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Why Ex-Gov. AKALA May Emerge As New OYO APC Leader

Though the people of Ibadan and indeed Oyo State generally are still mourning the passing of the immediate past governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi but the reality is that life must go on.
Especially at this critical time in Oyo APC, the party which the late former governor was the ultimate leader. The party has been struggling to get its acts together since their terrible defeat during the 2019 general elections in the state. Ajimobi was not just Oyo APC leader but also the South West representative of the party, as the Deputy National Chairman (South). So his death has, no doubt, created a big vacuum within the party in the pacesetters state.

It must also be noted that one of Ajimobi’s unfulfilled assignments as Oyo APC leader, was the reconciliation move he embarked upon, shortly after his confirmation as the Deputy National Chairman (South) of APC.
Ajimobi, who was a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, immediately he came on board, set up a reconciliation committee, and named Ex-Gov Adebayo Alao-Akala as Chairman.

The 16-member committee, whose objective is strictly to reconcile all aggrieved members back to the party’s fold also have Prince Gbade Lana as Secretary.
Other Members include Alhaji Kamar Ajisafe, (Less City); Pa Akin Ojebode (Oyo); Alhaji Laide Abass (Ibarapa Zone); Pa Adeleke (Oke Ogun I); Prof Dibu Ojerinde (Oke Ogun II); Senator Teslim Folarin (Representing Oyo State Caucus in the Senate); Hon Segun Odebunmi, Bunvic (Representing the House of Representatives Caucus); Hon. Niran Alarape (State House of Assembly); Hon Mojeed Olaoya (State Party Secretary); Mr Isiaka Areokuta (Youth Leader); Mrs Mabel Williams (Women Leader); Chief S.M. Akindele (Oyo Central); Adefisoye Adekanye (Oyo South) and Rasaq Arikewuyo (Oyo North).

Through this committee and his efforts as well as contributions of all the stakeholders, Ajimobi vowed to restore peace back to Oyo APC but couldn’t achieve that before his painful exit. However, the big question now is, who takes over from where Ajimobi stopped and reposition Oyo APC to the desired position ahead of 2023, when another election will hold?

While some things will definitely be considered in choosing another leader, it is also pertinent that anybody to be saddled with such responsibility must possess some special political skills. Above all, the person must have the experience and clout to steer the affairs of the party, and that is where former governor Alao-Akala’s name comes into the picture. Akala is believed to be the most suitable for the job because of his political antecedents and being a grassroots politician. He is a former local government chairman, deputy governor, governor for 11 months and another four years.

“Though party leader always come from Ibadan being the majority but unfortunately those who would have been considered for the position are all aspirants,” a party member told this reporter.
Another party member whose name has come up as one of the likely successors of Ajimobi is the current senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District in Nigeria’s Upper Chamber, Senator Teslim Folarin.

Folarin is also believed to have possessed the charisma of a leader and someone who has a very rich political C.V. The former Senate Leader was a Senator under PDP 2003-2007 and won his re-election under the same political party in 2007. He also contested the 2015 guber election under the platform of PDP but lost to Senator Ajimobi. He was later to decamp to APC and won Oyo Central Senatorial seat in 2019. He is believed to have been in the best position to lead Oyo APC but some sources say he may be running for governorship come 2023.

What may also work in Akala’s favour, according to some political watchers in the state, is his position as the Chairman of Oyo APC Reconciliation Committee. To them, it is like Ajimobi, before his death, has handed over the party to him with that singular assignment. The fact that Akala is no longer contesting for any political office again is also an added advantage.
Just as Akala posited in his condolence message, Ajimobi has given him a mandate which he must deliver.

“Senator Ajimobi was a clear-headed and objective political leader who trusted and honoured me with an appointment to Chair Oyo State APC Reconciliation committee. Late Ajimobi’s decision to set up the reconciliation committee was informed by his desperation to see a United APC. Sadly, he didn’t live to see that. It’s my solemn pledge that the committee shall deliver on the desired mandate of the late Deputy National Chairman (South) and Acting Chairman of our great party. By God’s Grace, we’ll not only ensure a united APC but also dedicate our future landslide electoral victories to the departed great leader.

My solemn condolences to his wife, Chief (Mrs.) Florence Ajimobi, his children, the APC family and the people of Oyo State. Biola’s strength, passion, unique style of leadership, work rate and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace,” the message reads in part.
While it can’t be disputed that any political position or appointment in most cases, doesn’t come easily, it has to be through a contest, lobbying or negotiations. But how Oyo APC will manage the situation of appointing a new leader for the party and come out better and stronger ahead of 2023 elections is what many people are keenly watching out for.

-Dare Adeniran

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