It did not come as a surprise in July when news broke that the lawmaker representing Oyo South in the Senate, Sen. Adesoji Akanbi had defected with many others to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Multitudes of people within Oyo State metropolis were extremely happy. We thought, why not? After all, the All Progressives Congress was a troubled party, regardless of how hard they tried at that time to say all was well.
However, what came as a surprise for many of us almost immediately after that announcement, was how he expressly denied every news article that listed him among the defectors.
He issued a press release that he remained an APC man and ensured the Senate also retracted their misinformation. The fact that his name didn’t appear in the rules and proceedings of the day in the Senate, among those who defected, was a pointer to Sen. Akanbi’s firmness as a loyal and committed progressive.
Akanbi’s decision was pure loyalty. It seemed to be a very good sign for a troubled party, and we thought it was bound to pay off as the 2019 elections approach.
Could it be a means to achieve his dream of becoming the governor of Oyo state? Having contested for the position before, we cannot assume the dream was dead.
Or the least we expected would be that he would have earned the opportunity to retain his position as a senator and get the APC’s return ticket to the Senate in 2019, going by his excellent performance in the Red chamber since the inception of the 8th Senate.
Akanbi has remained one of the core loyalists of President Buhari and always supportive of his ideas. Also, being a peoples man before election into the Senate, Sen Akanbi maintained that momentum through his bills, motions and programmes which are masses oriented among others.
Then came the twist! The outgoing Oyo state governor, Abiola Ajimobi wants Soji Akanbi’s seat at the Senate.
For Ajimobi, the ideal retirement from the Agodi Government House is a Senate seat just like the likes of Godswill Akpabio, Bukola Saraki, Rabiu Kwankwaso and others.
Or could it be the fear of the unknown outside public office? Or Perhaps, someday when it’s the turn of the south-west, he will also become a Senate President and start contesting for presidency after four or eight years.
It’s OK to dream, isn’t it? The issue is, where does that put a Soji Akanbi? He is expected to surrender the seat, go back home and enjoy the company of his family, right?
For the likes of Oyo Central Senator, Monsurat Sunmonu who dumped the APC for the African Democratic Congress (ADC), she simply found a place where her 2019 interest would be protected.
For the 14 other senators who also defected to PDP and other parties, the major offer, I reckoned, is a guaranteed ticket to seek a return to their seats in 2019.
Now that his immediate political future is being threatened by his own leader, can we now say Senator Soji Akanbi’s decision to stay loyal to the APC was right? Or his commitment to expose his people to dividends of democracy in the last three years and some months, wrong?
In a political system where you do not really need an ideology but just a platform to succeed as a politician, Soji Akanbi seems to really value loyalty and sincere commitment to his people.
That is the only way to explain his August 27, 2018 letter to Governor Ajimobi requesting for “guidance and directive for his next electoral adventure”.
Clearly acknowledging the Governor’s interest in his Oyo South senatorial seat, Akanbi stated that he also wants to retain his seat especially because the people want him.
Some local media tagged him confused and I can understand why. But the wisdom in it can be seen if we consider he knows the Governor better than many of us.
But then, now that the governor fails to see the honour done him and he insists on grabbing APC’s senatorial ticket for Oyo south, will Senator Akanbi still maintain his unwillingness to go into a primary with Ajimobi to slug out the ticket in a political contest within the APC?
Or is he trying to tell Ajimobi, I will rather face you from another party than do it within the “APC in which you are my unquestioned leader cum mentor”?
If other parties offer their platform as an option that guarantees his possible return to the Senate, should he not grab it?
For a senator whose 4-year performance has never been questioned but is being commended by his constituents, what are the options before Senator Adesoji Akanbi?
Is someone about to be the victim of his own loyalty? Does the APC or any Nigerian political party deserve such loyalty?