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CHANGING DYNAMICS OF SOUTH WEST POLITICS

By NBF News
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Despite pockets of dissenting voices, the political bonding of the South West along ethnic definition has become proverbial. In the heydays of the defunct Action Group, led by the late Yoruba political sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, most of the winners, from the councillorship to the governorship, have an AG hue.

It was no surprise, therefore, that when the military despotism became a thing of the past in Nigeria and a new democratic dispensation was born in 1999, the Awo political structure easily morphed into the AD (Alliance for Democracy).

Given the political precedence of yesteryears, many believed that the AD would repeat the AG feat. There was little surprise, as the party, with the support of former governor of Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige, easily swept the South-West states. To political observers, it echoed the trite that what breeds in the bone would surely come out on the flesh.

For the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba, who, however, emerged from the Peoples Democratic Party, the resounding trouncing suffered in the hands of the AD was one too many. If allowed to repeat itself, as he sought re-election in 2003, that would translate into an endgame for his political ambition and, more especially, a recipe for loss of confidence.

To forestall the looming debacle, Obasanjo rapped South West leaders to give him massive support for the presidency. Blood is thicker than water: the South West fell prey to the cliché; thus, the Ota farmer garnered massive votes from the region. It was a dice that gave birth to unexpected contraries: AD lost all the states it hitherto controlled, in 2003, except Lagos, to the PDP. How is the mighty falling?

But the political dynamism in the South West couldn't stop following a wavering course. Just when the PDP was cutting a carper across the plain of invisibility, the losers were strategising to scupper the status quo. First, the PDP surrendered Ondo State to the Labour Party after a nerve-racking legal tussle. Thereafter, the PDP lost Ekiti State to the AD. Just yesterday, it lost Osun State to the AD, leaving only two states to the PDP.

While the bells of political supremacy toll by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the ingenuity of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, cannot be talked about in hushed tones. He not only sponsored most of the governorship candidates from his party, but kept rallying round them when they seemed to be going down hill. With the highflying triumphs by the ACN, permutations as to how the pendulum would swing in the 2011 is unfolding.

The question is: Where does this leave the PDP in 2010, especially against the backdrop of Obasanjo's open presentation of President Jonathan as the candidate of the South-West?

With ACN almost in control of South West, the endorsement of Jonathan may just be a fluke, as supporters of the party would stand behind its presidential candidate in 2011. Also, the party would press to win over Ogun State, where the state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is having a running battle with Obasanjo and others over who would be the next governor. The case of Oyo is also dicey, as the former governor, Rasheed Ladoja, has vowed to unseat Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala. The ACN wants to claim Oyo, to complete the coup de grace.

Taking all these together, it is becoming obvious that before the next general elections, in 2015, after next year's, the South West may just return to its old way of being in the opposition, which has seen Yoruba supporting parties that are not in control of the Federal Government.