Bated breath over Makinde’s strategy for 2023 elections

Bated breath over Makinde’s strategy for 2023 elections

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With Governor Seyi Makinde officially kicking off campaign for his reelection, on Tuesday, WALE AKINSELURE, in this piece, writes on issues, underpinnings that greet the Oyo governor’s bid for a second term in office.

THE wait by several members and supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State for Governor Seyi Makinde to flag off campaigns for his reelection bid is over. The wait had been on since October 12, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) opened the window for commencement of campaign by political parties in public. At several events, in past months, the governor is quick to calm the “Odun mejo lo ma lo” praise singers to tarry a while till campaigns fully commence. Recently addressing apprehension about the governor beginning his campaign, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu argued that it will be unthinkable for the governor to stall governance for campaign. She said: “The tenure is four years so why do you leave your duties, responsibilities for campaigning? I did not start my campaign as a senatorial candidate until very late because I was still sitting in the House. When you are in government, there is something to it when people leave their responsibilities and start moving out. And people should raise questions about people leaving their responsibilities and moving everywhere.”

However, the wait is now over with the governor on Tuesday kicking off campaigns for the 2023 election in the form of holding consultative and town hall meetings across the seven geo-political zones of the state, with Oyo zone, being the first host. Though some party candidates for House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate seats have embarked on consultative meetings, visits, moves to get support and following for their various bids, in their various constituencies, the activities have largely remained on low key. The wait on the governor to flag off his own campaign may not be unconnected with the fact that at every zone, the governor will not just be campaigning for just his bud alone but also for those of the party’s candidates from state to national level.

For a number of candidates, the governor is the proverbial bird on whose wings they will be climbing to fly. But, beyond respecting and looking at the body language of the governor, who is their principal, before going full blown with their campaigns, some of the candidates will also be looking up to the governor for some funding for their campaigns.

The candidates are also looking at the body language of the governor, who is part of the G5 now Integrity Group, regarding which party’s presidential candidate they are to campaign for. So as not to misfire, several candidates have simply stuck themselves with campaigning for the positions they are vying for or at most mentioning the second term bid of the state governor. With the agitation of the G5 asking national chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu to go, yet to see the light of the day, uncertainty still reigns over which presidential candidate Makinde and his other Oyo PDP candidates will be campaigning for. This comes just as Makinde and other four governors of the G5 recused themselves from the Alhaji Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, the Atiku ruckus is also taking its toll on support for Makinde’s reelection bid with the likes of Oloye Jumoke Akinjide who is Deputy Director of Women Council (South) of the Atiku campaign council, Elder Wole Oyelese, Engineer Femi Babalola affirming their stance with Atiku’s presidential ambition and warning Makinde against an anti-Atiku stance. There are those lovers of Atiku in the state who warn that they might not vote Makinde based on his Atiku stance. While there are fears by some on the dilly dally about a presidential candidate, some candidates in the state claim to be unbothered and are simply campaigning just for the position they are vying for. Some talk about the “Aremu oke; Aremu isale” experience such that party people may be asked to vote for a particular party or candidate for the presidency and vote for another party or candidate for other positions. An option, however, will be for the Oyo PDP candidates to publicly keep mum about their presidential candidate of choice. The wait of Oyo residents to commence campaigns might not be peculiar going by the number of months that the INEC calendar allows for campaigns before elections. The fear of quickly burning out campaign funds also states in the face of politicians hence their subscribing to the option of tarrying till elections get a bit closer.

Meanwhile, the wait for the governor to start his campaigns might not also be unconnected by the mandate by the governor’s 2023 election campaign council led by Chief Bayo Lawal that campaign councils of all candidates must align their plans with that of the governor, in the interest of having harmonised campaigns. The Bayo Lawal-led council in consonance with the PDP leadership in the state has convened several meetings with the candidates and their campaign councils on the need to proclaim the same agenda and have unity of purpose. Interestingly, the media arm of the Makinde reelection campaign council led by Prince Dotun Oyelade has also been showing its readiness for the task ahead with quite a number of press statements, releases to tackle the opposition ahead of the 2023 elections.

The release of campaign activities, starting on Tuesday, is the aftermath of several strategy meetings of the council and party leadership and their ability to get the approval of the governorship candidate himself who has been busy with party politics at the national level, especially the G5 cum Integrity group agitation. In a notice signed by state secretary of the Oyo PDP, Mr Wasiu Adeleke, the consultative and town hall meetings which started on Tuesday, November 22 will be held across the seven geopolitical zones of the state and end on December 17 in Ibadan. Public, open-air campaigns are to follow after the various consultative, town hall meetings. At each zone, the governor is expected to hold consultative meetings with stakeholders across the state before hosting town hall meetings that will accommodate more people.

Indeed, the resort to hold starting with consultative meetings, town hall meetings may not be unconnected with desires of some of Makinde’s men to have fences mended in the interest of not just Makinde but other candidates who may be having their own peculiar issues in their various zones. This publicity secretary of the party, Mr Akeem Olatunji affirmed in a conversation with the Nigerian Tribune, saying: “We are starting consultative meetings on Tuesday in Oyo town followed by house to house campaigns and town hall meetings on Wednesday. This is to know the feelings of party members about the party and its candidates. It is also an opportunity to resolve grievances and for us to see how to proceed with the campaigns. After these, we can then move to holding public campaigns from January. Thank God, election is still far away so we have enough time to campaign.”

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But, the governor is embarking on the 2023 campaign after losing some of those who were foot soldiers for the party in the 2019 election. The division in the party dates back to 2020 when some leaders and members of the PDP in the state alleged being sidelined, marginalised, neglected. They also alleged the governor’s neglect of ‘loyal’ party members, poor relations between political appointees and party leaders, favouritism. Among those prominent politicians, who no more profess alignment with Makinde include Bisi Olopoeyan, Jumoke Akinjide, Mulikat Akande-Adeola, Alhaji Azim Gbolarumi, Mogaji Nureni Akanbi, Alhaji Alli Dodo, Dr Kola Balogun, Engineer Femi Babalola, Elder Wole Oyelese. Even foot soldiers who joined the Makinde movement, few days to the election, as a result of the 2019 coalition, like Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, Barrister Sarafadeen Alli, Engineer Rauf Olaniyan have now disembarked from the Makinde train.

But, he still has prominent persons from the 2019 election, smong whom are Senator Hosea Agboola, Chief Bisi Ilaka, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, Alhaja Bose Adedibu, Dr Saka Balogun, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, Barrister Bayo Lawal, Mr Dare Adeleke with the latest addition being Senator Monsurat Sunmonu. Meanwhile, efforts to harmonise Senator Hosea Agboola, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, Barrister Adeniyi Farinto and Chief Jacob Adetoro seem to be yielding good returns.

But, while the governor may have lost some politicians, he and some of his supporters say the Makinde administration can rely on the masses of the state who have been treated to what they describe as good governance. Senator Monsurat Sunmonu had recently noted that though politicians mobilise, she said the electorate are now sophisticated to vote based on what they see the governor doing. She argued that some of the politicians who have left Makinde should have been more patient. According to Sunmonu, “the performance of the governor will speak for him.”

Supporters of Makinde will argue that the governor has delivered on his four pillars of security, health, education and expansion of the economy. However, there are those who puncture the proclaimed strides of the Makinde government as misplaced priorities if analytically examined. With Makinde having lost some foot soldiers in the realm of politics, going into the 2023 election, some political analysts argue that the next election may be a test case of the extent to which politicians mobilise the electorate as against the electorate voting based on their performance of a government.


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