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2023: Oyo, PDP and Makinde’s troubled waters

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The battle for the soul of the PDP in the South Western geo-political zone became fierce with the surprising emergence of young and wealthy Engineer, Seyi Makinde as Governor in 2019 against many contending forces from the then ruling APC in the Oyo State. Correspondent, PETER OJO writes that the coalition that propelled him to power are teaming up to stop his re-election bid, amidst the herculean challenges of leading the PDP in the region.

From ANPP to SDP, then to PDP: The beginning of Makinde’s political journey

The political ambition of Governor Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde began in the 2007 election when he contested for the Oyo South Senatorial election under the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP but lost to the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Kamoru Adedibu.

In the 2011 election, he aspired for the same position but also lost to the same Adedibu who was then the PDP candidate in the election. Makinde then went straight on to ask for the number one job in the State in 2015 after he defected to the PDP in 2015 and vied for the Party’s ticket but lost. The Engineer-Businessman had quickly defected to the Social Democratic Party where he vied for the Governorship election and lost.

He consequently defected back to the PDP in 2017 after a visit by the former National Chairman of the Party, Ahmed Markafi to his Oyo resident. A year later, he was elected to fly the PDP flag for the 2019 general election and he emerged victorious, beating a former CBN Deputy Governor, Adebayo Adelabu with a wide margin of 515, 621 as against 357, 982 votes.

In his defection speech, the oil magnate had told the leadership of the PDP, “Following extensive, deep and wide consultations with the national leadership, Oyo State leaders and elders of the Social Democratic Party, and cross sections of strategic partners within Oyo State, I hereby announce my defection, with the entire Omititun campaign structures at the 33 local government areas to the PDP,” the statement read in part.   

He said the repositioning of the State was not primarily to pursue his personal ambition but largely informed by the resolution of all opposition parties as contained in a recent communique signed by the leaders of opposition parties to work together so as to find lasting solutions to the myriad challenges and underdevelopment facing Oyo citizens.

Engr. Makinde had further said he was ready to proffer long lasting and far reaching solutions to salvage Oyo State from imminent collapse and needless crises that the current government had brought on the people.

Makinde’s ‘kingmakers’, allies cry betrayal after victory…

As earlier stated, before 2019, the Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde eyed the governorship position in the Pacesetters State but all his attempts proved abortive as he either failed to obtain his Party’s ticket or was defeated at the polls. One amazing fact however is that he never gave up as he gave it all it takes to ‘hijack’ the Party’s structures in the State through alleged manipulation from the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) leadership in Abuja.

Although, Makinde was alleged to have succeeded in the plan as a result of some alleged ‘inducement’ of the Party’s hierarchy in Abuja which of course, enabled him to put the Party’s leadership under his feet. At one of the reconciliation meetings held in Ibadan when Makinde was alleged to have secured the PDP governorship ticket through a parallel executives, Senator Ayoade Adeseun, who was a major contestant in the Party’s primaries narrated how he was allegedly rigged out of the primary election that produced Engr. Seyi Makinde as the only PDP flag bearer.

Consequently, Adeseun went to court to challenge Makinde’s emergence but those who were with Makinde were also masters of the Oyo State politics. They therefore rallied round him to secure victory at the polls.

In 2019, Seyi Makinde also tricked some PDP stalwarts to put in place a coalition which eventually sent packing the preferred candidate of the former two termed governor of Oyo State, Late Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi , Chief Bayo Adelabu and 40 others to win the Oyo State governorship election held on 9th March, 2019. He became the only governor elected on the platform of the PDP in the South-West geo-political zone- a victory, pundits say caused him his deep pocket.

However, two years on, Makinde has fallen apart from virtually everyone that ensured his victory, including a coalition that cut-across Party lines. He buttressed this during an interview shortly after assuming office, he told reporters that “Another major factor that made 2019 different was the fact that, at the last minute, we had a coalition of political parties, with people like Senator Rasidi Ladoja, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, Barrister Sharafadeen Alli, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde and a host of other leaders from different parties, they all came in to team up with the PDP and that pushed the game beyond the reach of the APC.

It was learnt in Oyo political circles that the aforementioned political leaders have parted ways with Makinde for failing to honour the ‘gentlemanly’ agreement made before the coalition, which took place within the premises of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Press Centre, Ibadan. A further confirmation of the demystification of the ‘Makinde brand’ was the outcome of the South-West PDP zonal congress where the candidates of the former Deputy governor of Oyo State, Amb. Oladejo Arapaja won the election leading his closest rival Eddy Oyefeso with 13 votes. The former had been Makinde’s choice to lead the Party in the zone from the onset while the later had been the choice of former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose who had been at running  battle with Makinde over the leadership of the PDP in the region.

