In Oyo State, it is always easy to project political swings based on the ‘temperature’ in town. Ahead of the 2011 and 2015 presidential elections, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari were the names in town, and it was no surprise they won the elections. Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election, it is incontestable that the name in town is Seyi Makinde, just like the name in town was Bola Tinubu two weeks ago. If in doubt, take a ride in a tricycle, a taxi or a motorbike. Indeed, the fervor among the electorate regarding the re-election of Makinde as governor of the Pacesetter State is so electric that you wonder if other candidates are in the race. The interesting thing is that some of the other candidates who are huffing and puffing at the prospects of certain defeat on Saturday actually have a future to dream about, provided that they do not derail themselves through inappropriate conduct and go into political oblivion. They know that Makinde will be re-elected.
If, according to media reports, ahead of Saturday’s election, the camp of the main opposition in the state is in disarray as some support groups of the president-elect have thrown their weight behind Makinde’s re-election bid, it is simply because the Oyo people know who their next governor is. And it is the man who currently calls the shots in Agodi. No matter the antics of the opposition, they will never dislodge a record-setting, methodical, humble and humane leader who has taken the people out of the morass of despondency into hope and glow.
Members of the Southern for Tinubu BAT Democracy; Yoruba Campaign for BAT and Tinubu Campaign Movement are not in a noisemaking contest; their preference is rooted in reality. They have told anyone who cares to listen that their support for Makinde is based on his outstanding performance, and that they cannot in all honesty serenade mediocrity. That’s plain English. According to the National Coordinator of the groups, Mr Adebayo Moronsole and the Public Relations Officer/Director of Strategy, Mr Emmanuel Adesanya, “Our grassroots mobilizers are now on a house-to-house campaign for the re-election of the governor. We have enjoyed many good works by Makinde’s administration, including peace and security in the state.”
Then along comes the Omituntun Initiative in the Diaspora (OID), a group of Nigerian professionals in America, United Kingdom, France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, China, Malaysia, Brazil, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Israel, Hungary, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa, among others. According to the group, following an outstanding record of achievements and the execution of excellent trailblazing projects in all sectors, Makinde deserves massive votes from the good people of Oyo State, to continue his re-engineering programmes for the socio-political and economic stability of the state as a pacesetter. The group’s press release signed by its spokesman, Barrister Ayotomiwa Adebayo, states that Nigerians in the diaspora are proud of Makinde as a dynamic and creative leader whose administration has had success and record-breaking performances in Oyo State, especially in the areas of education, health, infrastructure, security, and economy expansion (through Agribusiness).
It stated: “Makinde has changed the status quo of governance, fostered unity, and rekindled hope for the possibility of a better future. In fact, Oyo State is now experiencing unprecedented economic growth and a generational shift from poor leadership and bad governance to good governance. These laudable achievements lend credence to the viability of Omituntun 2.0 – a sustainable socio-economic development and growth agenda for his second term tenure.” Adebayo emphasised that never again shall the good people of Oyo State, including professional bodies, unionists, pensioners, civil servants, teachers, students, farmers, artisans, youths, traders, among others, allow greedy political godfathers and their accomplices to come to power this year.
Only those who are unfamiliar with the dynamics of politicking in Oyo State would wonder why Teslim Folarin, the candidate of a party which only two weeks ago ran away with three Senate seats and nine House of Reps seats, is not in pole position to win Saturday’s poll. The fact is that the party only benefitted from the bandwagon effect of the people’s decision to elect one of their own as president, and that the February 25 poll is not in any way an embrace of a political alternative to Makinde’s. It is a no-brainer that given the governor’s preference for a southern president after eight years of northern rule, the people only acted on his wish, riled up by the terrorist herdsmen’s onslaughts on the length and breadth of Oodualand.
In any case, the opposition in Oyo State are in exactly the same position in which the PDP and LP found themselves going into the presidential and National Assembly polls. Had the PDP given the presidential ticket to Peter Obi and gone into the election as one house, it would have recorded one of the most remarkable landslides in recent history. With Oyo APC splintered into Adebayo Adelabu’s Accord Party and Folarin’s APC, the ground has been prepared for Makinde to make a clean sweep. A similar scenario played out in the 2015 election that brought Muhammadu Buhari to power. Buhari, in Oyo State, polled 528,620 votes to defeat President Jonathan of PDP who received 303,376 votes. However, the opposition won the National Assembly seats, the sitting governor, Abiola Ajimobi, won the governorship election, defeating former Governors Rashidi Ladoja of Accord Party and Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Labour Party, as well as Folarin, of PDP and Makinde of the SDP. However, because Makinde today has the people behind him at a much more advanced level than Governor Ajimobi, Saturday’s election promises to offer him much more comprehensive victory.
In 2019, Makinde won 28 local government areas of the state, while Adelabu (APC) won in just five LGAs. This time around, with his record of performance, he is bound to breast the tape ahead of any other candidate. If anything, he is widely beloved as Nigeria’s first Deserving Authority. It is futile to expect students who brought back Gani Fawehinmi’s Senior Advocate of Masses (SAM) days into the consciousness of Nigerians to abandon the man who resolved the LAUTECH crisis after years of agony and pain and elect in his place political pirates. Nor is it realistic to expect teachers and pensioners receiving their salaries on the 25th of every month to opt for candidates blowing in the wind. Add to this the fact that Makinde enjoys the support of the majority of the 18 political parties, as well as politically non-partisan persons, and the picture becomes even brighter.
One very interesting thing in this contest is that politicians in all parties nursing the ambition to be governor in four years time are said to be more comfortable with Makinde whose final term expires in 2027. A new person will definitively give such ambitious people a bloody nose when the time comes. And they all know this fact.