Lanlehin: Heading for the same ditch the second time? By Kazeem Olaitan




Senator Femi Lanlehin

We can easily forgive a child for being afraid of darkness; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light – Plato

In 2019, it was not mere accident that all major stakeholders in Oyo State’s politics, apart from those who benefited from the rot the immediate past administration created, wanted a real change in the way that the business of governance was conducted in the state. It was also not accidental that all opposition forces in the buildup to the governorship election in the Pacesetter state aligned and came to a consensus to pull their support behind the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the person of Engineer Seyi Makinde.

While the Ajimobi-led APC administration had become out of touch with the aspirations of the people, there was an aggregation of opinion that Makinde, on the other hand, suits the character of a personality that majority of the people of Oyo State would want as their new governor. The reason for that is not far-fetched. Makinde’s campaign was more populist and his path to securing the ticket of the PDP showcased him as a man of his own mind who is not being tele-guided by a political godfather or a cult of cabals.

So, it was not much of surprise that other opposition political parties came together to support the PDP’s candidate to defeat the APC, which victory would have more or less been a continuation of the Ajimobi administration. The moment of glory in Oyo State’s politics came after that election and the opposition, spearheaded by the PDP and its candidate was declared winner.

It was a turning point moment.

What started on a beautiful note soon morphed into a sore tale of greed, betrayals and contempt. Not long after the Makinde administration was formed, allegations began to fly around about how the new administration had reneged on the promise to accommodate other political parties in his government. But, contrary to that allegation, it is not a secret that nominees into the new administration were sourced from the diversity of political forces that came together.

One of the political parties that joined the alliance with Makinde’s PDP was the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and its governorship candidate in the 2019 election, Senator Femi Lanlehin. Whereas the ADC enjoys perhaps the largest nominations into government amongst the rainbow coalition, the opportunities offered to the party was not enough in Lanlehin’s estimation, as he recently announced his return to the All Progressives Congress (ADC), signifying his pull out of the coalition. It was such a self-serving position to take because Lanlehin alone, does not approximate the whole of the ADC.

Senator Lanlehin is entitled to his rights of association and his leaving the coalition is of no significant political consequence. While the senator might have been the flagbearer of the ADC in the last governorship election, there are other well meaning and notable members of the party who remain loyal to the agreement of the coalition and still enjoy mutual respect with the PDP and Governor Makinde.

Although Senator Lanlehin did not adduce a specific reason for pulling out of the coalition, his decision to decamp from the pro-people government of the Makinde administration is a disappointing threshold in his political career.

For the avoidance of doubt, the ADC has three commissioner nominees in charge of Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Energy. Other appointees from the ADC are: chairman of the Oyo State House of Assembly Service Commission, Chairman of Oyo State Housing Corporation, Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matter and Special Adviser to the Governor on Culture and Tourism. These are all sensitive portfolio in the cabinet, and it is apparent that Senator Lanlehin’s argument against Governor Makinde holds no water!

For a man who started his political career in the thick firmament of progressive politics, it is sad to see how crude ambition has seen him transition from multiple political parties within a short space of time. Senator Lanlehin would no doubt pass as the most nomadic politician in Oyo State today, having taken off from the AD, to AC, to AC.APC to taking hibernation in Accord, later moving to the ZLP, and from there to ADC and now back to the APC.

One would have thought that Lanlehin should rather be a strong apostle of progressive politics and see a character of like-minds in Governor Makinde. In the back of neglect of the people from the APC administration, it should have been inconceivable that Senator Lanlehin would make a U-turn and regroup with a political party that deprived the people for eight years. If we put the PDP’s Makinde administration in contrast with the Ajimobi APC years, it is clear that the former is more progressive in practice and should have been a natural habitat for a politician with the kind of pedigree of Senator Lanlehin. But, like they say that nothing blinds a man from reality faster than his ambition.

It is not difficult to discern that the attraction to the APC for Lanlehin is that since the party is engrossed in one internal crisis too many, it is a fertile ground to plant his gubernatorial ambition ahead of the 2023 election. But what the Senator fails to remember is that the same wolves that chased him out of the APC earlier are still very present in the party, with even stronger ferociousness.

A common Yoruba adage says that the rain must not beat one, twice, into the same house. The rain here is a euphemism to the reasoning of man, while the house is a destination of folly on account of a man’s decision. Lanlehin cannot make a bold claim that his point of departure with Governor Makinde boarders on good governance. He certainly cannot justify such a claim because of the sterling records of the incumbent administration in that respect.

The only intangible excuse he could find is to accuse the governor of not honouring the agreement with the coalition and we should ask why is it that it is only Senator Lanlehin that is making the case? Everyone knows that the real reason Lanlehin pulled out of the coalition is not because of the interest of the people, but rather to satisfy his desperation for a governorship ambition. What he fails to realize, however, is that either he remained in the coalition or he even picks the APC governorship ticket in 2023, the people of Oyo State are currently satisfied with Governor Makinde and are not in any hurry to replace the governor with an uncertain desperate politician.

Olaitan, a public affairs commentator sent this piece from Ibadan

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