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Oyo: The Ladoja Challenge

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Former Oyo State governor and Accord party candidate in the just-concluded governorship election in the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, has vowed to challenge the election of Governor Abiola Ajimobi at the tribunal, saying he will retrieve his ‘stolen mandate. How potent will this challenge be for Ajimobi who had broken second term jinx in the state with his victory? IBIDAPO BALOGUN reports…

Governor Abiola Ajimobi achieved a major feat with the outcome of the April 11 governorship election in the state. No governor had broken second term jinx in the state since its creation in 1976. Late governor Bola Ige who was known to be very close to winning re-election in 1983 lost the coveted prize allegedly as a result of his ‘caustic tongue’. Dr. Omololu Olunloyo of the defunct NPN defeated Uncle Bola Ige in 1983 with the massive votes of Ibadan people, though the election was said to be highly controversial. Another person who was close to winning second term in 2011 is former governor Adebayo Alao-Akala who also contested and lost to Governor Ajimobi in the just-ended governorship poll. Alao-Akala of the Peoples Democratic Party would have won the 2011 guber poll, but he engaged in an ill-advised squabble with late Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao, and Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111, who both swore he would not return to office. Alao-Akala did not return.

Putting Ajimobi’s election in perspective when he led some traditional rulers from Oyo, Ibarapa, Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun areas of the state to congratulate him, the Alaafin of Oyo said only the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo ruled for eight years (defunct Western Region) while successive rulers ruled for four years in Oyo State. He, however, said it was the performance of Governor Ajimobi in his first term that won re-election for him. So it was understandable why Ajimobi and his wife Florence engaged in massive celebration after the governor’s victory at the poll. His Oluyole residence, Ibadan, which he had moved to months before the election, was a beehive of activities after the election. He opened up his vaults for the people. Food and drinks were in abundance. And there was song and dance as well. A few days after, last Tuesday precisely, the governor also organised a Road Show to mark his victory. Addressing the crowd which came to felicitate with him during the Road Show at the Government House Arcade, Ibadan, Governor Ajimobi thanked them profusely for voting for him for a second term. He said he organised the Road Show in order to show appreciation to those who gave him the mandate. “I have to organise this rally to show my sincere appreciation for the good gesture extended to me by the people of the state in re-electing me for a second term”.

Somehow, before the election, some analysts had called the election a straight fight between Ajimobi and Accord party leader ad governorship candidate in the election, Senator Rashidi Ladoja. The results of the poll would seem to confirm this. While Ajimobi polled a total of 327, 310 votes, Ladoja got 254, 520 votes, a difference of about 72, 000 votes. Ajimobi won in 20 local governments of the 33 in the state, while Ladoja won in seven. Ajimobi’s victory was achieved against the backdrop of the breakdown of the alliance initiated by the opposition candidates, which included Ladoja, Alao-Akala, Senator Teslim Folarin and Mr. Seyi Makinde, all of whom contested on April 11. While Folarin, Alao-Akala and Makinde had conceded defeat and congratulated Ajimobi, Ladoja is yet to do so and has vowed that he will not so do.

But is Senator Ladoja about to cut short the governor’s celebration? Ladoja has vowed to challenge Ajimobi’s victory at the election tribunal. He said he had enough evidence in his possession to fight the All Progressives Congress and Governor Ajimobi at the election tribunal. “I want you all to be calm because I am sure of returning to the Agodi Government House,” he said while addressing a mammoth crowd of his supporters at Accord’s state secretariat, Airport road, Samonda, Ibadan.

The former governor also sent a warning signal to the governor and his supporters in the state to desist from harassing his party members, saying failure to do so would make him to show the party the stuff he is made of. “If APC fails to call their political thugs to order, I won’t hesitate to call on my people to fight and I would as well lead the battle front.”

Ajimobi Dismisses Ladoja’s Challenge…

Governor Ajimobi has, however, dismissed the challenge saying he won the election convincingly. “If you look at the results of the election, APC had 25% in 29 local governments. Other parties did not meet the statutory requirement of 25%. Accord Party had only 17%. We won across six political zones out of seven. Accord and Labour won one each. Where is the spread of Accord Party? He did not win in Oyo, Ogbomoso, Oke Ogun I & II, and Ibadan city zones. He did not even meet the statutory requirement. Let him go to court, we are waiting,” he said

He added: “Surprisingly, the Accord Party has been complaining that it would go to court. No problem. If you look at the results of the election and the conduct, it was the freest and fairest election ever held. Everybody said it, all his agents signed at the polling units. It is only at the final collation center that they did not sign. Let him go to court”.

But he warned Ladoja against violence and ruffling the peace in the state. “We brought peace and security to Oyo State. We established that in the state and we will not fold our arms and allow any individual to destroy it. Senator Ladoja’s administration was replete with violence. Some people are sore losers, some are very sportsmanly. If he says he will resort to violence as reported, we will not tolerate it. Oyo State is a state where nobody is above the law. If he has complaints, let him go to the police to complain. But if he says he wants to lead some people to resort to violence in the state, we will deal with him.

“We don’t want violence in Oyo State again. Nobody is too big for the law in Oyo State. Anyone who is so desperate that even when defeated, he is crying about his intention to cause problems, he should follow due process and should obey the law of the land. He is not too big to obey the law. I guarantee you, should anybody lead any group to cause violence, the law will take its full weight to deal with them, I assure them,” he said.

Ladoja is yet to file his petition at the tribunal. But all eyes are on him and the tribunal challenge, to all intents and purposes, promises to be exciting as some Accord party stalwarts claim they have all that is required to mount a robust challenge.

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