SOLA ADEYEMO reports on the battle of words that has characterized the build-up to the 2023 election in Oyo State between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC)
The two major political parties in Oyo State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) have continued to be beleaguered by polarisation and implosion occasioned by factionalisation of its leadership ranks, yet each of them is angling to control the state by 2023 and beyond.
The PDP, which is currently on the driver’s seat in the “Pacesetter State” until three weeks ago had only one of the three senators in the state under its control.
The party, which in 2019, produced Governor Seyi Makinde through a coalesce of parties including Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Accord Party, has however lost its only senator, Kola Balogun (Oyo South) to the APC, no thanks to the party and stakeholders’ decision to draft in a former APC gubernatorial aspirant, Joseph Tegbe, to replace Balogun as candidate for the 2023 election.
The APC leadership though ploarised along the line of Alhaji Abu Gbadamosi and Isaac Omodewu as factional chairmen, has however swelled its rank with the formal defection of Senator Balogun to its fold last week. With the development, the APC now controls all the three senatorial districts of the state.
The PDP also recently had its rank swelled as three commissioners that were formerly in ADC formally announced their defection to the ruling party in the state.
They are Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun (Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism) Seun Ashamu (Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources) and Adeniyi Adebisi (Commissioner for Agricultural Resources). A horde of special assistants of ADC extraction also pledged their alliance to stabilise the PDP ahead of the 2023 elections and beyond.
While the APC’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2019, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, on May 9, declared his intention to re-contest in 2023 and was egged on by a crop of leaders including Senator Ayoade Adeseun, Hon. Olagunju Ojo (ex-Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly), Alhaji Olalekan Alli (a former Secretary to Oyo State Goverment – SSG), Alhaji Bashir Akanbi (former party Secretary), Chief Kunle Sanda, Chief Wasiu Ajimobi, Hon. Rotimi Ajanaku, Hon. Saheed Fijabi, and a host of others, the incumbent senator representing Oyo Central, Teslim Folarin, on May 10, declared his intention to contest for the gubernatorial seat. Senator Folarin enjoys the support of Oyo APC leaders such as Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, Senator Brimoh Yusuff, Hon. Mojeed Olaoya, Hon. Segun Odebunmi, Asimiyu Alarape, Hon. Yemi Aderibigbe, Olamiju Alao-Akala, Demola Omotoso, Hon. Shina Peller, Dapo Lam-Adesina, Hon. Akeem Adeyemi and a former Minister of the Communications, Adebayo Shittu, among others.
Adelabu made his formal declaration at his Onireke political office, while Folarin did his at the Oke Ado APC secretariat where Balogun was formally received into the party. Balogun had been booted out and dumped by the PDP stakeholders on allegation that he was not taking care of their welfare, not performing as senator and that being a younger brother to the Olubadan, His Imperial Majesty Oba Lekan Balogun, he would not be easy to control.
However, the senator refuted the allegations, saying that the stakeholders were only contemptuous of him and self-centred. He alleged that Governor Makinde, who did not initially pitch his tent with the stakeholders, was convinced into believing them without seeking clarification from him.
Balogun declares homecoming
Balogun in his formal defection address said that his joining the APC was not really a defection but home coming. “I didn’t defect; I have only come back home. Those in the PDP are merely serving their personal interest and not the interest of the masses.
There are security breaches across the state. Who uses diesel to power streetlight in the 21st century if not that they are serving their own personal interest?” He decried the spate of restiveness caused by some members of the road transport workers union in the state, vowing to curb their nefarious activities through security control. He accused Governor Makinde of intemperance, noting that majority of those who formed an alliance to allow him win in the 2019 election, have deserted him.
His words: “Now Makinde is on his own. Where is Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, who stepped down for him to run? Where is Sarafadeen Alli (former SSG)? Where if Femi Babalola Jogor? Where is Bisi Olopoeniyan? Where is Senator Kola Balogun? Where is Senator Ayoade Adeseun? Where is Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi? All these people are now back in APC. They are no longer with Makinde.”
