The results of the March 28 presidential and parliamentary elections seem to have pointed to where the pendulum may likely swing across the states during next week’s governorship poll. This may be particularly so in respect of Oyo State where no incumbent governor has won re-election. Notwithstanding, these are the eight persons to watch in next week’s poll, writes IBIDAPO BALOGUN…
The state’s Governor Abiola Ajimobi seems to hold the ace in next week’s governorship election. The governor has recorded some accomplishments in the state and the results of the March 28 elections showed a victory for his party, the All Progressives Congress’ presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. This may rob off on Ajimobi in the election. He is expected to drink from Buhari’s popularity in the state and break the second term jinx in the state. The governor may win even bigger if he is able to grab from among some of the key candidates arraigned against him. So many will watch what he is able to do in this regard before next week’s poll.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, is one traditional ruler who is highly influential in the politics of Oyo and that of the country. Together with the late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Azzez Arisekola-Alao, Alaafin Adeyemi had installed and removed governors in Oyo. Former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala’s inability to come back as governor in 2011 was put down to his uninformed disagreement with the Alaafin and Aare Arisekola. Oba Adeyemi is widely believed to have thrown his weight behind Governor Ajimobi for a second term in office. His son, Akeem Adeyemi aka Skime, won the Oyo/Atiba seat in the House of Representatives on the platform of APC in last week’s election. So, Oba Adeyemi is one traditional ruler to watch in next week’s poll.
Of all the opposition candidates in the state, only former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala’s party, Labour Party, made an impact in the first election, with his party winning two seats in the House of Representatives. Some other candidates like Accord leaders in the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, and People’s Democratic Party candidate and former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, are already meeting with a view to working together in the next election. Alao-Akala is said not to be too enthusiastic about the move. Will the former governor change his stance? All eyes would be on him.
Most analysts had expected former Governor Rashidi Ladoja’s Accord to record an appreciable showing in the March 28 election. But going by the official results of the election in the state, Accord did not win a single seat in the House of Representatives, talk less the Senate, though for the presidential poll, Senator Ladoja had chosen to back President Jonathan. The performance of Accord in the election is a far cry from the stunning impact the party made in the 2011 election in the state barely three months after it was formed. So, many will be waiting to see what Ladoja would do in next week’s poll.
If President Jonathan had won the presidential poll, former Senate Leader and People’s Democratic Party candidate in the state, Senator Teslim Folarin, was widely expected to benefit from the bandwagon effect that would have had on the governorship polls across the states, Oyo inclusive. But alas the president lost. Senator Folarin, among other candidates in the state, had alleged that the APC engaged in some untoward tactics to win the state last week. Nonetheless he has redoubled his efforts in preparations for next week’s poll. Will Folarin pull a surprise? Many will be waiting to see.
AMBASSADOR RUFUS AKEJU
The Resident Electoral Commissioners are the Returning Officers for the governorship elections in their states. Ordinarily, the RECs had little leeway in the matter of returns for the governorship poll, just like the INEC Chairman in Abuja had little or no control over the electoral returns in respect of the presidential poll, as rigging are usually perpetrated at local governments or states collation points. Nonetheless, the actions or inactions of RECs during the governorship polls are significant. Oyo State REC, Ambassador Rufus Akeju, is a man of integrity who has served the nation in and outside the country. But notwithstanding, many will be out to watch the REC and his electoral officers closely during the governorship poll.
SALISU NASIRU MUAZU
There has been allegation, though yet unconfirmed, that soldiers were used to rig in some states in the last election. In Oyo State, not much of the soldiers were seen on the streets and at collation points in last week’s poll. Major-General Salisu Nasiru Muazu is the General Officer Commanding, 2nd Mechanised Division, Nigerian Army, Ibadan. Many will be out to see what role Major-General Muazu and his officers would play in the election.
MOHAMMED MUSA KATSINA
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Musa Katsina, is relatively new in Oyo, having been posted to the state only a few months ago. Katsina has never been found wanting on the job. His performance and those of his officers in last week’s poll have never been questioned. Nonetheless, all eyes will be on the police boss and his men in the election.