Posted by News Express | 22 January 2022 | 614 times
Otunba Christopher Alao-Akala was only 71 when he breathed his last, but remained a colourful politician in Oyo State. He was a tactician of note, as he cultivated his people in Ogbomoso and had a firm grip on the local politics since he ventured on the scene in 1998 by contesting and winning the local poll. That made him relevant till death, as no permutation was complete until he was factored in because of the votes from the two local governments in Ogbomoso, the second largest city in the state.
He attained the height of his political career in 2007 when he was elected governor of the state. Before then, by the contrivance of Chief Lamidi Adedibu, widely hailed as the ‘strongman of Ibadan politics’, Alao-Akala was catapulted to the driving seat of the state as his principal, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, was impeached to pave way for him as both men had won the governorship election of 2003.
The late Governor Akala was not politically stable in terms of the platform he employed to ply his trade. During the Abacha convoluted political structure, he was a member of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). Thereafter, after the death of the military strongman, he joined those who founded the All Peoples Party (APP) and was elected a local government chairman. He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). After serving a full term as governor from 2007-2011, and with the victory of Senator Abiola Ajimobi at the polls that year, he was no longer a fully committed member of the party. As were the parties that had just lost elections in this clime, the centre could no longer hold in the Oyo State branch of the PDP. He however managed to hold on, believing he could bounce back by winning the party’s ticket and thereby mount the saddle once again. But when that calculation failed, he left for the Labour Party to contest the 2015 governorship poll. His new party could only do well in his Ogbomoso stronghold.
By October 2018, he was on the move again to try his luck in the All Progressives Congress (APC) but could not secure a foothold in the party held tight by Governor Ajimobi. He quit again and joined the Action Democratic Party (ADP) with a view to returning to the Agodi Government House. He could not be described as a serial loser because he managed to remain a force to reckon with, as his people in Ogbomoso continued to retain their confidence in him. He was soon back in the APC where a body known as Elders’ Advisory Council of Oyo State tried to accommodate him. Until his death on January 6, by which time the jostle for political leadership posts in 2023 had begun, Chief Alao-Akala was a beautiful bride in Oyo State. The APC leaders in the South West had identified him as an asset that might not be lost, while the PDP wanted him back in the fold. He woke up hale and hearty that morning, not knowing he would have to embark on a final journey from which he would not return.
His career in the Nigeria Police Force where he served the nation for 21 years until he retired in 1995 appeared smooth and promising until he turned in his letter of disengagement at age 44. It remained a puzzle that he left at such a tender age whereas he had attained the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), served as ACP Logistics and Supply in the Oyo State Police Command.
It is instructive that political juggernauts, some of whom were his opponents while alive paid him glowing tributes at death. They included Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Governor Ladoja who he had joined in illegally ousting from office, Senator Teslim Folarin who represents Oyo Central in the Senate and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
The man played his part and exited the stage the same age with his predecessors Bola Ige, Kolapo Ishola and Lam Adesina. Abiola Ajimobi bowed out one year younger. One undeniable fact is that he died an astute politician.
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