Political leaders in Oyo State are not given to retiring even when the ovation is loudest. It is as such not surprising that the recent reconciliation by two bitter enemies, and incidentally the two immediate past governors of the state, Rashidi Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala is now set to unravel
BY ÒLA ÀJAYI
It is no surprise that as the 2015 elections approach, the competition for the highest office in Oyo State, the governorship, has become more intense. Though, the story is the same in other political parties, that of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP attracts more attention because of the number of those involved.
For the past two years, the political space has been filled with the rumour that a former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, the leader of the youngest political party in the state, Accord, was contemplating returning to the PDP fold.
As events unfolded, it became glaring that the party was doing everything possible to have him back. All the bigwigs in the party in the Southwest, including the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and former leader of the party in the zone, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo visited his Bodija residence and made overtures to him almost on weekly basis.
The pressure mounted on him was occasioned by the success of his party in the 2011 elections despite its late take-off. PDP discovered that if it joined forces with Accord, that the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC would definitely be defeated in the election.
Since he was a golden fish that had no hiding place, everybody wanted to associate with him. So, it was not surprising when his former deputy, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala who had parted ways with him following his role in the impeachment of Ladoja, suddenly made u-turn and swallowed all the pride to pitch tent with him.
But, there was a clash of interest which made Ladoja to retreat. He later accused the PDP of insincerity.
Despite his refusal to rejoin the party, many political analysts still believe he can spring surprises at the poll especially going by the sympathy people in the state had for him during his illegal impeachment in January 2006. Many still believe he was unduly cheated by his party at that time, the PDP.
Before meeting Ladoja, Akala had sent some of his closest associates such as Prince Dotun Oyelade who was his Special Adviser on Public Communication to go ahead of him.
When Ladoja and Akala agreed to work together, there was avalanche of scepticism that the two non-identical twins were parallel lines that could not meet. It was generally said that what brought them together would soon separate them. Some alleged that Ladoja would be unforgiving of the alleged treachery against him by his former deputy, Akala.
Of course, the point of concern among stakeholders was the issue of who becomes the governorship candidate of the duo? Would Akala, who was a governor in the state again surrender himself to the political tutelage of his former boss?
As the agreement between the two former governors was being sealed, Akala had his left leg in the Accord and the right one in the PDP. Each time, he was asked if he was still in the PDP, he kept on saying he remained a PDP man. Rumour was rife that a senatorial ticket was reserved for him in Accord.
Scepticism of associates and onlookers nonetheless, the two forged ahead and set up a 14-man committee to fine tune the reconciliation. The membership of the committee was evenly distributed between the two of them.
As rightly predicted, facts soon emerged that Akala was not totally convinced he could work with his former boss. Though, he has been in the cooler for sometime he has obviously used the period to study the political developments. He has abstained from most meetings of the PDP and where not, sent representatives.
He, however, used the crisis that engulfed the national leadership of the party to prove that he is still a force to reckon with. A meeting was recently held at the Premier Hotel, Ibadan, with the Minister of State, FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide where his faction backed President Goodluck Jonathan and Bamanga Tukur group.
A source confided in Vanguard that the decision to pitch tent with the president was taken overnight.
As things are now, Chief Akala is already moving from one place to the other trying to convince people in the state that he is the best governorship candidate. Even though he is yet to declare the platform on which he would contest, it is evident that he would still want to use the PDP platform.
Second term ambition
With the forces that ensured his second term ambition was thwarted still in place, it needs the intervention of God to make him achieve this in PDP. Just few days ago, a notable chieftain in the PDP, Senator Lekan Balogun who was one of those who opposed his second term ambition said he had forgiven him. However, when asked if he would support another term for Akala, he evaded the question.
It was gathered that the sentiments of some in the PDP hierarchy in Ibadan and Abuja is already moving towards the former Senate leader, Teslim Folarin to fly the party’s flag in 2015. That many fear, would also spark a fresh round of crisis in the party.
Teslim is a bitter political adversary of Akala’s and was incarcerated as a suspect in the killing of the former Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers in the state, Alhaji Lateek Salako aka Eleweomo. It was the court that came to his rescue. Since that time, Folarin has kept Akala at arm’s length.
It is because of this that many are now asking that Akala, Ladoja and others tainted by the bad politicking of the past should give way for fresh blood. Those supportive of this initiative note that by 2015 Akala would be 65 years old while Ladoja would be 72. Critics witin the party say that the two should take the back seat and direct the affairs of the younger ones. But will they?
The drumbeats, though, distant, are very audible that 2015 elections will be another tug of war in the state especially as the incumbent governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that the broom party wins the election.