Ogun APC’s Failed Reconciliation

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The recent attempt to achieve peace in the Ogun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress failed to yield results owing to the absence of the real gladiators, writes Sarah Olabimtan

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is someone I hold in high esteem. I respect his foresight and political strategems. His incisive thinking and doggedness mark him out as a gift to Nigeria. Although I have never met him, his track records, both in politics and in commerce, endeared him to me. I defend him stoutly any time he is being disparaged.

However, I am still numb by Asiwaju’s involvement in a gathering recently. Asiwaju, along with some politicians from the All Progressives Congress (APC), met at the Ikoyi home of Pa Olusegun Osoba, a former governor of Ogun. Of course, nothing is amiss with that except that the purpose of the meeting was to reconcile Osoba with APC.

Maybe that is equally not too bad since there is no permanent friend or foe in politics. But what saddens is the curious absence of the real gladiators in the face-off that precipitated Osoba’s exit from APC at the parley. Neither Governor Ibikunle Amosun nor any member of the EXCO of the party in the state was present!
The meeting regrettably forgot that you cannot clap with one hand. They practically tried to shave the heads of Ogun APC members without the members’ presence. Those at the meeting were alien to the crisis.

Nigerians have short memories and this is what our leaders exploit todefraud us. Let me reboot your memories. Baba Osoba decided to dump
the APC because he couldn’t get total control of the party in Ogun. He loathed the idea of Governor Amosun putting his mouth where his money is.Although Amosun funds activities of the party in the state, Chief Osoba forgot the age long adage that he who pays the piper dictates the tune. Osoba craved 100 per cent control of party, whose funding comes from elsewhere.

Chief Osoba couldn’t get his heart’s desire and so dumped the APC. He exited the party, when he was most needed ahead the 2015 historic election. I still recall that Pa Osoba, at a meeting with his supporters, vowed in the name of Jesus never to have anything to do with Amosun politically again.
He was quoted to have vowed: “In the name of Jesus Christ, whom I serve, I am promising all of you that I will have nothing to do with Amosun again. If any kabiyesi begs me, I promise not to accept. If anybody appeals to me in the name of God, I promise to decline such appeal…I will have nothing to do with Amosun again until I teach him a bitter political lesson…”
Osoba was also quoted to have confided in some aides that he would do everything within his power to destroy APC as a party, lamenting that the party hierarchy betrayed him during his spat with Governor Amosun.

I still recall vividly that everybody that is somebody in the APC project as well as apolitical elements in the South-west, including the Alaafin of Oyo, Awujale of Ijebuland and the Oba of Lagos – all pleaded with Pa Osoba to have a rethink for posterity sake and for the continuation of the good work Amosun was doing in our state.

On the political field, Atiku Abubakar, Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu and Chief Odigie Oyegun – all begged Osoba but he bluntly refused. He insisted that he must be handed 100 per cent control of the party in Ogun or he will quit. He couldn’t get his heart desire, so he left the party.
Strikingly, what Pa Osoba demanded of Amosun is far greater than what he and other Governors of Alliance for Democracy (AD) rejected from the leadership of Afenifere, when he was Governor between 1999 and 2003. At that time, Afenifere leaders merely wanted to ensure
compliance with AD’s manifestoes. Afenifere leaders weren’t asking for control of the party in the various states, but adherence to party manifestoes!

While his face-off with Amosun was on, he demonstrated his resolve to sever all links with the party by destabilising the state APC. He evicted the party from a property he gave the progressives during the days of Alliance for Democracy (AD). The party had to hurriedly secure another secretariat nearby. Such was Osoba’s bitterness and determination to wreck the APC in Ogun.

He left APC and teamed up with the Goodluck Jonathan campaigners to spite the APC hierarchy. But as fate would have it, Jonathan lost the Presidency to APC’s Gen. Muhammadu Buhari while Amosun retained his seat as governor in Ogun.

However, the true political worth of Chief Osoba was highlighted with the manner he equally failed to return his son, Olumide, to the House of Representatives. Osoba’s son got less than 6,500 votes across three local government areas of Obafemi-Owode, Abeokuta North and Odeda.

Equally, Osoba’s governorship candidate, Akin Odunsi couldn’t garner up to 16,000 votes across the state. Such was the humbling defeat Pa Osoba suffered. Indeed, the crushing defeat was a strong reality check of the acceptance and popularity of the former governor by Ogun electorate.

Conversely, Amosun was returned victorious having scored the highest number of votes among all the gubernatorial candidates but he also replicated the 2011 electoral feat of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria in the state. All these happened under 12 months. It is against this background that my heart bleeds, when I saw my Asiwaju and the highly revered Chief Bisi Akande at Pa Osoba’s house reconciling him with APC while his immediate constituency and the people he initially rejected were nowhere near the meeting venue.

Why is Pa Osoba changing his mind now after he has been politically exposed at the polls? Is he telling us he has reversed his avowals? If Pa Osoba wants to return to his vomit, must Asiwaju and Pa Akande stake their own integrities for him? Several questions keep running through my mind.

Has Asiwaju forgotten that every politics is local and that you need your constituency behind you to be proclaimed a leader? Are they saying Osoba will now play his politics in Lagos? How will Pa Osoba operate amidst those party men he had so disparaged publicly? What will be his relationship with the executives of APC in the state, whom he evicted from his property during the face-off? How will baba Osoba relate with the governor he once vowed never to have any dealings with again? Who controls the party now?’

My take is that the meeting and the outcome is part of the impunity still prevalent in the land even with this CHANGE mantra. How can some party leaders from Lagos, Osun, Oyo and Ekiti states meet and decide to shave the heads of APC members from Ogun by re-admitting a member who, willingly, left the party and hasn’t shown remorse to those he hurt before he left?

Again, the timing of the meeting is suspicious. I wonder why the gathering is coming this early in 2016, when partisan politics is still faraway? Why must Asiwaju alienate one of APC’s performing governors like Amosun but rush to the embrace of a fading politician, who couldn’t deliver victory to his own blood in an election? Was that meeting designed to distract Governor Amosun? Maybe! Or could it be there is a hidden agenda on Ogun State ahead of 2019?

My humble submission is that that ill-conceived re-admission, if I may call it so, will have more damaging effect on APC cohesion in the state. It is a time-bomb that promises to throw Ogun back into the hands of the PDP. The seed of fresh bickering has been sown, and my hunch is, the effect this time will hurt APC.

Indeed, the leadership of APC should start having a second thought about retaining Ogun State in 2019. Ogun state is too sophisticated to be toyed with and I pray the much feared APC, indeed Asiwaju’s political meltdown won’t start from my state.

-Olabimtan, a public commentator, wrote from Ota in Ogun State