“Secondary schools are currently being merged to re-position them for optimal performance, but critics are quick to point out that he has failed to engage new teachers in critical subjects such as science, mathematics, and languages.”
Intense political permutations and combinations are rife amongst informed and uninformed circles in Oyo State over who wins the 2015 governorship election. Indeed, the state stands out amongst the old 19 states as the only one that has refused allowing its governor earn a second- term ticket, and whether this will continue with the incumbent Governor Ajimobi Isiaka of the APC remains to be seen. It is even more pertinent when one fathoms the obvious fact that it really has got little to do with performance as Bola Ige of blessed memory performed optimally but still failed at the nick of time to earn the second term.
What happens in Oyo State in 2015 will be predicated upon several factors: prominent amongst these include the acceptance or otherwise of the incumbent by the civil servants and other government workers who are a force to be reckoned-with, performance of the governor, acceptance by the general populace, acceptance by the political juggernauts in the state, unity of purpose in the main opposing political parties, balancing of ethnic jingoism and politics, and the extraneous factors which may crop-up at the last minute, but could be significant in determining who occupies the Agodi Government House.
The civil servants in the state have always been a force to be reckoned with in the politics of the state. In 2011, they almost ensured the Accord Party financier and gubernatorial candidate Rasheed Ladoja, made it. The party, which had debuted some three months prior to the polls, posted impressive results in the elections. In some rare showing for a budding party, their candidates did very well in the elections, polling more than two hundred and seventy thousand votes in the Guber; won seven House of Assembly and four House of Reps seats (same as the PDP) and came second in two of the three senatorial seats with their candidate in Oyo Central, Bisi Ilaka, losing narrowly by 13,000 votes to Ayoade Adeseun whose victory became a subject of litigation but was saved when Ilaka’s case was quashed on technical grounds.
Now, the civil servants seem to have amassed a lot of grudges against the governor and most are rooted on his failure to pay their enhanced wages as obtained in the other neighbouring states of Lagos and Ogun, especially considering that his predecessor had approved the wages which though was done in bad faith to incite the workers against the governors, but is now the governor’s Achilles’ heel. The wages were paid in May 2011, after an industrial-action by the workers, but were discontinued thereafter, when he negotiated another salary structure with the workers which they grudgingly acceded to. Besides the salaries, Akala was said to have ran a loose administration which allowed many civil servants to smile to their banks at the expense of the pace setter’s state, but all that has largely gone down the lane of history with the prudent way Ajimobi has managed the resources of the state, which has been wrapped-up with the introduction of the e-payment scheme which means corrupt account clerks and their masters were denied illegitimate access to the government’s funds.
They also accused him of sacking seasoned civil servants and permanent secretaries, people they claimed could actually serve as the fulcrum of future growth and development of the service. His wife’s high-handedness has also come to the fore; suffice to say that some of the directors and permanent-secretaries including the chairman of one of the local governments was allegedly terminated upon her recommendations. They have also accused him of routing most contracts to the Lagos people with specific accusing fingers pointing at his godfather and the APC leader, Bola Tinubu, as against the widely-held opinion that local contractors with core competences need to be developed and encouraged. This to them is a form of financial fleece from the state. He has been trying to assuage their feelings by his claims that more than ever before, he has sent civil servants on training, both locally and internationally, including the United States of America, a claim that is verifiable.
Akala was largely seen as a non-performing governor whose owambe lifestyle constituted a conduit pipe with nothing on ground infrastructure wise to show for the more than N500 billion budget he expended in four years. Ajimobi has not fared badly in this area. He has constructed a few roads including the famous Mokola Bridge, which is the first in 36 years of Oyo’s pulsating existence. But, critics are wont to add that when compared to Aregbesola’s Osun, he is a non-starter in road construction. The cost of construction is said to be outrageous, when matched with Amosun’s bridges which they feel are of better quality but much lower cost. The health sector has also received a boost with the payment of competitive salaries and allowances and engagement of a few hands, but this laudable attainment is vitiated with the current strike of the health workers of the State University Teaching Hospital which is jointly owned with Osun. And there have been accusations and recriminations over which of the states is the cause of the strike due to non-fulfilment of financial obligations.
Secondary schools are currently being merged to re-position them for optimal performance, but critics are quick to point out that he has failed to engage new teachers in critical subjects such as science, mathematics, and languages. They surmise that teachers’ promotions drag and provision of infrastructure for schools is almost non-existent. The latest employment he is poised to do is perceived as an inglorious attempt at morbid exploitation as they are to be engaged as temporary workers on a salary of ten thousand naira, a euphemism for casualization which is quite unacceptable especially for a civil service state like Oyo.
The entire populace is divided on where history places Ajimobi in the scheme of things as far as governance is concerned. The Urban Renewal Scheme is largely seen as a lofty ideal, but the attendant suffering of the masses does not accord the scheme the kind of support he probably envisioned. The market men and women and their sympathizers who were displaced from their stalls and shops view him scornfully and with contempt, mostly when a new site was not provided, thus making them conclude that his government lacks human face. His Ajumose Transport Scheme which transports workers free and picks students at half the price is also laudable if it can be sustained; but he has also been accused of severe tax impositions in form of tenement rate, emission rate and the likes.
