Sunday, 4th June 2023

Tinubu, Makinde, Folarin’s Oyo Alliance: In whose interest?

By Seye Olumide Southwest Bureau Chief
19 February 2023   |   4:04 am
Precisely three weeks ahead of the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial elections, Oyo State seems to have a peculiar case among the three states in the Southwest geopolitical zone, where the contest will be held.

Governor Seyi Makinde

Precisely three weeks ahead of the March 11, 2023 gubernatorial elections, Oyo State seems to have a peculiar case among the three states in the Southwest geopolitical zone, where the contest will be held.

While it is almost certain that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will have a walkover against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the gubernatorial contest in Ogun and Lagos, due to the peculiar nature of crises within the major opposition party, the case in Oyo may be different. This is because in Oyo, the presidential candidate of APC might need to balance his interest and that of the three major governorship candidates, Governor Seyi Makinde of PDP, Senator Teslim Folarin of APC and Adebayo Adelabu of Accord Party.

The three major gubernatorial contenders are important to Tinubu’s presidential ambition, which he needs to actualise on February 25, 2023. From all indications, the former governor of Lagos State, who is more or less a political father to Makinde, Folarin and Adelabu is expected to open his arms and heart and ensure that none of the three major stakeholders, especially the incumbent governor, Makinde and Senator, Folarin have no cause to regret after February 25 and March 11 electoral contests.

The fact is that the trio are going to pay (some) sacrifices for the presidential ambition of Tinubu in anticipation of what they will get in return.

A very top member of APC at the national headquarters, Abuja, disclosed to The Guardian that neither Makinde nor Folarin will regret whatever sacrifice they may eventually have to make for Tinubu, who is not known to reward good gestures with evil.

The Intrigues
The political intrigues in Oyo politics bothers on how Tinubu was massively and successfully received by millions of supporters in Oyo last Thursday during his presidential rally, which had been postponed on two occasions for security reasons.

Interestingly also, Governor Makinde, who had on two occasions refused to entertain or receive the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, during the former vice president’s visit to delegates last year nor attended Atiku’s mega rally, willingly opened his heart, arms and the Agodi Government House to the presidential candidate of APC, Tinubu and his entourage on Thursday.

In a swift response to that gesture, the APC presidential candidate eulogised the incumbent governor for great performance in Oyo with a body language “you rob my back and I watch your back.”

Senator Teslim Folarin

Recall that Governor Makinde is one of the G-5 PDP governors that have vowed never to support Atiku over their demand that the PDP’s incumbent National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who is from the north like Atiku, must step down for a southerner to create equity, balance and fairness in the party.

In Makinde’s remark, the governor promised Tinubu that he would ensure his supporters in Oyo vote for balance, equity and justice, meaning that a vote for the former vice president in the presidential poll on February 25 is tantamount to anti equity, balance and justice.

With the calm that returned to the streets of Ibadan on Thursday, following pockets of protests that had rocked the city earlier on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, Makinde demonstrated his capacity and control of Oyo. Sceptics had lost hope that the APC Presidential rally was likely to be shifted for the third time, but between Wednesday and Thursday morning, the tension subsided, and Ibadan was opened up.

Surprisingly also, just between Wednesday and Thursday, some major streets and roads that bore Makinde’s campaign posters were cleared and were wearing Tinubu/Shettima campaign posters before Thursday morning. The tensed atmosphere before Thursday might have forced the national chairman of APC, Abdulahi Adamu and Shettima to stay away from Ibadan. Ordinarily, the national chairman is expected to have raised the hands of Folarin, the APC gubernatorial candidate in Oyo and also hand over the party’s flag to him. But it was done by Tinubu.

Recall that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who is assumed to be the leader of the PDP G-5 governors had also received Tinubu in Rivers whereas the same Wike shut the state’s stadium for Atiku and also bothered less to receive the former vice president.

Another interesting aspect of the intrigues is the role of the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi. Recall that Fayemi is also the immediate past chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. He presided over Wike and Makinde until he stepped down last year when he completed his second term in office as governor of Ekiti. He was visible in Rivers where he exchanged banters with Wike just like he did in Agodi Government House on Thursday with Makinde.

