Makinde, Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun test their popularity on Saturday
• As Folarin, Rhodes-Vivour, Adebutu pose dangerous threats to incumbents
Ahead of Saturday’s elections, the fate of incumbent governors in Oyo, Lagos and Ogun states, that is, Seyi Makinde, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun APC, remain uncertain.
Gone are those days when governors usually relied on the power of incumbency to trash their opponents, this time around, none of the three is bold enough to say he will win the Saturday contest.
The intrigues in Oyo State
In Oyo State, Governor Makinde has the candidates of the major oppositions APC, Senator Teslim Folarin and that of Accord Party, Adebayo Adelabu to contend with while the Labour Party and New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) do not have what it takes to either win the contest or oust the incumbent. Their best bet is to form alliance with anyone of the three major political parties to create an upset.
The Oyo chapter of Social Democratic Party (SDP) is in the category of LP and NNPP, not very strong but could inflict some damage.
The party is currently led by a former leader of the House of Representatives, Mulikat Akande-Adeola, alongside her numerous supporters, who dumped the PDP in 2022 due to irreconcilable differences with Makinde recently endorsed Senator Folarin of APC. Some stakeholders regard the endorsement as a costly miscalculation. The party is split into two factions with the other side led by the governorship candidate, Michael Lana, which has endorsed Makinde for second term. Both factions are currently trading accusations and counter accusations of having gone to collect money for endorsing Makinde and Folarin.
The Labour Party is also caught in a similar web of endorsement and it is currently split. A faction of the party had endorsed Makinde while the other party insisted on supporting its governorship candidate, Tawfiq Tayo Akinwale.
Although a faction of Accord Party also endorse Governor Makinde recently, the national leadership quickly disowned the move and wielded the big stick by dissolving the state executive of Accord Party and appointed a Caretaker Committee to manage its affairs. The party also declared that Adelabu and all the State House of Assembly candidates remain in the race.
A former governor of Oyo, Senator Rasheed Ladoja and three former deputy governors, including Azeem Gbolarunmi were said to have also endorsed Folarin of APC but their decisions were being tainted as having religious colouration, which some stakeholders in Oyo, including Muslims faithful frowned on, saying they would never encourage or allow religious sentiment to be introduced Oyo politics.
The LP candidate, Akinwale, who is a Muslim, in a recent statement titled: ‘Unjust and Unholy endorsement of APC by some Muslim leaders’, said it was unfortunate that at a time when they seek to rescue Oyo State from the hands of incompetent and mediocre politicians, religious institutions in the state are sentimentally dragging the state back.
He said some Muslims leaders in the state had gone ahead to endorse Folarin on the premises that the Oyo State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had earlier endorsed Makinde, who is a Christian.
Akinwale’s position is that both Folarin, who is running on an APC platform that has dragged the country back for eight years and Makinde who has mismanaged Oyo in the last four years should not be supported to rule the state.
What will definitely play out on Saturday is, while Makinde will rely on the peoples’ support and his performance, Folarin is banking on the success achieved by APC in the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections in which his party won the three senatorial seats, eight out of the 14 House of Representatives seats while PDP won five and two still in contest.
Adelabu is hoping to project himself based on development projects he facilitated to the state when he was deputy governor of the Central Bank.
Speaking to The Guardian, State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Akeem Olatunji said the incumbent governor would clear nothing less than 29 local governments landslides out of the 33 on Saturday.
But reacting, a member of the Oyo APC Presidential Campaign Council, Kehinde Olaosebikan, said there is no way APC would not repeat what it achieved on February 25 2023 come Saturday.
The Southwest leader of NNPP, Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan, told The Guardian that while it is certain NNPP would vote for a candidate on Saturday, “we are still consulting among ourselves to avoid the mistakes made by LP and SDP, which had split their members.”
According to him, “If at all we will support any other gubernatorial candidate, it won’t be by endorsement but an alliance and all our State House of Assembly candidates will contest their elections.”
Meanwhile, a member of Accord Party, who is also a candidate for the State House of Assembly, Bolaji Tunji, told The Guardian that Adelabu remains the candidate to beat on Saturday.
According to him, “Adelabu has the best record among the contestants in terms of integrity. He is not part of the religious sentiments currently playing out in Oyo politics, especially between Makinde and Folarin.”
Tunji also said that Adelabu still has the 350,000 votes he recorded during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Oyo when he contested on APC platform, intact. He disclosed that more people across all political divides, especially from APC are still crossing over to join their party.
Challenges before Sanwo-Olu in Lagos. PIX:Twitter
The Saturday polls are going to be a straight contest between Governor Sanwo-Olu and his major rival Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party. Candidate of PDP, Abdul Azeez Adediran aka Jandor, may come a distant second runner up in the race.
The factors of ethnicity and religion are expected to play out as was seen in the previous elections. The two factors worked against the ruling party in Lagos on February 25. The Igbo community in Lagos were said to be set to further show their solidarity with the Labour candidate, Rhodes-Vivour.
At present, major stakeholders in PDP are forming alignment and re-alignment across APC and LP practically on ethnic sentiments and revenge. For instance, former Director General of NIMASA, who was the gubernatorial candidate of Lagos PDP in 2011, Dr. Ade Dosunmu and the 2019 Lagos Central senatorial candidate of the party, Sunbo Onitiri, have defected to APC to support Sanwo-Olu.
But the likes of Bode George, former deputy national chairman of PDP, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Dr Abimbola Ogunkelu are staying with Rhodes-Vivour.
An elder in the Lagos PDP, Dr. Adetokunbo Pearse told The Guardian that he chose not to leave PDP but will not support Jandor “at the same time I will not back Rhodes-Vivour because I believe it is an Igbo agenda to take over reign of power in Lagos.”
The possibility of LP and PDP forming an alliance in Lagos ahead of Saturday against Sanwo-Olu may also not work out. Dr. Pearse said his findings from the national headquarters in Abuja showed there was no plan towards PDP and LP forming an alliance in Lagos. According to him, “PDP is going into Saturday polls as a divided house, the party has nothing to place on the table to negotiate with. Part of it is working for APC and the other for LP.”
The Lagos guber race remains a contest between the incumbent and Rhodes-Vivour of LP but observers believe that the ruling party still has what it takes to retain power having won the three senatorial seats and majority House of Representatives seats in the last presidential poll.
Dapo Abiodun stands better chance to retain Ogun
While the situation in Oyo and Lagos remain dicey, Governor Abiodun appears to have some advantage over his major opponent and candidate of PDP, Ladi Adebutu.
What could have worked to Adebutu’s advantage in the contest, a possible alliance between PDP and African Democratic Congress (ADC) had been denied by both parties on the ground that such a working relationship is too late to work out. Another chance of Adebutu working with the LP in Ogun is also a nullity as the LP governorship issue is still in court.
Meanwhile, the APC has all the three senatorial and nine House of Representatives seats in the last presidential and National Assembly polls.
The Omo Ilu platform of the late Senator Buruji Kashamu has also merged with Abiodun whereas the Senator elects for Ogun West, Olamilekan Adeola Solomon and Ogun East, former Governor Gbenga Daniel are so strong and popular such that the incumbent may not have issues with both senatorial districts on Saturday.
The only area Abiodun is likely to have a little challenge is Ogun Central, where the outgoing Senator and former governor of Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun is supporting the candidate of ADC. However, in the zone, the likes of former Governor Segun Osoba, former Speaker House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and a host of others, who are loyal to Governor Abiodun, will contain whatever negative influence Amosun is likely going to create.