of 157,639 votes.
Unarguably, Makinde enjoys the goodwill of a large population of the state, including that of civil servants. The timely payment of salaries and some infrastructural development in the state have endeared him to the people.
He also enjoys the platform of a party with concrete structures across the state. His re-election bid has also been endorsed by other political parties in the state. It is believed that these factors will easily pave a way for his re-election.
However, some aggrieved members of Oyo PDP have reportedly vowed not to work for Makinde’s reelection over his G5 association and Atiku’s loss in the state. Makinde’s failure to calm the dissenting voices and placate aggrieved members has become a threat to his reelection. Unlike what was obtained in the 2019 election when he had the backing of a number of political bigwigs in the state, some of his supporters have defected to other political parties.
With the defeat of the other G5 governors, all eyes are on Makinde. Like the late Abiola Ajmobi, will Makinde also break the second-term jinx in Oyo and be reelected?
Folarin, the candidate of the APC, is Makinde’s closest rival and a grassroots politician. A three-term senator representing Oyo central senatorial district, Folarin is also the Asaaju Olubadan of Ibadan land.
This is the second time the APC candidate will be contesting for the governorship seat. He first contested in 2015 on the platform of the PDP but came fourth.
Folarin, who is a graduate of political science from the University of Ibadan, described himself as “the very choice destined to bring about the much desired positive change Oyo state people have long yearned for”, and has promised to bring a new Oyo into reality.
He has promised to use his years of experience in Nigeria’s political sphere to effect change in the state. He will also be banking on the success recorded by the APC at the presidential election and the party’s full support at the federal level.
Many also believe that the perceived anti-party activity of the incumbent governor will work in his favour. Recently, the PDP Vanguard, an opposition support group, and a few other political parties, endorsed Folarin’s candidacy.
One major hurdle before Folarin is the crisis that arose after he won the party’s ticket during the primary election in the state. Some aggrieved members dumped the APC for other parties after the primary election.
Will Folarin be able to prove the naysayers wrong? The votes of the electorate will determine this on March 18.
Adelabu is another well-known candidate in the Oyo political scene. Before his foray into politics, he was the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He resigned from the position to contest the 2019 Oyo governorship election. He ran on the platform of the APC but lost to Makinde. Undeterred by the outcome of his first attempt, he is determined to have another go at the guber seat.
Now, Adelabu is riding into the battle on the strength of the Accord Party in the state. He defected to the AP when he lost the governorship ticket to Folarin. Despite his short time in the opposition party, he was able to clinch the party’s ticket.
It is believed that one of the factors that worked against him in the 2019 election was that he was not active in state politics. The AP candidate, however, believes his experience in the past four years and his relationship with stakeholders in the state have fully prepared him for the job.
While he may not have the popularity and backing the other contenders enjoy at the national level, Adelabu will bank on the popularity and weight of the AP in the state to clear the coast for his victory.
It remains to be seen if Adelabu will have a better outing this time.
Before the Osun election, Oyo was the only state governed by the PDP in the south-west. Are the people ready for a change in government or comfortable with the ruling PDP? Residents of the state are eagerly waiting to see where the pendulum will swing.