A number of political actors in Oyo State know Honourable Babatunde Oduyoye (Babs), the former Student Union activist at the Polytechnic Ibadan and later president, University of Ibadan Students’ Union Government in 1985/86.
Not many, however, could dream through his passion, commitment, fervor and enthusiasm for the development of the state. Our paths crossed years back and the cord struck automatically.
As the Chief Whip of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2007, he displayed clear knowledge of political issues, trends and his analysis was always laced with a kind of expatriate-Nostradamus viewpoint that sees the tomorrow of politics. In no time, we formed a gang of political analysts, dissecting national, regional and international occurrences.
His vision came in handy for the AD in its troubled times and ensured the party fielded a presidential candidate of South-South origin, the late Chief Pere Ajunwa, in 2007. It was a bid to expand the coast of that party beyond regional cocoon. Our partnership also stabilised the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere off the heap of rubbles cum dungeon of filth its assailants had dumped it in those days of the locust; when he briskly served as its publicity secretary.
The journey into the alliance that materialised as a political coalition in the governorship race of Oyo State in 2019 started its embryonic trip in 2006. By then, the caucus had been enlarged to a number of friends and like minds who are still around Babs till date. The journey actually started after a prolonged review of the political situation of Oyo State ahead of the 2007 election. The analysts that we were had concluded that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was set to field Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, could only be defeated if the actors of that era closed ranks and formed a united front.
At that time, Governor Rashidi Ladoja had just returned from the political exile imposed on him via the impeachment that was declared illegal by the courts. The parties making waves in the state at the time were the AD, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the PDP and to some extent the Action Congress. So, we concluded that an alliance that would fuse all the opposition parties against the PDP could do the magic. Expectedly some supporters of aggrieved Governor Ladoja would also join that coalition.
Senator Abiola Ajimobi was at the time the senator representing Oyo South in the Senate and the leading governorship candidate of the ANPP. It was the lot of Babs and I to approach Ajimobi with our proposal. The meeting eventually held at the then executive section of the local wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, after several failed attempts at Apo Quarters and the National Assembly.
As soon as Babs tendered the report and our recommendations, Ajimobi flared up, ‘you guys don’t know what is on ground; I will win the election without a coalition. Just watch.’ We parted on that note and Ajimobi lost the election as predicted.
In 2011, Senator Ladoja was popular with Accord Party, Alao-Akala was seeking re-election on the PDP platform, the ACN was to field Ajimobi. Ladoja appeared to have much appeal but our projection indicated that he won’t win, with Alao-Akala landing massive votes from Ogbomoso axis, and without any form of coalition. Babs, again, mooted the idea of a coalition, but his spirited efforts couldn’t convince the actors. In the end, our projections of factors that would make Ajimobi win played out and the Koseleri governor won the election with a vote that was not
As 2015 beckoned, the discontent against Ajimobi around Ibadan and Oyo South was palpable. Ladoja still had good appeal, but our prognosis showed he could’t still make it without a coalition, especially with Alao-Akala seeking the same office.
The projection was that the incumbent would lose if the PDP could harness its resources by fielding Ladoja for governor, Alao-Akala as senatorial candidate for Oyo North, Teslim Folarin for Oyo Central and Engr Seyi Makinde for Oyo South Senatorial seat.