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Makinde’s romance with APC raises concern about PDP’s future in Oyo

The romance between Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is raising question about the future of PDP in the…

The romance between Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is raising question about the future of PDP in the state, Daily Trust Saturday reports.

The Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, is one of the bigwigs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who not only maintains a smooth relationship with the President Bola Tinubu administration but also enjoys the president’s grace. This is despite the critical disposition of the PDP as a major opposition party to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

To the public, the alliance began when Makinde, a member of the PDP’s G5 governors, played host to Tinubu at the governor’s office in Ibadan during the latter’s presidential campaign rally in February 2023. Tinubu, who was accompanied on the visit by the former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, Bisi Akande, and other leaders of the APC, expressed satisfaction and pleasure with Makinde’s warm reception.

Tinubu had said that he was in Ibadan to “pay a simple respect,” and assured the governor of his campaign team’s willingness to behave accordingly. He also said, “I believe I am better and more qualified and competent than any other candidate. I am the best of them all. I am here equally to solicit your worthy endorsement.”

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To this, Makinde replied that the G5 governors had resolved to choose the unity of the country, equity and fairness over their individual political aspirations.

“Please feel free to pass your message to our people, and February 25 is a date with history,” Makinde had said.

However tacit or discreet the closed-door meeting with Tinubu was, it is on record that Atiku Abubakar, who was the PDP presidential aspirant, did not enjoy such an audience from the governor. The governor had shunned Atiku when he was in the state for his presidential campaign rally a month earlier.

And it came as no surprise when Tinubu got a landslide victory in Oyo State, polling 449,884 votes, while Atiku polled 182,977 votes to emerge second, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) trailed with 99,110 votes, victory, which, as reasoned in some quarters, could not have been without the calculated influence of the state governor. The influence, it was said, was a sort of ‘political pact’ between the state governor and President Tinubu. The governor has since refused to debunk or confirm the allegation.

In a similar outplay of intrigues, at the governorship election held in March, the PDP roundly defeated the APC. The APC governorship candidate, Teslim Folarin’s outburst that he was thrown under the bus further fuelled speculations about some underground politics that determined the outcome of the general elections in Oyo State. Yet, the bond between Aso Rock and Makinde waxed stronger.

In the early days of the post-election victory, Makinde was always in the news for one visit or encounter with the presidency. The romance started right at the Defence House in Abuja when Makinde paid a visit to then president-elect, Bola Tinubu. Makinde and Nyesom Wike, the leader of the G5 governors, were the only PDP governors amongst other APC governors on the solidarity visit.

In June, Makinde, together with the G5, otherwise known as the Integrity Group, visited the president “to brief him on the latest happenings and the group’s stance on fairness, equity and justice in the country.”

According to Makinde, the G5 will keep meeting with the president on the way forward for the country.

During the flag-off ceremony of the dualisation of 8.3km Akobo-Oju-Irin-Olorunda Abaa road, Makinde made it known that he would not stop going to visit Tinubu at Aso Rock regardless of what anyone would say.

“As I go to Abuja to see the president, I know some people have been saying that since the inauguration of the new president I have gone to Aso Rock about four times within a week. Where do you want me to go? Is it Yola you want me to go?

“Well, I will continue to go to where they will be able to refund Oyo State the money we have spent on federal roads. So, I will continue to go to Aso Rock to plead for a refund,” he said.

Atiku is from Adamawa State, which capital is Yola.

Also, in June, the president hosted the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Ibori was accompanied by Makinde and Wike.

Barely three months after Tinubu’s swearing in as the 16th president of Nigeria, the presidency enlisted Makinde among five other governors on a trip to the Republic of Benin to attend the 63rd independence anniversary of the neighbouring country.

Makinde was also in the entourage of Tinubu on his first visit as Nigerian president to New York for the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2023.

These are some of the public encounters between the duo that have sparked discussions and speculation about potential shifts in political alliances.

In many instances, Makinde has been quick to pin down his closeness with Aso Rock as a projection of governance, which, according to him, is all that is important after the fierce politicking during the elections.

Similarly, he has also hinted that closeness to Aso Rock means closeness to more federal opportunities for his state and that such collaborations can lead to improved governance, better policy outcomes and enhanced development initiatives for the people.

Recently, Ibrahim Shittu of the APC defeated his PDP counterpart, Julius Femi, in the rerun election, which took place in Saki West state constituency.

Makinde attributed the outcome to the fairness and equity in politics orchestrated by his administration.

The governor had said, “We are just coming from a by-election, which we lost three days ago. First, it is a demonstration that in Oyo State, we have moved away from the politics of brigandage and getting results at all costs because we allow the will of the people to prevail.”

However, Governor Makinde’s interactions with the APC-led federal government have been met with scepticism and criticism, particularly from members of his own party, the PDP and political opponents.

Some view his engagement with the APC as opportunistic or driven by personal ambitions rather than a genuine commitment to advancing the interest of his state or political party. Someone in this school of thought is the APC spokesman in the state, Wale Sadare.

Sadare said the governor was only being clever by half because there is an imminent end to the double-faced politicking he is practising.

“As far as we are concerned in Oyo APC, he is a businessman in politics and a power monger. He is no doubt a PDP man who cares less about his party or any other one, for that matter. His major interest is all about his own interests.

“Governor Makinde has no link with the APC, but it is clear that he uses some characters in the party to drive his ambition and interest. But we are not perturbed because we know the bubble will burst, sooner than later,” Sadare said.

Sadare added that Makinde was only trying to reap where he did not sow as he never mentioned Tinubu as his preferred candidate and never sponsored a jingle, billboard or poster in support of the former Lagos State governor.

Sadare wished good luck to anyone who “bought Makinde’s dummy and believed that he was instrumental to Tinubu’s victory in Oyo State.”

The PDP youth leader and public relations officer in Oyo State, Michael Ogunsina, waived the insinuation that the governor had any political inclination towards the ruling APC.

Ogunsina said the cordiality between the president and Governor Makinde was logically sound, owing to the fact that both are leaders from the Yoruba extraction dedicated to the prosperity of the citizenry.

He added that Oyo State had always been fortunate to have governors who are usually close to the president of the country despite owing allegiance to different political parties.

“Makinde is our leader in the PDP in the South West. He has not decamped and will not decamp to the APC. I am saying this based on relationships.

“Concerning his relationship with the president, it is no longer news that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is a Yoruba man, is the president of Nigeria, same with Governor Seyi Makinde, who is a Yoruba man. And it is undeniable that the governor played a critical role in the emergence of the president. So, it is normal that they have a relationship, and it is normal that you visit a person with whom you have a relationship. This does not mean that he has the intention to decamp to the APC,” he said.

While the PDP has expressed readiness to secure a massive win in the local government election in the state, Oyo APC has declared its intention to reclaim the state in 2027.

When contacted, Sulaiman Olanrewaju, the chief press secretary to Makinde, promised to call back but has not, and several subsequent calls and a text message explaining the reason for the call were not responded to as at the time of filing this report.

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