The 2019 general elections have shown the growing evolution and sophistication of the Nigerian electorates. Despite obvious lapses and controversies and inconclusiveness in some states, these elections showed enlightened awareness and electorates demonstrated a willingness to differentiate between political parties and personalities, ethnic and religious flag and a desire for good governance. The 2019 voters spoke with their votes by consigning some politicians and self-made demi-gods to the dungeon of social and political insignificance. Voters simply replaced their loquacity with reticent. In many states, the political godfathers had a run for their money and position. They were forced to come down from their high horse, to beg for forgiveness so that their manipulation game to continue.
While godfathers negotiated favourably with compromises in some states, they failed in Oyo and electorates in the Pacesetter state successfully resisted external incursion. The ruling party had been complacent with the thought that the gap-tooth jinx-breaker, the kòselèri governor, held the magic wand until he was trashed by a relatively unknown Dr Kola Balogun in Oyo South Senatorial District. Not even the eight House of Representatives seats and two senatorial tickets won by the APC were a guarantee of the gubernatorial and state assembly elections. As it turned out on March 9, a three-times serial loser and the umbrella party candidate, Engineer Oluseyi Makinde defeated a former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, a political neophyte, to become the governor-elect.
The victory was a confirmation of the understanding of the law of power by the Ibadan political warlords led by the ex-governor and High Chief Rashidi Ladoja. In a last-minute display of alliance spectacle, Chief Ladoja helped in midwifing the first successful political alignment of opposition politicians of Ibadan extraction that edged out and silenced the bad marketers of APC and their political products.
The wall of Jericho in Oyo state was bound to fall in 2019. The remote and immediate causes were crystal clear to political watchers and analysts. For some reasons, clarity hid itself from the leader of the APC in the state.
Both enemies within (Iku-Ile) and without (Iku-ode), contributed to the fall of walls of Jericho. The caustic derision of categories of persons, disrespect of tradition, imposition of candidates, over-rating of self, unfriendly policies and workforce issues catalysed the fall. Specifically, the APC leader extensively violated fourth Law of Power which preaches to those in power to say less than necessary. Robert Greene outlines in his 48 Laws of Power, “powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish”.
Harvesting and working on the loopholes of the APC leader, the opposition party embarked on a “no retreat, no surrender” rampage, ensuring first that the Senate Dream of the incumbent was shattered. But that victory alone cannot get them into the Agodi Government House. They needed collaborative efforts of people of like minds who wanted a common enemy out of the way. A former Governor of Oyo state from Ogbomoso, Christopher Alao Akala who had boasted that the APC will not benefit from a disorganised opposition as it did in 2015 started the coalition talks by approaching his boss, Senator Rasidi Ladoja. After meeting a few opposition gubernatorial aspirants and dispersing with further agreement to reconvene following the Presidential and National assembly elections, the political tactician of Ogbomosoland courted and secured a deal with the ruling party.
Adopting a similar strategy utilised to court another Christopher from Ile-Ife, Osun State in 2018, the APC leadership organised a nocturnal standby flight for the Ogbomoso born former governor. By the time the Christopher of Ogbomoso returned from Abuja, his song had changed. He jettisoned the opposition group, abandoned his gubernatorial ambition and announced to work for the candidate of APC, Adebayo Adelabu (Penkelemeesi). This move partly contributed to the fatal blow of APC in the polls.
First, it was alleged that the former governor sold his people for pittance. The saying that only permanent interest, not permanent friends exist in politics was temporarily frozen by the followers of Christopher of Ogbomoso. They felt betrayed. Second, Ladoja’s group forged ahead and was able to secure the commitment of Senator Olufemi Lanlehin (ADC), Sarafadeen Alli (ZLP), Bolaji Ayorinde (SDP) to drop their gubernatorial ambition and support PDP’s Seyi Makinde. This did not come without compromises of forming a government of unity if Seyi emerges victorious. This deal was struck in the last week into the poll. To the APC, the opposition deal was a massive blow below the belt. The last-minute coalition effectively secured victory for the PDP in twenty-eight out of the thirty-three local governments in the state. In the House of Assembly elections, PDP reversed the fortunes of APC clinching 26 seats while APC won 5 and Akala’s ADP won one seat.
Unlike Christopher Omisore who secured the maximum votes needed for APC’s triumph in Osun state in 2018 via the instrumentalities of the state, Christopher Akala’s political forte suffered a major loss. The votes did not come as expected. In fact, Akala only managed to win in his Ogbomoso north stronghold with over a thousand votes (APC=14,442; PDP=13,035). Although Akala delivered his area, the votes were not close to being enough. In Oyo state, the Osun Model crumbled.
As PDP was coasting home to victory after eight years out of power, violence was erupting in the state: there were killings, voters were being intimidated as subtle vote buying was failing, ballot boxes were being snatched and sponsored hoodlums were burning election results. Notwithstanding, voters in Oyo State sent a strong message to overrated political merchants within and outside the state about their resolve to break the jinx breaker. By midwifing this coalition, Chief Rashidi Ladoja has elevated his political worth, respect and honour. They have showed that together we stand, divided we fall. From his self-appointment as kòselèri (it has never happened before) following a second term victory, the jinx-breaker of “Oyo state of Nigeria” has become kòlèselémó (it can never happen again), a man demystified and comprehensively defeated.
Now that the reign of ‘constituted authority’ is over, we all need to learn from the mistakes that costs Shehu his Senate ticket, his party and the state. The gap-tooth leader will be pained for daring the people and suffering a peculiar mess as a result.
Dr Tade, a sociologist, writes via [email protected]