AT a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, had demanded that the party’s constitution should and must be followed in filling the ruling party’s top vacancy due the South-West. APC’s capo dei capi, Bola Tinubu, incensed by what was seen as Fayemi’s treachery and Janus act, queried if the said due process was followed in allocating the same party position twice to Fayemi’s kinsmen, Segun Oni and Niyi Adebayo, both former governors of Fayemi’s state. The Ekiti man seemingly had no immediate answer. He promised the gathering to consult with his own and revert. The outcome of the “consultation” is what has become the Abiola Ajimobi conundrum for the party in the South-West and troubles for the centre in Abuja.
It is no longer hidden that Tinubu is the chief promoter of Ajimobi, the immediate-past governor of Oyo State, who lost a bid to become a “distinguished”, for the party’s second calabash in Abuja. Here is the argument from Tinubu’s camp: “Oyo State is the most marginalised in the South-West in booty sharing within APC. Instructively, it is the hen with golden votes, in arithmetic and numeracy, for any political party, despite trailing Lagos in population. Within the APC South-West, the geopolitical zone is grouped into three sub-zones; Ondo/Ekiti, Ogun/Lagos and Oyo/Osun. How then can Ondo/Ekiti have the position of the vice national chairman (from Ondo State) and still greedily seek to retain the deputy slot in Ekiti?” A sound argument for even distribution of largesse? Well, not for me to judge, since I belong to everyone and to no one.
Tinubu is seeking to kill two birds with the Ajimobi masterstroke: pacify Oyo State and silence the mutiny within the party in the state, then feather his own nest by placing his “own” close to the national chairman’s seat, which Adams Oshiomhole is about vacating, thereby, sustaining his hold on the party’s top hierarchy ahead of what is in the womb of time. For political correctness, nothing should be ordinarily wrong with all these mutative moves. Nothing also says Tinubu’s investments in APC should go into total deficit with Oshiomhole’s exit. The Bourdillon man, I authoritatively learnt, practically stopped the prosecution of the metamorphosing former labour leader, shortly before the 2019 polls. The de facto party leader persuaded the de jure in Aso Rock that it would be suicidal for the party going into a general election with its national chairman in the dock for alleged plurality of fraud. Aso Rock obliged. That was the extent Asiwaju had gone to protect his Oshiomhole investment, but the Lagos strongman is also insightful enough to know when not to push farther. So, he wants Ajimobi, another supposed big masquerade, to “step” in. For such a fat chunk, expect not only long knives and long nights, but even long “things”, from the judiciary, Bureau de Change and from “everywhere,” that can deliver.
Fayemi is engaging Tinubu in what could be their pre-season. He wants to retain the party seat vacated by Adebayo who, by the way, is being primed to take over as governor from Fayemi in 2022 so that he can complete the second term Fayose denied him in 2003. The party in the zone may have to choose between the two men, Tinubu and Fayemi, very soon, as the South-West joker for Aso Rock and how both end up navigating the Ajimobi issue will go a long way in resetting perceptions and relevancies. However, something croons in my ears that a dark horse will likely best the duo. It will be strange politics to dub a sitting vice-president the dark horse in a race he should be the clear front runner, but that is what you get, going in, on someone’s bill and not trying hard enough to invest wisely in your own.
In my engagements with senior party faithful and officials from the South-West, two issues, though with variants, depending on where you belong, have been dominant. Why Ajimobi? Why the current NWC which tenure will end before the presidential primaries in September or October 2022? Well, the current NWC will certainly not conduct the presidential primaries, but it can change the landscape substantially at the level of state chapters, many of which are expected to be replaced before July 2022 when the fractured NWC will bid Abuja bye. Once the delegates from state chapters are shaped as desired, the rest should be simple for any presidential hopeful that captures this moment. So, for those asking why shedding political blood now, here you have it. It is about staying ready, before the break out of war.
If Ajimobi is squeezed in, I have been told that South-West will also contest the national chairman’s seat in retainer-ship capacity till 2022, because the party constitution simply recognises North and South, which will not make the seat available for the South-South, after Oshiomhole, just by asking.
Despite his growing unpopularity at home, Tinubu is holding on to Ajimobi because the former governor suits Asiwaju’s purpose. Someone with a solid home base can easily become a turncoat when higher interests come calling. In Oyo, Ajimobi is a centrifugal force. It plays well into Tinubu’s game-plan to have him in and still relate well with those who don’t want him any longer as their leader. Jagaban wins on both sides and that should seal the Oyo delegates for him, as long as he won’t be relying on the “acting chairman” to make all his calls in the state.
But I expect Tinubu not to be any naive to place all his Abuja eggs in the Ajimobi basket, simply because he is perceived by some political interests to be a lightweight at home. The former governor has a bigger weight elsewhere and this one is deeply rooted in an emotion stronger than mere political association. In-law-ship is involved and for an Umar Ganduje who has murdered sleep, he would do anything to please Aso Rock, the only defender he has now. What if Aso Rock is looking elsewhere for succession (forget the story of staying neutral) and Ganduje is needed to get his Yoruba in-law to swing things off Asiwaju’s track? Experiences have also shown that in presidential governance, the president is the party.
Not even a Republican Party, founded on 20th March, 1854 (166 years old), could resist a Trump. Buhari is APC and the news he may have for 2023 could be o gbenutan (mouthful and earful); the comedic newspaper review programme on a radio station in Ibadan.
Politics is truly a virus, but unlike corona, polivirus troubles only those who think they own tomorrow. But corona should have a message for them; that God still rules in the affairs of men. Or who would have thought when entering 2020 that by the first quarter of the year, there would be a global crisis, compelling the ‘quarantinisation’ of the whole universe. Iba re o Olorun.