By Tolulope Balogun
As aspirants jostling for the gubernatorial ticket of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) embark on series of activities to outsmart one another for the ticket, it is now becoming clearer that factors other than individual aspirant’s control over the party structure may determine the eventual winner.
More than other parties, PDP has the highest number of politicians struggling for its gubernatorial ticket. The party is followed by the Labour Party, while Accord and the ruling All Progressives Party have an aspirant each at present.
For the PDP, the aspirants who have made their intentions known so far include the immediate-past governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, Engr. Seyi Makinde, former Chief Press Secretary to former Governor of the state, late Alhaji Lam Adesina and immediate-past Chairman of Oluyole Local Government, Agba Akin Kehinde Olaosebikan, Business mogul and Chairman of Jogor Centre, Mr. Femi Babalola, former Deputy Governors, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja and Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi, Professor Soji Adejumo and a few others.
How Aspirants Are Reaching Out
Noticeable from the beginning of the year, the aspirants commenced a number of activities from the regular to the unusual. Early in the year, Seyi Makinde made the first move when he mobilised his followers to the state secretariat of the party with bags full of goodies. Apart from doling out “heavy money” to all the members of the sate executives, the youthful aspirant also donated a brand new bus to the state secretariat with a promise to commence payment of stipends to all party executives (delegates) from that January. He also submitted a letter where he indicated his interest in the gubernatorial race.
A few days after, another engineer, Femi Babalola, followed the steps of Makinde with hundreds of his supporters storming the party secretariat. He also gave a new bus to the party.
Alao-Akala’s Destiny House
While the two engineers-turned-politicians chose the storming of the party office to announce their intentions, others have adopted different measures to communicate their intentions to the party elders and members. For the immediate-past governor, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, consultations and re-oiling of his political machinery would suffice.
Otunba Akala, though with some resentments from some of the progressives and independent minded members of his team, has relocated to his campaign office called Destiny House in Mokola area of Ibadan where he now holds regular meetings with his allies and followers. The resenting few were of the opinion that Alao-Akala ought not to have joined the gubernatorial race, maintaining that the best thing for the past governor was to serve as the rallying point for all in the party.
Otunba Akala has totally ignored all this as he has fully gone into the race.
Folarin Tours the State
Another top aspirant, former Senate Leader Senator Teslim Folarin, in his own wisdom, has chosen to tour the state and showcase his achievements during his eight-year sojourn as the Senate Majority Leader of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In an apparent reaction to allegations in some quarters that the Senate Leader did not carry his people along while in the Senate, Senator Folarin early in the year led notable figures in the state including the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, to commission a water borehole he built over three years ago. Senator Folarin also went with some top PDP members to Ibarapa land just last month to sensitize the people of the area on his gubernatorial ambition.
Olaosebikan and Forum of Past LG Chairman
Another aspirant, Agba Akin Olaosebikan, as part of his own plan, is strategically engaging the formidable Forum of Past Local Government Chairmen where he is serving as secretary to launch out. He is said to be working on two sets of forum of past chairmen, which gives him a veritable access to all the 33 local government areas of the state. An exceptional politician with good interplay of grassroots and urban politics, Olaosebikan recently used the occasion of the inauguration of party executives to unveil the PDP House being built by him for his Ward 9 in Oluyole Local Government.
Chief Babalola, owner of Jogor centre also used a family event he organized at the Jogor Centre on Friday to rally support of his friends and associates for his governorship aspiration.
Other aspirants including former Deputy Governors of the state, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi and Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja are more known in the race for their posters and banners particularly at the party secretariat.
Elders & Key Stakeholders
However, the success or otherwise of the strategies being adopted by the aspirants would, however, depend on how much they can work on the elders and key stakeholders of the party who are in control of the delegates. Certain individuals may actually dictate where the pendulum swings. Although it is going to be contributions from elders like Chief Yekini Adeojo , Senator Lekan Balogun, Chief Adetoro, Hon. Sabauna Murana, Baba Adigun Irawo, and Alhaji Olopoenia, the present Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Hosea Ayoola Agboola, appears the man holding the ace.
The delegates from the eleven local governments in Ibadanland are shared among all the leaders of the party for Ibadan but with elders like Chief Adeojo , Senator Balogun and Alhaji Olopoenia slightly having an edge. The implication of this is that whoever these elders favour among the aspirants may get more votes from Ibadanland.
Give or take the bulk of Ogbomoso delegates would go to Otunba Alao-Akala. Ogbomoso has four local governments.
For Ibarapa land, delegates will vote mainly on the instruction of the member representing Ibarapa Central and Ibarapa North Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum, Hon. Sabauna Muraina, and Hon. Tajudeen, member representing the same constituency in the House of Assembly. Hon. Muraina has an edge. There are three local governments in Ibarapa Land.
With eleven local government areas, Oke Ogun, like in many other past elections including primaries, remains the deciding zone in the choice of the flag bearer and whoever the power that be from the zone favours may eventually carry the day.
From the zone, there are Chief Jacob Adetoro, Chief Adigun Irawo and the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Hosea Ayoola Agboola, Senator representing Oyo North Federal Constituency. Although, the highly respected Chief Adetoro is firmly in control of Olorunsogo and partly Orelope while Adigun Irawo controls Saki axis, over 80 per cent of delegates from the zone are loyalists of Senator Agboola.
Rather than working at cross purposes, there are strong indications that all the leaders from the zone including two serving top Federal Government officials may all work in unison based on the desire of Oke Ogun to get the governorship position now or latest by 2019. With this, the Oke Ogun leaders are more likely to give their votes to an aspirant from Ibadan land. Who that aspirant may be is yet unknown. But a close aide to the Deputy Whip indicated that the Senator being a practical and a thorough politician would support only aspirant with good antecedents, known grassroots support and excellent disposition towards the cause of Oke Ogun people.