By Ola Ajayi
AS preparations for the take-off of the 9th Assembly gather momentum in Oyo, the Pacesetter State, lawmakers-elect are locked in a serious contest for the speakership position.
Currently, Alhaji Asimiyu Alarape, who led the House between 1999 and 2003; and Mr Adebo Ogundoyin, the scion of a popular business mogul who died many years ago, have emerged as front runners.
Odds against Alarape
If it were about experience and qualifications only, Alarape, who graduated from the Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State in 1990 would have the upper hand, having successfully steered the ship of the 32-member House in the Fourth Republic. However, he is from the All Progressives Congress, APC, a minority party in the House.
The APC only won five seats. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP cornered 26 seats and ADP won one seat. Going by the rivalry between the PDP and APC in the state, it is very unlikely that they will settle for Alarape.
A source told Vanguard that even if he agrees to defect to PDP, which he said he would never do, Alarape may not curry the favour of PDP leaders who feel that APC members who have been in the saddle for eight years have benefited maximally from the largesse doled out by the party and that now that the baton has changed hands, it would be a disservice to the party and members of PDP who had been in the cold for eight years to watch what belongs to them being given to a member of the opposition.
Besides, in the history of the state, a member of the minority party has never assumed the position of the speaker. Another concern of the PDP leaders is that they don’t want to take chances by putting their trust in Alarape, whose loyalty they cannot vouch for. He said in one of the interviews that he would not dump his party for another because without the APC’s platform, he would not have been elected into the House of Assembly.
But for these reasons, Alarape is arguably the most qualified to assume the mantle of leadership of the House. Since he started his political career, he had romanced with parties like the defunct National Republican Convention, NRC; United Nigerian Congress Party, UNCP; All Peoples Party, APP; Alliance for Democracy, AD; and PDP. He was in the cabinet of Governor Abiola Ajimobi during his first term as the Special Adviser on Political Matters.
Ogundoyin’s chances, drawbacks
As for Ogundoyin, he is said to be the preferred nominee of the governor-elect, Engineer Seyi Makinde of PDP and the party leaders. He attended Vale College and graduated in 2003 after which he gained admission to Babcock and he is currently the Founder/ President, Adeseun Ogundoyin Charity Foundation.
They believe that if he emerges as the speaker, he is not likely to be a thorn in the flesh of the governor. Apart from that, he is described as a humble, and level-headed person. However, age and experience appears to count against him. Slightly over three decades old, he has spent less than two years in the House.
Experience, according to a former Speaker of the House, Mr Kehinde Ayoola, doesn’t count as much as the resolution of the lawmakers. According to him, they can decide to pick any of them and their decision stands.
Contrary to what happened in the previous elections when majority of the legislators were re-elected, the March 9 election produced 25 new lawmakers from PDP while only Ogundoyin who won a bye election in Ibarapa after the sudden death of the former Speaker, Mr Michael Adeyemo was re-elected.
One of the close aides of Engr Makinde said: “Makinde prefers Ogundoyin to any other candidate. When we talk of experience, he may not be at par with Asimiyu, but the party can’t be so foolish to pick a member of the opposition. What happens if all of them are new lawmakers, does that mean they will not have a speaker because of inexperience? No, they will definitely pick somebody. ‘’
He made allusion to the emergence of Senator Monsurat Sunmonu who was elected Speaker of State Assembly in 2011 despite being a first timer. The issue of experience became irrelevant since she won the heart of the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
The zoning factor
In Oyo State, there are five geo-political zones. They are Ibadan, Ogbomoso, Oyo, Oke-Ogun and Ibarapa. It would not be proper to have the governor-elect from Ibadan and also the Speaker from the same zone. Oke Ogun has been taken care of with the deputy governor-elect, Alhaji Rauf Olaniyan.
So, the contest for the speakership should be among the three remaining geo-political zones of Oyo, Ogbomoso and Ibarapa.
As a result of the events that unfolded after the presidential election when a former governor of the state, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala who, the coalition, had relied upon to make the job easier for them, suddenly defected to APC, the lawmaker from that axis, Wunmi Oladeji, ADP, from Ogbomoso North State Constituency, even though she was re-elected, may never be allowed to be the speaker. Her counterpart from Ogbomoso axis, Oyeleke Simeon Adegbola from Ogo-Oluwa/Surulere State Constituency, is a member of APC, the party in the minority.
Oyo zone which comprises Afijio, Atiba, Oyo East and Oyo West, has the former speaker, Asimiyu Alarape. As earlier pointed out, he may not be considered for the position because of the status of his party in the House.
The people of the state are waiting anxiously to see the result of the on-going politicking and the benefits they would derive from the legislative arm in the next four years.