Thursday, 11 September 2014

When Ibadan Stood Still For Alao Akala.

Recently, the former Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala, launched his bid to regain control of Agodi Government House which he vacated for Governor Abiola Ajimobi in 2011. Ademola Babalola was there

“Therefore on this day and at this defining moment, I have listened to your appeals and accepted your requests and hereby offer myself to you in the name of God Almighty to contest under our party (PDP) for the post of the governor of Oyo state in 2015. I promise to rule with the fear of God.”

With the above quotation of former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala at last week’s official declaration on intention to contest the February, 2015 governorship under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), all appears set for the titanic battle ahead as the race to secure the party’s ticket next month hots up, among the party’s leading governorship aspirants.

If there is anybody still in doubt as to whether or not Akala, will contest, such individual, by now must have realized that Akala is in this race for real. The sixth civilian governor of Oyo, who first had a stint as governor of the state for 11months in 2006 following the now quashed impeachment of his former boss, Governor Rashidi Ladoja, Akala later got elected as substantive governor and ruled the state for four years (2007-2011).

To him, the calls and appeals by members of the public and supporters across the state for his return to government house, were not deafening but too loud and compelling enough to be ignored, hence the reason why his mind is made up to give it another shot having failed to win the re-election in 2011. And by the next election in 2015, it would be almost four years after he left the saddle following defeat by the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi of the then Action Congress of Nigeria and now All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, unlike in 2011 when he had a field day as arguably the sole aspirant of the party who went the whole hug to grab the ticket as its gubernatorial candidate ‘on the platter of gold’, this year’s contest, is however a different ball game altogether as no fewer than eight of his former aides are not leaving anything to chance to give the Ogbomoso-born ex-police officer a run for his money and a test for his much-flaunted popularity.

Leading contenders for the sole ticket of the party are a former Senate leader, Teslim Kolawole Folarin; a 47year-old oil magnate and philantropist, Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde; an Ibadan-based millionaire businessman, Olufemi Ademola Babalola; two former Deputy-Governors, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi; Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; a US-based Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Azeez Adeduntan; a serving Senator who recently crossed over from APC to PDP, Alhaji Hamzat Ayoade Adeseun; a former council boss and veteran journalist, Alhaji Kehinde Olaosebikan are some of the politicians who will confront Alao-Akala at the October’s party primary.
The list is endless but other notable contenders are former Minister for Sports, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja; former SUBEB boss in the state and Prof. Soji Adejumo.

Interestingly, save for two or three aspirants above, others are former aides, business partners and political associates of Alao-Akala. To show seriousness with which they are all presently attaching to their individual aspirations, none of the aforementioned graced Akala’s inauguration, fueling speculations that the die is cast and chickens may have come home to roost for the ex-helmsman.

But Alao-Akala appears unperturbed by this development as he was full of thanks to God at the ceremony. The moment he was handed the microphone by the rappateur to speak at the event, he, in his charismatic manner, bent down, knelt and thereafter began to roll on the bare floor platform; apparently in appreciation of God’s undying love and kindness to him, all these past years ‘with a promise that he will conquer and regain the position he lost in 2011 again’. His accapela praise song accompanied by a baritone voice was a perfect reminder of the 18th century great composers of the Westminster in Britain.

While rolling on the floor, the following statements must have been running in his minds “if I am to count my blessings all these years; especially my political exploits from being a former council chairman in Ogbomoso North in 1999 to miraculously emerging a deputy governor in 2003, acting governor in 2006, elected governor in 2007 and now governor in waiting in 2015 going by the presence of huge crowd of supporters here at today’s declaration,”. To him therefore, having been so kind to him all through the journey of life, God deserves nothing but all the praises he could muster under the sun in appreciation of His ever-faithful love for him.

All that notwithstanding, Akala, while speaking at the epoch-making rally at PDP state secretariat on Queen Elizabeth road and the ground celebration held at Watershed Events centre, also on Old-Ife road, Ibadan, spared a thought for some of his action and inactions in government by saying that he was not oblivious and unmindful of the fact that ruling a state as cosmopolitan and politically sophisticated as Oyo was not without some hitches, hence the need for him to beg for pardon of those he might have wronged one way or the other.

He left no one in doubt that pleading for the forgiveness from those he offended while he was governor was a needful assurance of a man ‘born well’ of a woman adding that, “none of our actions were deliberate or personal vendetta.”

Explaining reasons why he is gunning for the seat of power, Alao-Akala said in the last few months, he had received emissary from across the state, urging him to come out once again and contest for the post of the governor of the state.

“I must say that these past three years, I have had time to reflect on our performances as I believe many of you have. Did we satisfy the yearning of the masses? As a government, did we provide the much needed succor for the people? Were the masses impressed by our people-oriented policies and programmes?

