Political calcutions in Ogun State assumed a new dimension on Monday, 3rd December, 2018 when the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, made public his preference for a governorship candidate other than Prince Dapo Abiodun of his All Progressives Congress (APC).
Expectedly, tongues have started wagging in different directions, questioning the rationale behind Amosun’s action which some political analysts have termed an anti-party activity. While some have applauded Amosun for the courage he displayed by publicly announcing his preference for his anointed candidate, Honourable Abdul-Kabir Adekunle Akinlade over the APC candidate, Dapo Abiodun, others have accused the governor of being an ingrate who rewards the party that gave him the opportunity of running the affairs of the state for a two-term period of eight years (2011 to 2019).
Amosun had on Monday, 3rd December, 2018, during a stakeholders’ meeting held in Abeokuta, the state capital, declared his readiness to work against the APC’s governorship candidate, Abiodun because of what he described as injustice metted out to him during the party’s gubernatorial and State House of Assembly primaries held last October in the state where his anointed candidate, Honourable Akinlade and 26 other Ogun Assembly aspirants lost out.
Since then, the governor had on about eight times, visited President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the matter towards substituting Akinlade for the choice of Dapo Abiodun all to no avail.
Consequent upon his unsuccessful effort at getting President Buhari to prevail on the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led APC National Working Committee (NWC) to play game with Amosun, Akinlade along with the other 26 aggrieved aspirants defected from APC to the Allied People’s Movement (APM) where they secured the party’s tickets to pursue their political ambitions.
But addressing his supporters during the stakeholders’ meeting, Amosun said: “all of us we are supporting President Buhari and no one else apart from Hon. Akinlade for governor. I am still in APC. I dare and challenge them to say we are not in APC.
“I am not going to hide under one finger to fight because only traitors will not take position at critical times”.
“In this one, Akinlade has my full blessing to pursue that mandate that the people freely gave to him. So, I am not going to stop him. In fact, I am going to give everything that I have to that course and if truly our people are behind him, it will definitely show”.
“I will never be with any illegalities but we would all campaign vigorously for Mr President but I will not work for any other governorship candidate apart from Hon. Adekunle Akinlade and anyone of you who would want to follow him, I would not stop you”.
“Imagine, we have 26 House of Assembly candidates and you now say that Amosun should stop them. For what? In fact God will punish Amosun if I stop them. All our Assembly members that have decided to follow Hon. Akinlade, you have my support and blessing”.
Amosun’s declaration of support for Akinlade, who is a governorship candidate of APM has however, caught the attention of many analysts who have come into the conclusion that the governor may be on the way towards repeating a political history of the year 2011 where the rulling party lost the seat of power to a rival political party.
LEADERSHIP recalls that in year 2011, the same scenario played out when the administration of former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was at the helms of affairs and former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the same party.
During the electioneering processes of year 2011, the PDP administration in the state then could not agree on a concensus candidate despite the party’s resolution that the Yewa-Awori people of Ogun West Senatorial district should produce the governor. The system them threw up two prominent sons from the zone due to the internal dispute rocking the state chapter of PDP.
Just like we have in the present Amosun and APC’s scenario, the inability of the PDP to resolve its internal wranglings then, compelled party members loyal to the incumbent governor then, Otunba Daniel to pull out of PDP and formed a new party, the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) where Daniel’s anointed candidate, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka emerged as its governorship candidate for year 2011 general elections. On the other hand, party members loyal to President Obasanjo in PDP presented Ret. Gen. Adetunji Idowu Olurin at its governorship candidate for the same election.
At the end of that electioneering process, none of either the PDP or PPN was able to muscle the necessary number of votes to secure electoral victory and at the end of the elections, governorship candidate of the opposition party the Action Congress of Nigeria in person of the incumbent governor, Ibikunle Amosun emerged victorious in that gubernatorial contest.
