Barely a week to the gubernatorial election in Nigeria, leading political parties in Oyo State have agreed to form an alliance with the aim of defeating the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
After series of prolonged meetings which had been inconclusive for days because the opposition parties could not agree on modalities of the coalition for the proposed government of unity, the leading opposition parties eventually agreed to adopt and work for the success of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)’s governorship candidate, Mr. Seyi Makinde.
The meeting where the agreement was reached was held at the Bodija residence of former Governor, Rashidi Ladoja, till late Saturday night.
The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Bolaji Ayorinde, who was present at the meeting, said his party as well as some others, which he did not reveal, have agreed to work for the victory of Makinde.
Talks on the proposed coalition had started before the Saturday 23rd February Presidential and National Assembly elections. Five governorship candidates: Otunba Christopher Alao-Akala, Action Democratic Party (ADP), Senator Olufemi Lanlehin (African Democratic Congress, ADC), Seyi Makinde (PDP), Bolaji Ayorinde (Social Democratic Party) and Sharafadeen Alli (Zenith Labour Party, ZLP), had showed interest in forming a coalition to defeat the ruling APC.
Things however took a new turn when Alao-Akala withdrew from the talks because former Governor Rashidi Ladoja allegedly denied him (Alao-Akala) support to run for governor on the strength of the coalition. Consequently, he declared his support for the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu.
The ZLP candidate, Alli, and his ADC counterpart, Lanlehin, were conspicuously absent at the final leg of the meeting where Makinde was adopted.
While talking to newsmen, the SDP governorship candidate, Bolaji Ayorinde, who is also a legal luminary and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, noted that the coalition is an open book which gives room for other parties in the opposition to ‘plug into’.
He said, “The state is moving forward, we are very happy with the development. As you can see, Engineer Seyi Makinde is here and smiling, I am here smiling and some of our other colleagues are possibly still with their caucus and I believe that they are also smiling.”
He further stated that, “The outcome of the meeting is that we are moving forward. We, in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), have resolved to work with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State and we shall be supporting Engineer Seyi Makinde for governor.”
He also cleared the air about opposition parties collapsing their structures, saying they are only working for the PDP governorship candidate.
In his words, “The parties remain the same. They remain the parties that they are, but for the governorship election on Saturday, March 9th, we have all resolved to work for the candidate of the PDP.”
He added that, “There are so many parties in Oyo State. So we have an open book and everybody is plugging into that book, so it’s a developing story. For now, if I say we are five, by the time we finish talking to you, we may be seven, we may be eight, so it is every minute that the parties are joining the fold”.
The PDP candidate, Seyi Makinde, revealed that the ADC and ZLP are still meeting with their party stakeholders and caucuses. He noted that the coalition for a government of unity will brighten the chances of the masses winning.
Makinde added that, “I believe this election is about godfathers versus the masses and I can tell you clearly that the masses will prevail.”