by Ayokunle Odekunle
Long or short, the ‘gods’ will be demystified in 2015 as one of the three men will rule Oyo State the second time.
Taking an in-depth and close perusal at the source and course of history, man has been inundated by myths that just won’t go away. Myths, some implanted by the gods and some man-made. While some have gone away, some subsist not looking like they would give way soon while some actually look like (hereto deceptively or otherwise) that they would give way to a new order.
Ibadan is the largest City in West Africa, one of the first centers of civilization in Nigeria. A city where people were already living in houses built with corrugated iron sheets while those now calling the city ‘bush’ were living in Thatched Houses and caves. A place that was the hot-bed of active politics in the South-West since the 1930s and which still remains the hotbed of politics in the South-West.
There has been an existent myth in Oyo since God knows when that says No Governor, no matter how well he performs, will win a second term for himself. It has been said that the ‘gods’ or let me say the ‘orishas’ (deities) have willed it to be so. These ‘gods’ are the Ibadan people who just would not serve a governor twice. People from other parts of Oyo State have no problems with electing a governor twice however.
After the 2011 elections where Adebayo Alao Akala ‘maintained’ tradition by failing to keep his seat as governor, I asked Baba Mufutau, an elderly man who is well versed in the politics of the state why Akala failed, why Bola Ige failed to win a second term even when he performed credibly well and the elections seemed like a walk-over for him, why EVERY governor has failed to break this duck and snare set by the gods.
Baba Mufutau illustrated the politicking and other intrigues in Oyo saying, “they know all the places in Ibadan, but as powerful as they seem to be, they do not know the mystery that surrounds ‘Monatan’, ‘Layipo’ and ‘Oje’”.
Literally, Monatan, according to him, is that an average Ibadan man would not divulge all what is in his mind to you no matter how close he is to the you when it comes to politics; Layipo means if you know the right order of doing things, there are still other ways that are shrouded in mystery which would be beyond your comprehension while Oje is a way of saying, if you know the original thing, there are still some unknown cunning options which would still give the same desired result. If the person is not a genuine Ibadan man, he cannot understand and even if he is from Ibadan, except he belongs to the right circle, he may still be in the ‘clouds’.
However, if there is anything history has taught us, it is that impossibility is nothing, records are there to be set and broken. Even the gods can be demystified. That the Ibadan ‘gods’ have had their way until now does not mean they will keep having their way because one day, their cup will run over.
The 2015 gubernatorial elections draws near and Oyo State is already feverish in anticipation. The gladiators are the normal suspects: current governor, Abiola Ajimobi; immediate past governor, Adebayo Alao Akala and another former governor, Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja.
Before attempting to go into projections for 2015, I will attempt to set out some issues for determination and further answer those issues albeit briefly.
- What were the factors that led to Ajimobi’s victory in 2011?
- Was Alao Akala as bad as projected?
- How strong is the current Ladoja/Akala alliance?
- Has Ajimobi lived up to the hype as a ‘master performer’?
In 2011, Abiola Ajimobi (Ibadan) contested on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria; Akala (Ogbomosho) who was the incumbent, contested on the stable of the Peoples Democratic Party, while Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja (Ibadan) contested on the Accord party platform. A lot of factors led to Alao Akala’s loss and Ajimobi’s eventual victory.
Let me state here that the ACN won in 2011 not because they were ‘superb’ or because of Tinubu’s tactical genius. There were a lot of external and internal factors that led to the fall of the PDP.
Let me refresh your memories by reminding you of Alao Akala’s role in the impeachment of his boss Rashidi Ladoja by the Late Lamidi Adedibu. That singular action has kept him in the bad books of a lot people (especially Ibadan people) who see him as a betrayer: A modern day Judas. That was a major factor that led to his loss at the polls.
Another factor that led to Akala’s fall was the fact that he was seen as rude to the Olubadan (the Ibadan monarch) by the Ibadan people and they refused to forgive him for that. The president, Goodluck Jonathan in a State visit to Oyo in 2010 visited Akala in Ibadan and normally, the governor should have shown the Olubadan some respect by accompanying the president to pay homage to the revered monarch but Akala behaved like the king did not exist allowing Jonathan to leave without doing this.
Ibadan people took this as a slight on them and promised to pay the governor back in ‘kind’. They did this spectacularly by voting against him.
