In Ogun, election can go any way

Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

Apart from the increase in number of personalities jostling for the number one seat in Ogun State, the intra-party wrangling within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has further beclouded the scenario that is likely to play out next year.

READ ALSO: In Oyo, it’s rectangular race

And with both APC and PDP in disarray, one would have expected a strong third force to have taken the advantage and hit the political space with force. But as at the time of putting this report together, there is still a lull and the political horizon in the state is still foggy.

For the APC, the fall out of the governorship primary election has thrown the party into disarray. The party has been polarised between Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s camp and that of members loyal to the former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba.

While the state chapter of the party conducted its own primary on October 2 and produced a member representing Egbado South/Ipokia Federal Constituency at the Green Chamber, Abdul-Kabir Adekunle Akinlade as winner, the electoral committee sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) from Abuja, conducted its primary on October 3, and produced oil magnate and the chairman of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Mr. Dapo Abiodun, as winner.

Since then, Ogun APC has been embroiled in crisis; name calling has become the order of the day, while protest and counter protest rock the party.

Like it happened in the ruling party, the leading opposition party in the state, the PDP, has been beleaguered with leadership brouhaha. A faction, backed by Senator Buruji Kashamu, has been having a running battle with Sikirulai Ogundele-led state exco, backed by Oladipupo Adebutu, to control the soul of PDP in Ogun.

Though, Ogundele faction of the party is recognised by the national leadership of PDP as the authentic exco in Ogun, Bayo Dayo faction, with the support of Senator Kashamu, is armed with a Federal High Court order which compelled INEC to deal and accept the list of candidates from the Dayo faction.

The two groups had conducted parallel governorship primaries, with Ladi Adebutu emerging as candidate of Ogundele group, while Leke Shittu emerged as a candidate of Dayo group. Thus, INEC in obedience to the court order, accepted list of candidates from Dayo-led exco and published name of Shittu as the PDP governorship candidate in Ogun.

And as it was envisaged, Kashamu’s name has replaced Shittu’s as the PDP governorship candidate in the state.

With both APC and PDP in turmoil, a party such as the African Democratic Congress (ADC), with a governorship candidate in the person of Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, is expected to have a good showing in the contest.

Though the party is new in the state, its governorship standard bearer, otherwise known as GNI, is not. He is like an old wine in a new bottle. With his experience as a two-time governorship candidate in 2011 and 2015, pundits believe that he might come handy when the chips are down. Just last Saturday, GNI, kicked off his campaign by launching his “7 Steps to Abundance” manifesto.

Speaking at the public presentation of the manifesto in Abeokuta, the state capital, Isiaka expressed confidence that his programme will revamp the state’s fortunes and restore good governance, which has been relegated to a backseat by the incumbent administration.

Regardless, the Ogun governorship contest, as it stands could go either way. But it is contest between those who want a Yewa as governor of the state and those against the move.

Amosun and his Yewa agenda

As early as 2015, when the incumbent governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, was sworn in for his second term in office, he made it clear that he would hand over the reign of power to a person
of Yewa-Awori extraction. This pronouncement by the governor, no doubt, received applause from the Ogun West people. To them, their aspiration to govern the state for the first time since creation over 40 years ago was as good as done, since the incumbent saw it as his ‘project’.

And true to his words, the governor, at every political gathering would be quick
to point out that he would support Ogun West’s quest to succeed him with everything in his kitty and tackle any person from Ogun Central (where he hails from) with everything he has to ensure such aspiration sails through. For Ogun East, Amosun declared he would neither tackle nor support the senatorial district for the governorship.

With these above positions by the governor, every political watcher in the state felt that with the power of incumbency and the influence of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Ogun West would definitely produce Amosun’s successor in 2019.

Senator Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi) angle

Prior to 2015, the then House of Representatives member in Lagos State but an indigene of Ago Pahayi in Ilaro, Yewa South local government area of Ogun State, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, otherwise known as Yayi among his supporters, stormed the state and declared his intention to run for Ogun West senatorial seat.

His entrance into Ogun politics, no doubt, gave a boon to APC, particularly in Ogun West. Almost all the party chieftains in APC regarded him as the ‘Moses’ that would take Ogun West to the ‘Promised Land’, with his deep pocket and growing popularity.

But the state governor, probably saw Yayi as too powerful and as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s agent in the state, and thwarted his efforts to clinch the senatorial ticket, which was later given to Gbolahan Dada, who is now the incumbent senator representing Ogun West in the Red Chamber. Yayi returned to his base and picked the ticket of Lagos West senatorial district. He later won in the 2015 contest and he is currently the Senate Committee Chairman on Local Contents.

Not done, Yayi, immediately after he emerged as a senator in Lagos, he put machinery in motion to vie for Ogun governorship in 2019. Like in 2015, he became a household name throughout the state. In fact, his structure built across the state, attracted retinue of APC stalwarts and chieftains, the development which did not go down well with the governor. Quite a number of Amosun’s foot soldiers and loyalists pitched their tent with Adeola, while several ones who could not openly do so, clandestinely align with him.

