Oyo: Turmoil in Ladoja’s camp over merger

There is confusion in Rashid Ladoja’s camp as his men, instead of working in unison, seem to have been divided and are now negotiating with different political parties and groups ahead of their eventual exit from the ZLP, reports ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor
Overt and covert moves by associates and supporters of former Oyo State Governor, Rashid Ladoja, to get his political camp to move into either the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) or the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, are currently at the root of a serious crisis rocking the ex-governor’s camp.

Findings by The Nation revealed that current developments in Ladoja’s political family and the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), are strong indications that all is not well within.

Amidst talk about the readiness of the politician to quit his current political party, the ZLP, and move his camp into another party, his associates are daily being linked with moves to the two leading political parties, leading to discordant tunes from their ranks. Sources close to Ladoja claimed that he is dissatisfied with the unimpressive performances of the ZLP in the 2019 general elections nationwide. “He joined the ZLP with very high hopes. But as I speak with you today, he is dissatisfied with the party’s lackluster performance in elections.

“It is a fact that we want to move to a party where we can be better positioned to participate in elections with the chances of emerging victorious. It is not enough to always wait for big parties we can form alliances with during elections. Ladoja is a big political figure. He is currently the biggest political entity in Oyo State today. It is not advisable for him to remain in the ZLP with the huge followership he enjoys across the state. He has the political clout and reach. What is needed is a virile political platform and that is what we seek,” an ally told The Nation yesterday.

In December 2018, Ladoja resigned his membership of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), over unresolved matters involving the choice of the party’s deputy governorship candidate. He affirmed that ADC cannot win the 2019 governorship election in the state due to the manner decisions were taken by leaders he described as “invisible.” He said he pitched his tent with the ZLP, where he would be fairly treated, as well as all the zones in the state. With the move, he abandoned his political mentee, Olufemi Lanlehin, the ADC gubernatorial candidate at the time.

Few days to the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state, Ladoja’s ZLP joined two other opposition political parties to collapse their governorship aspirations to support Governor Seyi Makinde, who was then flying the PDP flag, as their consensus candidate for the March 9 election. Coming under a coalition, the parties, namely the ZLP, African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), said they arrived at the decision after a crucial meeting.

The parties said the coalition became necessary because they want to liberate Oyo State from the oppressive rule of the APC administration and subsequently form an all –inclusive administration that would turn around the state’s infrastructural development.

Makinde went ahead to win the election and the coalition got ready to form the promised all-inclusive government with the victorious PDP in charge. But it appears the alliance was destined to fall apart early as the partners soon started to complain of ill treatments in the hands of Makinde.

During the talks that led to Makinde’s endorsement as the adopted candidate, some agreements were allegedly reached with the coalition and others who worked for the governor’s success in the election. It was allegedly agreed that the PDP takes 64 percent; ADC would take 30, ZLP 10 and SDP 5 percent of all positions across board. But a few months later, some partners accused Makinde of not honoring the terms and agreement of the coalition.

Things fell apart
Lanlehin of the ADC was the first to opt out of the coalition. According to him back then, he was uncomfortable with Makinde’s disposition to the agreement. Lanlehin said in a statement that he had opted out because of Makinde’s non-compliance with the spirit and letter of the terms of the pre-election agreement. He, however, said his party, the ADC, is at liberty to remain in the coalition, and believes it should, in fact, remain.

Soon after Lanlehin’s exit, the gubernatorial candidate of the ZLP, Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli, also raised alarm that the governor was not fulfilling the promises he made to the coalition before the election. He said the governor has denied the ZLP political patronage, in alleged repudiation of the agreement between them. “A man’s word should also be his bond. The governor should go into retrospect and review our 2019 political coalition agreement. Our party, the ZLP, had been largely abandoned and relegated in the scheme of things, especially political patronage,” he said.

But Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Taiwo Adisa, said the governor has been magnanimous in the sharing formula with all parties that formed a coalition group in the state to ensure victory for the governor in the last gubernatorial election. Adisa said the allegations leveled against Makinde were not true because the governor and other members of the coalition had met on different occasions on procedures to adopt in the sharing formula agreed on even before the election. He reiterated that Makinde has been fair, just and truthful in handling all the discussions related to the coalition group.

And recently, Makinde himself said he has done the needful for all parties to the coalition in the state. He said members of the ADC and the ZLP have been integrated into the government. He added that teeming members of the parties across the state are solidly in continued support of his administration. “Unknown to many, I am in constant touch with Baba Ladoja and we have exchanged messages this morning.

“Many don’t know and would carry unfounded rumours. I want to implore you to go back to your local government and am assuring you that there would be reward for your labour. I have simplified governance. I am not perfect but I am a human who is fallible like every mortal. I have been trying my luck on the political turf since 2007 and it didn’t work until God said it was time. We have been accommodating everybody and we are ready to continue to accommodate all,” he said.

And while the disagreement raged, many people who had expected Senator Ladoja to wade in and nip it in the bud were disappointed as he claimed he is unable to end the festering rift within the victorious coalition.

Ladoja said leaders of the ZLP restrained him from intervening to resolve the disagreement between Governor Makinde and the party in the state. Ladoja said ZLP as a party, asked him to stay clear of the tussle, adding that it vowed to handle it in its own way. The former governor said Makinde had been treating him as an individual political leader, stressing that he respects the governor’s decisions and those of the ZLP.

Ladoja’s men at war
And with the ZLP increasingly dissatisfied with Makinde and his administration, observers say it is a matter of time before the party makes a move. But rather than move in unison, it appears Ladoja’s men have been divided as various groups within the camp are now negotiating with different political parties and groups ahead of their eventual exit from the ZLP. The inability of the members of the group to work in one accord and decide on which party to join, indicates a serious crack on their wall.

Last week, a delegation of the ZLP in the state met with the APC to discuss merger. At the end, the meeting, which was held at Premier Hotel, Mokola, Ibadan, was adjudged fruitful by both parties. The 2019 governorship candidate of ZLP, Sharafadeen Alli, led Ladoja’s loyalists to the meeting, while the acting chairman of APC, Chief Akin Oke, led his party’s team. Sources close to the former governor swore that he was in the know of the parley and actually approved it.

Ladoja’s men at the meeting included the Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, Teslim Folarin, representing Oyo Central Senatorial District; two members of the House of Representatives, Segun Odebunmi, representing Ogo-Oluwa/Surulere Federal Constituency and Akeem Adeyemi, representing Oyo Federal Constituency. Former Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Adeolu Adeleke, was also there.

Few days later, Governor Seyi Makinde and the Chairman, Governor’s Advisory Council, Senator Hosea Agboola, received some loyalists of Ladoja at Government House. Led by the state chairman of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Comrade Wole Abisoye, they pledged allegiance to Makinde and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Abisoye said he stayed away from the recent meeting of the party, led by Alli with the APC because PDP was a better home. Few days later, Abisoye joined the PDP along with some other chieftains of the party.

And while observers were still wondering what was happening, the Secretary of the ZLP in Oyo State, Bimbo Adepoju, added to the confusion when he said Ladoja and a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, are holding talks. The party scribe said Ladoja was unaware of the defection of the former chairman and others to the PDP. “We are here to look at the recent developments in our party, especially the defection of our chairman to the PDP. He joined the PDP without the consent of our father and leader, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, and other leaders of the party,” he said.

The Nation

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