In the run-up to the Oyo State PDP governorship primaries, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was already coasting to victory in the eyes of most, with a certainty of being reelected to office.
Nine months later and with just days left before the governorship elections in the State, the electoral permutations have changed. There is now a huge risk of the Governor losing an election that was supposed to be a dead-rubber months ago.
How did we get here? On May 25, 2022, at the Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Adamasingba, Ibadan, Seyi Makinde defeated Mr Hazeem Gbolarumi by 1,040 votes to 2 votes. This was the first step in actualizing his dream of becoming only the second Governor in the State to be reelected after the Late Abiola Ajumobi who achieved the feat in 2015. The Oyo state electorate is notorious for towing a path that is not always in line with the established norm.
3 days Later, GSM (as Governor Seyi Makinde is affectionately known by his supporters) led the Oyo State delegation to the PDP presidential primaries at the Eagle Square in Abuja where they voted en-masse for his preferred candidate Nyesom Wike the Governor of Rivers State. Gov. But Wike lost the primaries to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and this led to a chain reaction of events involving Wike and his allies.
The G5 and the dance without end: In the aftermath of the primaries, Nyesom Wike and other aggrieved Governors formed the G5 (group of 5 Governors) who felt the National Chairman and candidate of the PDP cannot both be from the North. They were also united on the need for power to shift to the South after 8 years of President Buhari who is from the north.
They took us on a long winding trip, involving outlandish and stylish asoebi, many meetings held in Nigeria or some exotic locations that seemed more suited to political talk. They promised to let Nigerians know who their preferred candidate is. But at the end of their self-imposed deadline, no name was put forward. Eventually, each Governor went his own way after studying the mood of the electorate in their states.
Alliance with APC’s BAT: Rumors began to spread that GSM had pitched his tent with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu the Presidential candidate of the APC when his Deputy showed up at a reception for Tinubu in Ondo state and alluded to his boss throwing his weight behind the APC candidate.
When the APC candidate came to Ibadan to campaign, GSM rolled out the red carpet to welcome him and his entourage and accorded him all necessary cooperation. His Spokesperson said this was done as a mark of respect to the age and pedigree of BAT and in keeping with the omo-oluabi ethos of the Yoruba people and had no political undertone.
The APC won the presidential election in Oyo State and also won the 3 available Senate seats, while also winning 9 out of the available 14 seats for the Federal House of Representatives.
The presidential election and the bandwagon effect: Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared the winner of the Presidential elections by INEC and is now Nigeria’s President-elect. This has given a lifeline to the APC in the Senate and galvanized the campaign of Senator Teslim Folarin, the APC Governorship candidate. The possibility of a bandwagon effect is now looming over the coming election, as the APC is already campaigning on the need to align with the government at the centre by electing an APC government in the State.
The bandwagon effect became a thing in 2003 when then President Olusegun Obasanjo struck a deal with leaders of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the Southwest for their support ahead of the Presidential election to allow him a foothold in the southwest where he is from.
The deal was to support Obasanjo win the presidential election, while the AD retains control of the states. However, after the Presidential election, Obasanjo’s PDP won all the southwest states apart from Lagos in what was termed a tsunami.
With the other members of the G5 losing their elections for the Senate (Wike is not standing for any elective position), GSM is in a precarious position on the eve of the Governorship election on March 11, 2023.
GSM has said he is not worried about sacrificing his political ambition on the altar of the quest for a Southern Presidency as it is the right thing to do.
March 11, 2023, will reveal the relevance of the time-honored saying, “all politics is local”.
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