This rattled the governor’s camp as Yayi was seen as a clog in the wheel of Amosun’s plan to pick his ‘anointed’ governorship candidate from the zone. After several political mudslinging from both camps, and the exclusion of Yayi’s supporters and loyalists from participating in the congresses that produced the state executive committee of APC, Yayi, it was gathered, was persuaded to return to Lagos and recontest for Lagos West senate seat.

‘Whizkid’ twist

With Yayi out of the picture, the state governor felt a sense of victory and respite. The coast, to him, was almost clear to have a successor from Ogun West. To this end, several aspirants from the zone who had been dwarfed by Yayi’s popularity, heaved a sigh of relief and upped their aspiration drive.

Among these category of aspirants were: the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Tolu Odebiyi – who everybody believed was the governor’s chosen one, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Suraj Ishola Adekunbi, three-time member of the House of Representatives, Abiodun Akinlade, the House of Representatives member representing Egbado/South Federal constituency, Abdul-Kabir Adekunle Akinlade, the Managing Director of Regency Assurance, Biyi Otegbeye, and Tope Kuyebi, among others.

But at some point the governor was said to have preferred a ‘whizkid’ as his successor. The governor himself said it loud and clear that he would hand over to a ‘whizkid’ who possessed the competence and digital wherewithal to take Ogun to the next level. Report has it that one of the founders of Jobberman, Olalekan Olude, an indigene of Imasayi in Yewa North local government, was being considered by the governor, to succeed him at some point. But again like all previous permutations, that too did not work out. Also, Daily Sun gathered that, the candidate of Alliance for Democracy (AD) Oluseyi Olowookere, who is in his late 30’s was at some point introduced to Amosun, to be considered as a possible candidate for the APC. Olowookere is from Yewa area too.

Ijebu Agenda

When it appeared that all was set for Ogun West to produce the APC governorship candidate, Ogun East, through what it called Ijebu Agenda, came out with its consensus candidate in the person of the immediate former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Bimbo Ashiru.

The group, chaired by Dr. Gbolade Osinowo, who is now the state chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), in November 2017, nominated four APC leaders of Ijebu Remo extraction, to screen 11 candidates. The screening committee was made up of Chief Olu Okuboyejo (Chair), Aare T.A Dawodu, Bashorun Adesanya and Senator Dipo Odujurin.

The committee later handed over their report to the then APC Ogun East Senatorial Chairman, Alhaji Folorunsho Elias. The report revealed that Ashiru emerged as the winner having scored 89 percent, being the highest score amongst the 11 aspirants, who included the former deputy governor, Segun Adesegun, Senators Gbenga Kaka and Olorunnimbe Mamora, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Olumuyiwa Oladipo, Abayomi Ogunowo, Owodunni Opayemi and Jimi Lawal.

The move, by Ijebu Agenda, led to serious crisis of confidence between the governor and Ashiru, and the latter initially tendered his letter of resignation, but it was later withdrawn. Before Ashiru’s consensus candidacy by the group, earlier in August 2017, the former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, at one of the APC political meetings in Abeokuta, had warned against the zoning of governorship slot.

According to him, every zone in the state should be allowed to participate in the governorship primary, which he noted should be transparent and fair.

Botched consensus

On September 5, 2018, Governor Amosun, at APC stakeholders’ meeting held at the MITROS Hall and Residences, Abeokuta, announced that the party in the state would choose all its candidates through a consensus arrangement.

According to him, consensus, indirect and direct primaries system were provided for in the party’s constitution and guidelines. It was also at the said meeting he declared his intention to run for the senate in Ogun Central. But at the meeting, ex-deputy governor Segun Adesegun and Senator Adegbenga Kaka, rejected the call by the governor, claiming the move was to deny Ogun East from participating in the governorship primary.

Despite the caveat by Adesegun and Kaka, the governor, on September 10, 2018, supervised a consensus exercise, held at the Presidential Lodge in Abeokuta, which produced 26 candidates of the state House of Assembly. But the exercise, which also produced the senatorial and House of Representatives candidates, was marred by protests by supporters of candidates who saw the exercise as a charade.

Before that of the national and state Assemblies exercise, Abdul-Kabir Adekunle Akinlade, had been picked as the consensus governorship candidate of APC.

Akinlade, was reported to have been handpicked by the governor himself. The Ogun West groups, the governor had invited to choose a candidate from the aspirants of the zone, insiders say, never nominated Akinlade, but Tolu Odebiyi, Biyi Otegbeye and the speaker, Suraj Adekunbi, in that order.

Though it was Ogun West Elders Council, led by Chief Olagbaye, that presented Akinlade to Ogun State APC, dissenting voices started trailing his choice. Apart from that, other aspirants from Ogun East such as Jimi Lawal, Gbenga Kaka, Bimbo Ashiru, kicked against the consensus arrangement and called for a direct primary.

