Femi Ogbonnikan takes a close look at the intrigues trailing the Ogun State All Progressives Congress governorship succession game
A head of the forthcoming general elections in Ogun State, unfolding political events seem unpalatable, especially within the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The party is enmeshed in a battle of wits and grits, resulting from the outcomes of both the governorship and legislative primaries conducted last October, an aftermath of which has pitched Governor Ibikunle Amosun, against the national leadership of the party. While the governorship primary favoured Prince Dapo Abiodun, as the flag bearer, the incumbent governor, who felt cheated for not having his preferred candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, declared winner by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, left no one in doubt about his opposition to Abiodun.
Amosun moved his governorship candidate, Akinlade, and his close allies that were also denied legislative tickets at both the National and State House of Assembly into the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM), while he remains in the APC, as Ogun Central Senatorial candidate. Though the governor’s ploy to stay put in the APC is said to be tactical, ostensibly to use the potent platform to market his senatorial ambition and the re-election of his godfather, President Muhammadu Buhari, while he is stopping at nothing to play the role of a spoiler and undermine the general interest of the party, by working against the governorship ambition of his arch-rival, Abiodun, National and State House of Assembly candidates whose elections fall on the same day.
Having thrown all manners of dirty tricks into the mix, and despite overtures to let party’s supremacy reign, Amosun has resisted the urge to pander to pleas and persuasions. Instead, he has chosen to tread a different path. In understanding his undertone language, observers believe, the outgoing governor is only trying to promote imperial control in his attempt to foist his anointed son, Akinlade, on the people of the state. Known to many, Abiodun is a survivor of subterfuge. While several gambits have failed to sway his candidature, Abiodun’s traducers have resorted to dig into the archives. They have continued to ruffle feathers. Their new joker is about the alleged “false information” contained in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) form CF 001.
Likening to a partisan frenzy, on Thursday, December 20, 2018, the governor, with a horde of his close allies, took Abeokuta, the state capital, by storm with the inauguration of the APM at MKO Abiola Stadium. It was gathered that huge state funds that was meant to defray the backlogs of outstanding salaries and deductions of civil servants and staff of the state-owned tertiary institutions was spent for unveiling the new party.
Starting from Sagamu/Isiun interchange to Abeokuta, the state capital, APM billboards and banners mounted on street light poles along the highway and adorning every strategic location, is a living testimony to the substantial state resources that might have been frittered away in the name of selling the new party to the people of the state.
The Ogun State governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Mr. Oluseyi Olufade-Olowookere, identifies the state government’s wrong approach to governance thus: “We have a government that has not been broad-minded, in terms of approach to governance. A state government that doesn’t allow local governments to function, at least up to 60 per cent of how they are allowed constitutionally, it is not a government that is broad-minded, because, from the centre, there is only little you can do.
“Project management or implementation requires a hierarchical approach and it is what is called work-breakdown structure. The only tier of government that has access of visibility of small pockets of jobs that need to be done is the local government. So, one thing that is wrong first and foremost is that the state government has not promoted or encouraged local government autonomy in any way. All I hear is that what the state government does to the allocations, is just to give them a stipend, I read somewhere, N2 million for salaries. How can a local government function with that? Why won’t we have faulty roads, faulty healthcare, with all these things local governments should do? That is one thing that is definitely wrong.”
Also, Anthony Ojesina, who is the campaign Director-General of the Ogun State governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Prince Gboyega Isiaka, took a swipe at the state government’s level of intolerance.
“Two issues are pertinent. First, we have unimpeachable information and tested facts, that there are pre-meditated plans to subvert the electoral process via provocations and violence. Secondly, we have noticed and recorded sequence of events since 1st December – that serve as pointers to our assumptions.
“The first indication of hostility occurred on Saturday 1st December 2018, when officials of the Ogun State Signage and Advertisement Agency attacked our advert materials (A-Boards) which were placed at strategic points in parts of Abeokuta – defacing them and carting it away where possible. It took the direct intervention and confrontation of the rampaging officials by Isiaka before temporary order was restored. We recall also that the background to this was the initial evasiveness of the agency in receiving our approval request before the incidence,” said the DG.
Besides, an APC stalwart, Chief Bode Mustapha, is optimistic that the party will win the forthcoming governorship election in the state, no matter the intrigues and intimidation from any quarter. Though he expressed worries ov er secur ity of lives and property, that he has it on good authority that some people have been stock-piling dangerous weapons in a particular location within the state capital that cannot be searched.
But he said the electorate cannot and won’t be deterred by that unsavoury development.
“The people of Ogun State, whether they are teachers or pensioners or traders, name it, can’t wait to embrace the reality on ground . They are better prepared to vote for a change and that change is Abiodun,” said the Bobagunwa of Egbaland.
