2023: Between Makinde And Opposition In A Season Of Coalition Threat|By Henry Odeh
It is no doubt a public knowledge that coalition formed prior to the 2019 governorship election in Oyo state played a key and strategic role in the final outcome of the poll that many have described as historic in the history of elections in the state.
Historic because it was not only the first time opposition parties and their candidates would be united to unseat an incumbent but also the first time a supposed ‘rookie’ politician, defeated a then strong and powerful sitting Governor in Oyo state.
Political buildup in Oyo state ahead of 2023 is already taking a new twist that’s making the whole landscape more interestingly intense especially as coalition threat, which is a new political tool in town among politicians, has now become the order of the day for deployment amidst politicians who are perceived sworn political enemies and arch rivals.
It is very pertinent to state here without mincing words that the success of 2019 coalition pact was not largely due to the popularity of the incumbent Governor, Seyi Makinde, it was largely due to a number of factors, some of which included the deliberate action by the people themselves to vehemently reject the continuation of APC rule, have a successor from the same party that was accused of impoverishing the masses with military-like approach to governance, as well as compensation for Makinde’s long-standing philanthropy even after losing elections.
Like a first time employee, Makinde immediately adapted to his public office contrary to the corporate world from where he came. His approach to governance, humility and leadership style especially the all inclusiveness which gives every class of persons, including persons living with disabilities, a representation in his government via political appointments.
All these including appointments of youths of ages as low as 25 and 27 years old as Commissioners and Special Assistants, sustained regular payments of workers salaries, pensions and gratuities to pensioners and retirees, effective management of the global covid-19 pandemic, effective management of the nationwide youths protest; #EndSARS, construction of roads that have opened up connect rural areas to the city for Agricultural development, modernization of Ibadan, the Oyo state capital and strategically positioning Oyo state for global investments have all warmed Makinde to hearts of the masses. The people’s love is no doubt evident every time the Governor goes out on the streets.
Prior to the coalition before the 2019 poll, no one would have given a ‘Seyi Makinde, the governorship candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the slightest of chance to emerge winner of the election considering the participating political gladiators in the race as well as Makinde’s lack of prior public office experience.
On the platform of the then ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), there was former Governor, Late Abiola Ajimobi hoping to hand over power to former deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, grandson of renowned Ibadan politician, Late Adegoke Adelabu popularly known as ‘Penkelemes’ while the former Governor, Late Adebayo Alao Akala was hoping for a second stint at the Agodi Government House on the platform of ADP.
The African Democratic Congress (ADC) boasted of former Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, also son of popular politician in the camp of late Obefemi Awolowo during the second republic who supposedly defeated Late Ajimobi at the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) governorship primary election in 2010.
Lanlehin is also believed to be the favorite of former governor, and then Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Rashid Adewolu Ladoja while still together in ADC before further political migration led Ladoja and his supporters into Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) which presented former Secretary to Government of Oyo state (SSG), Chief Sarafadeen Alli as its governorship candidate.
Looking at the array of all these ‘A-List’ politicians in the race, it was almost impossible for any experienced political analyst or observer to think that a certain Seyi Makinde running on the platform of the then divided PDP would emerge atop all these political gladiators whose influences cut across the shores of Oyo state.
But like the Biblical saying, the ways of men is not the way of God and only God, who is the Supreme being and controls the affairs of men enthrones kings and rulers as He alone pleases. Therefore, it would not be out of place to state that a combination of efforts, God’s time and grace all played out in favour of Seyi Makinde who is now the incumbent Governor of Oyo state.
In time past, many politicians especially at the national level, who are mostly running for the number one seat in the land; the presidency, often form political alliance and some sort of coalition to improve their chances of winning elections but non of such alliances have made any significant impact until 2014 when virtually all major opposition parties in Nigeria entered into a political marriage now refered to as the ‘2014 political amalgamation’ after which the government of PDP at the centre was brought to an end in 2015.
To understand my drift, there’s the need to differentiate between political coalition and amalgamation because even they they have a similar outlook to a layman, they’re different in practice and application.
While coalition is a temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties, amalgamation on the other is a political marriage where all involved political parties collapse their structures into the marriage for a fresh corporate identity and operations. Parties involved in coalition pact do not have any further obligation other than the temporary alliance which means, their individual party structures remain intact contrary to what is applicable in political amalgamation.
The pronouncement of coalition force by some members of the opposition parties in Oyo state ahead of 2023, even though envisaged by many pundits and political observers may not necessarily birth the same result as 2019 election because the political atmosphere in 2019 was absolutely different from what currently permeates the length and breath of the political landscape in the state and…..watch out for the next chapter!