Predicting the outcome of the gubernatorial primaries of the two main political parties in Oyo state may not be too difficult for close observers of developments in the state in recent weeks.
While seven hopefuls will contest the All Progressives Congressional (APC) primary in the state on Thursday, two prominent hopefuls stand out with their intimidating credentials.
But in the state’s ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Seyi Makinde is certain to return home for re-election, despite a challenge from a former state deputy governor.
The contests are between familiar enemies in both parties, who have a similar history of internal crises.
However, a political analyst in the state, Biodun Ogidan, said that the PDP has been more stable in recent times and better organized than the main opposition APC.
Among those vying for the APC ticket are the party’s 2019 candidate, Adebayo Adelabu; the senator for Oyo Central, Teslim Folarin; and two 2019 gubernatorial hopefuls, Azeez Adeduntan and Akeem Agbaje.
Others are a senior attorney, Niyi Akintola; Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Board Chairman Adeolu Akande and a new member of the party, Hakeem Alao.
But in reality, the fight is between Messrs. Folarin and Adelabu because their political backgrounds place them far above the rest.
Both have considerable followings and popularity within Ibadan, the state capital and the largest voting bloc in the state. Both are well grounded politically and have a lot of money.
A political reporter in the state, Musiliudeen Atanda, added that the two hopefuls may also be equal in political application, or bullying as he called it.
The APC appears to be emerging from its perennial crisis ahead of the 2023 election. The realization that they have to fight together to stand any chance of regaining power appears to have tempered the leaders’ penchant for intra-party duels.
The crisis in the former ruling party in the state dates back to 2018, when two groups held parallel local government congresses and a state congress. That divide obviously contributed to the party’s loss in 2019, especially in the gubernatorial election.
Since then, APC has suffered from being out of government in the state for the past three years.
After the disastrous result of the polls in 2019, and after the failure of several reconciliation attempts, hope in the party is renewed.
However, a bitter primary may once again burn off the party’s energy for the gubernatorial election proper.
“No one will resign for anyone, as you can see, let them go to the primaries and fight. Whoever wins will be seen by all,” said party member Toba Olusegun.
Folarin is believed to control the APC leadership in the state. He is a long-standing senator with entrenched political structures.
Adelabu came close to victory in the last gubernatorial election, which brought Governor Makinde of the PDP to power.
Although the scenario in which he obtained the ballot for the last elections has changed, Adelabu believes that he has the support of the majority of the party’s delegates.
In September 2018, when the APC held its gubernatorial primary in Ibadan, most challengers angrily walked out at the last minute. Their fingers pointed at then governor Abiola Ajimobi, whom they accused of imposing on Mr. Adelabu, who had just withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeriaas flag bearer
Mr. Adelabu was nominated virtually unopposed, but the scene is completely different now.
“He is financially strong, has academic and bureaucratic experience, and is popular in his field. But he is deficient in “Amala” politics, which drives the flow of power, compared to Folarin,” said Adebayo, the journalist who covers political events in Oyo state.
But as can be expected from the APC in Oyo, trouble is brewing on an allegation that the delegate list was rigged. PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately verify the allegation. However, this has become a recurring feature in almost every party primary thus far.
Gbolarunmi defies Governor Makinde
In the PDP, Governor Makinde and Hazeem Gbolarumi will face each other on Wednesday. However, beating the governor for the nomination seems too high a mountain for the challenger who has promised to fire Makinde from office.
Speaking on a show on Radio Fresh FM 105.9 on Tuesday, Gbolarumi said he would win the primary. The former deputy of the late Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala said Makinde failed to bring along other party members who brought him to office.
His campaign did not question Makinde’s performance as governor. In fact, he said that the governor has performed well in the last three years and that he would continue from where Mr. Makinde would have stopped if he became governor.
Not many people consider his ambition serious enough to seriously upset the governor.
The governor’s chief press secretary, Taiwo Adisa, said that in politics, no opponent is easy, but his director has the following of the delegates and the party structure in the state.
According to Mr. Adebayo, “The result is predictable: we can be sure that Gbolarumi will not win.”
That should also sound sweet in Mr. Adisa’s ears.
SEE: Governor Yahaya Bello’s roadmap to Hope 2023