Monday, 9 January 2023

2023 :Gov Makinde’s Fate Hangs In The Balance Over Opposition To Atiku


 

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, may be in for a big challenge for second term over his refusal to support the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar


Since the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate at its national convention held last year May in Abuja, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has been part of a group within the main opposition party that has drawn a battle line against the national leadership and refused to be part of the campaign train of the Waziri Adamawa.

The group tagged, “Integrity Group” comprising the G5 Governors led by Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State;  Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state and Makinde, alongside other notable leaders such as former governors and former Ministers, have been unyielding in their demand for the National Chairman of the party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to step aside for the position to be fill by a member of the party from the Southern part of the country.


For political observers in the state the events of last week which culminated in prominent elders and members of the party coming out openly to declare their support for Atiku and does not be on the same page with Makinde with the presidential elections just few weeks away may have set a stage for confrontation against the governor who himself will be on the ballot for the second time during the March 11, 2023 governorship poll.

The political drama which exposed that Governor Makinde was threading on a dangerous past began last Tuesday when loyalists of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the state, led by a former Minister of Mines and Steel, Elder Wole Oyelese, converged at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, where they declared their intention to stage a walk in support of Atiku the following day (Wednesday).


Oyelese who spoke on behalf of other leaders revealed that the walk tagged, ‘Freedom March for Atiku’, will have supporters from across the state assembling at the Total Garden area of Ibadan, the state capital, from 8 am with the procession marching to the ancient Mapo Hall where prominent members of the party will give speeches and justify to members of the public why they should vote for the presidential candidate of the party on February 25.


His words, “Members of PDP in the state and beyond are embarking on a march in support of the presidential aspiration of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, our presidential candidate and by the grace of God the incoming president of Nigeria. The march which will have supporters from across the state assembling at the Total Garden area of Ibadan from 8am tomorrow morning with the procession marching to Mapo Hall where prominent members of our party will give speeches and justify to members of the public why they should vote for Atiku Abubakar on February 25, 2023, when the presidential election will take place.


“As you all know, PDP is the strongest and the most popular party in Oyo State and indeed Nigeria and we have no doubt that our party will sweep all the elective positions in the forthcoming 2023 general elections. Atiku Abubakar won in Oyo State in the 2019 presidential election polling 366,690 votes to defeat the All Progressive Congress (APC)’s candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, who scored 365,229 votes and he will win it again next month with a wider margin.”

Other leaders present at the press briefing, include a former Minister of (State), Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, former Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Hazeem Gbolarumi, Mr. Femi Babalola and Dr. Abiodun Raufu.


While there was apprehension that the walk may be stopped as some observers believed that those close to Makinde may see it as an attempt to ridicule the governor, the walk held with mammoth supporters of the party participating.


Former Minister of State, FCT, Oloye Akinjide, while addressing the crowd at the historical Mapo Hall where the walk terminated, said the entire Oyo State is for PDP,  urging the residents to vote all PDP candidates across board to ensure flow of dividends of democracy.


She added that when Atiku becomes the president, Oyo State will be number one beneficiary of the former Vice President’s presidency, warning however that people should not listen to anyone who wants to denigrate or talk down on the party’s presidential candidate referring to members of the PDP G-5.

She said, “Tomorrow (Thursday), we shall flag off Governor Seyi Makinde’s second term campaign, but some visitors are coming and if they want to disparage Atiku, we shall say No.”


Also former Deputy Governor of the state, Barrister Gbolarumi, pleaded with the electorate to vote Atiku and avoid fighting anybody, stressing that there was no reason for PDP members to fight one another as, according to him, only people who was trying to prevent them from supporting PDP deserved to be fought.

“In whatever party you find yourself, your personal interest should be paramount. In this PDP, we shall not labour in vain.” Gbolarumi said.

Also speaking, Oyelese said only Atiku has the wherewithal to rule the country out of all presidential candidates, lamenting that there is hunger and suffering in the land and that the country does not deserve an apprentice president who would use the first term to learn the rope.