The peace of the graveyard reigns supreme in the APC as concerns over who picks its Guber ticket next year thicken; though, as obtainable in the other states, Ajimobi is highly favoured. Other party stalwarts with the belief that time is not on their side may go to the other parties to actualize their ambitions. While Senator Lanlehin has been strongly linked with the Accord Party, Senator Adeseun may fly the banner of the Labour Party. Both are in their sixties, the same as Ajimobi, and their belief that age is not on their side is true if viewed against the backdrop of the fact that Ajimobi will be seventy in 2019 if he gets re-elected next year.
He treats traditional rulers with reverence, unlike Ladoja who was at daggers-drawn with them; and Akala, who had a running battle with the Alaafin of Oyo and Olubadan of Ibadanland, especially towards the end of his reign, an acrimony that cost him the four local governments in Oyo as well as the governorship by extension. Unlike the other states in the zone which are largely two or three parties’ affairs, Oyo’s scene is a foursome battle with the PDP, the LP and the AP waiting in the wings to feast on whatever division there is in the ruling party. The PDP is unfortunately a pale shadow of its old self, sequel to its intractable factionalisation which has defied all remedies and will surely sound its death kneel with no room for a reversal of fortunes if it is not reversed.
The party has at least four factions which do not see one another as partners in progress. Akinjide/Arapaja’s group believes in Ladoja’s return to the party with their conviction that he is an important factor in wrestling power from the APC in the state. Balogun/Oyelese/Folarin’s which pulls the lever and constitutes the mainstream with their control of the executive may eventually call the shots; Hosea Agboola’s group which has fallen out of favour with Akala over the latter’s rumoured senatorial ambition to have another go at the senate, and the powerful Akala group which still has some measure of influence especially in the Ogbomosho/Oke-Ogun axis of the state, bolstered with Akala’s status as the state’s former chief helmsman. If indeed they can come together, then Ajimobi’s second term’s project would be on the firing line, but 2015 remains a long way from now and anything is still possible. Their top governorship aspirants include Hazeem Gbolarunmi, Alao Akala, Teslim Folarin, Professor Soji Adejumo, Seyi Makinde and Femi Babalola. Eventually, it may be a straight battle between Seyi, Akala, Teslim and Gbolarunmi.
The Accord Party still has the masses’ support, but one only wonders whether the support is not waning. So far, it has successfully retained its membership in the House of Reps, but lost two in the House of Assembly to the ruling party in the state. There was a reported attempt by the Akala faction of the PDP and the Accord Party to work together, but it crumbled like a pack of cards and both have gone their separate ways. While it lasted, it reverberated like one huge joke and fouled the polity when viewed against the background of the stab-in-the-back attitude of Akala when his boss was illegally impeached in 2006, but politicians could be a huge disappointment as the quest for power could sometimes becloud their sense of sound and reasonable judgment. The Accord Party is widely seen as a one-man agendum whose influence outside Ibadan has not been tested, especially since it was its dismal performance outside Ibadan in 2011 that dealt it a crushing blow at the polls. Ladoja is still widely respected by the workers who regale in the meritorious way he had ruled the state between 2003 and 2007 despite his distraction by the infamous impeachment.
He is reputedly the best in the area of employment, when in one-fell swoop he engaged more than 5000 workers in 2005, but some people wonder whether it is not politically sagacious to anoint a younger person considering that he will be seventy this year. Many have roundly condemned his attendance of the National Confab in Abuja and seem to have given some impetus to the critics’ claim that the party is a vehicle to help actualize Ladoja and his ambition. In any case, it does not appear as if it has enough clout to single-handedly dislodge the governor from power, but an alliance with the PDP or any of the mainstream factions can create a big scare.
The Labour Party has been receiving people from the other parties and may spring some surprises in the election if the trend continues. Recently, the party’s godfather, Olusegun Mimiko, was in Ibadan to receive some defectors and was given a tumultuous welcome. Lowo has since defected from the APC to the Labour Party, and Sarafadeen Ali and Ayoade Adeseun are touted to be on their way out of the APC to the party, but that remains to be seen. If the Labour Party can galvanise their bigwigs and organize peaceful primaries, then they may just be a force to be reckoned with at the polls.
The question of which zone the other parties pick their candidates from will also be very apposite in determining who wins the polls. Ajimobi is from Ibadan, and the city has more than fifty per cent of the total number of registered voters in the state, according to the 2011 voters’ registration exercise. Ethnicity plays a part in the state’s politics as well as the country’s, especially considering the alleged lopsidedness of the Akala regime in favour of the Ogbomosho people, and most parties may therefore want to pick their candidates from Ibadan. That is where Teslim and Lanlehin may have some edge in the PDP and the LP respectively.
If all major parties pick candidates from Ibadan, then Ogbomosho, Oyo and Oke-Ogun areas become the beautiful bride; but Oyo is for Ajimobi, sequel upon the sound relationship that exists between himself and the Alaafin which has earned the monarch some juicy positions for his nominees. Ogbomosho may go the way of the APC if Adeseun agrees to stay put in the party as its senatorial candidate in Oyo Central. This then makes the election a fait accompli for Ajimobi, but if Adeseun runs under the LP’s platform, Ajimobi will still have an edge especially if the PDP also presents a candidate outside Ibadan. 2015 is a long time but it appears Ajimobi still looks good on paper if the elections were held today, but they are not holding today and that makes the whole scenario quite unpredictable. However, an alliance of political parties can create a very big scare which could wrestle power from the ruling party in the state.
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