Folarin says he’s on a rescue mission
Folarin, on his part, told a mammoth crowd of supporters that he is on “a mission to rescue the state from the misgovernance and maladministration of Governor Makinde led PDP government.” He vowed that “we will use every democratic means to get him out of office come 2023,” he also sounded a note of warning that should the Park Management System (PMS) Disciplinary Officer, Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi, (aka Auxiliary) and his men slap any APC member once, “we will slap them thrice.”
He alleged that the PMS men have been ruffling the security architecture and peace of the state by attacking, maiming and killing innocent people perceived to be opponents of the government. He stressed that any tangible projects that the administration of Governor Makinde might be flaunting as achievemwnts are those the past administration of late Abiola Ajimobi did or started.
He promised to turn around the state’s economy when voted as governor in 2023. According to the former Senate Majority Leader, “the worst of the six governorship aspirants in APC is better than Makinde’s best, going by his level of performance in the last three years.”
As a form of icing on the cake of the defection and declaration rally, the Oyo APC chairman, Isaac Omodewu, expressed delight that “the three serving senators are now in APC, while 11 out of the 14 federal constituency lawmakers are also in our fold. I hereby urge the remaining three to join the APC family without further delay.”
It should be noted that some PDP chieftains, including Muraina Ajibola (Ibarapa Central/Ibarapa North Federal Constituency) had also about three weeks ago led thousands of other leaders of the ruling party to the APC. PDP plays down defection of its members Reacting to Senator Balogun’s defection to the APC, the PDP-led government described it as insignificant to the success of the party in the 2023 elections.
The state government also faulted Senator Folarin’s claim of dismal performance by the Makinde administration. Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Taiwo Adisa, in a statement titled: “Oyo voters won’t fall for your cheap lies,” said: “We have read with amusement words credited to an Oyo APC governorship aspirant, Senator Teslim Folarin, that he is coming to rescue Oyo State and that none of the aspirants in the ill-fated APC, Oyo State chapter, is as bad as Governor Makinde.” He added: “Indeed, we must commend Folarin for letting the Oyo State public know that governorship aspirants in APC are bad products.
However, there is no basis to compare any of the APC governorship aspirants with Governor Makinde. “Nobody can compare light with darkness. In three years, Makinde has done what the APC government failed to do in eight years; building over 500 kilometres of road, putting in place a free and qualitative education system, improving the health and security sector and all that.
“Senator Folarin was also credited to have said that all tangible projects in the state were done by the previous government. This is an outright lie and we are sure that the people of Oyo State do not need such a lie.
The people will not fall for cheap lies and deceit. “It is easy to ask whether it was the previous APC government that built the 65 km Moniya-Iseyin road, the 45km Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho Road, the 12km Awotan-Akufo concrete road, the 38km Oyo-Iseyin road and the 76 km Ogbomoso-Iseyin road, which are at various stages of completion as we speak.
“The people will also ask whether it was the failed APC administration of 2011 to 2019 that built the magnificent bus terminals at Ojoo and Challenge as well the terminals at Iwo Road and Old Ife Road, which are nearing completion.
“It can be seen that Folarin has not been in touch with the reality in Oyo State, he thus needs to connect with Oyo State people and his followers, who could tell him the state of things regarding infrastructure development under the Makinde government.
“He needs to at least be conversant with his local government, Ona-Ara, where massive developments are ongoing. He needs to be told that in his Ona- Ara Local Government Area of origin, the Makinde government is building the 37-kilometre Akanran-Olorunsogo- Dagbolu and 21 Ajia-Airport road with spur to Amuloko and the two will be commissioned shortly.
“In order to end his apparent lack of information or is it denial of reality, we will volunteer to take the senator on a tour of tangible projects across the state, from Moniya-Iseyin road, to Asipa-Sabo-Gedu-Oroki road to the Saki Township road, and also visit ongoing road projects in Oyo-Iseyin and the 76-kilometre Iseyin-Ogbomoso roads and end the trip in Ona-Ara.”