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Oyo Governorship Poll: Pondering Makinde, Folarin’s chances

By Seye Olumide, Southwest Bureau Chief
05 March 2023   |   4:31 am
Following the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections of Saturday, February 25, 2023, in Oyo State, the calculations ahead of the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial poll, which initially favoured the re-election of Governor Seyi Makinde, may have changed.

Senator Teslim Folarin

Following the outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly elections of Saturday, February 25, 2023, in Oyo State, the calculations ahead of the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial poll, which initially favoured the re-election of Governor Seyi Makinde, may have changed.

Before the penultimate Saturday elections, political permutations placed Governor Makinde ahead of the other two major contestants, Senator Teslim Folarin of the major opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr Adebayo Adelabu of Accord Party (AP). But since the results were released and the APC won the three senatorial seats with eight out of the 14 House of Representatives seats while PDP won four with two yet to be decided, observers believe that PDP and Makinde may now struggle to retain power, come Saturday.
Similarly, the outcome of the polls also proved sceptics wrong as whether Senator Folarin has what it takes to oust Makinde.Folarin, who is also the Oyo State coordinator for Tinubu-Shettima Campaign Council, against the negative perception, led APC to a comfortable victory for Tinubu across the 33 local councils in which APC polled 444,889 to defeat the PDP, which polled 182,977 and Labour Party (LP), which polled 99,110.
APC also cleared all the three senatorial seats. Senator-elect, Abdulfatai Buhari polled 90,078 votes to win Oyo North zone while Folarin’s successor, Dr. Yunus Akintunde won Oyo Central with 108,776.  A former Secretary to Oyo State Government, Barr. Sharafadeen Ali, who polled 111,513 votes was declared senator-elect of Oyo South. 
The candidates who won eight out of the 14 House of Representatives for APC include Akin Alabi (Egbeda/Ona), Adefisoye Lafioye (Akinyele/Lagelu), Olamijuwonlo Alao-Akala (Ogbomoso North/South/Orire), Muhammedah (Irepo/Olorunsogo/Orelope), Abdulkareem Tajudeen (ATISBO/Saki West/Saki East), Akeem Adeyemi (Afijio/Atiba/Oyo East/Oyo West), Remi Oseni (Ibarapa East/Ido), and Akinremi Musiliu (Ibadan North).
Folarin also successfully delivered his area for APC, where he polled 218 to defeat PDP, which polled 50 votes.
The Oyo Central candidate of the APC, Dr. Yunus Akintunde scored 164 votes to defeat his main challengers, Chief Bisi Ilaka of PDP, who polled 119 votes and Engr. Nurudeen Faozey of Accord, who polled 29 votes.
APC also recorded victory in the House of Representatives election with 150 votes in favour of Akin Alabi. Candidates of PDP and Accord scored 112 votes and 47 votes respectively.
Folarin had emerged as Oyo APC gubernatorial candidate last year against the support of some aggrieved members of Oyo APC, especially those from the progressives wing of the party. They were irked that the senator and his loyalists manipulated the party’s wards, local councils and state congresses and the primaries to plant himself as candidate.

Many of the progressive members of Oyo APC had then vowed not to support his (Folarin) gubernatorial aspiration. Following the Oyo APC congresses and primaries, some of the aggrieved aspirants and party stakeholders left the party in anger.
After the primary, Folarin was deliberately labeled with all manners of unprintable names including the popular slogan, Jagba, meaning a ‘Usurper.’ Adelabu, a former deputy governor of Central Bank, who contested the governorship primary with Folarin but lost, defected to take the governorship ticket of Accord Party. Another governorship aspirant, Joseph Tegbe defected to take the Oyo South senatorial ticket of the PDP, while the likes of Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), who also lost the primary to Folarin did not leave the party but allegedly encouraged his faithful in the party to support Governor Seyi Makinde.
Another aggrieved member of APC, Kola Daisi, who contested the party’s South senatorial candidate ticket but lost to Sharafadeen Alli defected to Accord to contest the senatorial election.
Other critical stakeholders of Oyo APC deliberately distanced themselves from Folarin neither did they show involvement in the party’s campaign(s) until the presidential election, which took place last Saturday.
Prior to Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls, it had been insinuated that Tinubu, who was said to have shown less concern to Folarin’s gubernatorial ambition, allegedly entered into a pact with Governor Makinde, while he held his presidential rally in Ibadan on Thursday, February 16, 2023.
Observers were shocked that Tinubu, who paid a surprise visit to Governor Makinde and also showered praises on the incumbent governor for good performance, arrived at Mapo Hall, the campaign venue late in the evening after keeping party members waiting for hours.

Misinterpreting Tinubu, Makinde’s Meeting To Mean Endorsement
The meeting between Tinubu and Makinde before the presidential election had been widely taken for an agreement between the President-elect, Tinubu and the governor that Makinde, who is one of the G-5 governors of the PDP, who had vowed to work against the interest of the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, would surrender the state to Tinubu, while the former governor of Lagos State will pay him back either by supporting him in the March 11 governorship poll after winning the presidential election or later compensate him (Makinde) with juicy appointment in his cabinet.
The irony of the agreement, if at all it exists, is that Makinde is the only person who stands to gain if Tinubu eventually respects the terms of the discussion. Feelers from the Oyo PDP is that whether Makinde is re-elected next Saturday or not, majority of PDP’s National Assembly candidates who lost in the polls stand nothing to benefit.
From The Guardian investigation, some of the PDP candidates who lost in the contest were miffed with the governor, alleging that Makinde sold their chances to APC and Tinubu because of his personal and selfish interest.
It was gathered that Tegbe, who contested the Oyo South senatorial election but lost to Alli of PDP, had lamented before the contest. Although, he had expressed determination to challenge the outcome of the poll in court.
Sources also said the Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Ambassador Taofik Arapaja is also not happy with the development in Oyo APC whereas some of the party members who had earlier hoped that Makinde would have a seamless victory over Folarin are now having a rethink.
To express their grievances, over 190,000 members of Oyo PDP, have since declared support for APC and Folarin. Under their platform, PDP Vanguard, the defectors, through their official Twitter account, @pdpvanguard, on Wednesday, disclosed that their support for Folarin was due to their party’s poor performance in the presidential and national Assembly polls.
But APC has since told PDP, who still believe there was agreement between Tinubu and Makinde, to desist from making false claims about having the endorsement of Tinubu.

Publicity Secretary of APC, Olawale Sadare, debunked claims that Makinde played a key role in Tinubu’s victory in the state.
Folarin, through his media aide, Yekini Olaniyi, also discountenanced the agreement and called on other opposition parties to take cue from the PDP Vanguard by joining him to rescue Oyo from the maladministration of Makinde.

PDP stalwart and former deputy governor of Oyo, Azeem Gbolarumi, said it was too premature to speak since the party was still holding crucial meetings. Spokesman of PDP in Oyo, Akeem Olatunji, could not be reached for comments.
For Oyo APC to claim there was no agreement is tantamount to playing politics with facts. Makinde is perhaps the closest among the PDP G-5 governors to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who is perceived to be the most vocal and the leader of the group. In Rivers State, Tinubu also met Wike ahead of the presidential election just like he (Tinubu) met Makinde. The two PDP governors delivered their states to the president-elect but what is not clear or stated is whether Tinubu promised the Oyo State governor to support him to retain the state on March 11.
One thing the Oyo APC must not gamble with is to go into the gubernatorial poll with the euphoria of the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections result. According to feelers, Makinde still remains very popular among the electorate. And even if Tinubu had an agreement with Makinde, there is little the president-elect can do to determine how the electorate would vote on Saturday.