Arisekola Transition 2
2015: How Arisekola-Alao’s Death Will Affect Oyo Politics
He was the main backer to many a politician in Oyo State. Many owed their political ascendancy to him, and of course their fall too if they became intransigent. Ask former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, he knows. Alao-Akala would forever regret the day he fell out with the late Arisekola-Alao and thereby said goodbye to second term in office he would have gotten on a platter of gold and gone into history books as the first to break the second term jinx in Oyo State.
Political Correspondent IBIDAPO BALOGUN writes on how Arisekola-Alao’s death will impact the politics of 2015 election in Oyo State
Late Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu was widely called the strongman of Ibadan politics. But the late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao, was the one at the background providing the resources for most of Adedibu’s political projects. Arisekola-Alao was Adedibu’s financial backbone, powering his politics by providing the much-needed resources to oil his political moves. The late Adedibu used to say something: he would always tell whoever cared to listen that if he was praying and he got a message that Aare Arisekola-Alao was around to see him, he would break his prayers to attend to Aare and afterwards continue his prayers. He would say in Yoruba: Aare olo, sugbon Olorun orebikan. Such was the high esteem in which Adedibu placed the late Arisekola-Alao, almost equating him with God. The late Aare was Adedibu’s benefactor. He was perhaps the only person in Ibadanland, perhaps in Yorubaland, who could get the late Adedibu to bark off from any political project he found offensive.
Adedibu was not the only politician that related to the late Aare like a political son of sort. He was the main backer to many a politician in Oyo State. Many owed their political ascendancy to him, and of course their fall too, if they became intransigent. Ask former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, he knows. Alao-Akala would forever regret the day he fell out with the late Arisekola-Alao and thereby said goodbye to second term in office he would have gotten on a platter of gold and gone into history books as the first to break the second term jinx in Oyo State. Many politicians relied on the late Arisekola-Alao for support, financial and otherwise, to run either for state House of Assembly, National Assembly or governorship. He was known to have paid nomination forms for many public office aspirants and printed the campaign posters of many others. It was not without reason that many a politician in the state burst into tears following Arisekola-Alao’s death on Wednesday June 18, knowing full well that their political journey may have ended with his death. One of the gubernatorial aspirants running at present within the Peoples Democratic Party is known to have always visited Aare’s Oluwo Kekere Villa, Bashorun, Ibadan for funds to run his campaign. The aspirant (names withheld) cried uncontrollably and had been inconsolable since them knowing the sun may have set on his aspiration.
But this is not to say Aare Arisekola’s influence is limited to PDP. It cuts across the two main political parties in the state-the ruling All Progressives Congress and PDP-. The late Arisekola-Alao was said to have played a yeoman’s role in the election of Governor Abiola Ajimobi in 2011. That was after the late Islamic leader fell out with Alao-Akala and allegedly asked him to forget re-election unless he apologised. But just how will Arisekola-Alao’s death impact the state’s politics and affect the 2015 election?
This is how things may pan out in broad terms, looking at it from within the ruling APC and opposition PDP, Accord Party and Labour Party.
For Ajimobi, APC, Aare’s Death, a Big Blow
After falling out with former governor Alao-Akala who was seeking re-election in 2011, the late Arisekola-Alao and Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, threw their weight behind Ajimobi for the election and worked assiduously for his victory. In fact, the popular view in the state is that both Arisekola-Alao and Alaafin of Oyo swung the votes for Ajimobi in the 2011 election. Ajimobi knew this so well, which was why the Oluwo-Kekere residence of the late Arisekola-Alao was like his second home before and after the election. Ajimobi was never in a hurry any time he visited Aare, and his visits were regular. Ajimobi is seeking reelection in 2015 and his candidature on APC platform can be taken as a given. The governor saw the late Arisekola-Alao as a political godfather of sort and had looked forward to his support for second term. So naturally, Arisekola’s death is a big blow. And the governor is still mourning Aare’s death. Ajimobi is the chief mourner. He declared seven days mourning period during which flags in the state are flowing at half-mast. The Friday June 20, 2014 Aare was buried was observed as a public holiday in the state. The whole of Ibadan stood still. Markets were closed al in honour of the late Aare. Until his death, Arisekola-Alao remained a big fan of the governor. He would say with glee how Governor Ajimobi had performed in office and reel out his achievements. But it would appear that Alaafin of Oyo is not on the same page with Aare on the matter of Ajimobi and 2015. Between Ajimobi and Alaafin, the relationship seems to have gone sour. Sources close to Arisekola-Alao said till his death, Aare was working to get Alaafin behind Ajimobi again. “In fact, Aare was expected to be back in London the weekend following the Wednesday he died to chair an award ceremony in honour of Alaafin, where some Oyo indigenes were to give Iku Baba Yeye a Lifetime Achievement award. And you can be sure the matter of Ajimobi would have come up again in their discussion. With Arisekola’s death, Ajimobi will have to go back to the drawing board to redraw his support base for 2015.
Aare’s Death May Further Throw Open PDP’s Ticket
Within the PDP, politics in the aftermath of Arisekola-Alao’s demise is presents an interesting scenario. There are up to 13 aspirants in the PDP governorship race, but the serious contenders are not more than five. But the interesting thing is some of these aspirants owe their allegiance to Aare. Among them are former Senate Leader Teslim Folarin, entrepreneur and owner of Jogor Centre, Engineer Femi Babalola, and former Deputy governor Hazeem Gbolarumi. Former governor Alao-Akala, who had fallen out with the late Arisekola-Alao in the build-up to the 2011 election, is said to have eventually settled with the late Islamic leader before his death. But how close they were before Aare’s death is yet unclear. Though, he is yet to publicly throw his hat into the ring for the 2015 governorship, Alao-Akala is believed to be angling for the governorship seat. Before he eventually fell out with the former governor, the late Aare had tried to reconcile Alao-Akala and Folarin, but the reconciliation move fell through. That was before the end of Alao-Akala’s tenure. Folarin was later to work for Ajimobi’s victory, perhaps taking his cue from the late Arisekola who also worked for Ajimobi’s election. Babalola and Gbolarumi who are also known to be close to the late Aare are in the race, though some say the death of Arisekola may mean the virtual end of Gbolarumi’s ambition, talking about finance to oil his campaign.
In the final analysis, Aare’s death may work to further throw the PDP ticket open. Also in the PDP governorship race are former Chairman of Oluyole Local Government and ex-Chief Press Secretary to late Lam Adesina, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan, and oil magnate Seyi Makinde.
Accord Party, Labour Party
In both Accord Party, where former governor Rashidi Ladoja holds sway, and Labour Party where his former Secretary to State Government, Alhaji Sarafadeen Alli, is angling to contest for the 2015 election, the death of Aare may not affect much. The late Arisekola had helped to facilitate Ladoja’s impeachment in 2005. Indeed, Arisekola and Ladoja were not best of friends and Ladoja was not looking in his direction for support for his 2015 governorship ambition. Aare’s influence in Labour Party whether when alive or now that he is no more is yet unclear.