I would have ordinarily looked other way on the above subject matter but for posterity and records.
Politics in Nigeria and most particularly in Oyo State has its own peculiarities which when juxtaposed with that of other climes could be adjudged as primitive and archaic but that is a bitter truth we must accept, at least, for the time being.
The emergence of the present Chief Executive Officer of Oyo State, His excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde, was seen as divine and timely due to the experience of oyo people with the immediate past administration in the state.
The alleged arrogance displayed and “know-all” posture of Former Gov. Abiola Ajimobi actually inflicted too much psychological pains on majority of the people of the state in many areas.
Most people saw him not as a leader but a ruler with emperoric charisma. The conclusion of many political watchers in and outside of Oyo state was that of a man who is full of himself and doesn’t see things in other people’s light.
The category of people that detested him most were the civil servants and students in the state because of his lack of concern for them. Also, the sacred traditional institution was not out of his misrule style.
Whichever way one sees Ajimobi’s leadership style however, he still had so many achievements to boast of today.
I remembered vividly the way he was been eulogised when he took over the reign of leadership of Oyo state. Salaries were paid as and when due including the infamous 13th month salary, launching of security apparatus tagged ” Operation Burst” and embarking on massive infrastructural development across the length and breadth of Oyo state.
I could recalled a conversation I had with one of my area brothers then, when argument ensued as to the first governor to construct a fly- over in south-western Nigeria aside those in Lagos State because of the one Ajimobi built at Mokola Area of Ibadan.
Without mincing words, Gov. Ajimobi performed excellently well in terms of infrastructure, security and many other areas which are the major benchmark to measure performance of public officers around the globe.
Nevertheless, Oyo people revolted against him and his party during the last general elections in the state as evident in the results of the pools. Ajimobi even lost his senatorial district regardless of been a two- term governor. That is pathetic! The question here is, where did he go wrong?
Gov. Ajimobi like every other past governors in the state, immediately after the return to constitutional democracy in 1999, have traits of ” bad students of history”. History, they say, is the best teacher. Only for the wise.
Permit me to ply the memory lane a bit, perhaps it would help unveil the hiding facts and expose us to rationale behind the failure of those before Engr. Seyi Makinde.
Immediately after the general elections in 1999, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina was declared the winner of the gubernatorial contest. This was greeted with wild jubilations. Electorates’ hopes were high not only because of their wishes have been made manifest but also of the fact that Alhaji Lam Adesina was one of NADECO members who fought the military junta and force it to return the nation to constitutional democracy, hence he already know the aspirations, needs and yearnings of the people.
But along the line, he failed. He couldn’t secure his reelection bid for a second term of office like other southwest governors except Lagos state. What could have account for their failures?
Sen. Rasidi Adewolu Ladoja took over the political reign in Oyo state after defeating the incumbent, Alhaji Lam Adesina in 2003 polls. Sen. Ladoja, like any other politicians reappraised the preelection and postelection matters viz-a-viz that of the opposition so as to identify the reason for the incumbent failure with a mind of forestalling such from happen to him. That was the best step anyways.
As a standard practice, every Nigeria politician will always seek a comeback, atleast, to satisfy not only their greed for power but also as a constitutional permitted act.
Of Ladoja’s findings of the reasons for Lam’s failure was the way he handled the welfare of Oyo workers. The Ibadan-born business mogul turned politician swiftly designed programmes to take care of the workers/masses making them centrepiece of his administration. He couldn’t have done otherwise, at least, it is one of the major actions expected of a politician who wishes to succeed in a saner clime.
Sen. Ladoja however failed to understand and hold in high esteem, the concept of political fatherism. Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, the Alaafin of Molete, a political warlord and father of southwest politics has constituted himself as a torn in the flesh of Ladoja.
Adewolu was however advised that as long as he is in the good book of Oyo workers/ masses, he may not necessarily need much of Adedibu’s support. But little did he know that the man’s political influence on the majority of his so called masses is enormous to the extent that the powers that be in Nigeria political space acknowledge.
Majority of them rely on him and his likes across all the political zones of the state before deciding who to vote for. They somehow remote control them. In short, Ladoja ignored those relevant politicians who actually defiled all temptations, to sell his candidacy to the electorates hence his failure. Sadly till today, he couldn’t launch himself back to political office.
Next in line was HE, Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala. He rode to power as a result of political misfortune of his erstwhile boss, Sen. Adewolu Ladoja. After becoming the governor of the state, in an unusual design, being a man from a politically disadvantaged town, ogbomoso, that is not usually favoured for such exalted position in the state, he tried as much as possible to manage what he felt made his boss to fail.
The fact that as long as you are not from Ibadan town, you are not likely to become the state governor has become a norm in Oyo state immediately Ibadan people fell apart with Gov. Bola Ige. Aside from been the political headquaters of old western region, the population density is another major advantage which rational politician in the state must acknowledge.
Otunba Alao Akala, to be best of his knowledge, tried as much as possible to manage the political gladiators from all zones with the Alaafin Molete as their head. This didn’t go down well with many political watchers, analysts and modern day social critics. He was even alleged to have handled over the key to the Oyo treasury’s vault to Alhaji Adedibu and co. But to him, that was the only thing he could do to sustain himself amd possibly earn himself a second term of office.
Akala’s subordination to Adedibu, though not willingly but a price to pay for stability, made so many people hate him. He was seen by many as a governor who allowed thuggery to free reign. Baba Adedibu was known command army of political thugs who are on his payroll like other political warlords across Nigeria state.
