The electorate in Oyo State are sharply divided on the political party to vote for during the presidential poll in the state.
Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The presidential race in Oyo State, investigations reveal, appears a straight fight between President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The electorate in Oyo State are sharply divided on the political party to vote for during the presidential poll in the state. The APC loyalists in the state for instance have vowed that they would vote for President Buhari. But other eligible voters are saying the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Abubakar will be their voice.
Interestingly, it is the first time Atiku will be testing his popularity in the state.
But for Buhari, who had contested the presidential poll in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015, the electorate are familiar with him. But the only time he won majority votes in the state was in 2015, as he lost majority votes in 2003 to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2007 to Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua and in 2011 to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Pundits say that one of the factors that makes the race look dicey for Buhari in Oyo State is the implosion within APC in the state, a situation that has made many people that worked for his electoral victory in 2015 to defect to opposition parties, and are probably going to work for the opposition presidential candidate.
When Atiku visited the PDP secretariat in Oyo State before the party’s presidential primaries, he spoke on how he captured the five of the six states in the South West in 2003 for PDP from Alliance for Democracy (AD).
“As the former vice president, in 2003, all the Southwestern states went to PDP, except Lagos. The people of Oyo State, I am here to pledge that again if I have your support and you are backing me, this state is going to be PDP state and your governor will be a PDP governor.
“So, let us work together and unite for this state. By the grace of God, in May 2019, this state will be governed by a PDP governor. So, I urge you to reject APC and make sure that the next governor of Oyo State is a PDP governor.”
But the APC governorship candidate in the state, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, former deputy governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), believe that APC will carry the day.
According to Adelabu, there is no alternative to Buhari in the political cycle as far as the 2019 presidential election is concerned.
“Without mincing words, I am telling you that as of today in the political cycle, there is no alternative to Buhari. There are certain leaders you need at a point in the history of every nation. In the history of Nigeria today, what Buhari started three and half years ago, we must allow him to finish it, by allowing him to recontest for another four years in office.
“While I will not say that among the population of Nigeria, Buhari is the best that can always rule this country, but among the available options in the political cycle, I have not seen any that is aspiring for presidency that is better than Buhari.
“I am talking to you from an insider’s knowledge. I worked at the CBN for over four years, and I know the love, the patriotism, the nationalism, that the person of Buhari has for this country.
“When he came in the other time, he based his administration on three things, security, economy and corruption. If I am asked to mark our president in economy, sincerely he has scored far above average because I know what he did through all the organs of government, including my former working place, the Central Bank of Nigeria. I know what we were able to achieve within the short period that Buhari came in. We can only allow him to conclude the rest of the journey, and we will start to see the impacts on the economic prosperity of an average Nigerian,” Adelabu said.
But the gubernatorial candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, thinks otherwise.
He contended that Buhari lacks capacity to govern the country again in view of the insecurity, killings by Fulani herdsmen militia, and harsh economic conditions among other factors.
“There is no doubt that the present president has disappointed Nigerians, and the people of Oyo State, despite that the person who is in the helms of affairs in Oyo State is in the same party, APC, as the president, the governor of Oyo State has not been able to take advantage of being in the same party with the president to maximise it to the benefit of the state. There is nothing to show for it.
“Then, the president himself has in my own opinion, shown a lack of capacity for so many things, be it the economy that is in doldrums or any other aspect. Look at our foreign exchange, it is N360 to a dollar. It was less than N100 before he came in. Look at the price of premium motor spirit, it nearly double since he came in. Look at the energy sector, the present administration has not added one thousand megawatt since it came in, despite all the promises made.
“Look at the state of the roads, such as Ibadan-Lagos expressway, which is the gateway to commerce from the ports. Look at the ports road itself, Oworonshoki-Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, and Nigeria to a large extent, is import-dependent economy, and you leave such a very important road unattended to, clogged up by tankers totally blocked?
“The ports are there, non-functional. I understand that for you to get anything out of the ports, you need nearly 200 signatures from one desk to the other. Corruption is thriving there, nothing is moving. And this is a government that says it is fighting corruption; instead of fighting corruption, it is fighting its perceived enemies with all gloves off, and leaving what it should be fighting.
“The government has in its midst, most of the corrupt people that Nigeria has ever produced. I don’t want to mention names. They are in his cabinet. They are in his kitchen cabinet. They are everywhere.
“Unfortunately, the president, with all due respects to him, hasn’t got the capacity, both mental, and otherwise, even starting from simple educational qualification to govern.
“So, when a person lacks mental capacity and educational capacity and is not willing to improve himself in the way things are done in modern days and economically, and is not willing to surround himself with people who will help him to deliver, instead, he surrounds himself with very myopic people, who are from his immediate environment, then such a person has no business governing Nigeria.
“And look at the security of Nigeria, we have never had it so bad. One of my best towns in this country is Kaduna, which is heterogeneous and it is a place that looks just like Lagos; you would feel free there and mix with all manners of people from different parts of the country.
“But today, the place is not what it used to be, not talk of places where killings are just fine as if they are abattoirs. Places like Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, not to talk of the North East-Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, that have been under the yolk of Boko Haram since, and up till now. There is no appreciable achievement despite the things we were told. Instead of that we heard that a whole battalion were attacked and suffered so much casualties,” the former federal lawmaker said.
But Adelabu countered Lanlehin on the anti-graft campaign of President Buhari, saying “On corruption, sincerely the first thing for you to fight corruption, is attitudinal change, which this man has brought. I am not saying corruption has been eradicated 100 percent. But I can tell you that not only that the corruption has been greatly reduced, our people are already changing their attitudes.
“Whoever is even corrupt today cannot flaunt it, unlike before when you have proceeds of corrupt activities and you would go all over town, flaunting the money, spraying at parties, partying at Dubai and London, buying houses in America, London and Dubai, without anybody accusing you of corruption.
“But today, you cannot find it again, which is the beginning of attitudinal change, and our societal values. Our values are fast changing towards corruption. I believe that is a major achievement of Buhari.
“Two, you cannot prosecute everybody at the same time. All you need are just scapegoats. Those with clear cases of corruption, start their cases from the beginning and see them to the conclusion. Two former governors have been jailed, which is a clear sign that Buhari is ready to fight corruption. These are big men, who ordinarily in the past, would have bought their way through the judiciary, through the powerful executives, through the legislators.
“But Buhari said no, the will of the courts must prevail. The fact that two governors were jailed is record-breaking, an achievement in anti-corruption campaign.
“But to say that Buhari would come and in four years, or in eight years, eradicate corruption to zero percent, will be expecting too much, and we will be deceiving ourselves. He can only reduce it. Then, subsequent governments will come and continue from where he stops.”
Investigation, however, revealed that the people of Oyo State have not totally made up their minds on who they will cast their votes for between Buhari and Atiku. They are watching and studying the situation, to see who will best favour them and the entire Yoruba race.
They have also been considering the kind of treatment the state has received from the APC-led Federal Government from 2015 till date, and the sort of treatment it received from PDP-led Federal Government from 1999 to 2015. All these and more are some of the factors that will determine who between Atiku and Buhari, will win Oyo State next year.