There were indications on Friday that the Senator Rashidi Ladoja-led Zenith Labour Party in Oyo State has initiated merger talks with the All Progressives Congress in a bid to ousting the State Governor, Seyi Makinde, of the Peoples Democratic Party.
It was learnt that the talks approved by Ladoja are targeted at working out a coalition of ZLP, PDP, Social Democratic Party, African Democratic Congress and a faction of the Alliance for Democracy.
A team of Ladoja’s loyalists to the merger meeting held at Premier Hotel, Ibadan, the State capital, on Friday was led by the 2019 governorship candidate of ZLP, Sharafadeen Alli.
The meeting also had in attendance a former Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Adeolu Adeleke; Bimbo Adepoju, Waheed Akanbi, Alhaja Sherifat Yanimowo, Monisola Tegbe, Idowu Olaniyan, Koyejo Odetunde, Sule Adedokun and Kazeem Raji.
The APC team was led by the Caretaker Chairman of the party in the State, Chief Akin Oke, with the representative of the Oyo Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Teslim Folarin; Segun Odebunmi, representating Ogo-Oluwa/Surulere Federal Constituency; and Akeem Adeyemi, representing Oyo Federal Constituency.
An APC chieftain in the State, Wale Ohu, said there was nothing new about the meeting “because this is a season of consultations.”
“The ZLP, symbolised by the Ladoja group and the APC led by our own party chairman, Chief Akin Oke, are here for deliberation and consultation. We are looking at a possibility of working together.
“We look at a possibility of making Oyo State better if we can now work together; that is the paramount thing in our mind and that is the essence of the sitting . So , that was what we did today ( Friday),” Oke said.
When asked why Alao-Akala and Ladoja were absent at the meeting, he said, “The meeting is not about Alao-Akala and Ladoja. The meeting is about the APC as a party, which happens to have former Governor Alao-Akala as a member, and ZLP, which happens to have former Governor Ladoja as a member. So, the meeting was strictly between the APC and the ZLP. But the APC might be symbolic with Akala while the ZLP is symbolic with Ladoja.”
A former Speaker of the House of Assembly and chieftain of ZLP, Adeolu Adeleke, said the meeting brought together political actors to consult on the political future of the two political parties.
“ So, we came together to consult. We have not taken any decision to that effect. In a couple of days to come, I believe the meeting will also come up with other political parties.
“This is a period of consultations. We are not members of PDP. We have met with APC at the State level. In a couple of days, we are going to meet with PDP also,” Adeleke said.
He added, “The final decision would be taken on a particular party we will work with. So, we are just meeting ourselves. So, this will not be the last meeting, I can rightly say.
“We have not taken the final decision. We are going to meet other political party and that is the PDP. But one thing I can tell you on a good note is that, at least, for now, from human perspective, it is either we belong to the PDP or we belong to APC at the end of the day.”
In a reaction to this, Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said in a telephone interview with our correspondent that there was no quarrel between the Governor and Ladoja.
“We are not bothered about talks of 2023. I can also tell you that anybody can just bandy the name of a statesman; Baba Ladoja in this case. When you become a statesman, you will become like a marketplace, so everybody will start to describe you in different pictures. The fact that Baba Ladoja was physically not present and people are mentioning his name means that they are just trying to tap into that name.
“There is no quarrel between Baba Ladoja and Governor Seyi Makinde. There is no division between them.”