Ab initio, observers and analysts of Ogun polity have continued to ask: “ since Amosun have moved his loyalists to APM, is Ogun going to have a repetition of the year 2011 electioneering scenario?”. If not, has Amosun learnt any lesson from the fall of PDP in year 2011 being the direct beneficiary of the internal crisis that rocked that party then? If not, what impact are his loyalists who defected to APM going to make in the forthcoming general elections in Ogun state? And with their defection to APM, will it still be possible for APC to retain the governorship seat of Ogun after year 2019 general elections? These are some of the questions currently begging for answers in the minds of watchers of political happenings in the Gateway state.
Call For Sanctions Against Amosun And His Right To Freedom Of Association
Divergent views have however, continued to trail the public posturing of Governor Amosun since few days when he ooenly expressed his mind. While a class of analysts and politicians hold the views that Amosun is guilty of anti-party activity and are calling for a sanction against Mr. Governor, another set of observers, analysts and politicians also hold the views that the governor is at liberty to associate with any political party of his choice as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
For example, just last Wednesday, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Media Organisation (BMO) demanded the withdrawal of the Senatorial ticket given to Amosun on the ground of an alledged anti-party activity.
BMO, in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke maintained that any acts amounting to anti-party activities should not be encouraged.
“We are disappointed that some ranking APC members who are actually founding members of the ruling party have encouraged some of their associates who lost out in the recent party primaries to seek elective offices on the platforms of other parties.
“It is wrong for these party chieftains to publicly exhibit acts of disloyalty and still expect to be accorded respect and rewarded by the ruling party.
“If they feel their associates are good enough to contest on another platform, they should also go pick the tickets of those parties. We at BMO, therefore, call on APC leadership to sanction these leaders by withdrawing their party tickets and give them to more loyal members”, the statement read in part.
While the BMO was calling for a sanction against Mr. Governor for an alledged anti – party activity, the Campaign for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) is opposed to that call as it maintains that Amosun has immunity under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to choose which association or party he wants to be associated with.
Speaking in an interview with LEADERSHIP POLITICS, CDHR National Secretary, Comrade Yinka Folarin explaine that Amosun’s decision not to support Dapo Abiodun as the APC governorship candidate could be birne out of an inference that the governor is being humiliated out of office and not necessarily because of that position.
“Amosun is at liberty to support any candidate of his choice and above all, the Constitution is supreme. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) is supreme to that of his political party constitution or any other extant laws”.
“For anyone who is aggrieved over his decision should express him or herself in line with whatever provisions of the law he or she is relying on. But to me, the political situation in the country, especially in his party, APC birthed the unusual scenario which is not limited to Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state alone as we have in Imo state among others”.
“It is only advisable that politicians should not heat up the polity, but abide by the rules of the game and respect the right of other actors in the electoral process, more so that APC is not the only political party in Nigeria”.
CHANCES OF APC GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE AT WINNING 2019 CONTEST
Considering the number, locality and calibre of all the governorship contestants in Ogun state, observers and analysts have expressed divert opinions over the action of the governor in pulling out his loyalists from the rulling APC. While some hold the views that Amosun’s action will negatively affect the fortune of APC’s governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun, other maintained that pedigrees of the calibre of loyalists with which the governor is deluding himself are too insignificant to affect the fortune of the party in the 2019 governorship election.
A cursory look at the candidature of the leading contestants revealed that APC’s guber candidate, Abiodun will be slugging it out with the Senator representing Ogun East at the National Assembly (NASS), Buruji Kashamu who is the governorship candidate of the PDP, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka on the platform of African Democratic Congress (ADC), former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole on the platform of ADP, as well as Prince Olawale Rotimi Paseda on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP).
While ADC guber candidate, Isiaka hails from Ogun West Senatorial district and former Speaker Bankole from Ogun Central, the trio of Abiodun (APC), Kashamu (PDP) and Paseda (SDP) are from the Ijebu/Remo province of Ogun East Senatorial district.
Given the antecedent of the voting pattern in the state, some analyst are of the opinion that pulling out of Amosun’s supporters may provide the needed opportunity for Kashamu’s guber ambition to deflate Dapo Abiodun’s chance from Ogun East where a bulk vote in support of Abiodun is expected. This is against the backdrop that Kashamu once defeated Abiodun during the year 2015 Senatorial contest.
