As Makinde’s ‘fresh water’ campaign spreads in Oyo

Following the kick-off of the Oyo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship campaign in Ogbomoso, last Monday and the subsequent visit to all five local governments of the zone by the party’s standard-bearer, Mr Seyi Makinde and his entourage, MOSES ALAO reports on the issues of discourse and ambience of the first round of the party’s campaign.

For anyone conversant with the politics of Oyo State, governorship campaign kick-off is no small business; it has always been the first major window for a candidate to test his popularity with the electorate. As such, most governorship campaign kick-offs in the state were consigned to Ibadan, the state capital, which apart from having readily available crowd, could give the impression of a party’s popularity.

Yoruba actresses, Fuji musicians, others rally round for MC Oluomo

The governorship standard-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Engineer Seyi Makinde, a man whose major campaign plank has been his determination to govern the state by doing things differently, as exemplified by his Omi Tuntun campaign sobriquet, however, changed this tradition last Monday by kicking off his campaign in the historical city of Ogbomoso.

Apart from choosing the historical and highly popular city to kick-off his campaign for the Oke Oyinbo Government House, Agodi Ibadan, Makinde had also chosen a historic platform in the land to send a message of hope, courage and candour to the teeming people of Oyo State.

Their first place of call had been the palace of the Soun of Ogbomoso, where a large crowd turned out to receive the team with unbridled enthusiasm. It was cheers and ovations everywhere, as the PDP entourage was received by the Soun of Ogbomoso land, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi and his chiefs, who gave his royal blessings to the PDP candidate and those in his entourage.

The historic Soun Ogunlola Hall, also known as Ogun o ja’lu ground, had played host to the PDP campaign train, symbolising the party’s “message of deliverance and security from the ravaging war the people of the state had been fighting with poverty, hunger and insecurity under the APC government.”

For Makinde and the PDP, the Ogbomoso declaration had been both significant and symbolic, because apart from demonstrating Makinde’s resolve to be fair to all zones in the state and to give them all great attention in terms of listening to the yearnings of the people and ensuring even and all-round development, it had also marked a positive turnaround in the affairs of the PDP in the state.

For those who have watched developments in the party for some time, the Ogbomoso rally could easily come across as a unification rally, as all sides that were hitherto not on the same page in the party had come together to forge a common front for the electoral battle ahead. The presence of a former Chief of Staff to the Oyo State governor, Dr Saka Balogun; former Minister of State for the FCT, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, former Minister of Sport, Professor Taoheed Adedoja and a host of others who were thought to be aloof, had shown how the party leaders have closed ranks to reclaim the state.

But apart from the presence of these known PDP leaders, the Ogbomoso rally had clearly proved the belief gaining traction in the state that “Makinde is beyond party affiliation,” as the state chairmen of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Mr Ganiyu Kola Balogun and Pastor Akinade Alamu, respectively, as well as a chieftain of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), attended the occasion to declare the support of their parties for Makinde.

Alamu stated that Makinde is beyond party lines, noting that the people of Oyo State must see beyond party boundaries to Makinde, who, he said, has the capacity and determination to “rescue the state from pseudo-progressives.”

“APC is AD’s offspring but we have since found out that it has proven to be a bastard of an offspring, as it has deviated from the progressive ideals. Today, Nigeria and Nigerians are facing untold hardship, disunity and poverty as a result of the misrule of the APC. The same precarious situation is going on in Oyo State. This is why we in the AD have decided that we must team up with the PDP to move Oyo State forward, because we are convinced that Seyi Makinde can save Oyo State,” Alamu said.

Kola Balogun and a leader of the ADC in the state, who noted that the ADC was in disarray and that the only way out for Oyo was PDP, added that Makinde remained the only one who could lead Oyo out of the woods.

Speaking at the rally, which attracted hundreds of party loyalists and practically shut down the city for more than six hours, as Makinde; his running mate and a former governorship aspirant in the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Engineer Remi Olaniyan; former Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayo Fayose; former Senate Minority Whip, Hosea Agboola; South-West Zonal Secretary of the PDP, Reverend Bunmi Jenyo; Dr Gbola Adetunji; Jumoke Akinjide; former House Leader and senatorial candidate of the PDP in Oyo North, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola; the state working committee of the party, led by the state chairman, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha; senatorial and House of Representatives candidates of the PDP in the state, leader after leader had extolled the virtues of Makinde, reeling out what make him the best candidate to govern Oyo State. They had also taken shots at the APC-controlled Federal Government, spreading the message of hope and good governance, which they noted that the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would bring about if elected president in the February 16, 2019 presidential election.

In his speech, Fayose, who handed the PDP flag and a red pen to Makinde, lamented how the APC had reversed the good fortunes of the country and its people and brought hardship to the people in Oyo State and Nigeria. He rallied the Oyo State voters to elect Atiku and Makinde, as he maintained that the PDP remained the way out of the doldrums for Nigerians.

In the same vein, Dr Saka Balogun, who took time to enlighten the supporters in attendance on how to vote on the ballot paper, described the APC at the federal and state level as a party of deception and falsehood. He pointed out how Nigerians had been hoodwinked into voting for the party only to “now be faced with untold hardship and hunger,” noting that restructuring, which the PDP preaches and is ready to commit to, is the only way out for the country.

