Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Femi Ogbonnikan
The fence mending efforts of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) through its National Peace and Reconciliatory Committee (NPRC), constituted to bring back aggrieved members, following a disputed primaries may have failed in its task in Ogun State.
The APC’s peace move in the South-west zone is championed by Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, as appointed chairman. Other members of the committee, include Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna State Governor), Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos State Governor), Senator Ken Nnamani, Prof. Modupe Adelabu, Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Senator Sieda Bugaje.
Having failed in their bid to have their preferred candidate as the standard bearer of the APC in their respective states, Governor Amosun and his Imo State counterpart, Governor Rochas Okorocha have openly challenged the decision of the party’s NWC to stand-down their candidates. Both men have instructed their followers to move out of the APC. In the case of Amosun, his supporters led by Hon. Adekunle Akinlade have embraced the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
Contacted on phone, Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Dayo Adeneye who is one of the aggrieved supporters of Amosun against the leadership of the APC while pleading that he was in Kaduna and was not privy to what happened at the meeting said, however, the APC leadership could not sit in Abuja and determine what would happen in Ogun State. “I was one of those affected. After I won the primary, Oshiomhole gave the ticket to people who did not even contest. And you expect us to keep quiet.? Where is that done? Let us go to the people of Ogun State on another platform. Let the people be the ones to reject us. Not Oshiomhole, “
The first hint that the peace parley at Lagos State Government House, Marina, Lagos, last Wednesday, would be deadlocked was the absence of Amosun. He was represented by Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Suraj Adekunbi, and the State Chairman of the party, Chief Derin Adebiyi, Ogun Central chairman, Chief Yomi Ademefun and two others. The opposing team had Chief Segun Adesegun, Director General (DG), Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation and Sen Gbenga Kaka, representing the interest of the Dapo Abiodun camp.
During the meeting, it was learnt that the committee chairman, Shettima, admonished the aggrieved chieftains to emulate and borrow a leaf from Lagos State Governor, Ambode, who had exhibited exemplary sportsmanship, by accepting to jettison his re-election bid and lead Babajide Sanwo-Olu Governorship Campaign Organisation.
Besides, it was said the committee appealed to the representatives of the governor to shun acts capable of undermining the general interest of the party, in the wake the 2019 general elections. Also, it was said the aggrieved chieftains were cautioned to avoid engaging in anti-party activities.
Not persuaded by the admonitions, Amosun’s emissaries expressed displeasure over the outcome of the primaries.
The party chairman, Adebiyi, it was said told the panel members that they were cheated, thus, describing the outcome of the primaries as daylight robbery.
“We can’t do reconciliation where there is an injustice. It is Gov Ibikunle Amosun who has the party structure in the state. Dapo Abiodun has no structure at all. We were cheated”, Adebiyi reportedly said.
Adebiyi’s stand is no different from often repeated statement that a cabal in Lagos and the party’s National Secretariat was bent on directing the affairs of Ogun State, a development he has vowed to resist. Though Amosun won his ticket as a senatorial aspirant on the platform of the APC, his tacit support for the formation of Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) and subsequent movement of his aggrieved close aides to the new platform, belies his much vaunted allegiance to President Muhammadu Buhari.
A close aide of Abiodun said his principal may not want to jeopardise the on-going peace moves by saying something that may be misconstrued. He was hopeful that “the matter would be resolved, one way or another. This is politics. You keep knocking on every door. Major decisions, in politics, can be taken a few hours to the deciding moment. We are still open to discussions. But I can assure you that we will not surrender the mandate freely given to us by a majority of the members of the party in Ogun State. “
Countering the notion the notion that Abiodun was not popular across the state, he questioned the reasoning, “Is it a man who was handpicked that is more popular than one who had a majority of the party members queue behind him? They refuse to see the handwriting on the wall . Our people do not want imposition of candidates. We will keep our doors open, but if they insist on heading in another direction, we will meet them at the polls. “