Femi Ogbonnikan writes that history may be repeating itself in Ogun State, where every governor since 1999 has failed to foist his preferred candidate as a successor
After several days of high wire horse-trading and manoeuvres, shuttling between Abeokuta, Ogun State and Abuja, in a bid to upturn the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party over the emergence of Dapo Abiodun, as the gubernatorial standard bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in favour of his preferred candidate, Hon. Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade, Governor Ibikunle Amosun may have realized that his efforts have hit the rock.
Amosun was the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, October 9 for a close-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari for two hours.
It would be recalled that that Amosun earlier had separate meetings with Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over the political developments in his state, that didn’t favour his anointed governorship candidate.
Though details of the meeting between the Governor and the President were not made public, Amosun was believed to have informed Buhari about the political happenings that have trailed the conduct of the APC primaries in the state.
He rushed back home afterwards in his quest to determine who succeeds him in office. Not surprisingly, Amosun went on air to express displeasure over the conduct of the governorship primary that produced Dapo Abiodun, an Iperu-Remo born Prince and oil magnate. He seized the opportunity to re-affirm support for his anointed candidate, Akinlade.
He said, “Adekunle Akinlade is the Ogun State APC governorship candidate, whether they like it or not. Because nobody can sit in a Lagos hotel and write the results of the 236 wards spread across the state.”
The gradual signs of his imminent falter and collapse from the pinnacle of political power began to manifest shortly after he held a press conference, prior to the arrival of the eight-man NWC-led by Alhaji Muhammad Inadabawa to the state capital where he boasted his total control of the party’s soul, with the deployment of the political apparatus of the state to achieve whatever he wants.
Blowing hot, Amosun at Mitros Residence, Ibara GRA, Abeokuta, berated the five aggrieved governorship aspirants (Abiodun, Lawal, Kaka, Ashiru and Hunye) who were waging war against his preferred candidate, Akinlade and vowed to not to “surrender” the governorship baton of the state to those he described as “desirous of reaping from where they have sown nothing.”
Addressing scores of APC members and supporters, he charged them to keep their “gun powder dry” for the political battle ahead. While seizing the occasion, the governor debunked an allegation of “security breach” by the then, five aggrieved APC governorship aspirants in the state.
He said nobody was facing any threat and urged the people, not to ‘de-market’ Ogun state with the allegations of security breaches. Sounding very confident, he said, “Don’t worry because of them. This position we are today is by the benevolence of God. We are more now. I have to tell them, we have the government, we have the party and we have the people. If they do it one million times, the result will be the same. The disgrace they got last time (2015) will be more this time.
“Please, don’t touch anybody, if they bring money collect from them. What we have done for you the day before yesterday, we are going to do another one. No retreat, no surrender. It is not by might but by the benevolence of the Almighty God. It is operation deliver your ward. Go out and mobilise. We outnumber them. Where they have people, please, allow them,” Amosun cautioned.
Like the proverbial dog that is destined to self-destruction, Amosun typically turned a deaf ear to wise counsel in running the affairs of the party.
A reference point was prior to the 2011 general elections. The then, ruling PDP-led government of Otunba Gbenga Daniel in the state zoned the governorship ticket to Ogun West, that has never had a shot at the number one position of the state. On Page 38 of the book, ‘Ogun State West: The Dawn Of A New Era,’ by Daniel Adejobi, the author states, four governorship aspirants on the platform of the then, Action Congress (AC) emerged from Ogun West in order to cash in on the opportunity. Mr. Tope Kuyebi defeated the three others, Mr. Hunye Semako, Mr. Yomi Elegbede – Odunowo and Mr. Olaosebikan Olayide to emerge winner, following a consensus candidate arrangement. But following the intervention of the powers-that-be at Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Lagos, Kuyebi, the Ogun West consensus candidate was prevailed upon to step down for Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, who was the Ogun Central consensus candidate. Regrettably, the outbreak of an intra-party crisis that rocked the then, PDP-ruling party in the state later turned out to be a blessing for the opposition party, AC. PDP became a house divided against itself. The governorship candidate of a splinter party, Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), Prince Gboyega Isiaka, and the PDP flag bearer, Gen. Adetunji Olurin, slugged it out, but they both lost out to the AC governorship candidate, Amosun, an Egba man.
Helped into office by the political machinery of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Amosun’s magisterial nature soon came to the fore the moment he was sworn in. He did away with his godfathers, dared them and chose to dine with President Buhari. At this point in time, however, Buhari is more concerned about his second term ambition than sticking out his neck for a recalcitrant governor.
Shortly after, he became governor, Amosun steadily evolved into the de facto leader of the APC in Ogun State. He determined the political fate of everybody regardless of their pedigree.
Prominent and founding fathers of the party, including Osoba, Sen. Gbenga Kaka, Akin Odunsi, Gbenga Obadara, were treated with disdain and virtually edged out of the party to pave way for the condescending governor who ran the APC like his private enterprise. Amosun would shock the people of Ogun State and indeed, discerning Nigerians, when news emerged last month that he had unilaterally drawn up a list of candidates for the party in the general election and subsequently announced Abiodun Akinlade, a member of the House of Representatives, as his anointed for the governorship ticket.
As things stand, the die seems cast as the good and law-abiding people of Ogun State may have also thrown their weight behind the candidature of the multi-billionaire business mogul, Abiodun. Fingers are still crossed on Amosun’s next line of action, while Abiodun has moved on to the next stage of proper preparations ahead of the 2019 elections, Amosun hasn’t given up. His propaganda machinery went into overdrive, claiming via a viral press release that the party, after the President’s intervention, had replaced Abiodun with Akinlade as the party’s standard bearer. But those who know say he is fighting a lost battle.
Predictably, Amosun went ballistic, stumping and swearing, spitting into the air and receiving it with measured cadence.
Again, history is set to repeat itself. Daniel tried to impose Gboyega Isiaka, but failed. Never in the annals of Ogun state and since the beginning of the current dispensation in 1999, has a sitting governor successfully anointed his successor in an unbroken pattern. However, smarting from their imminent disgrace and eventual defeat, barring any last minute hitch, Amosun and his loyalists are set to dump the ruling party, APC.
A meeting preparatory to Amosun and his loyalists’ defection was recently held at the private residence of the governor located at Ibara GRA, Abeokuta.
A reliable and highly placed source, who was present at the meeting confirmed the plan to pull out of the APC. According to the source, Amosun briefed his loyalists on the outcome of his meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, which were not favourable.
The source said the governor informed his loyalists that rather than address the pending issue, the party leadership in Abuja asked him to share the National and State Assembly tickets with certain individuals in the state who never participated in the just concluded governorship and legislative primaries.
It was gathered that the governor did not disclose the particular platform he and his loyalists would consider, but ruled out the possibility of making PDP as his next sanctuary.
But growing speculations had it that Amosun and his loyalists are considering either defecting to Accord Party (AP) or the African Democratic Congress (ADC), which already has Gboyega Isiaka as its standard bearer.