Engineer Oluseyi Makinde was the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Oyo State. Unarguably the biggest spender among the five most prominent candidates, the billionaire businessman-turned politician committed huge financial resources to the last election. Despite this however, he received the lowest number of votes (54, 740), coming last behind the other four prominent candidates. But why did Makinde’s effort fail to translate into electoral victory? OLAOLU BILAU writes on some of the reasons being adduced for his poor showing at the polls…
Counter-productive, money-centred Campaign
Mention the name Seyi Makinde and what comes to your mind’s eye is the image of a wealthy politician, who spent so much in the last governorship election in the state. Unconfirmed conservative estimates puts Engineer Makinde’s financial commitment to the last governorship election at around N5 billion.
When on September 25, 2015 he first declared his intention to run for the highest office in the Pacesetter State, Ibadan virtually stood still as all roads led to the Polo Ground, Eleyele, Ibadan, venue of the event.
The Polo rally was said to have gulped millions of naira just as his trips to the different geo-political zones of the state also saw him doling out millions to party officials, who had promised to support his bid to clinch the umbrella party’s ticket prior to the Peoples Democratic Party governorship primaries that ended in crisis.
Makinde’s Omi Tuntun office complex along Iwo Road in Ibadan is a multi-million naira edifice that was constructed and completed in record time. It was from there that the activities of his campaign organization conducted.
Sources close to the political campaign outfit told WP that some of the directors of the organization earned as much as N500, 000 per month as salaries while the political activities of the last few months lasted.
At Makinde’s residence inside Ikolaba GRA, everyday was like Christmas. Caterers were usually on ground to prepare food each day to feed the numerous hangers-on who thronged the house.
If there was one thing the Omi Tuntun Campaign group lack, it was the absence of political heavy weights. No doubt many of Makinde’s supporters in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) followed him to the SDP however, his political circle comprised politicians who had little clout and wield no influence as far as Oyo State politics was concerned.
According to sources close to the billionaire, most of the people who flocked around the politician were hangers-on, bent on getting out of the billions that were made available during the electioneering activities. For the greater number of the so-called supporters, money was the attraction.
After he left the PDP and decamped to the SDP, which until then was relatively unknown in the state, many of the candidates of the party were said to have depended on Makinde to finance their campaign though they were political featherweights with no political structures.
Good man, wrong image projection
Many have attested to the fact that the youthful politician has good public image and an unblemished reputation.
Before plunging into politics, Makinde had demonstrated great entrepreneurial spirit in private business, having built his company, MAKON Group from scratch with just N50, 000 into a multi-million naira venture with over 4, 000 employees and offices in different parts of the world.
He was also kind and philanthropic building schools, health centres and borehole water for communities, as well as providing transformers and many times cash gifts to needy widows, families and indigents students.
“Unfortunately, Makinde’s image makers, if he had any, failed to shift peoples gaze away from the billionaire, big spender image he had and help him carve an image of a politician in the eyes of the masses,” a source who craved for anonymity said.
Analysts maintained that Makinde wasted time, effort and resources chasing an elusive PDP governorship ticket, attributing his failure to see the writing on the wall and take decisive action at the right time to his political inexperience.
“Makinde should have dumped the PDP long before he did in December 2014, a few months to the election. There was little that could have been achieved in less than three months, “the source added.
“One thing is certain; Engneer Makinde still has age on his side, though his performance in the last election was poor however, he needs to go back to the drawing board to reevaluate his political direction ahead of 2019”.