By Femi Akintunde -Johnson
The news is stale now: that two-term governor of Oyo State, Abiola Isiaka Ajimobi, lost the Oyo South Senatorial seat to Mohammed Kola-Balogun by a painful margin of 13,503 votes. Ajimobi (of APC) scored 92,217 as against PDP’s Kola-Balogun (105,720).
The gap-toothed jolly governor has rather warmly congratulated the winner, thus revealing a commendable attitude which suggests maturity and statesmanship.
Many critics have admitted that Ajimobi performed fairly well as Oyo’s chief executive in his first tenure. There are however mixed reactions concerning the rating of his second and riotous term as governor of the ‘Pacesetter’ state. To his critics, several nuggets are available which point at a man overcome with the aroma of power and position to the height of indecorous intoxication.
For his intemperate handling of the January, 2017 incident with the students of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, he was aptly dubbed “Constituted Authority” – a debilitating toga he appears to wear with remarkable aplomb! Strange.
He woke on another glorious day in August, 2017 and decided to “dash” the paramount ruler of his town, the Olubadan a huge measure of stroke-inducing executive insolence: he commandeered the elevation, installation and legal backbone for 21 High Chiefs and Baales as bearded-crown chiefs – in a city-state hitherto with only one beaded monarch! Though, he is also an Ibadan chief, the profoundly ridiculous effrontery of lacerating the traditional institution that had propped him, and sustained century of peace and unique succession ritual did not trouble the civilian governor!
We may count it as the self-inflicted struggles of a private citizen against a high-handed government, the controversial matter of bulldozing the Fresh FM radio structure of immensely popular songster, Yinka Aiyefele, in August, 2018, thugged at the heartstrings of most Oyo indigenes, and many Nigerians. The peculiarities of Aiyefele’s disability, undoubted talent, entrepreneurial panache and affecting affability combined to highlight the Ajimobi administration as fiendish, rough and soulless.
Then, there are still arguments about his performance in the area of payments of salaries and pensions, a delicate topic in a largely laid-back sprawling state which civil service traditions are tinged with small to mid-scale commercial exertions. While government sources claimed all salaries were paid up till February, going into the elections, critics revealed instances of staggered backlogs of unpaid salaries and pensions!
In addition, Ajimobi’s boastful desire to implant his own successor (Adebayo Adelabu, a technocrat with public finance experience) triggered all sorts of acrimonious political tussles within the ruling party.
Despite once serving as a senator before he claimed the governorship ticket in 2011, the Ibadan man insisted on a return to the Nigerian Senate. Apparently, the people of Oyo State seem to share the same aptitude with the “Internet” – they never forget! The cup of the man who was returned as governor, a rare feat in the state, was too full for the majority of the people to ignore or forgive… And as if to show that the voters were not essentially against his party, APC, the other senatorial candidates won their own elections handily.
I believe Ajimobi’s defeat at the polls enriches our democratic credentials, as it epitomizes that even the big man still wielding the power of life and death (for another three months) can be brought to the grindstone of voter-KO (knockout, a terminal point in boxing).
Published first in ThisDay, March 9, 2019