The Road To Ajimobi’s Victory
IT was a tough road to victory for Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, as he made history by winning re-election: the first time that an incumbent would return as governor for a second term in the history of Oyo state.
Ajimobi polled 327,310 votes to defeat his closest rival, Senator Rashidi Ladoja of Accord Party (AP) who scored 254,520 votes. Ogbomoso-born Adebayo Alao-Akala came a distant third, as he polled 184,111 votes, while former Senate Leader and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Teslim Folarin, scored 79,019. Youthful businessman and Social Democratic Party candidate (SDP), Seyi Makinde, polled 54, 740 votes.
Gladiators in the race were leaders in their own right and commanded a large followership. They included two former governors, a former Senate Leader and a foremost businessman.
One of the highpoints of the Ajimobi administration is the restoration of peace to a state known for violence and brigandage. This is a plus for the APC government and it worked for the party during the election. His success in the area of urban renewal and beautification of the environment particularly the state capital also worked in Ajimobi’s favour. Dualisation of major roads across various zones, as well as construction of an overhead bridge, brought rapid development to the state capital. The citizenry applauded this.
Another factor that worked in favour of Ajimobi was weak opposition in the state. Since the 2011 polls, the PDP had been factionalised and the crisis reached its peak with the eventual defection of its leading gubernatorial candidates, after its controversial primaries. Ladoja was himself a product of the PDP before he left for Accord. In essence, Ajimobi was contesting against the PDP, although its members were spread across the various political parties.
Since his defection to the AP in the wake of the 2011 election, Ladoja’s popularity had continued to soar. Three months to the general elections, when he formed the AP, the party won eight House of Assembly seats and four in the House of Representatives. This buoyed his popularity and the government had to enter into an alliance with Accord to steer the ship of the Assembly. Following this feat, Ladoja’s AP continued to receive defectors from other political parties, making it one of the parties to beat in the state.
With the feat recorded in just three months of its existence, Ladoja rebuffed every move of alliance from other aggrieved candidates for the governorship poll. But unlike 2011, the APC gave Ladoja a close run in his strongholds such as Egbeda, Akinyele, Ona-Ara, Lagelu and Ibadan North East local governments, which ultimately reduced his chances of recording unusually high number of votes in the areas.
Between Alao-Akala and Folarin was a deep-rooted animosity, which existed during the build up to the 2011 election. Folarin as Senate leader was denied a return ticket by the party, led at the time by Alao-Akala who was the governor. In his stead, the present Minister of State for the FCT, Jumoke Akinjide, was handed the ticket for Oyo Central Senatorial district. While the crisis lasted, the factional chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Alhaji Lateef (aka Eleweomo) was killed and Folarin was charged for murder.
He was taken to court and remanded in prison custody for some weeks before his eventual release after the Senate leadership intervention. Folarin and his supporters worked against Alao-Akala at the polls, which led to his loss to Ajimobi at the time. So in 2015, it was pay back time for Alao-Akala who left the PDP after the controversial primaries that produced Folarin for Labour Party (LP).
The two refused to work together after the just concluded presidential election where the APC recorded victory. Alao-Akala refused to step down for his PDP counterpart and vowed to go it alone even if it meant losing to Ajimobi. Folarin on his part insisted on going ahead in the competition saying if there must be any alliance, the other candidates should step down for him.
Youthful Makinde who contested for Senate in 2007 under the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) moved to PDP in 2011, but was allegedly prevailed upon to wait till 2015. When he was again denied ticket by the PDP leadership, Makinde defected to SDP where he picked the gubernatorial ticket. He refused entreaties from the other gubernatorial candidates to step down and insisted on going ahead with the election.
At the end of the day, they all lost to Ajimobi.
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