Indications That Makinde May Work For Atiku, As Ladoja Brokered Truce Between Duo

Rashidi Ladoja, former governor of Oyo State, was all Governor ‘Seyi Makinde needed to soften the ground for a working relationship with Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

This newspaper understands that PDP governors of Rivers, Oyo, Enugu, Abia and Benue are involved in a leadership tussle with Atiku over the continued stay in office of Iyorchia Ayu as national chairman of the party.

But as the saying goes that every politics is local, the peculiarity of Makinde’s situation, being the only governor seeking re-election out of the G-5 governors, has made Oyo State’s case interesting to follow, as insiders within the PDP maintained that it would be difficult for Makinde to work against Atiku and also win his re-election bid.

This newspaper can report that the Oyo governor had, however, been ignoring entreaties to reconsider his stand, even going ahead to exempt Atiku from all his speeches where he campaigned for PDP candidates in his ongoing LG campaigns.

This newspaper reliably gathered that prior to the kickstart of the campaigns, PDP leaders including Chief Jacob Adetoro, Dr. Saka Balogun, Chief Sunday Ogunlade and Senator Hosea Agboola, warned him at a meeting not to commit a costly political blunder by working against Atiku.

The governor had, however, remained adamant until yesterday, when this newspaper gathered that Makinde has given a directive to PDP structures from local government to state levels to attend the Atiku rally holding at Mapo today.

Only yesterday, the Otun Olubadan, presided over a meeting of Oyo PDP stakeholders at his Ondo street Bodija residence, Ibadan ahead of today’s presidential rally in Ibadan. The issues of logistics was said to have been settled at the meeting.

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Shortly after, what could be called the advanced team of the campaign visited the old politician. Governor of Delta State and Atiku’s running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa and Bayelsa State governor, Duoye Diri, led the entourage.

This newspaper gathered that the Otun Olubadan, who is leading Atiku’s campaign in the Southwest from behind, had also played a huge role in convincing Makinde to eventually work with Atiku.

However, the Oyo State governor would not attend today’s rally of the presidential campaign of Atiku Abubakar in Ibadan, this newspaper can authoritatively report.

A source, who pleaded for anonymity claimed that “after Governor Makinde considered the options available and found out that he may lose his re-election bid if he doesn’t support the former vice-president, especially as everyone around him seemed determined not to engage in antiparty activity, he has decided to support the PDP candidate.

“The governor gave express approval to his men— national and state assembly candidates as well as executives and members of the party to mobilize for today’s event.

“He has also provided some sort of logistics for the rally, and he instructed all candidates and party structures to attend the rally and campaign for Atiku but that he should be excused,” the source in the know told this newspaper .

It was gathered that Makinde had, during his many visits to Ladoja’s house, begged the elder statesman to assist in persuading Atiku. This was prior to the last London meeting with Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which eventually failed.

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“Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was interested in Governor Nyesom Wike and not the others. It was Wike who drafted others into the talk in a manner similar to how, in 2015, Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers States joined the APC.

“Tinubu had rejected offer to, apart from supporting Makinde’s second term, allow the PDP senatorial candidates win the poll and later defect to the APC. Also, some party stalwarts, especially those from the southwest, rejected the move, saying that Oyo is too central to be conceded like that,” a source who has been part of the talk told this newspaper last night.

Another source told this newspaper that since then, Makinde has been looking for ways to resolve the issue with the former Vice-President and could only find a ready arm in Baba Ladoja, who has become the only trusted go-between between him and Atiku.

“Since the G-5 had agreed that everyone is free to support presidential candidate of their choice and with the tactical manouvre they made in Ibadan, during Makinde’s campaign flag-off, when the G-5 desisted from announcing another presidential candidate apart from Atiku, it became clear that Makinde would eventually side with his party to avoid a backlash and a repeat of the Aremu Oke, Aremu Isale experience of 2003.

“Among the G-5 governor, Ortom prefers Peter Obi of the Labour Party, Wike may eventually go for the APC, especially since he has wages too many wars against Atiku’s supporters in Rivers. But Makinde apparently does not have Wike’s kind of hold on Oyo State and the top politicians in the APC. So it was only sensible that he should consider his stance.

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“Have you imagined what would happen if the G-5 declares for the APC candidate and the PDP loses three Senatorial seats and 14 House of Reps in the first election? Would Makinde be able to withstand the internal anger and frustrations of the supporters of the 17 NASS members, if they choose to pay him back in his own coin in the governorship election?

“But the governor is also being careful so that he would not appear as a betrayal to the other G-5 governors. He only caved in when it became clear that apart from not having the backing of party leaders and members on working against Atiku, the Otun Olubadan was also set to publicly denounce him, since he (Ladoja) is a friend of Atiku. It was going to become like that ‘if you Tarka me, I Daboh you scenario.’ And everyone knows the roles Ladoja could play in the governorship poll in Oyo, where Makinde’s opponents are looking for another coalition similar to the 2019 version that brought in Makinde.

“However, the last may not have been heard about this situation, because we are all jittery that once Wike summons our governor, he may change his stand again and continue on the destructive path the G-5 governors had been toeing,” the inside Oyo PDP source stated.

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