INEC Sets for Polls in Oyo State as Makinde, Folarin Wrestle in a Two-Horse Race

INEC Sets for Polls in Oyo State as Makinde, Folarin Wrestle in a Two-Horse Race

On the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission, all is set for the governorship and the state Houses of Assembly elections across the country. Sensitive materials have been deployed and the electoral umpire is not over promising what it cannot deliver. Results are expected to be transmitted to the IREV but the Commission says

On the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission, all is set for the governorship and the state Houses of Assembly elections across the country. Sensitive materials have been deployed and the electoral umpire is not over promising what it cannot deliver. Results are expected to be transmitted to the IREV but the Commission says there are manual procedures to be followed in transferring the results as supported by the Electoral Act.

INEC has, however, promised to improve on all its logistical challenges encountered during the presidential and National Assembly elections. Some of its officials who were overtly complicit or derelict in their duties have been sanctioned and the Commission is primed to deliver a good election having crossed its “t” and dotted its “i”.

A visit to Oyo State shows that the INEC is fully prepared to deliver a credible election. There is tension everywhere but not strong enough to cause any panic. Markets were opened and people went about their business as usual not as worried as the politicians who were engaged in last minute strategic moves to weather the storm tomorrow.

Though the government had declared Friday a half-work day, the banks had a large presence of customers who wants to access their money locked in their vaults. While sellers in urban places readily accepted bank transfers, though in the hinterland bluntly refused same. There were, however, some POS operators through whom payments could be made for goods purchased.

The Oyo Political Turf: A Two-Horse Race
On paper political pundits would stake the fact that the All Progressives Congress would win the governorship contest in Oyo State tomorrow. The figures speak eloquently in favour of that postulation, In the just concluded presidential election APC garnered 449,884 votes against the PDP’s 182,977 votes. The APC swept the polls, winning the presidential election, the three senatorial districts and nine House of Reps seats out of 13. That is a landslide.

But that may become the reality or a paradox after tomorrow’s election, as the contest for the number one seat in the state gets narrowed down to a two-horse race between the incumbent Governor Seyi Makinde and his main challenger, Senator Teslim Folarin of the All Progressives Congress who has the momentum in his favour with his Party’s superlative performance in the February 25, presidential election.

Some factors, however, shaped the performance of the APC. One, was the support the incumbent PDP Governor Seyi Makinde gave to the APC candidate – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Another was ethnicity, in which case Yorubas decided to vote one of their own as against the candidates of other ethnic stock. Governor Makinde was a member of the PDP G-5 group headed by Governor Wike of Rivers state, who worked against the candidate of their party because of power shift arguments.

Governor Wike during a recent visit to Oyo state to commission some projects delivered by Governor Makinde said about Governor Makinde: “Your humility is very infectious but you are very dangerous. Let me expose you to the people”. Governor Makinde showed his political dexterity during the presidential election by not campaigning openly against his party’s candidate but paved the way for his opponent to win. The collateral damages were the other candidates of the PDP down the line who became disadvantaged by that strategy and lost their elections. For this, some of his party members are at odds with him.

The Odds and Evens Chart List
It is generally perceived by the people of Oyo state that Makinde has performed and changed the face of governance in Oyo state. He has a vision that connects little dots into a global picture. Though some of his projects may be elitist in broad outlook but they will end up cascading to the masses. For instance his efforts at widening the facilities leading to the airport and within the airport; his various housing projects and his circular road projects. They are all opening up wider business opportunities for the people with future potential of raising internally generated revenue of the state. His Omituntun 2.0 project is described as a sustainable socio-economic development and growth agenda for his second term tenure.

Senator Teslim Folarin his main challenger has a bright chance in the elections because of factors such as the division within the ruling PDP. A sizable number of the PDP are bittered by the role played by Governor Makinde in the loss of the Party in the presidential election and other elective offices and are determined to get back at the Governor by working against his success at the polls. Senator Folarin is more of a grassroots politician who connects well with the masses. He has been in the upper chamber of the National Assembly for at least three terms and has extensive contacts across the country. He is a veteran in Oyo state politics and has contested as governorship candidate of the PDP before.

But the APC camp in the state is also fragmented. A fractured part of it has opted out and most of them are contesting on the platform of Accord Party. The Bayo Adelabu faction also belongs to the Senator Ajimobi’s political dynasty. Mrs Ajimobi is in the vanguard of those campaigning against Senator Folarin. There were insinuations that the Bayo Adelabu’s Accord Party could work in collaboration with Seyi Makinde because the camp is determined to stop Senator Folarin for hijacking the ticket during the APC primaries.

The PDP camp is equally divided with some of the party leaders working against Governor Makinde and may be willing to do anything to sabotage his victory at the polls. One area they planned to execute this was through the use of PDP agents who belonged to PDP’s opposing camp. The Makinde camp got wind of this early enough and have started substituting the party agents in such suspicious polling units.

The Ladoja Factor

In this election, it is obvious that all is not well between the incumbent Governor Makinde and former Governor Rashidi Ladoja. Though what is at the roots of their rift may not be visible, an interview by Hon Taofeek Arapaja, the Deputy National Chairman of PDP accused Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja of keeping all the money sent by the PDP Presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the purpose of mobilisation in Oyo state to himself alone without sharing it with the Party structure.

It has been speculated that Alhaji Ladoja has declared support for Senator Teslim Folarin in the governorship contest. If confirmed, that is a major win for the APC camp as Alhaji Ladoja is well respected and connects well with the grassroots in Ibadan land. On the other hand, supporters of Governor Makinde argue that the political clout and strength of Ladoja has diminished greatly in recent time.

The Tinubu Factor

The larger APC family is divided on whom to support. While some believe that one good turn deserves another and would have loved that Governor Seyi Makinde is reelected as pay back for his support on February 25; another group would not have any of that and would rather want to align Oyo state with Tinubu at the centre by having an APC Governor in the state.

While it is believed that the Asiwaju Tinubu camp may have sent words to the different Asiwaju support groups to work for and vote for Governor Seyi Makinde. But on the contrary, it is also believed that another group loyal to Engr Rauf Aregbesola is against that and may be preaching the message of party unity and victory and the need to align the state with the centre.

The Governor Seyi Makinde’s camp is not oblivious of these underground moves and has warned residents of the state to “shine their eyes” on Saturday and not allow Folarin, a disciple of Ex-Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, who allegedly wrecked his state when he served as governor in Osun. According to a statement, it was laughable and funny how Folarin’s ill-fated ambition has become a caricature with the invitation of Aregbesola, to campaign for him in Oyo State.

The group called on Oyo State voters not to elect an individual who is taking notes and direction from an ex-governor whose legacy in his state include meaningless and monumental debts, with workers and pensioners in anguish, sorrow and endless gnashing of teeth.

Pre-Election Violence

There has been tension among the leading political parties with occasional breakout of violence in some places. This morning, (Friday) Oyo State Police Command confirmed that three persons died in a clash between supporters of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday in Ibadan. The clash took place at Ile-Tuntun area in Ibadan South East Local Government.

But the media team of Governor ‘Seyi Makinde Campaign Organisation condemned what it called the killing of four members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ibadan South-East Local Government by thugs suspected to be loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Senator Teslim Folarin.

It is hoped that this type of electoral violence would not be taken into the election tomorrow.

Who Wears the Crown Tomorrow?
The race to the Agodi government house is too close to call because of the fluidity of movements across the two leading political parties. The race may be too close to call but many people on the streets feel the Governor has performed and he enjoys street popularity. But whether that will translate into votes or not, the next twenty four hours will decide.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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