Let’s just dive into the details of what was a massive event for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state.
1. This was a huge deal:
What happened at the Mapo Hall in Ibadan, Oyo state on Saturday was no joke. The APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governors Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, Rauf Aregbesola of Osun and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo were on hand to receive defectors into the party. The political caliber of the defectors was not in doubt.
Here are some of the defectors:
- Immediate past governor of the state, Adebayo Alao-Akala,
- Former senate leader, Teslim Folarin,
- Immediate past Deputy Governor under Alao-Akala, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja,
- The only PDP member of House of Representatives from Oyo state, Dokun Odebunmi,
- Former Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Ayodele Adigun,
- Immediate past PDP State Chairman, Yinka Taiwo,
- Five members of the state assembly elected under the Accord Party founded by former Gov. Rashidi Ladoja, who recently returned to the PDP,
- Former Speaker of the state assembly, Ashimiyu Alarape,
- Former member of the House of Representatives, Kamil Akinlabi,
- Former Chairman of Oluyole Local Government, Kehinde Olaosebikan;
- Former PDP woman leader, Mrs. Olanrewaju Otiti,
- And several others…
2. Double delight for Ajimobi:
It would have also been very exciting for the state governor, Abiola Ajimobi, as the event was also an occasion to celebrate his 68th birthday. Ajimobi, who does not joke with the fact that he is the “constituted authority” in the state must have been proud of all the praises showered on him, like this one by Alao-Akala:
“I thank Governor Ajimobi for making all the defection possible. He opened his arms all the way and supported efforts to bring people into the fold. By God’s grace, all the defectors have worked under me. The room Ajimobi gave us made all these possible.”
3. Tinubu’s abracadabra:
Abracadabra, according to the dictionary, can mean a charm or incantation using nonsensical or magical words; or “meaningless talk, gibberish, nonsense.” We’ll leave you to decide where Tinubu’s speech at the event fell, as he tried to convince the people of Oyo that somehow these defectors, who he has spent his career fighting and opposing and demonizing are suddenly clean and solid personalities just because they now belong to the APC.
Notice how Tinubu used the word “stainless kitchen” in his speech to imply that a defection to the APC suddenly takes away stains.
“We have a stainless kitchen and we can accommodate as many cooks as possible and because we have a variety of menu in the political kitchen of planning this future, we love these bigwigs.
“You can see that the opposition is dead in Oyo State. Today is important for us because it is the birthday of the Governor Ajimobi and things that have never happened in the history of Oyo State have started happening,” he said.
4. No shame in politics:
For those who may not recall, in 2011, when Abiola Ajimobi ran for governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala was the incumbent and was running for a second term. The governorship race that year in Oyo was one of the most frightening in the country and one of the closest. Even after it became clear that Ajimobi would pull an upset, no one could speak. There was tension, ballot snatching, gun shots, palpable fear. Ajimobi eventually won in 17 local government areas with 420,852 votes while Akala won in 12 with 387,132 votes and Ladoja won in 4 with 275,773 votes.
Alao-Akala is the same person who Tinubu has called a “shameless usurper” and a man without honour. He, on his part, once accused Tinubu of sponsoring a hoodlum caught in Ibadan. Alao-Akala also described the Ajimobi administration in 2015 as operating “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.”
However, on Saturday, Tinubu described Alao-Akala as “my good friend who has seen the light” and said he is “proud” of Alao-Akala and others “for joining us in the only progressive party in Nigeria and Africa.”
No shame in politics.
5. Acceptance at last for Alao-Akala:
The former governor had wanted to be accepted in the APC for a long time, but the powers-that-be in the party were not comfortable with him. He first announced a defection to the APC as far back as December 2015. However members of his new party were not eager to embrace him. The party’s spokesman, Olawale Sadare, quickly told journalists when Alao-Akala first announced his 2015 defection that it was “very strange to us. We are not aware of his political moves. Here in Oyo APC, we don’t know him.”
With Saturday’s public acceptance by the who-is-who in the APC, everyone definitely now knows.
And the Ex-Governor is excited. He described his defection on Saturday as evidence of his “dynamism.” Hmm… There are some who would have less savory words to describe the man’s porting from ANPP to PDP to Labour Party to APC in one political lifetime.
“To God be the glory. I am moving with time,” Alao-Akala declared.
6. Strange bedfellows:
Now, the real jostling begins. It is good optics to declare that the PDP is “dead in Oyo state” as speaker after speaker said on Saturday. The real question for the APC is whether they can manage this growth as 2019 approaches.
Tinubu believes it’s possible: “We can accommodate them all. It is in the same forest that you find a hippo that you find an elephant and you will find a rabbit. In political platforms, you must look for the addition not the minus,” he said.
Alao-Akala believes it’s possible: “By God’s Grace, Oyo State is now fully APC. We shall work together to move the party forward. We shall be good party members.”
Gov. Ajimobi said it is possible, and that for things to move forward, politicians need to forgive themselves of their past sins.
But is it really possible? Only time will tell.