Undaunted by this call, the party, led by Derin Adebiyi, went ahead to announce the running mate of Akinlade, as Peju Adebajo, the serving Commissioner for Agriculture from Ikenne-Remo in Ogun State.

To counter the governor and Ogun APC’s move, Ijebu-Remo Agenda, at its meeting in Sagamu, dissociated itself from the consensus arrangement.

Reading from a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, which was attended by Gbenga Kaka, Dapo Abiodun and Bimbo Ashiru, Abiodun said the zone would present its own consensus candidate for a primary that would be fair and transparent.

Direct Primary

After a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, where it was resolved that a direct primary would be conducted to choose the party’s candidates in Ogun State, machinery was put in motion for the conduct of the exercise. The exercise which was earlier scheduled to hold on Sunday, 30th September, was shifted to October 2, for logistics reason. The decision to shift the election by the NWC did not go down well with the governor, who was reported to have allegedly disbursed a sum of N700, 000 per ward, to mobilise party members for the exercise.

The angst of the governor came to bare on October 1, when he addressed some stakeholders at MTR Hall, Abeokuta, on the postponed election. The governor said he suspected a foul play and vowed to resist any move to influence the exercise. He practically told the gathering to “keep their gunpowder dry” in going into the election.

Meanwhile, a meeting with the aspirants called by the NWC election panel headed by Muhammed Indabawa, on October 1, ended abruptly with gunshots. And this forced the panel to postpone the exercise for the second time.

But on October 2, APC in the state embarked on the exercise and announced Akinlade as the winner. The following day, however, APC NWC election panel conducted its own primary and returned Abiodun as the duly elected APC governorship candidate.

Abiodun, was later ratified by the NWC at its meeting in Abuja as the Ogun State APC governorship candidate. Since then, all has not been well as Governor Amosun, has made it loud and clear that he would never work for Abiodun. He also expressed confidence that he would hand over to Akinlade in 2019.

To ensure this, the governor embarked on several journeys to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa to take his case to President Muhammadu Buhari. But the president was reported to have told the governor to take the matter to the national leadership of the party.

Amosun’s final outburst

Having failed to rally the support of Mr. President on the primary election issue, the governor, shortly after the swearing in ceremony of the new Chief Judge for Ogun State, in a chat with newsmen, accused former governor, Olusegun Osoba and a “Lagos cabal” of conniving with the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, to foist Abiodun on the party as governorship candidate.

Amosun’s last joker

By this Monday, the governor declared his support for the defection of his preferred governorship candidate, Abdul-Kabir Akinlade and the 26 aggrieved House of Assembly candidates from the ruling APC to the Allied People’s Movement (APM).

The governor, who told the defectors that “you have my blessing” and declared that God will not forgive him if had stopped their exit from APC, vowed to use everything humanly possible to ensure their victories at the 2019 poll.

Amosun made these known while addressing his loyalists at the APC stakeholders’ meeting, held at the Presidential Lodge, Abeokuta.

Daily Sun recalls that four members of the state House of Assembly had last Thursday announced their defection from APC to APM on the floor of the House.

The member representing Egbado South/ Ipokia Federal Constituency and the preferred governorship candidate of Governor Amosun, Abdul-Kabir Akinlade, on the same day announced his defection to APM on the floor of the house in Abuja.

But Amosun at the meeting, which was also attended by Akinlade, said he would remain in APC and work for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari, charging the 26 candidates, who included two serving commissioners, Dayo Adeleye and Modupe Mujota, to prove those who denied them their mandates wrong.

He added that those subverting the will of the people and who denied the aggrieved 26 APC tickets, which they won during the legislative primaries held on October 7, will be shocked and disappointed by the results of the house of assembly election next year.

“When these people came, they told me they are leaving the APC, I said no but I couldn’t stop them. In fact, Akinlade has my full support, I am not going to stop him, everything I have, I will use to support him, let them try whatever they want to try, we also have our strategies and I am not going to hide behind one finger.

“I remain in APC because that’s what those people want, they want us to leave APC but they are joking. I will stay in APC to ensure that Buhari wins in Ogun State and to let them know that they can’t subvert the will of Ogun State.

“Every day, I will campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari, we will do everything possible to ensure Buhari wins massively in Ogun State, but they should not miss it, I senator Ibikunle Amosun, would not support anyone they are bringing (Dapo Abiodun).

“Why would a reasonable person lord people less than 10 percent over the majority? It can’t happen! They know there was only one primary and they have called me to say that, and we have done everything possible to right the wrong but they were ready in destroying the party.

“God will punish me if I stop Akinlade, all of you who are supporting Akinlade, you have my support and blessing. They are talking about party supremacy, what happens to party supremacy at the local levels?” Amosun quipped.

The governor, who vowed to resist any rigging plan in the state, also declared that he would not disturb any other candidate from campaigning, but will resist anyone who wants to introduce violence to the electoral process in the state.

READ ALSO: Buhari militarising electoral process, PDP alleges

The post In Ogun, election can go any way appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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