In a fell swoop, the cream of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State on Saturday gave the incumbent Governor Abiola Ajimobi an unforgettable birthday present: They jumped ship into the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The decampees include a former Governor of the state and Ajimobi’s opponent in the 2015 election, Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Labour Party; his former deputy and poster-boy of the Lamidi Adedibu political family, Taofeek Arapaja; and former Senate Leader Teslim Folarin.
The list also includes a serving House of Representatives member Segun Odebunmi and the immediate past chairman of the PDP in the state, Yinka Taiwo.
Others are a former Chief Press Secretary, Kehinde Olaosebikan; former State Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Ademola Ojo; a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Asimiyu Alarape; Chief Adedeji Otiti, Brigadier-General Brimoh Yusuf (rtd), five serving state lawmakers and a former Secretary to the State Government, Ayodele Adigun.
The colourful ceremony was witnessed by a National Leader of the party, and former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Also present were two Governors and members of the national and zonal executives of the ruling party.
The decampees who spoke one after the other, castigated their former party as rudderless, just as they maintained that APC is the party for the real change and socioeconomic development of the state and Nigeria as a whole.
They described Governor Ajimobi as “Mr. Transformer”, jinx-breaker and most significant political leader of the state at the moment.”
Tinubu, accompanied by both Osun and Ondo state Governors, Rauf Aregbesola and Rotimi Akeredolu respectively, said that APC was on the path of becoming the only party in Oyo State.
According to Tinubu, the party is ready to welcome as many political bigwigs as possible.
He said: “We have a stainless kitchen and we can accommodate as many cooks as possible and because we have a variety of menu in the political kitchen of planning this future.
“We love those big wigs and we can accommodate them all. It is in the same forest that you find a hippo that you find an elephant and you will find a rabbit. In political platforms, you must look for the addition not the minus.”
The APC National Leader continued: “You can see that the opposition has finished in Oyo State. It is finished for them all. Today is important for us because it is the birthday of Governor Abiola Ajimobi and things that have never happened in the history of Oyo State have started happening. Thank God for my friend, Alao-Akala, and the others for seeing the light. All of you that joined will also join in building the party. The APC house is great for all of us. We are proud of you for joining us. APC is the only progressive party in Nigeria and Africa.”
Ajimobi described the rally as unprecedented, especially as a former Governor, ex-Senate leader, a former Deputy Governor and a host of others were defecting into a ruling party at the same time.
He congratulated the decampees and assured them of level-playing field in the scheme of things.