By Dare Adekanmbi
A former governor of Oyo State and Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, has come under pressure to back the re-election bid of Governor Seyi Makinde.
A lot of realignment of political forces has been going on in the state since the February 25 presidential and National Assembly election in the state which outcome favoured the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Nigerian Tribune gathered that in several meeting of politicians across opposition parties in the state in the last one week, the name of Ladoja has been dropped by various forces trying to unseat Makinde.
Ladoja, it will be recalled, forged the coalition that birthed the government of Makinde in 2019, after two main candidates of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Senator Olufemi Lanlehin and Chief Sharafadeen Alli respectively stepped down to support Makinde of the PDP.
While there is no major strain in the father-son relationship between Ladoja and Makinde, the outcome of the first election appears to have sparked a seeming cold war between them with Ladoja reportedly unhappy that Makinde could not protect his National Assembly candidates in the February 25 election.
A member of the group of five aggrieved governors of the PDP opposed to Atiku Abubakar, the party’s presidential candidate, Makinde had told the people of the state to vote for equity, justice and fairness as well as a unified Nigeria when pressed for comment on his preferred presidential candidate.
To ensure nothing goes wrong between the duo, a number of prominent politicians from the South-West have waded into the development and their interventions have strengthened the bond between Ladoja and Makinde.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a stalwart of the PDP in the state, Dr Saka Balogun and one other person met Ladoja on Tuesday evening at his Bodija residence.
It was gathered that the meeting, which lasted for hours, was fruitful. Ladoja was said to have told Oyinlola and Balogun to tell Makinde to appeal to his party’s National Assembly candidates who lost their election.
Less than 12 hours after, a former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, led another delegation, including Chief Ruben Famuyibo, to meet Ladoja at his residence where they held a closed-door discussion on Wednesday morning.
Nigerian Tribune gathered exclusively that the second meeting also led to a positive outcome with Ladoja expressing willingness to back Makinde’s re-election.
During the meeting with the Mimiko delegation, Makinde was said to have held a telephone discussion with Ladoja.
It was gathered that the tone of the telephone discussion was friendly with Ladoja showing fatherly concern for the governor during the conversation and asking if he was getting enough rest in view of the exigencies of office.
Ladoja was said to have told Makinde that there was no more issue between them and that everything has been normalised. He was also said to have wished Makinde well in the Saturday election.
One of Ladoja’s nominees in Makinde’s government and Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Abdul-Raheem Abiodun, told Nigerian Tribune that Ladoja is backing the governor to return as governor for another four years.
In a statement, Abiodun, who is Ladoja’s personal lawyer, said the reported rift between Ladoja and the Otun Olubadan was not only false but the handiwork of mischief-makers and political jobbers.
“I can tell members of the public authoritatively that Baba mi, Senator Ladoja and Governor Makinde spoke on phone this morning [Wednesday]. The grey areas between the two leaders have been resolved amicably.
“There is no doubt that Baba and Governor Seyi Makinde are focused on the development of Ibadanland and Oyo State in general.
“I enjoin members of the public to disregard the purported endorsement of any opposition candidate. Baba is in support of the re-election bid of his political son, Governor Makinde.
“Therefore, I urge the law-abiding residents of the state to go out on Saturday and cast their votes for Governor Makinde and other PDP candidates,” he said.