Regardless, of people’s views and pressures, however, Akala remained adamant as long as that will earn him Adedibu’s favour.
As a trained/professional law enforcement officer, his callings couldn’t have fall in line with such but, interest they say is permanent. Whatever one must do to get what one wants must be done not minding whose hoax is gored. That’s bitter truth and fact about Nigeria politicians. Like it was postulated earlier, ” Nigerian political peculiarities”.
With all these, Gov. Adebayo Alao Akala failed to secure a second term of office. What again could have responsible for this?. Alhaji Adedibu had died and perhaps to Akala, the one to fear has gone. Then his ability to manage others like him across the state (other political gladiators) diminished. Truthfully, Adedibu was the rallying point for these gladiators. Alao has missed it. He felt the time has come to dismantle such structures, trim down the influence of others like him and take charge of the state to run it the way he liked.
Sooner than later, Akala was already at loggerhead with another gladiator, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alaafin of Oyo, over his request to get the SSG fired and also to reappoint Alaafin’s son as caretaker chairman of Atiba Local government, Oyo which Akala rebuffed. This like many other issues made Anal fell apart with many gladiators, the rest is history.
Protest votes removed Akala and brought Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi who managed to to break the jinx of ” no two terms” in Oyo State. Records has it that, he was able to get his second term of office scaled through, courtesy of his ability to satisfactorily manage the identified gladiators. However, they say power intoxicates. Like every other homosapiens who managed to achieved what others before him couldn’t, he became power drunk. His quest to hold grip the political space of Oyo tempted him to wanting to succeed himself by installing a stooge. This made him fall apart with gladiators from across the state. You will recall that Gov. Ajimobi had already accumulated disaffections for himself due to months of unpaid salaries of civil servants, closure of tertiary institutions and unethical meddling into the affairs of Ibadan traditional council.
Dissatisfied by his moves by gladiators from other zones made them formed splinter groups such as the Unity Forum. Although, efforts were later made to correct the anomaly and pacify aggrieved party gladiators at the eleventh hour by the national leadership of APC, it was already too late to cry when the head is cut off. The rest is also history.
Taking a cue from neighbouring states of Ekiti and Ogun where Gov. Fayose’s disregard for political gladiators caused his party to lose and where Gbenga Daniel fell apart with gladiators. Nine years on, PDP is still struggling to get back to power in futility in Ogun State.
Conversely however, Lagos state has remained in the hands of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu because of his continued efforts an ability to satisfactorily manage the Lagos gladiators.
Perhaps, President Mohammadu Buhari would have lost his reelection bid if he hadn’t bridged the gaps between himself and the likes of Tinubu. Since it was rumoured that the duo fell apart at some points into PMB first term administration.
Of course, at every point in time, elected political office holders must have some gladiators around them, the concern is however, on the political relevance of such personae at helping them achieve their reelection aim. Undoubtedly, there were many of such around former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, but of what importance and relevance were they to him at the time that matters? The ability to identify those whose political worth, spread and influence can perform the magic is the main issue here.
His excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde has undoubtedly started well particularly in the areas of o worker’s welfare, infrastructures and humility in governance. That alone can hardly perform any electoral magic. In fact, it will surprise many that those civil servants don’t see his good gestures as any thing to appreciatively repay. To them, they are been paid what they are working for. So relying on them alone is like embarking on a political suicide. Has it paid any one before you? A clear example was that of Ladoja who not only paid them as and when due with all bonuses and allowances but also the infamous 13th month salary. Masses/ workers don’t owe their loyalty to anyone but themselves. Not withstanding this however, they deserve to be paid because paying them, according to the Executive Governor of Borno State, is not to be seen as any achievement.
It is disheartening to note that His excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde, has decided to forget so soon, those who fought hard both physically and spiritually to support him. Some of them took serious and life-threatening risks to help him actualize his near-truncated vision.
Today, the likes of Alhaji Olopoeyan, whom history has it that His excellency’s journey to Agodi government house started with, is no longer given deserved recognition. What of Rt.Hon Mulikat Akande Adeola of Ogbomoso zone? Have you given her the right recognition she deserves? It is on records that His excellency has not also considered and well compensated members of the PDP media volunteer groups who day and nights launched serious media propaganda against equally and better funded APC teams prior 2019 general elections. What of members of other equally strong political parties with whom PDP formed alliance with to dislodge the ruling APC. Have you honoured the agreement entered into with them?
It is a right thing to select, appoint and work with aides who are capably qualified i.e technocrats, at least to help deliver on the campaign promises your government made to the electorates, but are there no party men and women who are equally capable?
Perhaps his excellency has been advised to dislodge those on whose back he rode to power with his newly selected friends but the question here is that, what is the political worth of those people? Are they capable of dislodging those gladiators in their domain?
Of what political value and worth are those who couldn’t deliver their local government to you, even in the absence of serious/stronger political gladiators? Some of them have long history of betrayal. Ladoja and Akala were betrayed by them and your case will not be an exception. They are protectors of their own interest and interest alone. Be wise sir.
In conclusion, this piece is written not to attack anybody in your government but a clarion call on you, your excellency, to retrace your steps, avoid praise-singers and political hypocrites. Their is also the need to bridge the already politically widened gaps between yourself and the gladiators you started with before it is too late.
I pray his excellency sees reasons with this, otherwise, he tours a path to political suicide.
The author is Oyetunji Oyedeji