The sudden death of former governor of Oyo State, Chief Christopher Alao-Akala must have altered political calculation and contest for the soul of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Until his death, the Ogbomosho-born politician was chairman of the Elders Advisory Council of Oyo APC and was believed to have been calling the shots in the party he joined after APC lost 2019 governorship election to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Oyo State APC has been in deep crisis over the alleged attempt by PDP decampees, including Senator Teslim Balogun, often refereed to as conservatives, to hijack the party structure from old members that perceive themselves as progressives.
The Guardian gathered that immediately the death of Alao-Akala came to the knowledge of Senator Folarin, who is representing Oyo south senatorial district in the Senate, he broke down in tears, just like Isaac Omodewu, who Alao-Akala installed as new chairman of the party in a controversial congress held in the state.
The new executive put in place by Alao-Akala has not been inaugurated due to plethora of petitions against the congress that produced them.
Observers say the progressive tendency in APC may not be blamed for rebuffing Alao-Akala’s leadership because in the build up to the 2019 governorship election, the former governor left APC to the Action Democratic Party (ADP), where he contested for the office of governor alongside Prof. Abideen Olaiya as his running mate.
After the elections, Alao-Akala returned to APC and was later made the chairman of reconciliation committee of the party by the late governor Ajimobi.
The unending reconciliation of Oyo APC
ONE of the questions pundits continue to ask since Alao-Akala died is the impact his demise would have on the lingering crisis in the party, ahead of the planned February national convention.
Recently, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State was assigned to mediate and reconcile the conservatives, led by Alao-Akala and the progressives led by the outgoing chairman Caretaker Committee, Chief Akin Oke, but that has not been achieved before the former governor breathed his last on Wednesday.
The progressives have insisted that the minority conservatives should be stopped from bringing PDP style of politics to displace custodians of progressive politics in Oyo State, whereas the former governor had declared that era of impunity, dictatorship, lack of equality, justice and fairness in sharing of political positions, especially in the executive will not happen under his leadership.
In his projected new executive, Alao-Akala ensured that all the 33 local governments in the state are adequately represented.
He said, “There are 33 Local Governments with 36 executive positions. Each of the local government will produce a member each in the executive while the three remaining positions would be shared among the three senatorial districts.”
He also dismissed the insinuation that he wanted to seize the party structure to help Folarin emerge, as the governorship candidate in 2023 while his son, would be presented as running mate. He described the allegation as figment of imagination of some members of the party.
In one of his last interactions with the media, Alao-Akala explained why he was perceived as a controversial politician, saying, he guess such misconception was so because politically, he was an introvert.
He said, “I do not believe in propaganda. I do not say what I do not believe in. Because of this, people do not know the stuff I am made of and people don’t know me. You know, when you don’t have much information about a particular person, you just guess. It is whatever information that is available that you will use. That is responsible for why they have erroneous opinions about me; I am not controversial.”
On his alleged roles during the political turbulence in the state that led to impeachment of former Governor Rashidi Ladoja when he was deputy governor, he said, “People don’t know what happened that time. I have tried to explain it in my memoir, which by the grace of God, will soon come out. For those who executed the plan to remove my boss, if they were to have their way and if not for constitutional barrier, I wouldn’t have been their candidate for the governorship position. But there was no way they could breach that constitutional provision, and there was no way they could remove both of us at the same time because I was not doing anything.
“I was hiding as a deputy governor. If they had their way, they would want another person to be the governor. I did not play any role in the impeachment. I was in Ogbomoso when the impeachment was done. I was not in Ibadan. I wouldn’t have allowed that impeachment to take place. I would have just advised them to let us talk to my boss. My boss was adamant; he was fighting on all fronts that time and that was why they were able to hit him. He thought I was part of it, but I was not. I left Ibadan for all of them when I was about to be killed on December 18, 2005. I nearly lost my life; my office was bombarded. They fired bullets at my office. Luckily for me, I was not hit. The whole of governor’s office was deserted. I narrowly escaped being killed. I just used my experience to manoeuvre out of there. My then orderly also helped me to get out of the office.”
The former governor explained why he felt Nigeria is not ready for state police yet. He was asked if the Commissioner of Police should be fully answerable to the state governor.
His response, “The Commissioner of Police is attached to the state to help with the security architecture. His office shouldn’t be an appendage of the Governor’s office. If the directive given by the governor is lawful, the police commissioner will gladly obey but what some of our governors do is to give unlawful orders and expect the CP to obey them. Who would be held responsible? It is the CP. Unfortunately, you cannot touch the governor. So, the CP would be very wary of the orders. The Inspector-General of Police is assessing the CP based on the rate of crime in the state, so he has to keep the state crime-free. I know where you are going; we are not ready to have state police.”
On the question of good leadership as an albatross to Nigeria’s growth, the former police boss agreed that Nigeria had good leaders but unfortunately the leaders were not allowed to do what they were supposed to do.
He recommended that for Nigeria to progress it required a slightly insane leader. “We need a leader that would not look at anybody’s gesture. We need a leader that would just act right. If you want to do what is right, don’t do something that is popular. It may be popular but it may be wrong. If it was not popular but right, at the end of the day, people would enjoy it. We have not had people who give attention to what is happening to us in Nigeria apart from Olusegun Obasanjo.”
The most tedious battle Alao-Akala fought and won before he departed was his Appeal Court vindication over N11.5 billion corruption charges against him by the EFCC.
Whatever Alao-Akala’s shortcomings in life and politics may be, he did not die with the label of a corrupt politician. He was born on June 3, 1950, at Ogbomoso in the Ogbomoso North Local Government Area of Oyo State.