•At The OYO South Senatorial Election
The battle for the Oyo South Senatorial position is one of the most interesting contests in the state, not just because the district controls a major part of Ibadan, the seat of power in Oyo State but because of the main contenders; Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Senator Soji Akanbi.
Both have come a long way together and in some quarters, it is believed that Soji Akanbi is more experienced politically, having started politics during the Ibrahim Babangida era when he won an Assembly seat and became one of the youngest Constituent Assembly members then. And by the time Abiola Ajimobi, fresh from National Oil was brought to the then Governor Lam Adesina of Oyo State, Akanbi was a member of Lam Adesina’s team. As such, those who think taking the position from Soji Akanbi would be as easy as taking the candy from a child might need to have a rethink. Akanbi and Ajimobi have also come a long way together. Not only are they neighbours in Oluyole Estate, they had a brotherly bond. Akanbi called him “Broda Biola”.
But even as experienced as he is, coupled with grassroots respect he commands, only a few people would dispute the fact that Ajimobi was largely instrumental to Soji Akanbi’s emergence as the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress four years ago. One of the things that worked for Soji Akanbi then was his loyalty to the party. Until his recent move to the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Akanbi was one of the few politicians in Oyo State who had never decamped. 2015 was when his loyalty paid off, having been prevented from contesting at the general elections before then. Though Governor Ajimobi had earlier said he would not contest, giving Akanbi a sense of hope. Watchers of events have opined that he was merely holding the position in trust for the Governor. Truly to the earlier predictions of the political watchers in the state, the shocker came when Ajimobi declared for the seat, a decision which forced Soji Akanbi to dump APC and pitch his tent with ADC. And since then the battle line has been drawn.
While Soji Akanbi, who is re-contesting for a second term on the platform of the African Democratic Congress, has insisted that Ajimobi could not win a free and fair election in Oyo State, Ajimobi on the other hand is of strong conviction that his victory is sure in the coming polls. He is not only banking on his experience, having served the senatorial District between 2003-2007 but also his achievements as Governor. Apart from that, it is a known fact that Ajimobi has all it takes to win the election except the electorates decide otherwise; he is an incumbent Governor and has the financial muscle and machinery to execute his political project. Those in Ajimobi’s camp believe that he has been able to build a political empire for himself and has acceptability and wider political reach more than Soji Akanbi, giving him an edge in the poll. They also believe that Ajimobi has his footsoldiers in key places that matter to get the required votes. But whether Ajimobi can really have support of the electorates across nine local governments (Ibadan South-West, Ibadan North, Ibadan North-West, Ibadan South-East, Ibadan North-East, Ido, Ibarapa East, Ibarapa North and Ibarapa Central) that made up of Oyo South Senatorial District to win this historical contest, time will definitely tell.