Another major factor that led to Akala’s fall and Ajimobi’s emergence as governor was the fact that Ladoja contested hereby splitting the PDP votes in the state. It was said that Ladoja contested so as to act as a spoiler for his ‘Judas’ deputy, Akala and he succeeded.
I think it is important for me at this juncture to say that Ladoja’s Accord party is more like a branch of the PDP, with the same machinery. Had Ladoja not contested, Adebayo Alao Akala would have won and the ACN/Ajimobi would have lost out.
Was Akala as bad as projected by the people? Far from it. In as much as I know Akala was and probably is still the height of wastefulness and he was a misfit as governor, he did his best for the state. It is on record that most of the major roads in the states were constructed during his tenure.
The controversies surrounding his persona beclouded and overshadowed his good sides.
How strong is the Ladoja/Akala alliance?
Only a deliberately mischievous or deluded fellow will dismiss that alliance with a wave of hand. As things stand, the two men have the greatest grassroots support in the state. While Akala wields immense power in the Ogbomoso and Oke Ogun axis where he still enjoys unparalleled support, Ladoja remains very popular among the ‘core’ Ibadan people which includes civil servants, artisans, market women and the NURTW members (he is even in line to be Olubadan of Ibadan).
It now remains to be seen who would step down for another and on which platform they would try their new found love but one thing is sure, should the ‘devil’ not come between them and they can successfully unite, they have the ability and capability to send Ajimobi out of the Agodi Government House.
Has Ajimobi lived up to expectations as ‘Master performer’? Not everyone will agree with that. Watching the state owned BCOS and listening to Oluyole FM, the governor through his ultra-aggressive propaganda machine serenades the people with what he calls his achievements.
To be fair to Mr. Ajimobi, Ibadan has changed. He has improved the aesthetics of the capital city. Noteworthy is the fact that Mr. Ajimobi is a master-horticulturist who has planted flowers to improve the Ibadan landscape (mainly on roads built by Alao Akala). He also established YES O cadets. To him, that is the best way to create jobs for youths. It is reported that they are paid 10,000 Naira per month (with tax of 400 Naira).
Mr. Ajimobi also lists the construction of the Mokola flyover as a viable and monumental achievement that cannot be matched by any future governor in Ibadan. Furthermore, visible around Ibadan are ‘Ajumose Shuttles’ (rumoured to be brought with the subsidy funds provided by the Federal Government).
However, many do not agree that the state has progressed under Mr Ajimobi. In a recently monitored program ‘Bulls Eye’ on Splash FM Ibadan, Senator Rashidi Adewole Ladoja disagreed with the governor’s idea of progress. To him, the governor has succeeded in displacing traders and artisans from their places of business without providing palliatives… all in the name of ‘beautifying Ibadan”. Mr. Ladoja chided the governor for the high-handedness of the state cadets YES O who are fond of arbitrarily levying illegal fines on people, impounding cars amidst other things. I quite agree with him.
Mr. Ladoja during the interview also accused the governor of inflating contracts, especially the 600 meter Mokola Flyover which is reported to cost N3 billion. Ladoja noted that while the longer, more sophisticated and more beautiful Abeokuta bridge cost just above N1 billion, there is no basis why the Mokola bridge should cost as much.
Interestingly, the elites in Ibadan do not share the view that Mr. Ajimobi has not performed. To them, he is the best thing after sliced bread. According to them, as long as he can beautify the state, he has performed. They do not care if some people bear the brunt. The artisans, civil servants, market women and masses do not seem to agree though, to them, the governor is wicked, obdurate and ‘eats alone’ (whatever that means).
Will the governor win a second term? For one, he does not seem to be popular outside Ibadan. The PDP through Hosea Agboola’s (Alleluyiah) influence still seem to be very popular in the Oke-Ogun area and Ajimobi has little or no influence there. Ogbomosho seems to be a no-go area for the governor as Akala reigns supreme as the ‘overlord’. With Ladoja/Akala alliance, Mr. Ajimobi might not even get the required Ibadan votes which he is seriously relying on.
He is also loathed by those people whom he has displaced all in the name of beautification. These people do not care about the flowers he is planting as their popular saying is “Are we goats that we should be eating the flowers he is planting?”. The masses see him as one who hates the poor with a passion and his government as one that benefits only the elites. Whether the beautification of the environment and the ‘flyover’ are enough to win him the elusive second term remains to be seen.
So, long or short, the ‘gods’ will be demystified in 2015 as one of the three men will rule Oyo State the second time.
Odekunle Ayokunle tweets from @oddy4real
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.