A tantalising contest is in the offing in Oyo State as all the political parties and power brokers in the state have forged two broad coalitions behind the governorship candidates of the two leading parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
As the election has now been reduced to a two-horse race between Seyi Makinde of the PDP and Adebayo Adelabu of the APC, the battle has become even more intense.
Both candidates made a last-ditch effort to mop up support to turn the table on Saturday.
Earlier, Mr Makinde’s campaign received a boost when former governor and a key player in Ibadan politics, Rasheed Ladoja, collapsed his political structure to support his ambition. Mr Makinde and Ladoja have a history of political differences, which accounted for Mr Ladoja’s refusal to stay in the PDP after his return. However, his new move to support the PDP candidate is viewed as the tonic Mr Makinde needs to match the sweeping APC movement.
Mr Makinde also has the support of three governorship candidates, namely Sharafadeen Ali of Zenith Labour Party, Femi Lanlehin of the African Democratic Congress and Bolaji Ayorinde of the Social Democratic Party.
He has also received the endorsement of the Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Akin Fasogbon.
However, Mr Adelabu has sought to neutralise this move from the PDP with even more political parties endorsing him late on Thursday. At least 13 political parties have signified their support for the APC candidate, even brightening his chances of a win on Saturday.
The parties include the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Allied People’s Movement, APM), United Progressives Party (UPP), Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN), and the Young Democratic Party (YDP).
Others are Northern People’s Congress (NPC), Independent Democrats (ID), Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Mass Action Joint Alliance (MAJA), Nigeria Elements Progressives Party ((NEPP), People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), Rebuild Nigeria Party (RNP) and Democratic Peoples Party (DPP).
A faction of the ADC has also endorsed the APC despite the fact that their governorship candidate has gone with the PDP candidate.
The chairmen of the political parties conveyed their endorsement message to the APC chairman, Akin Oke, in a joint letter signed on March 6, 2019.
A more significant boost for the Adelabu campaign is the decision of a former governor of the state, Adebayo Alao-Akala, to take his ADP into an alliance with the APC. He was the candidate of the ADP.
Mr Akala is said to be the most popular politician in Ogbomoso and has never been beaten in the five local governments in the area. He has appealed to the people of Ogbomoso to follow him to the APC in the bid to emplace Mr Adelabu.
Interestingly, the APC and PDP candidates are both from Ibadan. The city has 11 local governments and harbours over 40 per cent of the voting strength of the state. They seem to have exhausted their campaign canisters in this zone.
They have also wisely chosen their deputies from Oke Ogun, the next most populated zone with 10 local governments. And during the week, both candidates turned to Ogbomoso to ensure the Akala factor was either maximised or minimised.
The ambience is peaceful as the clock ticks towards the polls on Saturday. Security is not palpable but peace seems to greet everyone on the street.
There have been fears of likely disruption of the polls by thugs on Saturday. Both parties have traded accusations along this line. But the voters seem to be prepared to vote according to their conscience.
Undoubtedly, the last minute realignments have altered the political permutations. Some residents have hinted that a change would be sweet to achieve. But the forces already on ground maintains a strong resistance. A certain balance rears its head and it is difficult to predict the outcome.