However, the events leading to the election was interesting as the outcome of the poll itself for some reasons; one, the exercise initially scheduled to hold in Ibadan was shifted to Osogbo, Osun State at the last minute and was also delayed for 48 hours.

Makinde- the undertaker, his money-politics, Fayose and the fears of political betrayal in 2023

Keen watchers of political events in the State and South-West politics are waiting for Makinde’s brand of money politics as some analysts fear that it may fail him in 2023.

Many have contended that in 2023, the number one factor that the newly-elected zonal Chairman of the Party and the South-West woman leader were that they are not spend-thrifts who could easily spend money even if given to them to get what they want and as such, they may therefore use their position to enrich themselves through the highest bidder among the politicians who may be seeking election into various positions. The choice of Mrs. Bosede Adedibu- wife of the Late strongman of Ibadan politics, Lamidi Adedibu as the zonal woman leader was informed by the fact that she’s powerful and the family, still influential in Oyo and South West politics.

Observers outside the Women and Children Development Initiative Foundation event centre, venue of the congress, described the congress as massive intimidation and highest degrees of vote-buying which is governor Makinde’s style of politics. Now that governor Seyi Makinde has made himself the PDP undertaker in the South – West geo-political zone, those who he ‘defeated’ and now spectators and still orchestrating plans to reduce or remove his claims of being the PDP leader in the region.

Former governor of Ekiti State, Peter Fayose who was maximally humiliated and embarrassed by Makinde’s park managers may be pretending to be allowing the sleeping dog lie, one thing that is sure remains that he will take his own pound of flesh from Makinde, no matter how long. Makinde according to those who should know can never be compared to Fayose’s kind of politics. At least, he was known to be a ‘street boy’ long before he became the Ekiti State Governor.

“If Fayose could deal with former President Obasanjo, who is Seyi Makinde?”, one of the former governor Fayose’s aides who spoke under cover told our correspondent.

Besides the coalition which Makinde was alleged to have destroyed, one other factor that may work against him in future polls according to Party sources was his intentions to take the real PDP members for granted, claiming that he will cater for them after his second year in office. These are people who abandoned their businesses and supported him whole-heartedly but now have nothing to show for their loyalties to the PDP and Makinde himself, another source who is knowledgeable about happenings within the Party hinted.

Some Stakeholders insinuated that the feud between governor Makinde and ex-governor Fayose could be linked to the prospect that PDP might zone its Vice-Presidential ticket to the South-West region after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s reign in power.

Prior to the conduct of the congress, one of the South-West Chairmen of the PDP in Ekiti State,   Dr. Sikirulai Ogundele had dared governor Makinde to dump the party after he warned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party against shifting the South-West congress of the party.

Ogundele in a statement released on behalf of PDP Chairmen in Ekiti, Lagos and Ogun States, Otunba Bisi Kolawole, Adedeji Doherty and Sunday Bisi respectively noted that it was shocking that Makinde could insult the custodians of the Party just because they choose to obey an order of the court which had earlier forbidden the Party from holding the congress.

Their statement read in parts, “Who cares if he chooses to leave the Party that time too? Is he not even already a sinking ship in Oyo State placing members of the ADP and ADC over and above those of the PDP?”

“Without apologies, Governor Makinde can do his worst and he should be threatening the Party as he is no more a committed member of the PDP”, the statement alleged.

Only recently, a former Deputy governor in the State, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarunmi and some PDP stalwarts converged in a popular event centre in the State to call for the dissolution of the PDP leadership in Oyo State on the basis that they were stoogies of governor Makinde while calling on the neglected members of the Party to be calm until the Party returns to the true owners.

The meeting had in attendance, Engr. Femi Babalola (Jogor), Alhaji Bisi Olopoeniyan and host of others. Whereas, Makinde is at least eyeing a return to the Oyo Government House for another term in office, the political tension generated by the internal wrangling in Oyo and indeed, South West PDP is so strong that one can literally cut through it with a knife.

At the end, Makinde would need the wisdom of Solomon coupled with an ability to navigate through the murky waters of Oyo and South West politics which Makinde has stirred and pretty early too!

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