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Why there may be crisis in Oyo before, during 2023 Gov election, by Olopoeyan 

By Seye Olumide
02 October 2022   |   3:06 am
There is a possibility of a crisis in the coming governorship election with the recent inauguration of Oyo State chapter of NURTW by the national body of the union.

Alhaji Bisi Olopoeyan is one of the leading political pillars in the coalition that facilitated Governor Seyi Makinde’s victory in the governorship election in Oyo State in 2019. He spoke to SEYE OLUMIDE (Southwest Bureau Chief) on the recent inauguration of the Oyo State chapter of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Abuja and the likely danger it portends as the 2023 governorship election draws near, among other issues. 

Do you envisage any crisis in the coming 2023 governorship election in Oyo State considering the recent inauguration of the state’s chapter of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Abuja?
There is a possibility of a crisis in the coming governorship election with the recent inauguration of Oyo State chapter of NURTW by the national body of the union. This is so because the union is still under ban in Oyo. The motive behind the inauguration I wouldn’t know and who is behind it I don’t want to know but the fact is NURTW is under proscription by law in Oyo.

Whether the union will now force itself to start operating against the law is not clear to anyone. All that we know is the Oyo State Park Management Services (PMS) headed by Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi, aka Auxiliary, is the body recognised by law to run all motor parks across Oyo State. So what is likely going to happen nobody knows.

Something similar had occurred in the past. This is not the first time the Oyo State government will set up PMS. Former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala did something similar in 2009. In my view, the type of crisis that led to the death of many people before and during the 2011 governorship election is gradually coming up.

Alao-Akala, in 2009, banned the NURTW headed by Alhaji Tokyo  and thereafter appointed this same Auxiliary and Alhaji Lateef Salako, aka Eleweomo, as leaders of PMS then. Salako was the leader while Auxiliary was his deputy. After the union had been banned and PMS put in place by Alao-Akala, the NURTW went to court and got a judgment through one Ejiogbe, to return to its normal activities. As at then, Alhaji Lateef Akinsola, aka Tokyo and Ejiogbe were together. The situation led to the 2011 crisis and the gruesome murder of Eleweomo. The only difference now is that Salako is dead and Tokyo is no longer interfering in union activities. So, you were right to envisage that what happened in 2011 towards the governorship election is gradually playing out now and except serious steps are taken to curb it, there is danger ahead.

When the then NURTW got a court judgment, it moved back to its office at Olomi and since the NURTW chapter of Oyo was inaugurated in Abuja last week despite being under proscription in Oyo State, we need to start asking questions about what the agenda is.

I noticed that the union members moved back to their office in the Ojoo area. It was this same Auxiliary that was there then. It is right for every Oyo citizen to raise the alarm that the 2011 crisis is gradually playing out now.

Of course, the Oyo State government is interested in Auxiliary and that is why Governor Seyi Makinde will not see anything bad in what Auxiliary is doing irrespective of the numerous complaints against him (Auxiliary). The Federal Government must wade into the situation before it gets out of control. I am sure members of the PMS and the union must have been preparing their minds as the campaigns are about to take off. It was this union versus PMS issue that snowballed into mayhem in which Salako died.

So what is your advice since nobody wants the 2011 crisis to repeat itself in 2023?
Had it been Makinde is a listening governor, he should know that security must be the first priority of the government. Though since the Oyo chapter of NURTW was inaugurated, it didn’t go to motor parks because it is still under ban in Oyo. The members went to their office at Ojoo. I also do not think that PMS has the right to go and engage them as long as the union does not come to garages to do anything. As at today, NURTW of Oyo chapter has no legal right to go to motor parks for any activity since it has been proscribed by law. What I am afraid of is that the two bodies are a threat to each other and the possibility of them looking for the slightest opportunity to engage each other is imminent. That’s the reason the government must be proactive and set up intelligence to monitor their activities. If there is any crisis in the coming election, like what we witnessed in 2011, Governor Makinde should be asked first.