Similarly, Akinjide, who had earlier thrown the crowd of supporters into a frenzy when it was announced that she was present at the rally, highlighted several points that make Makinde stand shoulder above other candidates in the governorship race, noting that apart from the fact that he is not seeking the office to amass wealth to himself, his youthfulness and experience as a creator of wealth, through several businesses, will benefit the state massively.

The former minister had equally canvassed votes for Atiku and all PDP candidates in the election, saying: “Where will you thumbprint? Umbrella!”

In all the speeches, including the emotional one delivered by the candidate, the message that continued to resound was that of a rescue for Oyo State, as all the leaders in attendance stressed the need for the people to support Makinde, who is seen as the man “to rescue the state from bad governance and misrule of the past and to restore its glory as a pace-setter state.”

While speaking, Makinde had chosen to toe the path most politicians would not dare when he commended former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, who is now in another party, for doing well for Ogbomoso, promising, however, to better what the former governor did in all ramifications.

“I stand before you today to humbly solicit your support for me towards achieving my vision of providing good governance for the good people of Oyo State. It is the genuine concern for the masses and the down–trodden that informed my aspiration to govern our dear state” he declared.

Makinde has always commanded people’s attention not just because of his quiet disposition and acknowledged philanthropic gesture but, also because of his intense and issue-based campaign strategy since he joined politics over a decade ago. And on that podium at the Soun Ogunlola Hall, he did not let down those looking out for issues in his campaign; Makinde’s message had been laced with emotion and compassion for the people of Ogbomoso and Oyo State, who he said had been made to suffer unnecessary hardship in the hands of a government without plan or vision for the development of the state.

He explained out some of the programmes his administration would execute, if voted into office, in various sectors such as youth development, health care, education, economy, infrastructure, road, tourism, agriculture, among others, which he said would be executed in line with the manifesto of the PDP.

Makinde also promised to pursue an economic growth programme that would improve the living standard of the people of Oyo State.

He said: “This is the time to bring comfort to our people; this is the time to bring progress to our state. Use your votes to make Atiku president; make me your governor and vote for all PDP candidates so that, together, we can end the maladministration of our dear state and country by the APC.”

He had also chosen the ground to address what the opposition parties in the state are turning into a major campaign issue; that Makinde did not have a godfather or someone he can be reported to, saying that it was, indeed correct that he had no godfather to take the commonwealth of Oyo State to in Lagos or elsewhere. “But I have God and He is enough for me; He is enough for the PDP and I am sure He is enough for our state and He will help us to bear the burdens of the state and to succeed in restoring smiles to the faces of the people.”

As the rally closed at the Ogunlola Hall, however, it was only the opening act; Makinde and a long entourage of PDP leaders and faithful had chosen Ogbomoso land as the first port of call to share the message of hope and the promise to save Oyo State from, in the words of a senatorial candidate of the PDP in Oyo South, Dr Kola Balogun, graduating from its current situation of being in a peculiar mess to being in a peculiar misery.

The PDP campaign train berthed in Ogo-Oluwa, Suurulere and Oriire, which were not covered on the day of the declaration, with Makinde receiving rousing welcome and resounding promises of the people’s support to collaborate with him to save the state.

The PDP campaign in Ogbomoso gave Makinde an avenue to address several key issues contained in his manifesto entitled the Oyo State Roadmap for Accelerated Development, 2019 to 2023, with the governorship candidate, a first class graduate of Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, inventor and successful businessman in the oil sector, addressing what have become pressing issues in the state—unemployment and insecurity. He promised to take the empowerment of youths with skills and provision of jobs as a priority, linking the high rate of unemployment to the prevalent insecurity in the country. He identified different initiatives such as skills acquisition centres, waste-to-wealth creation business clusters, state entrepreneurship development centres, vocational training centres and several interventions in the agriculture sector as planks for creating jobs in the state.

Two other critical areas that the PDP governorship candidate was able to address bordered on education and industrialisation, as the Ogbomoso trip afforded Makinde the opportunity to, again, emphasise the sordid state of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, which is jointly owned by Oyo and Osun states.

For Makinde, addressing the LAUTECH matter goes beyond words or empty promises, having, in the past, risen to the aid of the institution during the #FundLAUTECH campaign, a funding option sought by ex-students of the institution following the glaring failure of the state government. This time, however, the PDP candidate used the Ogbomoso declaration to explain his plan for the university, promising to remodel it to the admiration of education stakeholders.

Makinde also addressed the issue of industrialisation, promising to urgently address the moribund cashew processing industry in the axis as well as many other industries that have been killed by lack of foresight on the part of successive governments in the state.

Of all the issues touched by the PDP standard-bearer, however, a message appeared to be the common thread running through all his speeches across all the campaign stops and visits to royal fathers and spiritual leaders in the five local government of Ogbomoso—the message of shared prosperity and collective well-being of the people of Oyo State. For Makinde, the essence of government is for the people to be happy, to be comfortable and empowered to achieve their aspirations and these “are what my visions and plans stand on. A vote for me and other PDP candidates is a vote for the collective well-being of all Oyo State residents. We want to put an end to the politics of a few people reaping all the fruits of governance while the majority is left to suffer and dwell in lack. This is why I call on all Oyo State residents to join this movement to make our collective lives better,” Makinde told newsmen at one of the campaign stops.

In Ogbomoso, Makinde cut the figure of a man prepared for the top job of governing Oyo State, giving particular messages to the host zone and general promises of fairness and equitable distribution of wealth to the entire state, saying: “Our government, when you vote us into power, will not short-change you. I promise to govern with the fear of God…”

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