The Southwest has been a stronghold of the All Progressives Congress (APC) since 1999. Until Ademola Adeleke’s victory in Osun in July 2022, Oyo State was the only South-West state with a non-APC governor, Seyi Makinde, who has been a superb ambassador for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the region, and Teslim Folarin, his foremost opponent in the coming elections. Mr Folarin was the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in 2015, but is currently serving as an APC senator.
Teslim Folarin got the ticket by defeating Adebayo Adelabu, a scion and grandson to a First Republic politician, who responded by decamping from the APC to the Accord Party to become their candidate in a move that is likely to negatively impact the APC’s votes.
Mr Adelabu has been joined in the Accord Party by unhappy members of the PDP, so his defection is also a problem for the ruling party. Among those who defected from the PDP are the Oyo State’s deputy governor, Rauf Olaniyan; the senator representing Oyo South, Kola Balogun; and Hon Muraina Ajibola who represents the Ibarapa Central/Ibarapa North Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives. Other candidates in the race include Ganiyu Bamidele Ajani, a medical doctor running on the African Democratic Congress (ADC)’s platform; the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)’s Hon Adeshina Afeez; Adewole Joshua Olukayode Popoola, a 59-year-old engineer from the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and the Young Progressives Party’s Kehinde Ogunniyi.
Despite the political factions in the state, Seyi Makinde, Oyo State’s governor, is endearing to many Nigerians as a result of his impressive tenure. One of the highlights of his administration was the fairness he showed during the nationwide EndSARS protests, which successfully kept it at bay.
Unfortunately, Seyi Makinde’s national profile has been affected by his membership of the G-5 forum led by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, which seems to fight for the personal interests of Wike instead of the interests of all its members. However, this is not going to be a clog in the elections because Seyi Makinde is popular among neutrals, and the APC’s infighting will weaken its chances at the polls.
A united opposition could have had a much better chance of unseating the incumbent, but even that would be long shot. It is, therefore, believed that Seyi Makinde still has a fair chance of winning in Oyo.