2019: Changing face of Oyo governorship race

Ahead of the 2019 governorship election in Oyo State, several aspirants with different professional backgrounds and strong financial war chests have been declaring their intention to occupy the Agodi Government House, raising the question on whether the much-touted paradigm shift has come to the politics of the state. MOSES ALAO writes on the changing face of the governorship contest and what the development portends for the 2019 race.

FOR Oyo State, popularly known with its cognomen, the Pace Setter State, politics and governance have always been a talking point. It is, therefore, no surprise that the forthcoming 2019 governorship race has begun to attract serious attention from all and sundry, especially due to the kind of young professionals joining the race for the Government House in Agodi, Ibadan, a development that has been described as a clear deviation from the past.

In the 42 years history of the state, it has not been without different political dramas and developments that continue to make it live up to the cognomen of being a pace-setter, with students of political history holding the view that the politics of Oyo State has continued to not only set the pace for other states of the South-West but also be a template closely followed by the neighbouring states. Keen observers of political developments, however, opine that the state has continually failed in one regard: reinventing politics and governance with a view to opening the space to the young and newbreed elements in the society.

In its 42-year history, Oyo State has produced six elected governors. But while it appeared to have started well in fielding the late Chief Bola Ige, who was 49-years-old in 1979 when he was elected as the governor of the state, the state soon began to set the pace in fielding older candidates and ending up with governors in their 60s. Of the four governors elected in the state since the return to civilian rule in 1999, only former Governors Rashidi Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala were elected governor below the age of 60, becoming governor at 59-years-old and 57-years-old respectively. Alao-Akala’s successor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, became governor at the age of 62 and that too in a contest that had the trio of Ladoja, Alao-Akala and Ajimobi as the leading governorship candidates.

With states like Lagos and Ekiti already breaking the barriers of age in governance, producing relatively young governors in succession, political observers began to point out the age factor as one of the albatrosses of governance in Oyo State, advocating for a generational shift, which they argue would bring about better governance in the state. Though this argument has often been countered as baseless, with those who do not share the generational shift view noting that there “is no correlation between age and performance in government,” the discourse has, again, come to the front burner few months to the 2019 general election.

Apart from the age factor, governorship contests in the state has often been restricted to the politicians, with Dr Omololu Olunloyo, who was elected in 1983 and probably Lam Adesina, who became governor in 1999 on the back of his active participation in the pre-1999 pro-democracy struggles, appearing the only exceptions to this unwritten rule, which has seen active and strong politicians clinching the governorship seat. Right from the party levels, the people of the state have become used to a system where governorship contests are confined to one or two individuals who have been active in the parties or have held one position or the other in past, which qualified them to be looked up to as governorship hopefuls. Unlike in other states, where individuals who have not necessarily been involved with party politics have risen to become governor, Oyo State appeared to have set a boundary against professionals in politics, a development that advocates of generational shift also berate.

But less than a year to the election, which political analysts say would be a landmark in the state due to that fact that it would present the state with the opportunity to elect a successor to Governor Ajimobi, who broke the second term jinx, the advocates of generational shift appear to be winning the argument on all sides.

Already, more than 15 indigenes of the state have shown interest in the governorship seat, with a majority of them considered as young elements. Apart from their relatively young age, a sizeable number of those who have signified interest in vying for the governorship seat are coming from core professional backgrounds, with track records of excellence in the business and corporate worlds. This development, like the youthfulness of most of those eyeing the number seat, has begun to excite and gladden the hearts of the advocates of power shift to the younger generation.

In the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which has the highest number of governorship hopefuls so far, a cloud is gathering for what political analysts describe as a battle of credentials and board room experience. Already, more than five of those who have declared intention to contest for governorship in the ruling party are what politicians would describe as greenhorns in party politics. But what these individuals lack in political experience, they make up for in board room achievements and leadership as well as a robust corporate experience and connection, which advocates of generational shift argue would be far more important to the state than just political experience. Though former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Dr Azeez Adeduntan, Professor Soji Adejumo and many others have signified their intentions to run on the platform of the APC, advocates of generational shift have been excited with the aspirations of former CBN Deputy Governor, Bayo Adelabu; Chief Executive Officer of Costain, Ayo Karim; Executive Commissioner of NCC, Mr Sunday Dare; KPMG top shot, Joseph Tegbe and Dr Olusola Ayandele, among others, who they say would change the game in the ruling party.

In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where the governorship contest appears to be among a few aspirants, with Engineer Seyi Makinde, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, Senator Ayoade Adeseun and Senator Gbenga Babalola in the running for the number one seat in the state, only Makinde appears to be in contention in the battle of credentials and board room experience, with the other governorship aspirants in the party, however, having their strengths in their deep wealth of political experience, having represented an average of 10 local governments each in the Senate.