“It is indeed gratifying to note with a deep sense of modesty that we made positive impacts on the lives of the people, as attested to by the greater majority and also the international community. The world bank and the World Health Organization as well as the UBEC, CBN, and the Federal Ministry of Transportation recognized our contributions by giving our government awards on our performances on local empowerment programmes, agriculture, roads, transportation, education, health and the environment among several others.”
While stressing that he ran his government with human face, Alao-Akala however regretted that “the present is characterized by anti-people policies as evidenced in the wanton destruction of means of livelihood; imposition of higher taxes; capital flight and outright dismissal of public servants on flimsy excuses.

“Our government was characterized by friendly policies, people-oriented projects, accelerated commerce through micro-finance loans at zero per cent and without collateral, rural development, job creation, that is, by using home-based and local contractors for minor and major contracts, opening of new roads in the rural areas, release of grants to schools which enhanced educational development; respect for the work-force and job security for public servants. This is in addition to purchase of skip-eaters for environmental sanitation, purchase of fully equipped ambulances, renovation of public places such as Mapo hall, Atiba hall, repositioning of BCOS with modern equipments and opening of new radio stations in Ogbomoso and Oke-Ogun axis. And more importantly, our administration established good and qualitative leadership as against the present situation where we now experience leadership of a Group Managing Director running state affairs as a private enterprise.”

He said if given the opportunity again, he would re-invent the 13 point agenda he pursued vigorously in his first coming, stressing that, “I have heard the cries of market women whose shops were destroyed and means of livelihood taken away. I have listened to the agonies of landlords whose houses were destroyed without compensation. I have seen civil servants and top ranking officers of government sacked ignominiously, but today I come to you with a message of hope and assurance of a better tomorrow. You shall be duly compensated and those unjustly sacked shall be reinstated. You all have seen how our rating plummeted, with government of the day struggling to pay our children’s WAEC fees. Before I left three years ago, we constructed over two thousand schools with two awards from Universal Basic Education, but today our children are learning under dilapidated classrooms.”

In their solidarity and goodwill messages, a former Chief of Staff to Akala, Dr. Saka Balogun said God has answered the prayers of PDP because of the perceived hardship being meted out to citizens by the ruling APC. He tasked all members to join forces to send the government of the day packing in the next election. To Balogun, whoever emerges as the party’s candidate would be supported by all and sundry.

Two serving members from the House of Representatives from Oke-Ogun axis; Messrs Jimoh Afeez Ona Ara and Kareem Abisodun said they were part of those begging Akala to come back and contest for the position of governor in 2015. Afeez said “Oke-Ogun is for PDP, and PDP is for Oke-Ogun, hence we have agreed that Akala should come back because we know the kind of administration he led because some of us worked under him.”

Abisodun added that in Oke-Ogun, simple majority favours Akala. Six PDP members are in the National Assembly in the ratio of five Representatives to a Senator. Of the five Reps, he said “four of us are for Akala. Where we have the majority is where God ordained. If truly we want to take over power in Oyo, the party leaders should know that this is where the pendulum should swing.”

An Ibadan politician, Mogaji Nureni Akanbi, said, Ibadan is rooting for Akala in a way that all the 11 councils in Ibadan have agreed to follow Akala. He said Akala’s tenure was a blessing to Ibadan from 2007-2011 unlike what is presently obtainable in the state today. He said as a direct descendant of Ibasorun Oluyole, he could confidently read the minds of Ibadan people and assured that “Akala is who we want.”

A leader from Oke-Ogun, Chief Jacob Gbadebo Adetoro re-echoed Akanbi’s position that the new leadership of PDP in South West zone should note the crowd and Akala’s influence in the party and the state as a whole saying Oke-Ogun won three representatives out of four in 2011 and five state assembly members out of seven available for grabs then, stressing that they would deliver Oke-Ogun for the party once again in 2015.

Oloye Lanki from Oyo Alaafin performed special traditional yoruba prayers for Akala; just as he added that all the four Oyo Federal constituencies are for him. He said there was no more rift between Akala and Alaafin.

Dare Ogunlana, former NANS President representing Ibarapa zone of the state and indeed the entire youths in the state called for Akala’s return to power

Representatives of non-indigenes; Chief (Mrs) Ngoji Ama Adaora said the government of the day had succeeded in ‘killing’ many of non-indigenes as it demolished their shops, stalls and places of trade at will.

In his brief comment, another PDP chieftain from Ibadan, Alhaji Bisi Olopoeniyan asked rhetorically if Akala demolished shops, houses when he was governor.

Prominent fuji musicians like Abass Akande Obesere, Taye Currency, Juju maeestro Femo Lancster, among others addeed colour to the event.
Others at the ceremony were the acting Chairman of the South-West PDP, Lanre Orimoloye, senator Brimoh Yusuf, Mrs. Kemi Akala, Chief Babalola, Hon. Segun Odebunmi (Bunvic), Mr. Festus Alade, Mrs. Kemi Jayeoba-Olorunsogo, Hon. Depo Oyedokun amongst others.

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