2019 Election: Buhari turns to Oyo in move to secure South-west votes
Weeks after the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, and other state officials boycotted a presidential campaign programme launched in his state, PREMIUM TIMES reports that the presidency has sent an emissary to the governor.
The South-West Zonal Office of the Muhammadu Buhari Osinbajo (MBO) Dynamic Support Group, a campaign organisation for the re-election of the president, was launched in January in Ibadan.
The group is led by the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, who seeks to take over from Mr. Ajimobi as Oyo governor. Although both men are members of the APC, they are political opponents in the state, thus leading to the state official’s boycott of the event.
JUICYLINKS gathered that some of the attendees at the launch including ex-Abia governor, Orji Kalu, and ex-Senate President, Ken Nnamani, called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC to mediate the Oyo crisis.
Perhaps in response to that call, a team of two APC governors and a national official of the party met behind closed doors with Mr. Ajimobi on Wednesday night.
The governors of Kano and Jigawa states, Umar Ganduje and Badaru Abubakar, along with the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and the National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mala Buni, met with Mr. Ajimobi
JUICYLINKS gathered that the governors and party secretary did not address journalists after the private meeting which was held at the governor’s office late in the evening.
It was, however, gathered that the meeting deliberated on issues affecting the coming general elections and the fate of the president in 2019.
A statement forwarded to PREMIUM TIMES by the Oyo State Commissioner of Information, Toye Arulogun, confirmed that the delegation was an “emissary” from the president.
Mr. Arulogun said they were in Ibadan to deliver the president’s message to Mr. Ajimobi.
Although he did not specify what the message was, he said the visit was important given that Mr. Ajimobi would play a major role in deciding who occupies the “royal seat” at Aso Rock and coupled with the fact that he “is the eye of Jagaban (Bola Tinubu)” in the South-west.
“Therefore, the two northern governors, a South-south Minister and Director General of Buhari/Osinbajo 2019, with the party National Secretary in attendance, delivered message of President Buhari to our governor,” Mr. Arulogun said.
In explaining the relevance of the state to Mr. Buhari’s possible re-election, the commissioner stated that “Oyo State gave the president the largest number of votes in the South-west during the 2015 elections.”
Unlike in previous presidential elections, Mr. Buhari won in most of the six South-west states in 2015.
The commissioner also linked the visit to Mr. Ajimobi’s closeness to Bola Tinubu, a former Lagos governor and APC leader.
“The presidency emissary conveyed the president’s message to the man who has the ear of Asiwaju (Mr. Tinubu). Governor Ajimobi being a loyal party man and leader of the party in the state promised to get back to the team soonest.”
Mr. Tinubu had earlier been appointed by Mr. Buhari to lead a team to resolve the crisis in various chapters of the APC. The ex-Lagos governor played a major role in Mr. Buhari’s election and nominated his former commissioner, Yemi Osinbajo as Mr. Buhari’s running mate in 2015. He has also pledged to support a Buhari/Osinbajo ticket in 2019 if the president finally announces his decision to seek re-election.
The commissioner also stated that the visit was an indication that Mr. Ajimobi plays the big brother role to the other governors in the South-west irrespective of their political affiliation as seen in his mediatory roles in the past.
“His affiliation and good relations with other party leaders and governors across the country can’t be overlooked,” he said.
The commissioner, however, said Mr. Ajimobi is “yet to utter a word on the visit from the presidency’s emissaries.”