By Olaolu Bilau
After the collapse of talks aimed at forging a working alliance with former Oyo State governor and Labour Party governorship candidate, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, for the 2015 governorship election, Governor Abiola Ajimobi has moved quickly to engage the former governor, WESTERN POST can reveal this weekend.
During meetings between the duo of Ajimobi and Alao-Akala, the governor was said to have made overtures to Alao-Akala for both to work together for the election.
He allegedly offered the former governor the senatorial ticket for his Oyo South base on the All Progressives Congress platform and a promise to bankroll his campaign expenses.
But this was after the initial moves by Alao-Akala, at separate meetings, first with APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Lagos, and another with the duo of Tinubu and Ajimobi at IITA Guest House in Ibadan, in his desperate bid to move over to APC and contest for the governorship, had failed.
One source said that in one of the meetings, the former governor was said to have been pacified over his complaint that Governor Ajimobi had not paid his pension as governor and that the parting gift of an SUV that he, as governor, extended to his predecessors had not been extended to him.
“Governor Ajimobi was said to have issued a cheque to cover the former governor’s pension and to also procure an SVU,” the source told WESTERN POST.
Now, the two leaders are drawn in confrontation.
Alao-Akala, through one of his spokesperson, Barrister Abraham Ojo, had described a statement by the governor that his administration remained the most worker-friendly government as false and an attempt to deceive the people of the state.
Ojo had said: “Workers in the state have been caged by the government, they cannot challenge any unfavourable decision of the government due to threat of sack and indiscriminate transfer to far location without any provision,” adding that workers were being dismissed on flimsy grounds without following due process.
In addition, Akala had often argued that the much-talked-about peace which the current administration has continued to flaunt as one of its major achievements in office was no peace, citing the killing of his driver by suspected armed robbers last year as an indication that the so-called peace was that of the grave yard.
Promptly, the APC in the state fired a salvo at Alao-Akala .
The party claimed “the anti-workers policies of Alao-Akala, which climaxed with the mass sacking of the state’s 34,000 workforce in 2007,” would continue to haunt him for a long time to come.
This was in a release issued by the party’s State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olawale Sadare.
According to the APC, the ex-governor had forgotten in a hurry how he treated workers shabbily and plunged the state into needless industrial crises until the intervention of the ‘500 wise men.’
APC said the mass sacking of the state’s workforce in one fell swoop on September 19, 2007 by the Alao-Akala government, aftermath a three-month strike by the state workforce, was still fresh in the memory of discerning workers of the state, labour leaders and the traditional institution in the state.
The party, therefore, cautioned workers in the public service, pensioners, market women, taxi drivers, food vendors, among others who suffered collateral damage during the labour crises instigated by the Alao-Akala-led government against supporting his fresh governorship ambition.
Sadare had said: “Under Akala’s watch, the entire workforce embarked on record three-month strike action between July and September 2007 following his refusal to implement the N9,400 minimum wage, which by then was already being paid across the South-West.
“It is instructive that Ladoja had approved the minimum wage shortly before the April 2007 governorship election to curry workers’ favours, following his failed calculation that he could wrest the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship ticket from Alao-Akala”.
Alao-Akala also fired back. He described the attack on him over some workers sacked during his regime as ‘a criminal cover up’ by the incumbent governor.
Speaking through his Director of Public Affairs, Oludare Ogunlana, Alao-Akala said Ajimobi and team just woke up after the ex-governor’s appearance on Splash FM where he punched all “the lies of Ajimobi”.
“Of course, May 29, 2015 appointed exit date for Sen. Ajimobi is fast approaching. Expectedly, each passing day gives him a nightmare, as the aroma of power is too sweet for the Ajimobi’s family to ever contemplate its imminent demise. Since no dictatorship leaves power on its own volition, reconciling itself with the reality becomes a conflict, which the regime obviously finds difficult to resolve”.
Ladoja on his part had continually labeled the Ajimobi administration as one without a human face in reference to the urban renewal programme of the government.
He had also criticised the Mokola Flyover built by the governor, alleging that the cost of the project, put at N2.9bn was outrageously high.
But in what seemed like a reprisal, the governor had also revealed that Ladoja, through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) refunded over N500m into the coffers of the state after allegedly entering into a plea-bargain with the anti-corruption agency in a case of alleged illegal conversion of proceeds from the sale of shares belonging to the state government, a charge the Accord leader denied.