That the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) lost the governorship election in Oyo state to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not come as a surprise to many. After all, power has always alternated between the PDP and APC in Oyo since the return of democracy in 1999. What is however surprising to many is that Abiola Ajimobi, the almighty, outgoing governor of the state failed in his bid to be reelected into the Senate.
He lost the election for Oyo South senatorial district to Dr. Kola Balogun, the candidate of the PDP. For a man so popular to have a broken a jinx of reelection as governor four years ago and now unable to secure a senatorial seat greatly shows how fast Ajimobi’s goodwill has been eroded
During the 1999 election, the late Lam Adesina who flew the flag of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) one of the parties that metamorphosed into the APC, defeated the PDP to and was sworn-in as the governor.
In 2003, Lam Adesina lost his reelection bid to Senator Rashidi Ladoja of the PDP. PDP was in control of the state till 2011 before Ajimobi of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) defeated the then incumbent governor, Adebayo Alao- Akala to clinch the coveted position.
In a state where no governor has successfully been reelect- ed for a second term, Ajimobi broke the jinx by winning his reelection in 2015. All governors before him, including Bola Ige, Bisi Akande, Rasheed Ladoja and Adebayo Alao Akala failed in their bids to be re-elected.
Rather than consolidate on his achievements which made him a record-breaker of sort in Oyo, Ajimobi, popularly regarded as ‘Mr. Constituted Authority’ turned himself into a little tin god in Oyo state. According to analysts, his actions and inactions caused the defeat of both President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election in the state and that of Adebayo Adelabu, candidate of the APC in the governorship election, who lost to Seyi Makinde of the PDP.
Speaking after his humiliating defeat in the senatorial election, Ajimobi in a statement said “The results of the Oyo South Senatorial District election have been released by INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) indicating that I lost to the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) candidate.
“I hereby accept the result as announced. Although there were a number of grievous infractions and established electoral malpractices, I have decided to let go in the interest of peace. I, therefore, congratulate the declared winner, Hon Kola Balogun and our APC Senators-elect, Abdulfatai Buhari and Teslim Folarin. If I lose the ticket and the party was able to gain, then it is nothing to feel sad about. APC has done well but we can always do better. If we won two out of the three Senatorial seats and we picked nine out of 14 federal constituency seats, then we should congratulate ourselves.
“To the teeming members and supporters of our party who came out in their thousands to show their preference for the APC, I thank and urge you to keep the faith especially as we look forward to the governorship and the House of Assembly elections. With the impressive results we currently have, we should proudly go forth with greater sense of confidence and unity of purpose. Let us work together to ensure victory for our governorship candidate, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, and all our candidates for the House of Assembly.”
While a lot of reasons have been proffered for the defeat suffered by the APC, majority of Nigerians, especially residents of Oyo believe that Ajimobi’s bullish approach to issues, his caustic remarks and his lack of courtesy for both the young and elderly, even in public places con- tributed in no small measures to the party’s defeat.
Shortly before the elections, the outgoing governor was seen in a viral video lambasting those who didn’t stand up to greet him at an event. The video, which was said to be recorded at a ‘night of awards’ organized by the Ibadan Recreation Club, Sabo, Ibadan was designed to honour distinguished persons in the society.
Sources said those who didn’t stand up when the governor came in might have been angered by the governor’s lateness to the event. It was learnt that the event which ought to have started around 5:30 pm didn’t begin until around 8:00 pm as Ajimobi was being awaited.
In the video, an obviously angry Ajimobi was heard saying: “I didn’t come here as governor of Ajimobi; I am governor of Oyo State. Everybody, including those who are older and more accomplished than I am stood up to greet me. I noticed about four people, who are nobody, sitting down”.
“Even if a person is young- er than you is in a position of power, we need to respect him or her. What I noticed in those who didn’t stand up to greet us was either out of ignorance or…I don’t want to abuse anybody because I have been accused of doing that. It is not the person that you respect, it is the office. Among those who didn’t stand to greet me are people without job,” he added.
The video, like several others in public domain further exposed the governor as a proud and cocky fellow who talks like a demi-god and acts as if he will not need to beg the same people he keeps vilifying for votes.
Aside that, many believed the way the way Ajimobi handled issues pertaining to the protesting students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso where he made the notorious ‘Constituted Authority’ remark also contributed largely to his downfall. How a politician will treat the youth, who usually constitute a large chunk of the voting population with disdain still baffles many.
Also, the needless demolition of Yinka Aiyefele’s Music House and the governor’s remarks about the musician’s physical challenges angered many Nigerians, especially residents of Oyo. Though he later retracted his steps and had the building renovated the deed had been done.
For Ajimobi, the last straw that broke the camel’s back was his confrontation with the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji on the review of the contentious 1957 Chieftaincy Laws of Ibadanland in which the governor upgraded some chiefs to the position of Obas. The policy was widely seen as unpopular and pitched may vocal and influential Ibadan sons and daughters against the governor. Though Ajimobi called it modernisation of the Olubadan chieftaincy stool, but not a few felt he desecrated the stool.
According to Keni Akintoye, a public affairs commentator, “Many say the governor had begun to overrate his own popularity and his political clout due to his ability to break the second term jinx in 2015. What the governor failed to consider is that he rode on the Buhari wave of 2015 to break that jinx as his victory then had less to do with a reward for stellar performance in governance”.
“Moving on, the expectation was that he would consolidate on that victory by winning the people over. But then, he did not feel that he had lost them in the first place. Somehow, Oyo people continued to get the arrogant vibe and the height of it was his resolve to take the APC ticket for the Oyo South senatorial slot and deny the incumbent, Senator Adesoji Akanbi an opportunity to return to serve that constituency”.
Having lost out in his senatorial bid, it has been rumoured that Ajimobi has been making frantic efforts to get a key role in President Buhari’s administration in his second term. But given his ignoble role in the APC’s loss of both the presidential and governorship election in Oyo, that ac- cording to public analysts may be a pipe dream.
By Temidayo Akinsuyi,