With the cost of the form for the expression of interest in the Oyo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket put at N3 million, the actual race has just begun among the aspirants jostling to become the candidate of the party in 2015. According to political observers, this development marks the start of the process that would separate the ‘’boys’’ from the men, that is, those with the financial muscle and strong political structures to vie for the position and aspirants who only want to test the waters and raise their political profile to bag some other smaller positions. OLAOLU BILAU writes on the PDP aspirants eyeing the governorship ticket of the party in the Pacesetter State…
Dr. Azeez Popoola Adeduntan
Adeduntan is a United States of America-based medical doctor, the President, Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of Victory Vascular & General Surgery of Georgia. He is also the publisher of Nigerian Alert Newspaper based in Ibadan.
From the same area, (Olupoyi Compound of Oja-Oba) as the late strongman of Ibadan politics, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, Adeduntan contested the 2011 governorship election on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) and lost. He declared his interest in running for the PDP gubernatorial ticket in May this year and has been canvassing support through his Dr. Azeez Popoola Adeduntan Foundation (DAPAF). But it is not clear how far he can go in the race.
Senator Ayoade Ademola Adeseun
Adeseun is the lawmaker representing Oyo Central in the Senate. Elected on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2011, the Ogbomoso-born politician recently defected from the All Progressives Congress (which ACN fused with other parties to form) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the same party he had dumped three years ago to contest the Senatorial slot. At present Chairman, Senate Committee on Capital Markets, Adeseun was previously in the Federal House of Representatives where he represented Ogo Oluwa/Surulere Constituency in 2003 and 2007. He was the founding State Chairman of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) in Oyo State from 1998 to 2000 and was Executive Chairman, Surulere Local Government Area of Oyo State between 1996 and 1998. A politician with the penchant for moving from one party to another, it remains to be seen how he would win broad support for his gubernatorial ambition. Besides, coming from Ogbomoso where former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala has a cult-like following, even getting the support of the people there seems a herculean task.
Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan
A top flight journalist and administrator, Olaosebikan was a founding member of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and served as Chief Press Secretary to the late governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Lam Adesina, between 1999 and 2003. He contested the 2003 House of Representatives seat for Oluyole Federal Constituency and lost. He later served as Executive Chairman, Oluyole Local Government Area in 2007. Olaosebikan says he is interested in the governorship race to better the lot of the masses. Urbane and influential, he has been using the forum of Chairmen of Local Governments to reach the PDP grassroots and is believed to be close to one of the main leaders of the party, Chief Yekeen Adeojo. But he seems to lack the war chest for the race.
Prof. Taoheed Adedoja
Professor Adedoja is a former Provost of the Federal College of Education (Special) Oyo. A former member of the defunct Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM), Adedoja contested the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship ticket in 2003 and lost but later moved to the defunct Action Congress where he got the party’s governorship ticket and contested in 2007, coming third in the poll. In recent times, the scholar-turned politician has not featured prominently and seemed out of circulation on the political arena in the state and does not seem to pose a serious challenge in the race.
Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi
The former deputy governor has always been in the PDP through thick and thin. A disciple of the famous Molete School of Politics of the late ‘Garrison Commander’ of Ibadan politics, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, Gbolarumi lacks the support base to go far in the race following the collapse of the Adedibu political empire which produced him. Additionally, he lacks the financial muscle to prosecute the race.
Prof. Soji Adejumo
Also an academic-turned-politician, Adejumo began politics early in life and was an active player in the politics of the old Social Democratic Party (SDP) era, which produced late MKO Abiola as presidential candidate in 1993. Known more in recent times for his position as head at the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), many are unaware of his political roots and wide experience. It is unlikely he has a strong political structure on which he could run the 2015 race
Alhaji Taofeek Arapaja
Alhaji Arapaja is currently Nigeria’s Ambassador to Jordan. The deputy governor of the state between 2007 and 2011, Arapaja had previously served as Ibadan South-east Local Government Council Chairman and as a member of the House of Representatives. A close ally of the Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, who at a time floated a rival faction of PDP in the state, Arapaja’s ambassadorial assignment outside the country may have kept him out of the thick and thin of the political activities at home. However, many believe Oloye Akinjide has been working for his emergence as the party’s flag bearer but many doubt the efficacy of the Akinjide camp in the race.
Engineer Seyi Makinde
Fondly called Omi Tuntun, Engr. Makinde is a businessman with strong interest in politics. He contested for the Senate under the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but lost. Makinde has, however, put much zeal and vigour into the governorship race in the PDP, engaging in philanthropic gestures here and there and towards different sections of the society. But some see the oil magnate as a political neophyte. A few other say money is just one important factor in Oyo PDP race, other indexes like political structure and backing of the people that matters in the party also matter much.
Engineer Femi Babalola a.k.a. Jogor
The owner of the prestigious Jogor Events Centre, Babalola is a businessman cum politician. He was one of the think-tank of the Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala administration before he decided to give the governorship ticket of the party a shot. Babalola is youthful, urbane and believes the older politicians should step aside and give the younger ones like him a chance. And to prove he is a strong contender for the PDP governorship ticket, Babalola was the first to cough out the N3m for the expression of interest form to show his determination to win the race. The talk about getting Oyo zone to also produce a governor in the state at present being spearheaded by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, is gaining ground at present and Jogor coming from Fiditi is about the strongest contender from that area. But coming from the same flank of former governor Alao-Akala who had initially endorsed him for the race only for him to enter the contest again, both aspirants may decimate each other in the race.
Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin
A two-term Senator who represented Oyo Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly between 2003 and 2011, Folarin is the immediate-past Senate Leader and a graduate of the Adedibu Molete School of Politics as well. Widely seen as a Machiavellian politician with abundant knowledge of the intrigues of the game, Folarin is rumoured to be in the good books of the presidency and enjoys the support of the state’s PDP executives, the composition of which he allegedly manipulated in his favour. He was said to have lost the favour of the Oyo monarch, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, who told him point blank to forget his 2015 governorship ambition.
Folarin’s greatest hurdle has been winning back the trust of PDP leaders across the state due to the support he gave incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi to emerge victorious over his own party man Otunba Alao-Akala in the 2011 governorship elections, reason he had been traversing the length and breadth of the state to seek forgiveness for his ‘’sins’’. Besides, many say he is too tightfisted for a politician desirous of winning the governorship ticket.
Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala
The immediate-past governor of Oyo State is unarguably a big masquerade among the aspirants vying for the governorship ticket of the PDP. His image looms large in the race and in the party. The tumultuous crowd that attended his recent declaration to run in the gubernatorial race was seen by many as a pointer to the broad support base he still enjoys among PDP members. Alao-Akala has continued to position himself as the only man who can return power back into the hands of the PDP in the state. However, Akala has a strong force to contend with in the recent gang-up by aspirants of Ibadan extraction, seeking to drum up support for an Ibadan indigene to emerge the flag bearer of the party. In response, he is said to be rallying support from the Ogbomoso-Oke Ogun-Oyo North axis for him to emerge flag bearer. It is surprising, however, that at his recent declaration rally attended by a mammoth crowd, the big names in the state politics were no where to be found.
THE BIG QUESTION: Will PDP Go for Aspirant with the Widest, Broad-based Appeal?