After a year or so of lethargy even his enemies agreed that Governor Abiola Ajimobi is now making progress in the governance of Oyo State. But along with success in the workplace, the governor is also being entangled on the political field.
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN through which Governor Abiola Ajimobi ascended to power is now fully engulfed in a crisis and is practically split into three factions.
Senator Ajimobi joined the ACN from the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the platform he used for his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2007.
His entry into the ACN prior to the 2011 elections and his choice as the party’s gubernatorial candidate were indeed laced in intrigues.
At that time, the then state leader of the party, late Lamidi Adesina was known to have only reluctantly caved in to the nomination of Ajimobi.
The late Lam, apparently was mindful of the previous misunderstanding which drove Ajimobi away from him prior to the 2007 election. It was as such not surprising that ahead of the 2011 election that Lam was said to have favoured a serving senator, Olufemi Lanlehin ahead of Ajimobi.
However, trouble started immediately after the party won the gubernatorial election as the various tendencies in the party struggled for ascendency in the nomination of candidates into the cabinet.
Many of the aggrieved party members who felt marginalized lamented that they would not open their eyes while those who did not work for the party’s victory would be enjoying their labour.
Besides the rancour over the filling of the cabinet, many party supporters are also miffed by the over-riding influence of the wife of the governor, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi in the affairs of the party.
Even more troubling is the emerging crisis on the position of state leader of the party following the demise of Lam, himself a former governor of the state.
While some beneficiaries of Ajimobi’s government see the governor as the leader of the party in the state, others are of the view that the practice in the opposition party, PDP where the state governor automatically becomes the leader of the party should not be imported into the broom party. Others are, however, calling for the enthronement of a former Secretary to the State Government, Chief Micheal Koleosho as the new leader of the party in the state.
A party stalwart in Saki West Local Government, Chief Micheal Ajibade recently described as disgusting and uncalled for, what he described as the orchestrated campaign by some individuals who are trying to plant a seed of discord within the party on the issue of the leadership of the party.
Chief Ajibade described people who are calling on Koleosho to be the state leader as being economical with the truth or playing mischief.
“Let me put the record straight, the former progressive governors from first republic till date combined both the public office and that of party leadership. Those who readily come to mind include: Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Bola Ige, Alhaji Lam Adesina. If they all occupied both positions what then stops Governor Abiola Ajimobi from combining both,” Ajibade queried.
Questioning Koleosho’s qualification for the position, he said: “it is same Koleosho that incited Ajimobi against former Lam Adesina on the issue of who should control the party, saying, being the governor he should be the state leader of the party. But Governor Ajimobi handled the issue with maturity.”
Many political analysts believe that if Ajimobi refused to give heed to Lam Adesina, that it would be surprising for him to cave in to Koleosho or others whose influence and political aura could not match that of Lam.
The ACN Publicity Secretary in the state, Mr. Dauda Kolawole, however, denies any knowledge of rift in the party saying “what is happening now is mere individual differences. Those who complain they are being side-lined will be taken care of.”
His claim nonetheless, it is now generally agreed that the ACN in Oyo State is now split in three. Supporters of Ajimobi have congregated under the Senator Ajimobi Campaign Organisation, SENACO, supporters of Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, are known as SOLAN while the third leg of the party are remnants of the support base of the late Lam Adesina.
Interestingly, Lam’s supporters and SOLAN are presently at daggers drawn with the governor.
The crisis in the party reached a climax recently when some members of the party demanded the outright removal of the State Chairman, Chief Akin Oke, and other members of the State executive.
They took their grievance into a protest to the party office where they carried placards with inscriptions such as “Governor, enough of Madam’s interest, Akin Oke Must Go; he is a traitor” among others.
They vowed not to relent until the chairman and others were removed. Members of the NURTW were said to have attacked the protesters at the party secretariat in Yemetu, Ibadan.
The leaders of the protest, Messrs Sola Oyediran from Ibadan North-East Local Government and Sarumi Ibrahim Olawale, from Ibadan South-West Local Government councils, complained that they were fed up with the leadership of the party describing as unacceptable the delay in conducting council election.
They also called for “severance of all links with the office and/or person of the first lady of Oyo State in the running of the affairs of ACN in Oyo State; re-instatement of all suspended and dissolved wards and local government party executives and the dissolution of all the illegally constituted caretaker executives in the affected wards and local governments.”
Though, the leadership of the party believes the crisis would soon fizzle out, but those who look deeply see more serious trouble ahead.