Reminiscent of the outplay of the strong forces that worked against the preferred candidate of the immediate past governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Prince Gboyega Isiaka, in the 2011 general elections, on the heel of the formation of the Peoples’ Party of Nigeria (PPN), following an outbreak of crisis within the state leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but which eventually threw up the incumbent governor, who was the governorship candidate of the then, Action Congress (AC), by sheer providence, it was learnt Amosun is yet to take a cue from the history of the past in his latest ambivalence approach.
Former Chief Press Secretary to Daniel, Wale Adedayo, holds the view that it is individual ambition that is currently shaping the pace.
According to him, “while negative public opinion worked against OGD in Ogun State during the 2011 governorship election, it was a coalition that removed his hands from office. PPN was the best organised political party in 2011. It spent the most money too, largely state resources, as it is being done today. But, in the end, those opposed to OGD’s style of administration banded together and gave victory to ACN to produce Amosun,” said Adedayo.
He said the much-talk-about bloc votes from Ogun Central Senatorial District is going the way of APM, but noted that many among those postulating the idea ever gave a thought to the thousands of Lagos State workers and traders resident in these three local governments, Ado Odo/Ota, Ifo and Obafemi Owode.
“They constitute at least 40 per cent of the electorate in these local governments. In some, especially Ifo and Obafemi Owode, they could be as high as 60 per cent . They will most likely align with APC, being the party that will certainly carry the day in Lagos State.
“Besides, the reality of a bandwagon effect is there.
APC should clear the Presidential and National Assembly elections. I doubt if allowance will be given Amosun to dictate the tempo of security arrangements at voting venues. Once that happens, it will be APC all the way. Those who voted APC in that election will certainly remain with the party, no doubt about it at all.
“More than the last paragraph, Ogun Central should have some challenges for APM. Amosun has National Assembly candidates. Plenty of voided votes, which should have gone to APM might come due to challenges by those in APM, but loyal to Mr. Governor.
The only way to check this is for Amosun to have control over the Police CP, DSS Director and Alamala Barracks C.O. If he is shortchanged at the security arrangement end, APM will hit the dust across Egbaland.
“Intimidation of voters, using boys is also key. Amosun had a monopoly before now. But it appears things are changing. Key leaders of the boys are changing camps. It has been a rough deal for them under the current administration. Persons who had no business with the transport unions were imposed as leaders since 2011. It became worse for Okada riders, whose union, ACOMORAN, was diluted with AMORAN, mainly boys used by Amosun before he became governor. “But much worse is the style of key Amosun’s political appointees and associates, who collect weekly dole from the NURTW, RTEAN, ACOMORAN and AMORAN. It has never happened before in Ogun State. And, the boys have always been angry about this. Successive governments have always given these boys funds, not take from them. Today, they are sometimes tasked, by being ordered to produce certain amounts for the personal needs of political appointees.
“With the ouster of Ogun West’s popular grassroots mobiliser , Biodun Akinlade, from the APC running mate slot, ADC’s GNI should be more than happy. If things do not go wrong for GNI, getting at least 70 per cent of the votes from Ogun West should not be a problem for him. The real challenge remains Ado Odo/Ota with its heavy voting population, mostly people from Lagos resident in Sango and its axis.
“But APC should be happy about Ado Odo/Ota. However, the party needs to work. The people of Atan, Igbesa and Agbara will certainly distance themselves from APM, being Amosun’s party. They have been short-changed since 2011. It should be the same story among residents of Akute, Lambe, Iju, Ajuwon, whose roads remain in bad shape despite earlier promises to complete same.
“Abeokuta South should present an interesting challenge. I dare say Afolabi Afuwape should be able to assist APC if he remains with the party. He remains an uncommon grassroots mobiliser . APM has nothing to offer Odeda. It should be the same story in Abeokuta North. Apart from the fact that residents of these areas have various economic challenges, many are aghast with Amosun’s nepotism. The bridges in the urban parts of town have added no economic value to the life of an average resident. Of course, the pockets of Ijebu, Remo and Ogun West civil servants resident in Abeokuta may not vote APM. But it is not too sure about Ewekoro.
“Ogun East is PDP ‘country’. Majority are either for Ladi Adebutu or Senator Buruji Kashamu. But APC could smile here if the party is able to work on the divisions within the PDP to get quality support for itself. PDP remains popular in Ogun East because Amosun appears to have a deliberate policy of not believing that the place is part of Ogun State. The party that is most able to engage residents in turning around the fortunes of Ogun East should be able to carry the day,” said the former CPS.
Conscious of the factors that could work in his favour, Abiodun, at an investors’ Forum organised by Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Ogun State chapter held at MAN secretariat, Ota, on December 18, 2018, claimed that his choice of running mate, followed a due process and consultations with critical stakeholders within the party, before arriving at the candidature of Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, a Muslim and a true daughter of Ota, Ado-Odo/Ota local government.
According to the APC governorship candidate, “about 70 per cent of the population of Awori people are predominantly Muslims. So, the majority of the voting populace in Ogun West come from Ado-Odo/Ota local government because of their proximity to Lagos State. We are conscious of that.”