The elections have now come and gone. While the winners are still jubilating, the losers are counting their losses.
With the unprecedented monetization of our electoral system as witnessed this time around, trust me, these are big loses.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo state must go down in history as one of the biggest losers in the 2019 polls.
We knew things were bad for them, but we never knew it was this bad for the party in Oyo state.
How APC managed to lose with such ridiculous margin in the governorship and House of Assembly elections was quite a spectacle.
Even Kano APC managed to win many of its House of Assembly elections, as unpopular as their governor is perceived to have become.
Students of History and Political Science have just been handed a case study on how not to run a political party and lead a people.
So much has been said about the role Governor Abiola Ajimobi played in the defeats suffered by APC in Oyo state, of course, his excesses are still fresh on the people’s minds.
Governor Ajimobi handed APC its only loss in the senatorial election in the state and led them to a loss in the presidential election held on February 23.
Political analysts, including the writer, quickly highlighted the dwindling fortune of the party in the state. Emphasis was on the animosity against the governor owing to years of perceived misrule.
He was accused of highhandedness and selfishness and his many sins range from LAUTECH shut down to the embarrassing showdown with the Olubadan, the demolition of Fresh FM and many more.
APC members had similar complaints. As the ‘party leader, Ajimobi allegedly imposed unpopular candidates and forced out incumbent Senator Soji Akanbi to impose himself as the candidate of the party for the Oyo South senatorial ticket, but he was fast becoming an unpopular candidate himself.
Party members complained about the mode of selection for councillorship and local government seats where due process was not followed.
It was also alleged that the party under the leadership of the governor collected huge sums from the aspirants, promising a level playing ground but the governor had his own agenda.
How about the party congresses? We heard about how original party members were sidelined and eventually frustrated out of the party. Eventually, Governor Ajimobi inherited a broken family.
After the presidential election, APC at the national level identified there was a problem but they acted too late. Oyo APC had died before they could come to its rescue, they had their own battles anyway.
Liken this to a suicide victim being rushed to the emergency unit of a hospital and doctors certify him BID – Brought In Dead.
Reconciliations and realignments became the last resort to salvage things, but APC just could no longer do anything right in the eyes of the people.
The deal with the former governor, Christopher Alao-Akala who was running on the ADP platform was expected but rather than help the party, it further damaged their chances.
First, for the people of Oyo State, including Akala’s fans, this was not an alignment but a buy-over, with news renting the air of a humongous amount he allegedly collected from Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
He allowed himself to be captured on video ‘gisting’ his supporters about how an aeroplane was sent from the Presidency to get him to Abuja and how he felt highly honoured.
He even had some tough words for his former boss and Ibadan high chief, Chief Adewolu Ladoja… wrong move sir.
For a people whose economic life had been badly damaged by the closure and neglect of the Ladoke Akintola University and its teaching hospital in the town, Ogbomoso people felt betrayed and vowed to shock Akala.
Next was the reconciliation with Senator Soji Akanbi as photos of his high-level meetings with Vice President Osinbajo, National leader, Bola Tinubu and other notable leaders emerged online.
He was never a hard nut to crack. He had been a consistent politician who never had any other political family since the days of SDP, NADECO, and Afenifere in the early 90s, to his days in AD, metamorphosing to AC, to ACN and then APC.
They also invited a faction of the Lamists/Unity Forum of the APC to see how they could appease them and achieve quick support for their governorship candidate, but all these efforts came too late.
If only the party never fought against itself. If only Governor Ajimobi never imposed himself and his candidates, if only he had reconciled with all aggrieved members as an elder, he is supposed to be.
But really, was APC’s failure all about the governor? I don’t think so. I believe the APC candidate, Mr Bayo Adelabu had enough opportunities to retell his own story.
Perhaps, the margin of defeat is an indication that he did not seize the opportunity as much as we expected.
In fact, the talk in town among the people of Oyo state is that Mr Adelabu left many wondering if he wasn’t just a younger version of Ajimobi with his attitude and manner of speaking.
All that is history now and the road to recovery promises to be a long one for APC in Oyo state.
The 2023 election will come like a thief in the night and the jury will be out again on then-Governor Seyi Makinde.
APC will be planning a comeback to reclaim the state but if they would smell power in Oyo State any time soon will depend on how they manage their affairs from now.
Their Oyo flight has crashed and it’s time to disconnect that panic button they pressed during the week leading to the governorship election because no quick fix can help the party.
One thing we learnt is that Ibadan remains the key to survival for any party in Oyo state and this same Ibadan gave APC their biggest problem at the 2019 polls.
Ibadan northeast gave APC 12,553 votes and gave PDP 30,824; Ibadan southeast gave APC 13,277 and PDP got 24,556. Ibadan Northwest it was APC 10,221, PDP 20,715; Ibadan North –APC 18,868, PDP 40,785 and Ibadan southwest – APC 18,183,PDP 34,445.
Total votes from the five local governments in Ibadan metropolis alone, APC got 73,102 votes while PDP got 151,325 votes – a margin of 78,223 votes. This is half of the 157,829 votes with which APC lost the entire election.
The whole of Ibarapa East, North and Central, as well as Ideological government that make up the rest of the Oyo South senatorial district, gave APC 33,763 votes while they gave PDP 52,272.
Other local governments covering Ibadan hinterlands, like Oluyole, Lagelu, Akinyele, Ona Ara and Egbeda also returned with PDP getting double the votes of APC.
Meanwhile, the margins by which APC lost in other local governments were significantly close. For example, the margin in Ogbomoso South was 252, while Ogbomoso North was 1,407.
The reasons for this massive rejection from Ibadan are not farfetched. Never mess with the core Ibadan progressive politicians!
Those of them who contested under the ADC all ended up on the losing side but it is no coincidence that all the seats that APC lost to PDP are the ones in Ibadan metropolis – Oyo South.
The Lamists/Unity Forum have since vowed not to return to APC because the reasons they left the party have not been addressed.
Along with the ADC governorship candidate, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, they unanimously endorsed PDP’s Seyi Makinde and we are all witnesses of the outcome.
Luckily for the APC, Oyo South senator, Soji Akanbi still has a soft spot for the party; he proved it with his last-minute efforts to save the party despite the painful loss of his senatorial seat.
Perhaps, his job is not done as far as saving APC is concerned. At this point, everyone, every group and every interest must matter.
The Ajimobi faction of the APC – SENACO, must also not be neglected. You can be sure that many of them are equally aggrieved but had to keep mute out of fear.
This is the time to hand the APC reconciliation to persons with the rallying power who are connected to the party members, who wield national influence and who are truly progressives by their antecedents.
Some persons have become popular in the run-up to the election but don’t get it twisted, all the hype was down to flashing of cash to achieve political ambition and not because they are core progressives.
These are not the people the party needs now. Now that the elections are over and ambitions are suppressed, only the people who can speak to members’ conscience will be able to do the tough job of reconciling APC in Oyo state.
Akintoye a political and public affairs analyst writes from Ibadan