Former Oyo State governors, Senator Rashidi Ladoja and Otunba Adebayo Alao- Akala appeared in public together for the first time in years yesterday, swearing to wrest governance of the state from the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) come 2015.
It was at the inauguration of a 14-man joint committee set up to work out modalities of possible synergy between the Accord Party (AP) led by Ladoja and Alao-Akala’s faction of the divided Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the 2015 project.
Some among the crowd of their supporters including drummers, women, men and youths that besieged the Bodija, Ibadan residence of Ladoja, venue of the event, openly burst into tears of joy, shouting “Oluwa o seun o, Oluwa o seun o”, (Thank you God) as the two erstwhile political enemies stepped out of the house beaming with smiles, immediately after the inauguration, to uproarious cheers from the multitude.
Both politicians, who hitherto belonged to PDP, had fallen apart following perceived treacherous role of Akala, who was Ladoja’s deputy, in the infamous impeachment of the Accord Party’s national leader as governor in 2010. The ensuing estrangement polarized the party in the state, resulting in Ladoja breaking away to form the AP and scuttling the reelection bid of Alao-Akala in 2011.
But, as part of ongoing political realignments in the state, the duo have agreed to team up together, particularly after the pact Ladoja’s Accord Party had with Governor Abiola Ajimobi collapsed, with the governor’s sacking of all Accord Party members in his government about two months ago.
Addressing inquisitive newsmen after a closed door meeting with members of the newly inaugurated panel, Senator Ladoja said the committee was raised to explore and work out modalities of possible areas of mutual political relationship, co-operation and integration, to the benefit of the teeming people of the state, particularly ahead of 2015. The committee, which comprised seven nominees each from either camp, has one month to submit its report.
Akala, replying to questions from reporters on what to expect of the coalition in 2015, said with the new development, the days of the ACN in government of the state were numbered. “You know the two of us, you know our antecedents. We are grassroots politicians who connect with and control the people, compared to those playing hi-tech politics. You know our results in the last election. Calculate it and tell me the total. You must know that grassroots politics is different, it’s different from what the person there now is doing.”
The former governor reiterated that the arrangement did not imply joining Accord Party, querying: “When (Bola) Tinubu was romancing Buhari, did he leave ACN, or did (Muhammadu) Buhari quit CPC? Does that answer your question?” Speaking further, Akala lashed out at opponents of the alliance, saying they were threatened by the formidable forces of the two political icons. He said he was working with his former boss for the good of the masses, saying political alignment and realignment was not strange to democracy.
While Ladoja said they had been begging the governor to conduct local government election, Akala challenged Ajimobi to conduct the polls to test his popularity, boasting that he would not win a council if he dared.
Shortly after, Ladoja saw his ally to his waiting vehicle, amid jubilation by the milling crowd.
A political associate of Alao Akala, Mr. Femi Babalola (Jogor) described the rapprochement as “good for Oyo State politics,” and portending “good things for the common man.” The socialite said: “Before now, politics in the state has been static, but now, you are going to see live and energized activity. We don’t need to deceive ourselves we can’t talk about Oyo politics, without Akala and Ladoja. Let’s face it. These are the two people that rule Oyo State. They are the ones that hold the ace and make things happen politically.”
He disagreed that the two politicians were ganging up, against a single man (Governor Ajimobi), which probably underscored the high level of popularity of the latter with the electorate. “They are running not against one man, but joining their efforts together to help the common man, because if we are to face it, I haven’t seen any government in the state since 2011.”
The committee, whose initial membership was jacked up from 10 to 14 has as members: former Attorney General of the state under Ladoja, Chief Bayo Lawal; former state NURTW leader, Alhaji Tawakalitu Abubakrir; Mrs. Adeola Akintola; former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr Adeolu Adeleke; Mr. Wahab Oyelade; former ALGON Chairman and Director Akala/Arapaja Campaign Organization, Mr. Ademola Ojo and Mr. Yinka Adewuyi.
Others are: A former commissioner under Akala, Kemi Olorunsogo; Dr. Nureni Adeniran; Chief Jacob .G. Adetoro; Wole Opadeye; Wale Ohu; Wahab Gbadeyero and former Chairman of SUBEB, Prof. Soji Adejumo.
The meet was also attended by Akala’s former secretary to the state government, Dele Adigun, Chief Adigun Irawo (Oke Ogun), Dr. Kola Balogun and other former aides, commissioners, local government chairmen, special advisers and grassroots leaders of the two politicians.