Inside sources within the APC and Oyo Government House, responding to the unfolding intrigues allude to the fact that a working arrangement that may see Tinubu, Makinde and Folarin discussing who takes what may be on the cards.

Implications Of Tinubu Not Altering A Word At Mapo
There had been several meanings given to the fact that Tinubu didn’t alter a word to millions of supporters who waited for him more than 10 hours at Mapo Hall on Thursday but only raised Folarin’s hands, handed over the flag to him, took a few dance steps and walked away almost immediately.

The Guardian gathered there was no issue regarding the action other than time was far spent and it was not security wise to keep the audience waiting beyond necessary or late at night in such a volatile area like Beere in Ibadan.

Massive Turnout Like Never Before
Whatever the permutations, APC’s popularity cannot also be ruled out in Oyo, especially with the massive turnout of supporters for Tinunu and Folarin.

The entire leaders and members of APC in Oyo have since expressed their deepest appreciation for the massive turnout at the rally despite the fuel and cash scarcity.

Kehinde Olaosebikan, chairman, Central Media Council, Presidential and Gubernatorial Campaigns Council, Oyo State, had in a statement said the mammoth, unprecedented crowd that came out to receive Tinubu and showed solidarity to Folarin was a confirmation of the popularity of the party and chances of winning the state both in the presidential and governorship polls.

Olaosebikan thanked the leaders and members of the party across the 33 local government areas of the state, saying, “the number of people that trooped out en-masse from Alakia to New Ife Road, Iwo Road, Idiape, Gate, Bus Stop, Oje, Labiran, Bere, Yemetu, Total Garden, Bodija UI to Mapo and other routes passed by the presidential motorcade to cheer Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the campaign train had never been seen in the history of Oyo State. This has never happened in the history of Oyo State. It is phenomenal, unprecedented.

“Our party, and all the leaders, from the State Coordinator of Presidential Campaign Council, Senator Teslim Folarin; State Chairman, Chief Isaac Omodewu; the Director General of the Presidential and Gubernatorial Campaigns Council for the state, Dr. Isiaka Kolawole; Chairman, State Elders’ Council, HE, Chief Iyiola Oladokun and all the national, zonal, state, local government, wards officers and members fully appreciate the honor done to APC with this great turnout.”

He appealed to them to consolidate their love for APC by voting 100 percent for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all the National Assembly candidates of APC on the 25th of February and also do same for the gubernatorial candidate of the party, Senator Teslim Folarin and all the APC state assembly candidates on the 11th of March.

Endorsement Of Traditional Rulers
MEANWHILE, on the same day traditional rulers across Southwest geo-political zone, endorsed Tinubu as they also pledged to support democratic process based on free choices.

Rising after a crucial meeting held with Tinubu at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, the traditional rulers from Ekiti, Lagos, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states, led by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, expressed satisfaction with the briefings Tinubu gave concerning his aspiration.

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the Director General of Conscience of Yoruba Nation, Abagun Kole Omololu, the royal fathers acknowledged Tinubu’s solid democratic credentials and unwavering commitment to the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria.

The monarchs, therefore, affirmed the preeminent qualification of Tinubu for the highest office in the country.

They also affirmed their faith and support for Nigeria’s unity, peace, prosperity and progress and pledged to support the democratic process based on free choices according to universal adult suffrage freely exercised by the people.

The monarchs expressed concern about the recent hardship suffered by the people due to perennial fuel scarcity and the naira redesign policy.

They  urged “more humane handling of these challenges to free the people from high- handedness, poverty and want.”

The royal fathers also pledged their support for the success of the elections and  urged the people to exercise their civic duties peacefully to engender a desired change in the country.

“To this end, the traditional rulers appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies and other institutions involved in the general elections to support and uphold the right of every Nigerian to freely cast their vote without let or hindrance to guarantee the sanctity of the electoral process,” the communique read.

The monarchs renewed their faith in the steady democratic growth of the country and reiterated their belief that equity and justice are prerequisites for unity, peace, progress and prosperity of Nigeria.

In an interview granted after the rally, Folarin said Tinubu’s coming to Ibadan was confirmation of victory for APC. He promised to generate wealth and create employment if elected.