The climax of the political drama in the pace setter state was to happen last Thursday at the official launch of Governor Makinde’s second term bid,at the Mapo Hall, Ibadan.

The rally which was well attended by party members from within and outside the state that included members of the G5 Governors group, who came to honour one of their own, and hundreds of thousands of citizens, saw shouts of the PDP’s presidential candidate’s name, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, renting the air, to the embarrassment of the governors including Makinde.


When the governors in their speech asked supporters of the party to vote other candidates of the party, to the exclusion of the former vice president, the crowd reacted swiftly in open resistance with the deafening cries of “Atiku”, an action which observers see as a major blow to the G-5 Governors.

Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, while probably seeing the mood of the crowd, was to disclose that contrary to the widely held belief that the five governors were working against the PDP,  the group was still committed to the party. He said they (the governors and other members of the Integrity Group) were working round the clock to ensure that PDP won all elections in their respective states in the forthcoming polls.


Ortom stressed that the problem of PDP at the national level was being prolonged by the failure of the party’s leadership to deploy its internal conflict resolution mechanism to settle issues that arose after the national convention.

Ortom who was full of praises for Makinde’s commitment to the development of Oyo State, expressed optimism that the people of the state would return him for a second term.

He thanked the people of the state for their support for PDP and Makinde, pointing out that their massive turnout at the campaign flag-off was an indication that the election in March was a done deal for the party, stating that the G5 governors’ decision on the presidential candidate to support would be made public “at the appropriate time”.


Ortom said, “We have challenges with our national leadership. They have failed to resolve the internal crisis in the party arising from the party’s national convention. We shall make our resolve on this known at the appropriate time.”

He, however, asked the people of Oyo State to compensate Makinde with their votes for his good performance in the past three years and seven months by re-electing him in the March 11 poll.

Wike, who is the leader of the group, on his part, said the people of Oyo State should await the directive of Makinde on who they should vote for in the February 25 presidential election, stating that as far as he was concerned, there was no other political party in Oyo State apart from PDP and the only way for the people of the state to appreciate Makinde was to vote for him.


But the Rivers State governor was to incur the wrath of the people when he said, “Vote for Seyi, vote for the House of Representatives, vote for the House of Assembly. The other one, Seyi, would talk to you. No be so?”, as the crowd in response, started shouting, “Atiku, Atiku, Atiku”, even despite the intervention of Makinde who mounted the podium to douse the tension.

Makinde, in his remarks, appreciated the people and party faithful for entrusting the destiny of the state to him, assuring that more development projects and programmes will be witnessed in the state if he was reelected for another term of four years.


His words, “In my first term, I promised you the following on agenda Omituntun 1.0 known as accelerated development: economic prosperity, education, improved infrastructure (Awotan, Akobo, Moniya/Ijaye Road), GSM salary date, safe and secure environment (Amotekun), gainful employment with total fulfillment.

“My second term will be towards total socio-economic upgrade in the state. This is formally known as the Omituntun 2.0, a sustainable development.”

With Makinde exposing himself to barrages of opprobrium at home front over his stance on Atiku and yet has failed to muster the courage needed to make his choice on the presidential candidate to support public like other members of the Integrity Group with the election around the corner thus leaving the people of the state and indeed party members to continue to  speculate, political analysts are of the view that he needs to thread carefully so that he would not be consumed by the crisis.


Indeed it remains to be seen whether Governor Makinde can afford to toy with the support of members of the PDP in Oyo State who are disenchanted with him for still following the path of the Integrity Group when his own election would be two weeks after that of Atiku.

For political analysts however, whatever would become of the political ambition of Makinde, the businessman turned politician in a state that has had prominent politicians such as late Alhaji Lam Adesina and Senator Rasheed Ladoja, at the helms of affairs, would unfold in matter of weeks


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