This may however, leave the APC candidate to rely on votes from Ogun Central which is Amosun’s base as well as whichever other votes he could garner from among the Yewa – Awori people, Isiaka’s base which has been agitating to break the over 40 years jinx.
Apart from the Kashamu’s guber ambition which may jeopardise APC’s chance of retaining the governorship seat, there has also being an agitation among the Ijebu people that the next governor of the state must be of an Ijebu indigene. They argued that the former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel was from Sagamu in Remo land, whereas Dapo Abiodun is also from Iperu Remo in Remo land. Therefore, the calculation is that the entire Ogun East Senatorial district where the APC’s guber candidate hails from may want to settle for the PDP candidate, Buruji Kashamu who is an Ijebu-Igbo person and no longer another Remo person for governor.
They said the foundation which Amosun has laind within his eight (8) years rule is that which provided real infrastructural development for the Egba people in Abeokuta. The fears being nursed by the Ijebus is that should they vote Dapo Abiodun, he would also resolved to upgrading infrastructural development of the Remo land.
But there is a caveat! The lawmaker representing Remo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives is presently in court against the candidature of Kashamu as the PDP candidate. If however, the litigation between Adebutu and Kashamu is resolved in favour Kashamu, all the three LGs in Remo will give their votes to the APC governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun
Apart from the court case, there is also the calculation that the entire Ogun East Senatorial district has nine (9) local governments: Remo land has three (3) which included Sagamu, while Ijebu land has six (6). All the three LGs is likely to give their votes to Dapo Abiodun, while the entire other six (6) will also give their votes to Kashamu.
Meanwhile, Sagamu is the largest vote producing local government in the entire Ogun East Senatorial district, followed by Ijebu North East where Kashamu hails from.
But there is another group of analysts whi maintained a different position on the candidature of Dapo Abiodun and Kashamu. These set of analysts are of the view that the APC candidate stands a 60 per cent better position to win the forthcoming governorship election in Ogun irrespective any threat from either Ogun East or West Senatorial districts.
Elder Mesioye Akinhanmi, who spoke with LEADERSHIP said at the point when Amosun fell apart with the national leadership of APC, he had become so unpopular hence, moving his loyalists to APM will not affect the fortune of APC’s governorship candidate in any form.
“To me, I still believe that APC has about 60 person cent chance to win the year 2019 guber election in Ogun state: I mean, the party has a 60 per cent possibility of wining because number one,
“At the point when Amosun fell iut with the party, he had somehow become unpopular in the state.
“In Ogun East, indigenes if that Senatorial zone see him as an Egba governor because of Hus deliberate attempt to overdevelop the Ogun Central Senatorial district. The Ijebus and the Remos that made up the Ogun East are not ready to do business with him in any party because they are seriously aggrieved that he overdeveloped the Ogun central where he came from.
“They’re of the views that he committed the chunks of the resources of the state towards overdeveloping the Egbaland and which has plunged the state into what they termed “debt peonage”. So, the Ijebus and the Remos don’t really like him.
“Even if he stays in APC, I don’t see any goodwill which his presence will attract to that party from Ogun East Senatorial district.
“Secondly, in Ogun West whose political interest he has been championing, I don’t think that those people too really believe that he has genuine interest in their course because some notable candidates like Abiodun Akinlade, Solomon Adeola Olamilekan, Tolu Odebiyi among others which the system threw up and which some of their leaders too expected Amosun to support who could have easily gotten the tickets of the party were not supported by Amosun.
“These set of people to some extent, have followership and acceptability but were not supported. Amosun chose not to endorse them except his protege whom he felt would be easy and possible to control even outside the power. That was what made him to throw up the Akinlade’s candidature.
