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HOW SENATE LEADER FOLARIN'S MASTERSTROKE UNSETTLED OYO PDP

By NBF News
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He was elected Senator for the first time in 2003. But from 2003 to 2007, his voice was hardly heard on the floor of the Senate. However, when the sixth Senate was inaugurated in June 2007, Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin surprisingly emerged as the Senate Leader. And because his predecessor, Senator Dalhatu Tafida, was an experienced politician, many political observers, including most of the reportes coving the Senate then, doubted Folarin's ability to lead the Upper Chamber in that capacity.

Interestingly too, in his first major interview with the Daily Sun, published on June 18, 2007, shortly after inauguration, Folarin admitted in that interview that for him, the first four years, was a 'learning process' and that Nigerians,  should look forward to a 'new Folarin.'

He was the first to predict early in the life of the current Senate that although the Senate leadership would not be a 'rubber stamp,' it would ensure that the acrimonious relationship between the executive and the legislature that characterised the previous Senate (1999 to 2007) did not repeat itself . And as the current Senate prepares to leave the stage , it is on record that since 1999, the current Senate leadership was the first to escape the proverbial banana peel that saw the previous Senate changed leadership, unceremoniously.

In response to whether or not he could fit into Tafida's shoes then, Folarin had said: 'Well, I have a lot of respect for the Senator you're talking about. I mean Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, he has done well, he has set a standard, and there is no question about that. But I am also a believer in the young shall grow. I will be deceiving myself to say I want to surpass him. My aim now is to try to maintain the standard he has left behind, that is if I cannot surpass the standard. So, if after four years we are able to exceed that (standard), then we thank God.'

By next month, Folarin's tenure as the Senate Leader will end. And like his predecessor, he also lost the attempt to return to the Senate. Unlike his predecessor however, whose ticket was controversially snatched from him by the then governor of the state, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, after he (Tafida)  had won the party's ticket in a controversial circumstances, political  encumbrances  had been  set on  Senator Folarin's path by his sworn enemies within Oyo State, to ensure that he did  not  return to the Senate.

A return ticket  for Folarin, Daily Sun gathered authoritatively, it was feared could put paid to the alleged ambition of Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello of becoming Nigeria's first female Senate President.

In the beginning
Before the death of Chief Lamidi Adedibu, it was an open secret within Ibadan and its environs that Senator Folarin was nursing a gubernatorial ambition. But because there were feelers that the late Adedibu, was more likely to field his son, Senator Kamorudeen Adedibu, Folarin, was said to have shelved, albeit, temporarily, his governorship ambition.

After Adedibu's death, it was the thinking in the Folarin camp that the coast was clear.  But the death of the acclaimed strong man of Ibadan politics, also emboldened  the out-going Oyo Governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, to  build his own structure, after the death of Adedibu, with a view to ensuring that he not only secured the party's ticket, but  win the coveted seat.

But that precipitated  a lasting feud, as  Senators Lekan Balogun, Folarin and Akala's former deputy, Hazeem .Gbolarumi, drew the battle line, with Akala's men. But the governor's men dismissed Folarin  as a 'featherweight' politician, who is not capable of doing any harm, to their political ambition and calculations. Unknown to them, however, Folarin is surrounded by intellectuals, led by Dr. Deolu Akande, his friend, who on daily basis, analyzed the political situation in Oyo State, and make projections.

It was this  Think- tank of the group that plotted the strategy that saw Lateef Akinsola (a.k.a Tokyo), leader of the state's National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, winning his battle through the Industrial Court, unlike his usual recourse to violence.

Unfortunately for the Akala's group,  he was fighting on all fronts, having  engaged the traditional rulers in the state, in a dirty war, particularly the Olubadan and the Alaafin of Oyo.

Real Reason Folarin was denied Senate ticket
Unknown to many, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, allegedly played a prominent role in the events that led to Folarin's  loss  of the PDP ticket. Daily Sun  was reliably informed  that Obasanjo had visited Aare Musulumi of Yoruba land, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola Alao, to canvass support for both Akala and Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello. Aare was however, said not to be favourably disposed to Obasanjo's plan. He was said to have told Obasanjo that in Folarin's battle with Akala, if Akala spends N500 million, and Folarin spends just N250 million, Folarin would triumph over Akala at the end of the day because of primordial sentiment  that thrives in Ibadan for ''a son of the soil,'' coupled with religious differences .

On the Senate Presidency tussle, Aare was said to have told some of his loyalists that 'how can we see good coming to Ibadan, and we will now decide that we don't want it, instead we will work for another person outside our State, is that really possible?'

In spite of Aare's opposition to the plan, the plotters, Daily Sun learnt went ahead with their hatchet job, with Folarin's unwittingly falling  into a trap, designed to put him behind bars permanently till after the 2011 polls. The Presidency which had initially been hoodwinked  got the instant illumination that saved Folarin  when the police could not substantiate its allegation that Folarin was the mastermind of the murder of Lateef Salako (a.k.a Eleweomo), a factional leader of NUTRW.