Since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, the political space has thrown up interesting individuals who became cult-like personalities over time.
With no little or no formal education, these individuals have made a mark in politics that they are considered very relevant in their constituencies, states of origin, and the nation at large.
Their influence looms large and they play a key role in deciding who gets what when political offices and appointments are distributed in local, state and national governments.
These individuals are courted, respected, worshipped and feared because of their wealth and influence.
Indeed, any serious politician who underrates or ignores their influence and ability to manipulate things in their favour when it comes to winning election in their constituencies or states does so at his peril.
A good example of such an interesting character is Chief Olugbenga Akintoye, a political chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Nigeria.
Chief Akintoye has over the past twenty years become so influential in the politics of Ondo State that he can declare prospective candidates to have won elections, even when such elections are yet to be conducted.
By engaging in a host of activities, Chief Akintoye ensures that his anointed candidates eventually win elections in his constituency and the state.
It is, therefore, not surprising that he is respected, adored and worshipped by members of the political class. He enjoys the patronage, recognition, and protection of any government in power.
This is because he has an uncanny ability to calculate how the political pendulum in any local or state election, and even the national politics would swing.
This has helped him switched political camps and loyalty which has been the hallmark of his continued relevance in politics. He also knows how to warm his way to the hearts of those in power, court their friendship and favours.
For a man who left his village of Igborogbo at about the age of nine to work for an uncle in the city of Akure as a “Motor Boy,” after losing both parents under mysterious circumstances, the life of Chief Akintoye is very eventful.
He practically grew up in the motor park and at a tender age, he was exposed to an environment where deviant sub-culture rivalry, the battle of supremacy for leadership and control of motor parks, thuggery, brute force, violence, bloodshed, and even murder was a way of life.
At about the age of fifteen, his fame as a rugged and fearless warlord has spread among the over twenty-five motor parks in Akure, where he became an active member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
His first exposure to politics came in 1999 when he was one of those recruited by the NURTW to ensure the ruling party won all the elections in Ondo State.
Armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, he and other trusted fighters for the NURTW snatched ballot boxes, and disrupted elections by beating, maiming and intimidating voters in opposition strongholds.
He was briefly arrested and charged with murder for killing a man who prevented him from snatching ballot boxes in one of the wards during the election.
But he was discharged and acquitted in a trial which many believed was influenced by the ruling political party he worked for during the election.
Chief Akintoye was soon recognized as an asset to the party for weakening and silencing the opposition. For numerous roles in the party, Chief Akintoye was appointed the Grassroots Mobilization Director representing the South-West geo-political zone of the All Progressives Congress in 2017.
He became a contractor enjoying juicy and overinflated contracts from the government. He invested in a number of businesses and he became a very wealthy man.
But his influence comes from being able to use his wealth to induce voters for his party during elections and maintaining an unorthodox army of able-bodied boys comprising of motor park thugs, and outlaws.
From those who depend on his largess for survival, he has been able to recruit an army of thugs and miscreants who he makes available to the government in power. It is alleged that he supplies these boys to cause problems in other states during elections.
In a country where the law enforcement agencies can easily be corrupted, Chief Akintoye enjoys near absolute immunity from arrest and prosecution. For a private citizen, it is strange that he has several police officers attached to him. It is alleged that senior police officers are on his payroll and has a history of using the police to arbitrarily arrest and harass anyone he considers an enemy.
As Ondo State prepares for the 2020 governorship election, everyone waits anxiously for the next line of action for this political warlord.