“I think his leaving the party; honestly speaking, he is no more popular in the state, it might not in anyway affects the fortunes of APC in any from if those people could get their axe together. It might just be “a good radiance to bad rubbish” because number one, the civil servants don’t like him. Don’t forget that Civil servants too are part of the society and he was still holding on to their salary deductions until recently when he knew that election is around the corner. But they are not fools, they too can feel that the economy is tight in the state and that it is only those that are connected to him that are making the millions through the projects they claimed to be executing across the state.
“Even his Egba people too whose land he consciously over developed, some of our people too don’t like him. They see the purported development as projects of personal aggrandizement. The felt that the method of development was not a populist one, they argued that it was centered around few members of his family who are the direct beneficiaries if those projects he carried out at the Ogun central Senatorial district while in office.
“Although there are some who still hold the views that it is not everybody that can benefit from government. But majority, particularly the enlightened ones who are able to access how these development has transformed his life and lives if those who are closed to him that all what he did were rubbish meant to empower himself and his family.
“Even in Ogun central if he still stays in APC, he might not be able to get the popular votes he used to get in the past. So, his decision at taking his loyalists to APM, me, I don’t believe that he will make any impact. Honestly speaking, I don’t see it as if it’s going to affect those he left behind in APC if those ones can get their house together.
“But you know politicians being whim they are; they always align with the was winning team. In a couple of weeks from now, you’ll see a lot of people will start to queue up behind Dapo Abiodun by the time politicking really starts because most if these APC politicians did not really benefit from Amosun. I have a lot of them as my friends who confessed that they would not follow him to APM because they have not gain anything from him.
“I say most of them because I can still see about 90 per cent if them staying behind to work for Dapo Abiodun’s electoral success by the time real politicking starts. So, it would be only few people who are directly connected to him that will folk him to APM which of course, will not fly.
Speaking on the likelihood of Akinlade and his party, APM making any significant impact during the governorship election, Elder Akinhanmi said the party is new and may not produce a lawmaker in the state not to talk of winning the governorship seat.
“Now, on the other side if the question, me I don’t see APM as a party that will make any impact honestly speaking”.
“First of all, the man who wants to run his candidate on that platform because they did not allow him that opportunity in APC is not as popular as he used to be before now in the state.
“Again, most of these candidates which he is throwing up are fresh and first timer which are not popular in their respective zones. They’re all new entrants who are not popular in their base unlike those candidates which are running against them in their respective constituencies. Take for example, Bayo Adeyemi, my childhood friend who is running for the House of Representative in Yewa North / Imeko Afon Federal Constituency. He is still living on his father’s name. If you talk to anybody from that axis, they will tell you that place, they will tell you that he is not loved to the point that he deserves their votes. Even some of us with whom we all grew up together.
“So, these are the kind of weak candidates that he is parading around and deluding himself, thinking that he can muscle them to victory which I doubt. Me I don’t see APM as making any significant impact or threat to APC at all. The only thing is that they can caught deep into another political party’s candidate’s votes like in that of ADC and Gboyega Nasir Isiaka.
“Another factor to be considered is the fact that from time immemorial, Yewa people and Awori don’t always go together during every electioneering period. Yewa people have always followed the Egbas politically, while the Awori people have also always done their things differently. Although some people are still deluding themselves that this time around they will go together and be united, but me I still see the Awori people with their independent voting pattern of doing their things the way they want to do it and not align with the Yewa people.
“They are closer to Lagos and whatever happens in Lagos always affects their reasoning. The political trends in Lagos always affects their reasoning, so they always tow the Lagos line of political arrangement. Don’t forget that they share borders with Lagos, so I don’t think that they’re really committed to that Yewa-Awori Governorship project.
“So, the only problem I see APM causing is to cut into the votes of both the APC and ADC, bearing in mind that the sitting governor still has splinter of supporters particularly in those who are directly connected to benefiting from him. They would want to put up some staunt to convince him that they’re still on ground.
“But don’t forget that there are also some APC stalwarts in those places too”.
Akinhanmi emphatically declared that Ogun state may not witnesses a repetition of the year 2011 governorship contest this time around.
“I doubt if there is going to be a repeat of the year 2011 scenario, I can see Dapo Abiodun winning on first ballot.
