EXCLUSIVE: How Ajimobi Lost His Bid To Install His Principal Private Secretary As Next Oyo Speaker

Had Abiola Ajimobi, the outgoing Governor of Oyo State, won his Oyo South senatorial election, he would have gone all out to ensure the emergence of Seyi Adisa, his 34-year-old Principal Private Secretary, as Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly.

However, Ajimobi lost the election, polling 92,579 votes while Kola Balogun, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled 105,720, meaning the speakership project was well and truly over even before it had actually begun. 

Had he won, though, there would have been one final hurdle: Adebayo Adelabu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the state, would have kicked against it, as he wanted Asimiyu Alarape, a former Speaker of the assembly between 1999 and 2003, who had also been a member of many political parties, including the National Republican Convention(NRC), United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP), All Peoples Party(APP), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Alarape had also been Special Adviser on Political Matters to Adebayo Alao-Akala, the Governor of Oyo State between 2007 and 2011.

Adisa, Ajimobi’s choice for the position, was one of just five APC assembly candidates to have won their elections out of the 33 constituency seats on offer. The Afijo State Constituency representative was aware he was Ajimobi’s pick, which was one of the reasons he went about his campaign confidently, sometimes bullishly even.

He once told journalists in late 2018: “Those with whom we are in the race have no moral value to withstand me. They are political burdens and cannot defend much less win their polling units in their various wards in Afijio.”

If both Ajimobi and Adelabu won, the speakership battle would have been very interesting, considering Adisa eventually discovered that Adelabu’s camp worked against him during his election. All that would matter little now, since the PDP is the next assembly’s majority party.

Three different sources in Ajimobi’s government confirmed to SaharaReporters that his plan for his post-governorship life was to adopt the Bola Tinubu model.

“He thought he would win his senatorial election and he would start playing his politics like Tinubu’s, such that everyone would start taking instructions from him,” one said.

Another said Ajimobi had already kick-started the process, once discouraging his cabinet members from working for Adelabu should he become Governor.

“The Governor called his cabinet members one month to the election, at the end of their normal executive council meeting,” another source said.

“He asked who among them would love to work with Adelabu if he won. All of them kept quiet, not knowing what Ajimobi had in mind. One of them, Professor Isaac Ayandele, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Efficiency, raised his hand, and said he could.” 

Ajimobi’s response, SaharaReporters was told, was: “Don’t you know you’re way older than Adelabu? You’re older than that boy; you can’t work with him.”

SaharaReporters also understands that had Adelabu and Ajimobi both won, they would have clashed over not just the speakership but many other matters, as Adelabu believed he was coasting to victory without the input of party leaders.

So confident was he of victory that his best friends already constituted themselves into a group called ‘Friends of the Governor’, before the election. 

“They were so confident of victory they already set the criteria for admittance of people into the club,” SaharaReporters was told. “Unfortunately, Adelabu did not go round to woo Oyo APC leaders because he believed that Oyo State was too important for Tinubu not to win at all costs.”

As exclusively reported by SaharaReporters on Sunday, Adelabu and Ajimobi — as well as Oyo APC governorship aspirant Joseph Tegbe and Communication Minister Adebayo Shittu — are set to battle for a sole ministerial ticket in President Muhammadu Buhari’s next cabinet.

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