The crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Oyo State chapter, has taken a new twist, as aggrieved members are adamant on their resolve to shun the gubernatorial candidate of the party, Sen. Teslim Folarin (Oyo Central), in the coming election.
The aggrieved members, who all vied for the party’s gubernatorial ticket in the primary that produced Folarin, include Adebayo Adelabu, Akeem Agbaje, Azeez Adeduntan, Hakeem Alao and Adeniyi Akintola.
Folarin had polled 954 votes to defeat his closest rival, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, fondly called Penkelemes. Though Adelabu had gone on to join the Accord Party (AP), which gave him its ticket, the remaining APC aspirants have advised their followers against supporting Folarin.
Despite the intervention of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the APC Presidential candidate in the crisis, the aspirants are adamant that the process that threw up Folarin was flawed and manipulated, urging their followers to support other governorship candidates of their choice in the state.
In a meeting with Oyo party delegates, Tinubu told Folarin that the governorship election is not a child’s play, hence, the need to visit the aggrieved party leaders’ houses, even at midnight, to reconcile and forge unity ahead of general elections.
“I want to tell you this: those of you having bickering amongst you must all come together and ensure it all ends. Let the crisis end immediately or you all lose the election,” he said.
Tinubu urged Folarin to work “seriously to mend the entire broken fence. He must seek out elders to help him implore those who contested the ticket with him so all factions could be brought together as one.
“The party is divided into two; he must work to unite all aggrieved. We shall support him if he could be humble, pray and beg all concerned.”
Despite the interventions, a group in Oyo State, which identified itself as Oyo Kajola Group (OKG), and claimed to be Akintola’s support group, has joined the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oke Ogun and Oyo zones of the state, stating that they have taken the wisest decision.
The group, which also hailed Akintola for his political style and uprightness, said it was not surprising that the senior lawyer has come under criticism from his party members, who abhor the home truths about Oyo politics.
According to the group, Akintola had shown himself as a principled professional in politics and a true progressive by engaging in constructive criticism of some programmes of the Governor Seyi Makinde-led government, while also praising the administration for those programmes and policies he finds commendable.
The group said that Akintola has distinguished himself as a politician with a difference when he openly relayed the account of his encounter with some prominent Oke Ogun leaders, who have told him that the APC was engaging in a wild goose chase by contesting against Makinde in 2023.
A statement by the OKG’s Media Coordinator, Adebayo Ayandele, said the decision by Akintola’s supporters and many others across the state to leave the APC has weakened the party the more, while the ruling PDP has been strengthened ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Speaking with The Guardian, Akintola maintained that the next general election would be based on personality and has resolved not to support Folarin.
He, however, pledged his unalloyed support for the presidential candidate, Tinubu, adding that he will not decamp to the PDP no matter the propaganda that is being spread around about his defection.
“ Myself and some of the APC aspirants have resolved to support Tinubu for the presidency. We have three resolutions, the first is that we vote for Tinubu, the second, don’t vote for Teslim and the third is that we remain in APC. I will never go to the PDP. Though we have differences in the APC, we are still members of the party.
“Some of our supporters are supporting the incumbent governor, Seyi Makinde, and while others are supporting Adelabu. The way Folarin emerged was not progressive and whether he wins the governorship election or not is my business. My business is for Asiwaju Tinubu to win the presidential election,” he said.
When asked if there wouldn’t be a miscalculation by his followers in the general election, he said: “The elections are not coming up the same day. Though Folarin might want to hide under the guise of Tinubu, we have removed the carpet under his feet. He is not marketable.”
However, Alao, in a chat with The Guardian said that even though there is a crisis in the party, he has let by-gone be by-gone and pledged his support for Folarin.
“It’s true that the primary that produced Folarin as the candidate was flawed and the crisis did not start at the primary, it started at the congress that produced the executives of the party.
“But I am a progressive and the election has come and gone, I have no choice but to support my party’s candidate. It will be a disadvantage if I support another party’s candidate. What happened pained me, but it must be left in the past. If we are going to right the wrongs at the party, we have to be there to do it. I cannot go and support another party’s candidate and I have told my followers to toe this path,” Alao said.
The APC chieftain maintained that there is also a need for APC members in the state to come together in unity to attain victory in the 2023 general elections.
Restating his commitment to the party, he stressed that the defeat of the party in Osun State should be of concern to all party members and must not be allowed to happen in Oyo State.
“I can only appeal to all of us that are aggrieved one way or the other to have a rethink and collectively work for the party such that we would not only deliver victory for our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Tinubu but also win the other elections, governorship, three senatorial seats, 14 House of Representatives seats and the 32 seats in the state House of Assembly.”
He stressed that victory for all APC candidates from Tinubu to Folarin, as well as those vying for seats in the Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly, should be the priority of every member in the state.
Alao pointed out that they cannot afford to let down the people of the state who are already waiting for the party to rescue them from the misgovernance of the present government in the state, adding that the crisis facing the party is better solved from the inside and by insiders, insisting that now is the time for members to reunite for the progress of the party in every part of the state.
Also, former Oyo State Publicity Secretary, Dr. AbdulAzeez Olatunde, said the party would reach out to members by the time campaign starts in October.
“I want to let you know, the majority of those that are saying they would not support the gubernatorial candidate, what is the kind of support base that they have. Everybody has a support base, but how strong is theirs. Democracy is about disagreement. Everyone has the desire to be the candidate of the party but only one person will emerge. The other people who didn’t emerge have the right to be aggrieved; it is now left for the candidate to appeal to them to cooperate with the party.
“But, having gone round, if at the end they still don’t want to support the candidate of the party, heaven will not fall. We will not be blackmailed by anybody. The party will get across to members by the time the campaign starts and I believe they will all support our candidate.”
Governor Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, told The Guardian, “it’s true Akintola’s supporters have joined the PDP ahead of 2023 polls. It’s a loss to the APC, obviously. It also means that the division within the ranks of the APC is intractable.”
MEANWHILE, the Oyo State chapter of APC has threatened to expel Akintola from the party. The party accused him of making unguarded statements.
The politician, from Ido Local Government Area, while featuring on a radio programme in Ibadan, the state capital on Saturday, allegedly made some statements, which discredited the party and its gubernatorial candidate in 2023, Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin.
The APC has now said it would expel Akintola if he continues to de-market the party ahead of 2023.
In a statement signed by Ismail Babatunde, Ward 9 Chairman in Ido Local Government Area, he alleged that the politician is making an attempt to cause disunity in the party.
The APC chairman also alleged that Akintola’s utterances have shown that he is working for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State.
“Akintola’s ambition is only to ensure disunity within the ranks of the party to pave the way for the emergence of the PDP 2023 gubernatorial candidate in the State.
“Our attention has been drawn to the series of unguarded utterances made by Chief Niyi Akintola, disregarding the Oyo State All Progressives Congress (APC) and its 2023 governorship candidate, Senator Teslim Folarin while featuring on a radio programme in Ibadan on Saturday.
“Akintola’s anti-party acts, in addition to his documented unholy transactions, are enough to recommend his expulsion from the party; nonetheless, we will not rush to initiate the process. Instead, we are strongly warning him to retrace his missteps.
“If Akintola does not maintain decorum and heed this warning, we will not hesitate to recommend his expulsion from APC before he causes irreparable harm to the party and its candidates.”