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Opposition parties ‘gone missing’ in Oyo?

Major parties such as the Accord Party (AP), Labour Party (LP), Social Democratic Party (SDP) among others, are factionalised making it difficult for them to…

Major parties such as the Accord Party (AP), Labour Party (LP), Social Democratic Party (SDP) among others, are factionalised making it difficult for them to make policy statements that would put the ruling party on its toes. 

 Curiously, unlike in other states, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not seen as a serious platform in Oyo as evident in its dismal outings.

 Aside factions in major parties, their notable stalwarts have defected to the ruling APC.

 The Chief of Staff to the Oyo State Governor, Dr. Gbade Ojo, described the development as “a threat to democracy.”

 Ojo is an associate Professor of Political Science from the University of Ilorin.

 Not only him,  defections by notable chieftains has remained a source of concern to political observers in the state as the 2019 general elections are fast approaching.

 In Oyo State, the APC broke the second term jinx in 2015; no candidate ever ruled the state twice since the beginning of first republic in 1963 until 2015 when the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, defeated his co -contestants at the polls.

The major opposition parties that contested the 2015 elections in the State included the PDP, Accord Party (AP), Labour Party (LP), and SDP among others.

 Beside winning the governorship, APC won 14 seats in the state House of Assembly while Accord had 8 members. The Labour Party had 6 members while PDP won a seat. SDP has no lawmaker in the 8th Assembly.

 In an interview with a stalwart of Labour Party and a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Lanre Agoro, he said the opposition parties are dead not only in Oyo state but in Nigeria. 

He noted that there are no human and financial resources to provide viable opposition in the country.

 Agoro said that is the reason governors in many states suddenly become untouchable and emperors. 

 “Nobody knows where the pendulum swings,” Agoro concluded. 

 Though it was recently rumoured that the opposition parties were planning to form a formidable alliance against APC in Oyo State ahead of 2019, checks by the Daily Trust reveal that there is no indication of working agreement across the parties.

 Sadly, those who the electorate look unto as forbearers of the opposition movement have defected to the ruling party in the state.

 For instance, the flag- bearer  of the Labour Party in 2015, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala,  who defected to the party when he lost at the PDP primary in 2015  has pitch his tent with the ruling APC.

 Akala was a former governor of the state.His deputy when he was governor, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja has also defected from PDP to the ruling APC even as most of Akala’s loyalists who followed him to the Labour Party prior to 2015 elections have either defected to  the APC or have no party at the moment. 

 Ahead of 2015 elections, there were no strong politicians to reckon with in the Labour Party but Akala was able to use his influence and popularity to woo many to the hitherto unknown party.

And with his exit, observers believe the Labour Party is now weak in Ibadan, the state capital, though waxing stronger in some areas in Oke-Ogun area of the state. 

 For instance the Labour Party won the by-election of Oorelope state constituency held last year after the demise of the then occupant of the seat under the platform of the same party, Hon Gideon Aremu, who was assassinated. 

 Accord Party was expected to provide a formidable opposition in Oyo State but wittingly or unwittingly, it has been polarized.

 At the moment, the party has two factions – one  is loyal to a former governor of the state, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, while the other faction is loyal to  two former members of  the House of Representatives Dr. Titi Ajaja and Hon. Kayode Busari. 

 Amidst the tussle within the Accord Party, a strong member of the party and  pioneer General Manager of Oyo Sate Road maintenance (OYSTROMA),   Engineer Rauf Olaniyan,  dumped it and opted for the ruling APC.  

 Evidently, the Accord Party is now struggling to survive as most of its members are no more on the same page with their acclaimed leader, Senator Ladoja. 

 Our correspondent learnt that Ladoja fell apart with some of his loyalists because of his body language to contest governorship election in 2019, a move which some of them are not comfortable with.

 It was further gathered that the outcome of the Port Harcourt Appeal Court judgment on the two faction of the PDP, which favoured Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as national chairman, is a serious setback for the leadership of Accord Party.

 This is more so as the Ladoja’s faction had reportedly agreed to merge with the Senator Ahmed Makarfi’s faction before the judgment.

  Source close to the former governor said he was aware Ladoja had agreed to work with the PDP but with the judgment at the Appeal Court, the working agreement may not work out if the status quo remains.

 He said, “Ladoja remains the number one Accord man in Oyo State. When election comes, those factions will come together; they cannot challenge our leader, Ladoja. He brought the party to Oyo State and he has been managing it effectively. My only fear is the outcome of the Appeal Court judgment that favoured Sheriff. 

 “Before the judgment, there was a working agreement between our leader and PDP but now, I cannot say what will happen,” he said. 

 The anticipated alliance with Ladoja could have been a good omen for the PDP because the party has not been able to put its house together after the crisis that almost consumed it during the 2015 primary elections. 

The gubernatorial flag bearer of the party in 2015 and a former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, has distanced himself  from the state since he lost election in 2015. Little has been heard of him in the party and  expectedly, the development has made people to doubt if the former Senator leader is still interested in the future of the party. 

At the moment, most of his loyalists during the 2015 elections are dining and wining with the ruling APC in the state. 

In retrospect, aside the crisis at the national level of the party, the crisis in Oyo PDP could be traced back to 2011 when other factions in the party worked against the interest of its candidate. 

 While PDP chieftains pretended to have supported Alao-Akala, sources said they actually secretly supported candidates of other parties.

 Presently Engineer Seyi Makinde is the leader of the SDP in Oyo State. He defected to  the party in build up to 2015 election when he could not clinch PDP ticket. 

Sources said he is consulting ahead of 2019. A feeler from his camp confided in our correspondent that he recently had a meeting with his former PDP in Ogbomosho.

The meeting, according to the source, which was held in Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun area of the state,  had in attendance the immediate Senate Chief Whip, Senator Hosea Agboola, former leader of  the House of Representatives, Mulika Adeola Akande and other notable PDP leaders in the state.

This came in the wakes of several claims by Makinde that he will remain in SDP.

With unfolding events in almost all the opposition parties in Oyo State, analysts are of the opinion that it will be very difficult for them to galvanize forces, showcase a formidable candidate and seize power from the ruling APC in 2019.

However, though the APC has many issues to contend with at the centre, it is not clear if this will affect its fortune in the South West in particular and in Oyo State in particular.  It is only time will tell but politicking is gradually taking its roots.

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