Could APC be behind the recent inauguration of Oyo chapter of NURTW in Abuja with the motive to balance force with force as campaigns get closer?
Nobody can substantiate the allegation that APC instigated the recent inauguration because Folarin is not the chairman of the union. But Makinde is the governor and he appointed Auxiliary as chairman of PMS. That is the reason we are tagging them.

But for APC and Folarin, one cannot dismiss the allegation outrightly because the union members usually stop around. For the remaining 16 parties that will partake in the governorship poll, the idea of parading thugs for the purpose of winning election has no significance at all. For instance, when former Governor Rashidi Ladoja was in office, he had some thugs. The late Alhaji Tawa and others were with him then but Ladoja didn’t even get the party’s ticket for re-election. When Alao-Akala was in government, this same Auxiliary and Salako were with him in 2011, yet he lost as a sitting governor to Abiola Ajimobi. Ajimobi vied for senatorial election in 2019 and lost. Therefore, thuggery has no significant impact on voting at all. Aside from using the thugs for campaigns, hoodlums don’t really matter on election day again, especially with the new Amended Electoral Law.

INEC has made it such that anywhere there is a problem or ballot stuffing, the votes would not count. It happened in Osun and Ekiti. The idea that any politician would use thugs to rig elections cannot work again. Makinde and or APC cannot rely on the use of force or violence to win the coming governorship election in Oyo, mark my words. The electronic voting system has changed many things because votes are being counted as you cast it. Political history of Oyo State has never supported those that use thugs.

You have always been very emphatic that Makinde cannot be reelected but interactions with voters in the last few months does not support your argument. The incumbent is still very popular among the grassroots people…
I don’t know how you did your findings but I cannot be disputed. Governor Gboyega Oyetola lost reelection in Osun State and likewise Makinde will fail in 2023. Oyetola fought with the structure that brought him to power and he paid seriously for it. Makinde’s situation is not different. For instance, the late former Governor Alao-Akala performed in office more than Makinde yet he lost in 2011. Performance alone cannot earn Makinde reelection in 2023; he has lost what it takes to return for a second term. Ajimobi, who broke the second term jinx in 2015 in Oyo State, did so not on the basis of performance but because of APC’s popularity that brought in President Muhammadu Buhari then. But in 2019, when the political euphoria of 2015 did not support APC’s popularity any more, the same Ajimobi was woefully defeated in the Senatorial election even as a sitting governor.

I want you to understand the dynamics of Oyo politics. Let me tell you, Makinde didn’t win in 2019 because he was popular but because the people rejected Ajimobi and APC, and they accepted the coalition that backed Makinde. You need to factor these dynamics into your findings. Put it down as I say it, that Makinde will not be reelected in Oyo State next year.

I was in the PDP in 2019, if the likes of Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Senator Femi Lanlehin and others did not join our coalition, there is no way Makinde would have won and where is that coalition today?

Why did you join the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) when you left PDP and not APC?
I cannot join APC. If I had wanted to join APC, Ajimobi tried his best to make me join the party but I refused. Even the presidential candidate of APC, Bola Tinubu, discussed it with me but I refused. What I wanted to prove is that I am a grassroots politician with my own followers. Today, NNPP is everywhere in Oyo; we have executives everywhere. Then, you should also shelve the idea that no other party aside from APC or PDP can win election in Oyo State. I am suspecting there is going to be another coalition and any party that is adopted will defeat Makinde. It is most likely that one of the Third Force parties will win in Oyo next year.

Is there any discussion on coalition for now?
Discussion is seriously ongoing but I will not give the details now. If Makinde benefitted from the same coalition in 2019,so what’s bad if we form another coalition to show him the way out next year? I believe Makinde himself will be looking for other parties that will join him. As of now, two political parties, NNPP and SDP came out of the PDP. Apart from those of us that left for NNPP and SDP, some other members of the ruling party defected to APC. And mind you, it is from APC we now have the Accord Party, where Adebayo Adelabu, the 2019 gubernatorial candidate of APC, is now the governorship candidate.