“The Ijebu and Removed people are desperately craving for governorship based on the experience they claimed they have with the Amosun’s administration. The want one of their own to sit on that seat so that he may develop their zone too just like Amosun did to Ogun Central.
“Dapo Abiodun happens to be the only big candidate from that zone for now. The man who could have given him a big fight or pose a big threat to him is Ladi Adebutu who has been schemed out through a litigation from the Kashamu Buruji faction of the PDP.
“So, the Ijebu and Remo people would be left with no other choice than Dapo Abiodun.
“Buruji is not really interested in that governorship. People are even saying that Kashamu Buruji has been playing a script from the Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s political empire. They argued that Buruji is fronting for Asiwaju Tinubu and Dapo Abiodun to stop Ladi Adebutu from running for the governorship race because they knew that the only person who can stop APC and Dapo Abiodun is Ladi Adebutu.
“Adebutu is more popular than Dapo Abiodun because Abiodun has been an aristocrat all his life. Despite the fact that he has stupendous wealth, yet, he has been living a life of an aristocrat. He has never touch base with his people. He only came into politics to gamble. On the contrary, Ladi Adebutu is a grassroot man, very popular and the two of them are from the same home town of Ipara Remo, going for the same position. But the APC leadership in the South West knew that Ladi Adebutu would defeat Dapo Abiodun and that is why they’re using Buruji to stop him through a legal means.
“That is the script which Buruji is playing to enable APC candidate, Dapo Abiodun to win. Ordinarily, Buruji is not interested in that governorship race and even discussions with some politicians from his camp have revealed that he is only acting a script to prevent Ladi Adebutu from getting the governorship ticket. And don’t be surprised if few days to the election Buruji announces that he is stepping down from the race to enable APC candidate be the only one contesting and all the nine (9) local governments from Ogun East will follow him.
“I can’t see the Remo and Ijebu people following a Yewa-Awori man with all these shoutings that they have been marginalized. They also want their son to occupy that seat so that he may repair their township roads which have been in bad shapes all these years.
“So, Dapo Abiodun has the chance and Hus chance is above 60 per cent. And his party is a very strong party too. All those people which Amosun thinks he is packing to APM, some of them will abandon him and support Dapo Abiodun”.
Other observers and analysts who spoke with LEADERSHIP are also of the opinion that Akinlade, the governorship candidate of APM may not have impact in Ijebu because the Ijebus do not like Amosun and that reflected during the 2015 general elections when one of his aides and former Deputy Speaker, Tola Banjo contested on the platform of APC and lost.
But speaking in an interview with LEADERSHIP, one of the party stalwarts from Ogun West Senatorial district, Alhaji Dele Rufai expressed the optimism that Akinlade and APM will win the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Alhaji Rufai said: “we are fully prepared for the election and we will go out en mass to show the people. In Ogun west, we know whom we are”
Meanwhile, some loyalists of Amosun who would have solidify the existence of APM in the zone have abandoned their principal and pitched tents with Dapo Abiodun in APC. These set of people included: Amosun’s former Chief of Staff, Tolu Odebiyi; the Senator representing Ogun West, Gbolahan Dada; the candidate for Egbado South/Ipokia Federal Constituency, Biyi Otegbeye; immediate past Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru as well as Amosun’s Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Afolabi Afuape who resigned his appointment few weeks ago.
But speaking against the backdrop of these politicians’ movement to APC, Alhaji Rufai said though Tolu Odebiyi “is a son of the soil, no doubt, but in Ogun West, we know who we are and we are fully prepared for the elections”.
“Akinlade is loved all round and everywhere in Ogun West, he enjoyed that acceptability and would be voted in as the next governor of Ogun state”.
As the year 2019 general elections remain a few weeks from now, whether Hon Akinlade, who is a first termer in House of Representatives with his APM will displace Abiodun of APC or not, only time will tell.
Again, whether Amosun is on the verge of repeating the error committed by PDP in the state eight (8) years ago which ceded the seat of power to the opposition political party or not, only time will tell.
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