Apart from their rich boardroom and corporate experience, most of the young contenders for the Oyo State governorship seat are coming into the race with another key factor, which analysts say will determine where the pendulum swings in 2019: Heavy financial war chest. At a time that money has become central to politics, determining the success of political ventures or the lack of it, most of these young contenders, Nigerian Tribune gathered, are sitting on wealth, which book makers note that their knowledge of how to use it to connect with the people, might determine who becomes the people’s anointed in the race.

 

Profiles of the young boardroom governorship hopefuls

Adebayo Adelabu:  At 47, Adebayo Adelabu is one of those in the running for the governorship ticket of the ruling APC. A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Adelabu’s credential towers high among those seeking to govern the state, having begun his career in the banking sector where he rose to become  the Chief Financial Officer of the First Bank.

A grandson of the late revered Ibadan politician, Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu popularly known asPenkelemesi, the entrance of Bayo Adelabu into the governorship, some observers note, has been enthralling for advocates of generational shift.

Apart from his banking sector experience, Adelabu can conveniently be described as one of the employers of labour in Ibadan, having over the years built different business interests in the city. The governorship hopeful has also become popular among the electorate through his Bayo Adelabu Foundation (BAF), through which he is touching the lives of families and individuals through financial support for educational, business and other endeavours.

Adelabu’s strengths appears to be his early entry into the governorship fray, which analysts note has enabled him to be actively involved in the activities in the ruling APC, while his experience and parentage have also been said to be capable of attracting political goodwill needed in the race.

 

Sunday Dare: Mr Sunday Akin Dare, the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) of the Nigerian Communications Commission and Chief of Staff to former Governor Bola Tinubu, is another young turk gunning for the governorship seat in Oyo State on the platform of the APC.

An accomplished and award-winning journalist with a career spanning over two decades, Sunday Dare is an epitome of excellence in the journalism profession, having worked with different organisations including theDaily Trust and the Voice of America (Hausa Service). The Ogbomoso-born media expert, a winner of theReuters Foundation Journalism Research Fellowship of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, has cut his teeth in public service with years of experience as a Special Assistant to a Federal Minister and later Special Adviser/Chief of Staff to Tinubu, before his appointment as the Executive Commissioner of the NCC.

Sunday Dare has been reaching out to residents of the state through his Daniel Ayoola Dare (DAD) Foundation, touching lives of the beneficiaries in the areas of financial empowerment and health interventions.

 

Dr Olusola Ayandele: Dr. Olusola Ayandele, a businessman and engineer with several years of experience as the Project Director and Director at Integrated Energy Distribution And Marketing Limited, recently declared his intention to contest the governorship election on the APC platform. With his customary cap and cognomen of Eruobodo, which would bring back memories to the older generation of politicians in the state, Ayandele dazzled residents of the state capital with his campaign by erecting a signpost that featured his photograph and that of the first Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Already, Ayandele has been taking his message of building “a beautiful structure of overall development on the foundation laid for Oyo State by Governor Abiola Ajimobi” across the zones of the state.

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Joseph Tegbe: When the news of the gubernatorial ambition of Mr Joseph Olasunkanmi Tegbe hit town weeks ago, not only did he up the ante in the ruling APC, where words emerged that he might be the ‘anointed candidate’ of the incumbent governor, the political landscape in the state capital shook considerably in recognition of the entrance of the man with quality credentials. Though things have since simmered regarding Tegbe being anointed, with other candidates regaining their balance, there can be no doubt that the main reason for which Tegbe’s candidature had such great allure was his background and experience as a thoroughbred professional of many years’ standing.

Tegbe, a Senior Partner and Head of the Technology Advisory Services and Markets of KPMG Professional Services in Nigeria, has garnered experience in servicing various clients of the company in the public and private sectors in the last 27 years. He is also the KPMG Africa Lead for Cybersecurity practice; Public Sector and Technology, Media Telecommunication (TMT).

With wide experience in providing various management and technology advisory services including sector reforms, governmental strategy implementation advisory, public sector management, institutional diagnostic review, business strategy and transformation advisory, accounting and financial management system design, among others, believers in Tegbe’s candidature say he is cut out for the job of taking Oyo State to the next level. But politicians in the APC and outside it note with an air of authority that Tegbe’s private sector experience should not be taken as a guarantee that he would fit into the shoe of Oyo State governor perfectly.

Undeterred, the KPMG top shot has been going about his governorship campaign, leveraging on the grounds said to have been already covered by his philanthropic outfit, the Tegbe Foundation, which Nigerian Tribune gathered, had been engaging in community development and human empowerment initiatives.

