Oyo APC, 2019 and 2023 elections: The issues |Tunde Imolehin

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The 2023 General Election has come and gone. The winners have emerged and those who lost have gone to the drawing board to reassess, knowing that 2027 is just a blink of the eye away.

 

To understand the loss of 2023, it is also important to take a step back into 2019. The APC lost the 2019 election due to internal wrangling and inordinate ambition of some members, this was in spite of the fact that APC was the ruling party in the State. In 2019, a breakaway faction of the APC established a faction which was called the Unity group. The group, without equivocation worked against the party. This splinter group and their members went into another political party, ADC where they contested and lost.

 

A former governor who was in the party and who had tremendous political goodwill in one of the zones left the party because he wanted the governorship ticket. He rejected the senatorial ticket that he was offered. He went into that election on the platform of another political party, ADP. Though he agreed to work for the APC after intervention from outside the State, it was too late in the day. The party lost the presidential election with a slight margin and also the governorship election. In spite of this, APC was still able to win two senatorial seats and nine House of Representatives seats.

 

Arising from that loss, late former Governor Abiola Ajimobi decided on reconciliation move, apart from visiting some stakeholders, he set up a reconciliation team headed by late former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala. Unfortunately, death came calling. Senator Ajimobi passed on before much could be achieved in the reconciliation efforts . This further compounded the APC problem. There was no longer a rallying point. There were attempts at rallying the different groups together especially after the skewed party primary. In fact, there were some who were of the opinion that like 2019, there was no primary election in 2023. In 2019, it was a consensus arrangement at the primary ā€˜s venue which led to the emergence of the candidate while the 2023 was the hijack of the party structure to endorse the candidate. That was how the lexicon ā€˜jagba’ emerged.

 

Indeed, wife of Senator Ajimobi tried to rally the different groups. What she was preaching then was that everyone should sheathe their swords, bury their ambition and build the APC in Oyo State into a formidable opposition force. A meeting of all stakeholders was called with a view to reconciling the different factions that were dissatisfied with the outcome of the party congress. A smaller committee to reconcile the different issues was established, all the recommendations were not implemented by the governorship candidate and his group, having taken over the party structure and picked the governorship ticket, they believed they were in an unassailable position and the election was theirs to win without taking into consideration the feelings of the vast majority who were dissatisfied with the outcome.

 

The situation was not helped by the distrust of the party governorship candidate (by other stakeholders) who felt he could not be trusted to keep any agreement as evidenced in previous attempts and an established reputation of not keeping agreements.

 

There were rumours of selection of SSG, Commissioners, SAs, by the candidate and his team. All these were not dispelled coupled with collection of money from aspirants and appointment seekers.

 

APC in Oyo State, prior to the election was turned to a cash and carry political parties where tickets were offered to the highest bidders

 

This discouraged a lot of people desirous of one appointment or the other as compensation for their effort and their loss during the party primary.

 

ā€˜Friends’ and aides of the governorship candidate with their overbearing attitude and presence made more enemies than friends for the candidate. The reconciliation team set up by the party headed by Senator Lanlehin was unsuccessful because the candidate and his team were not ready to concede and the aggrieved were not offered any option.

 

However, the party can still retrace its step and re-invent itself. In everything, the tradition of progressive politics should be the guiding beacon. All the disparate groups must come together genuinely with a clear focus to rebuild the party. There should be no discrimination that some went to Accord and as a result, they are not part of ā€˜usā€™. They all left for a reason. The election is over. The fold should be all encompassing.

 

Also, the results have shown that, no single person in the party has the goodwill to deliver his local govt, the party needs all hands on deck to achieve a united front that can challenge the incumbent in 2027

 

The issue of the State party Exco should be revisited with efforts at taking into consideration the various interests in the party. The zonal leadership which was one of the strengths of the party should be revisited, reconstituted with the selection of core progressive elements.

 

Also important is to work in ensuring that Oyo State is not again marginalised in the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Oyo State must be one when appointmentsā€™ list are drawn up because the greatest disaster that could happen again is if we send different lists from different camps to Abuja.

 

It is from this conscious effort at unity that the party can rise from its ashes and be a formidable opposition to take over in 2027.

 

Imolehin wrote from Oyo State.

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