The Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has pledged that he will not impose or handpick anybody to succeed him after the expiration of his second term in office in 2019.
The governor, who made the pledge at a civic reception organized for him by
Ibadan Elders’ Forum (IEF) to celebrate historic reelection for a second term, told the senior citizens that his successor would emerge naturally.
The A-list event, which was held at the Ibadan House, in the heart of the ancient
city, on Saturday, witnessed an assemblage of prominent Ibadan sons and daughters.
Among dignitaries that turned up to celebrate Ajimobi’s milestone were his wife, Florence; renowned industrialist, Chief Kola Daisi; Chairman, Kakanfo Inn and Conference Centre, Dr. Lekan Are; Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN; a former Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Nurudeen Adekola; a Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Bayo Adelabu and a former Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Adeniyi Osuntogun.
Also at the occasion were a former Head of Service of the Federation, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi; an Ibadan-based industrialist, Chief Bode Amoo; a retired diplomat and President of IEF, Ambassador Olusola Sanu; founder of Splash FM, Ibadan, Chief Adebayo Akande; Prof. Kunle Adeniran; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Michael Adeyemo; and the Majority Leader, Mr. Kehinde Subair, among others.
Vowing before the elders to deviate from the norm, Ajimobi said that he would provide an enabling environment and level playing ground to facilitate the emergence of his successor, rather than handpick a successor.
The governor was responding to an advice by Sanu, who in his speech, urged the governor to start the process of grooming his successor to enhance the sustenance of what he called his landmark achievements.
Ajimobi said, “Although the norm is for the incumbent to anoint a successor, but I will deviate from that path. I will not impose anybody on the good people of Oyo State, whom I trust to make informed decision during the election.
“My conviction that imposition of successor is sometimes counter-productive stems from the fact that I’m not a product of imposition neither during my first tenure nor now that God made it possible for me to break the second term jinx.
“I’m confident that my successor will emerge naturally through his vision, track record achievements courage and commitment to the course of the masses. We have many efficient, hardworking and competent people across the state capable of succeeding me on personal merits.”
The governor urged eminent citizens of the state distancing themselves from politics to have a rethink, especially now that he said the violence, brigandage and bloodletting that characterized the politics of the state had become history.
The governor lauded the role the Ibadan elders played in his emergence as governor in 2011, with a revelation that their decision to throw their weight behind him was reached after a thorough screening of all the contestants across the political parties.
The governor said, “They were painstaking in their desire to see the best candidate becoming the governor in 2011. They invited all of us to a rigorous screening exercise.
“Among those that featured at the exercise, some could not even articulate their
thoughts and vision for the state, while others were simply lost on the blueprint for the
actualization of their campaign promises.
“It was after the screening that the elders, all of whom were essentially non-partisan, decided unanimously to throw their weight behind me. This honour bestowed on me today has put a lie to the saying that a prophet has no honour in his home.”
Ajimobi, who called for attitudinal change among the people of the state, hinted that sanity would be restored to every nook and cranny of the state as from January, next year, as far as sanitation and the environment were concerned.
In his welcome address, a former President of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Chief Adebayo Oyero, said that the IEF was formed with the original aim of returning Senator Rashidi Ladoja to office, stemming from his unsavory impeachment saga.
He said, “But when it was clear that his political party (Peoples Democratic Party) would not give him
the governorship ticket, IEF scouted for candidates from other political parties.
“After a painstaking analysis of other candidates, including their platform, grassroots spread, prospects of making impact during the election, IEF decided to back Senator Ajimobi who was in the All Nigeria Peoples Party.
“Although he lost at the 2007 poll, in circumstances very well known to everybody, IEF felt gratified that he won in nine out of the 11 local governments in Ibadan,’’ he said.
Oyero added that since then, the forum had never wavered in the pursuit of the political interest of Ibadanland, stressing “hence in 2011 and 2015, the forum again critically analyzed the chances of all
the gubernatorial candidates of Ibadan origin before it endorsed the candidature of Ajimobi
“All praises be to God; we are here today celebrating that the choice we made had divine blessings,’’ Oyero said.
In his keynote address, Sanu said that Ibadan people were very proud of Ajimobi for having
listening ears, saying that most of the programmes and achievements of the governor were products of consultation with the elders.
Sanu said, “For 20 years before Ajimobi’s emergence we observed that there was no tangible improvement in the socio-economic wellbeing of Oyo State. The city was very dirty. That was part of the rot Ajimobi inherited. He cleaned everywhere up.
“I want the governor to start the process of cleaning up the state again, because we are gradually returning to the old ways. The elders would want the governor to do everything possible to minimize corruption. He should also be courageous to inform the people of the state that free education is no longer feasible because of the poor state of the economy.”