 

Ayodeji Karim:  The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Costain (West Africa) Plc., a construction firm of repute, Mr Ayodeji Karim, is one of the top professionals seeking to occupy the Oke Oyinbo Government House, Agodi Ibadan. Karim, a 1997 graduate of the University of Wales, Swansea, U.K, with a Degree in Applied Design and Engineering is said to have years of experience in Project Management, Civil Engineering Works, Special Engineering Works and Safety Procedures, having worked as the Production / Packaging Supervisor with Le Pain Croissant Ltd, Executive Director of Operations at Costain West Africa Plc where he rose to become the Chief Executive Officer.

It is this rich credential and experience as well as his professed love for the emancipation of the people that Karim puts forward as the rationale behind his ambition to govern Oyo State, taking his message “Ayo Ni O” and his vision, summarised under what he described as I-SHAPE: Infrastructure, Security, Hospitality, Agriculture, Power and Èducation, to the people of the state ahead of the landmark election.

 

Seyi Makinde: 50-year-old Engr Seyi Makinde has become a household name in the politics of Oyo State, having been in the system for over a decade and even tugging it out with the battle-tested veterans in the 2015 governorship election in which he came fourth. With his long years of experience and activities in seeking to govern Oyo State, Seyi Makinde is a primus inter pares in the group of rich professionals seeking to become the number one citizen of Oyo State in 2019, a dream that has taken him back to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), having sought solace in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last election.

Makinde, an expert on Fluid and Gas Metering and Group Managing Director of Makon Group Limited, an international oil and gas company with branches across the several countries, appears to be the symbol of the revolutionised face of the 2019 Oyo governorship contest in which professionalism and youthfulness seem to have become a benchmark.

Engr Makinde, a First Class graduate from the University of Lagos, trained at the Industrial Control Services, Houston, Texas, on Safety Shutdown System; Lagos Business School on the Development of Analytical Competence for Managing Operations; Jiskoot Auto Control Training Centre, Kent, England, on Fundamentals of Crude Sampling and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA on Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems.

His business and professional career of over 20 years began with his National Youth Service at the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, where he got employed as a pupil engineer before working as a Field Engineer (Eket operations) for Rebold International Limited and later becoming the company’s Field Manager. In 1997, Makinde established his first business, Makon Engineering and Technical Services Limited (METS).

One the advocates of generational shift in the Oyo State governorship is the former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Honourable Babatunde Oduyoye, who has, at different fora and times, canvassed the participation of younger elements in the governorship race. Left to Oduyoye, the 2019 contest should be strictly for politicians in their early 50s, as the two-term member of the House of Representatives expressed the belief that the state had been bogged down by passive leadership and inertia occasioned by the ‘old age’ of the governors.

While speaking with Nigerian Tribune, Oduyoye said: “Oyo State is too important and critical to the South-West and the country to be lagging behind in terms of governance and to move the state forward so that it can take its pride of place, it is my view that we need younger, more experienced and focused individuals at the helms of affairs in the state. For too long, we have been bogged down by passive leadership. I think it is high time Oyo State voters gave younger individuals a look in. And with the calibre of individuals in the 2019 governorship race, I can say that I am gladdened by the prospect of having a young turk with a high level of intelligence and excellent achievements and experience in business and the corporate world as governor. Among these aspirants, we have an individual who were first class graduates; we have someone who has become world renowned as a player in the oil and gas industry. We have individuals who have cut their teeth in the corporate worlds and many others. Though I am not saying that those beyond 50 cannot perform as governor, I believe the state will profit greatly if we can have a young achiever as governor.”

Another former member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Kazeem Adedeji, while commenting on the prospect of having a younger element as governor, said: “Oyo State has been most unlucky that since democracy started we have never really had a generational shift as we have had in other states. So, it appears that in Oyo State before you become governor, you must have been 60. But I think it is high time we encouraged the younger generation to take up the mantle of leadership if we are really interested in real development. And as Yoruba people will say that “oosa ti a ba se l’oju omode kii pe parun,” if the younger elements are not brought into the mainstream of leadership, then our future cannot be assured. Even the older generation should understudy the younger elements so that we will know those who are capable of being entrusted with leadership.”

Adedeji, however, warned the electorate in the state to be careful so that they do not create another Frankenstein Monster by electing an untested young turk that will create more troubles for the state.

saying: “The most unfortunate things is that the younger elements coming out to contest for governorship in the state have not been tested before and it will suicidal for us to entrust leadership to those who have never held any leadership or political office in the past. We don’t even know what they are capable of doing. Yes, it is good for the younger elements to come forth but such elements that will be entrusted with power must have been tested; they should be those we know their pedigree and capabilities in terms of education and moral pedigree. We must consider all these things before we conclude that any of the younger elements is ripe for leadership.”

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