Looking back at Oyo State before the epochal governorship election of 2019 and the most intriguing general elections of 2023, sincere thoughts keep playing around my head, especially considering the impact of Governor Seyi Makinde’s popular ‘I don’t have a political godfather, you’re all my godfathers,’ in 2019 and President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Emilokan’ in 2023, I thought it would be interesting to share my perception on few issues, including the emergence of Governor Makinde, leader of PDP in Oyo State and arguably the entire South West for some political reasons, as the new leader of ‘PDAPC’ in Oyo State today.
‘PDAPC’ is a unique phrase that found its way into the Nigerian political sphere prior to the buildup to the 2023 presidential election during President Tinubu’s nationwide political rally, which held at the Rwang Pam township stadium in Jos, the capital city of Plateau State.
Concluding his speech at the event, Tinubu said, “God bless PD…,” and quickly corrected to “God bless APC, hence, the emergence of maxim ‘PDAPC.’
This became a subject of national debate during and after the presidential election was concluded with some tagging it as a gaffe due to Tinubu’s advanced age manifesting in physical exhaustion as a result of overloaded political itineraries, while others believed it was a deliberate diversionary tactic to keep his opponents’ distracted from focusing on his core campaign manifestos. Whichever one was right, that remains a topic for another day.
Before the 2019 general elections, Makinde was still to many, that political rookie who stood no chance in the contest, considering the heavyweights contesting the same governorship seat and their backers, also bearing in mind, Makinde is who a typical politician may refer to as a political orphan back then, because of the absence of federal might at the national level to back up his political ambition and a specific political godfather in the state. Reason why Makinde kept re-emphasizing into the consciousness of the electorates that they’re his godfathers and godmothers.
Three very important, if not the only important factors to becoming a successful politician, particularly in this part of the world, are interest, loyalty, and numbers. Any serious minded politician knows the rule of this game called politics, including the fact that mere emotion or sentiment has little or no prominence in the political arena; therefore, interests alignment, realignment, political movements, are all permissible in the absence of a political landscape bereaved of any known political philosophy or ideology.
And if, like Makinde, you’re just one out of the pack with a clear cut developmental ideas that could transform a society, then you must wait till you have the political capacity in terms of influence and affluence to effect the change you desire, just like a popular saying in my mother tongue goes thus: ‘ti owo omo o ba ti te eku ida, ko gbodo beere iru iku to pa baba re’ – if a son who’s father had been killed hadn’t laid his hand on the broken sword used to kill his father, he shouldn’t inquire about how his father died – because if he did, the same fate awaits him.
Before the 2019 governorship election, Makinde had participated in two previous elections unsuccessfully, including the 2007 Oyo South Senatorial District seat on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and the 2015 governorship election on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
One very key component of Makinde’s demeanor after each of the elections he participated in unsuccessfully was his ability to immediately pick up himself and return to normal life with countless philanthropic gestures to the same people who had voted against him. This is one very rare and uncommon attribute of a typical Nigerian politician.
The period after election loss in the life of an average Nigerian politician is always embedded with anger, frustration, disappointment and these factors are usually transfered to anyone attempting to go close to them for any form of help or assistance. Anyway, that’s a side attraction, back to the main topic.
Makinde had joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the ANPP in 2014, with the hope of getting the party’s governorship ticket, but the odds were unfavorable, leading to his defection to the SDP. Makinde, however, remained resolute and consistent with his ambition and afterwards, defected to the SDP, under which platform he contested the governorship seat, but came out third having garnered a paltry over 50,000 votes.
However, a new political twist was brewing up when in September 2017, the Caretaker National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, visited Makinde in Ibadan and following extensive, deep and wide consultations with national leaders, Oyo State leaders and elders of the SDP, and cross sections of strategic partners within Oyo State, Makinde returned to his former political party, the PDP.
He maintained that joining the PDP was not for personal gains, but for the development of the state, as he is already a multi-billionaire at a relatively young age. On September 29, 2018, Makinde emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP for the 2019 general elections for Oyo State, after polling 2,772 vote at the PDP primary election that took place at the Liberty Stadium, Oke-Ado, in Ibadan.
Prior to 2018, High Chief Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, a prominent politician, business magnate, and former governor of Oyo State had also moved the legion of his political followers from Accord Party into the PDP after two unsuccessful attempts to reclaim the governorship seat for a second term, the party that performed what many now termed as ‘political wonders,’ producing seven state Assembly and four members of the House of Representatives, within only three months of its emergence prior to the 2011 guber poll in Oyo State, and going ahead to emerge second behind the then ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 2015 governorship election, many had thought it was a permanent arrival of a third force, but for Ladoja’s eventual retirement from partisan politics after moving to the African Democratic Congress, ADC, and Zenith Labour Party, ZLP.
Upon his return to the PDP, Senator Ladoja had aimed at securing the governorship ticket for his then anointed candidate, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, another prominent politician, a ‘Lamist’ – political disciple of late former Governor Lam Adesina – who had defected from the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, after ‘SOLAN,’ as he’s fondly called by his folowers was denied the governorship ticket and handed the Oyo South senatorial ticket instead in 2011.
Senator Ladoja would not settle for less than the number one seat in the state. He left the PDP after losing the power tussle to Makinde, and after the political interplay that birthed Makinde’s emergence as the governorship candidate of the PDP in 2019, the former governor had joined the ADC and later ZLP, but for the determination to stop the then APC government under former governor, late Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Senator Ladoja would again reignite a political union with the PDP by brokering an unprecedented and historic political amalgamation, where for the first time in the history of Oyo State, opposition parties jettisoned individual party’s interests and came together to oust the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Alas, Engr. Makinde emerged as the adopted consensus candidate to represent all other opposition parties, comprising ADC, Alliance for Democracy, AD, ZLP, and ANPP, as their 2015 governorship candidate. Some even alluded to the fact that money and availability of election funds were key factors considered that culminated into the final ratification and adoption of Makinde as the consensus candidate, but for whatever it was worth, Makinde has paid his political dues and appeared more prepared than others during that decisive moment of critical ‘make or mar decision.’
The choice of Makinde eventually paid off big time and proved to be the best decision of the political gladiators – speaking from a viewpoint of an opposition prior to the 2019 election.
On March 9, 2019, Makinde polled 515,621 votes, defeating his closest rival, Adebayo Adelabu of the APC, who polled 357,982 votes.
Makinde was elected into the 9ffice of the Governor of Oyo State at the 2019 gubernatorial elections, which held on March 9, 2019.
Upon his swearing in as the Executive Governor of Oyo State and assumption of office, Makinde was faced with the first task of proving his political sagacity and knowledge of real grassroots politics; repay all those who sacrificed personal political ambitions for his emergence as the governor and solidify his place as the new sheriff in town in the political arena as the next political rallying figure in the state.
•To be continued…
Wale Ajani is the immediate past Director General of Oyo State Liaison Offices in Abuja and Lagos.