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Raufu Olaniyan: A Deputy On The Ropes | Alao Abiodun

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After many months of denial and public silence, the rift between the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, and his deputy, Rauf Olaniyan, came to full glare.

There is no gainsaying all is no longer well between the duo. While Makinde is from Ibadan, Olaniyan hails from Igboho in the Oke Ogun zone of the state. The duo teamed up in a political calculation midwifed by former governor Rashidi Ladoja, aimed at unseating the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 gubernatorial election.

The heightened speculation over the possible defection of Olaniyan from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) was eventually laid to rest as he officially dumped the ruling party in the state.

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Olaniyan’s decision to dump PDP has apparently changed the political calculations in the state. The Oke-Ogun-born technocrat cum politician, for many months, nursed a sour relationship and open display of animosity with his principal.

The crisis between the duo has defied solution, with both leaders keeping sealed lips on the matter.

Upon his defection, Olaniyan, 62, said the move does not affect his position as the deputy governor of the state, saying he had not resigned.

The deputy governor added that he took the decision after consultations with his supporters from across the state. His exit was perceived to be a significant development. For the APC, it was a plus and added advantage ahead of the 2023 polls.

The story of deputies who grew estranged from their principals is not alien to Nigerian politics. Interestingly, Olaniyan is not the first or only deputy governor to fall out with his principal.

The former deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, was impeached after he fell out with his former principal, Governor Bello Matawalle.

Also, deputy governor of Anambra state, Nkem Okeke abandoned his principal in the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in October 2021 to defect to the APC. A year earlier, Agboola Ajayi, Ondo’s former deputy governor had defected from the APC to the PDP.

Olaniyan had a smooth relationship with his principal during his first year in office, but things fell apart, and the duo reportedly maintained three years of silent ‘cold war.’

Although many supporters of Olaniyan have shown empathy, they are also irked by the actions of Makinde who is allegedly making bold moves to get Olaniyan removed.

Political observers began to notice the rift after they were elected in 2019, following the deputy’s absence from state functions.

Instead, the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff to the Governor or the Deputy Chief of Staff reportedly represented Makinde at official events.

The last straw that finally broke their relationship was when Makinde reportedly dropped Olaniyan, as running mate ahead of the 2023 general elections.

On how he became deputy governor to Makinde, Olaniyan in a recent interview said: “Well, I never fought to become the deputy governor; I was vying for the position of the state governor under the APC at the time. When the former governor, (Abiola) Ajimobi, said he didn’t want the ticket to be given to people outside Ibadan or from Oke-Ogun, but I won’t want to dwell on that because he’s no more, may his soul rest in peace.

“After that, I checked out, then we went to the Unity Forum and from there, we adopted the ADC (African Democratic Congress). In the ADC, when some issues came up, I had to make my next move, which landed me as the deputy governor. Although I was also a frontrunner among the ADC governorship aspirants when I left.

“Immediately after then, Seyi Makinde approached me and I told him I wasn’t after power; if I was after power, I wouldn’t be the deputy. I’m after service. So, if it is to serve, no problem. I don’t need to have the label of the deputy or the governor of Oyo State before I can survive. I have minute knowledge of the holy books but I can tell you that power is transient.

“Being a governor or deputy will not give me the certificate to Al Jannah (heaven). Becoming the deputy was totally God’s plan. I agreed with him after he approached me easily with no conditions, except good governance.”

Although, the Oyo State House of Assembly has begun an impeachment process against Olaniyan, how he would survive the impeachment axe remains a dilemma for him.

Upon his defection, the ruling PDP had earlier warned Olaniyan to resign or be ready to be sacked, but he forged ahead.

Initiating the process, the petition for his removal was signed by the PDP lawmakers in the state. 23 out of the 32 members of the House signed the petition against Olaniyan.

In the petition, the deputy governor was accused of gross misconduct, abuse of office, financial recklessness, abandonment of office and official duties, insubordination and other offences.

In the petition, the deputy governor was accused of gross misconduct, abuse of office, financial recklessness, abandonment of office and official duties, insubordination and other offences.

Lawmakers that signed the petition are Fadeyi Muhammed (Ona Ara), Onaolapo Sanjo (Ogbomosho South), Babalola Olasunkanmi (Egbeda), Adebisi Yussuf (Ibadan South-West 1), Okedoyin Julius (Saki West) and Adebayo Babajide (Ibadan North 2).

Others are Kehinde Olatunde ( Akinyele 2); Gbadamosi Saminu (Saki East/Atisbo), Mabaje Adekunle (Iddo), Oluwafowokanmi Oluwafemi (Ibadan South-West 2), Akeem Adedibu (Iwajowa), Fatokun Ayo (Akinyele 1), Rasak Ademola (Ibadan South-East 1), Obadara Akeem (Ibadan North-West), Oyekunle Fola (Ibadan North 1), Adetunji Francis (Oluyole).

Others are Olajide Akintunde (Lagelu), Mustapha Akeem (Kajola), Popoola Ademola (Ibadan South-East 2), Owolabi Olusola (Ibadan North-East 2), Olayanji Kazeem (Irepo/Olorunsogo), Ojedokun Peter (Ibarapa North/Centre).

The Speaker of the House, Adebo Ogundoyin, later said the petition met the two-thirds requirements to initiate the impeachment process.

The Speaker said the lawmakers would give the deputy governor a seven-day period to respond to the allegations raised against him.

No doubt, the feud between Makinde and Olaniyan would affect the former’s performance in the poll, particularly in the Oke-Ogun district. Olaniyan’s fate also hangs in balance as he battles through the impeachment axe.

Alao Abiodun is a journalist and can be reached via alaojoshua200@gmail.com

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