By Patrick Akpu and Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Former governor of Oyo State and the gubernatorial candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP) in the 2019 general elections, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala kicked off his campaign on Tuesday, promising to reposition the state for the betterment of the people and investors.
He said his government will hit the ground running by declaring state of emergencies in education and health sectors of Oyo State immediately after the inauguration of his government on May 29,2019.
At the event which held at Jogor Centre, Ibadan, the governorship candidate also presented his running mate, Prof. Abideen Olaitan Olaiya, to the public.
But moments after the public presentation and campaign flag off, the state executive members who boycotted the event addressed journalists, rejecting Alao-Akala as the party’s candidate.
Speaking at the party office, the state party chairman, Mr Folaranmi Olanrewaju Owolabi accused Alao-Akala of hijacking the party structure upon his joining the party.
He also accused the former governor of betraying the trust of the state executive members and the old members of the party in the allocation of tickets to aspirants for State House of Assembly and House of representatives.
Owolabi who was flanked by some chairmen of the party at the local government level said Alao-Akala had been “operating as an independent candidate as if he does not belong to the ADP.”
He continued: “With his cohorts, he has been making frantic efforts to hijack the whole structure of the party from us as if there was nobody in the party when they arrived. So, we have been nursing it for so long with maturity in order not to cause crisis in the party.
“The party was not notified of the exercise held at Jogor today (yesterday). They constituted not less than 11 different committees and the party was not informed. It was around two or three days ago that they sent an invitation to me as guest of honour at the programme. That is insulting and ridiculous. We know what is happening.
“They invited us as executive members and we decided to boycott the programme. Today we held a programme in attendance with all members of the executive committee, 27 chairmen of local government and other senatorial leaders. It was a joint decision not to attend.
“Since Alao-Akala came, he has separated myself and my acting secretary. All our efforts to bring the Acting Secretary back proved abortive, so we suspended him not less than three weeks now. We copied the appropriate quarters informing them of the development.”
Owolabi said the party will not stop at simply boycotting the event, but will work for the interest of the old members who had signified their interest to contest election under the platform of the party but are now being denied by loyalists of the former governor.
However, the Deputy Chairman of the party in the state, Prince Oladiran Oyekanmi and some other officials attended the campaign event. Also in attendance were the governorship candidate’s wife, Mrs Kemi Alao-Akala, National Assembly aspirants, State Assembly aspirants and party chieftains. Hon. Temitope Olatoye Sugar, Dr. Fola Akinosun, Pastor Dare Ojo and several others were in attendance.
In his welcome remarks, Prince Oyekanmi who represented the State Chairman said “Akala must be Oyo state governor next year. By the grace of God, all our party’s candidates will emerge victorious”.
He stated that the party have been thinking for two years about its candidate and Akala came on board and made the party popular.
Alao-Alao Akala appeared unperturbed by the absence of other party leaders. “I am healthy and mentally fit for the rigorous tasks of governance,” he said.
He went on to lampoon the policies of the Abiola Ajimobi admniatration, saying that
“90% of the outgoing government’s policies, programmes and projects are best described as anti people which leave our people in pain and despondency.
“Instead of criticizing, I made myself available to guide the incumbent government on how best to run proactive and pro-people governance but the driver lacks the required goodwill”.
Alao-Akala, who was Oyo governor between 2007 and 2011, promised that the party’s campaign will be issue based, violence free and intellectually stimulating, resting on 13 point agenda drawn from the party’s hallmarks. He charged all party members to remain faithful to the cause of the party.
He also warned the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies not to connive with the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) to disenfranchise thousands of voters across the state.
Chief Wale Ohu was appointed as the Director General of Akala/Olaiya Campaign organisation. Pastor Dare Ojo is the Deputy Director General of the organisation while Mr. Olayiwola Adanla will serve as the secretary.