Understanding the APM Factor in Ogun Politics

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Muhammadu Buhari

Gboyega Akinsanmi writes that though the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State suffered much setback after its primaries, the rise of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) will be a blessing for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State has been enmeshed in intractable crisis since it concluded its primaries on October 2, 2018. Unlike other elective offices, the chapter’s governorship contest has completely thrown it off the balance as two factions conducted different primaries that produced candidates of their own preference.

On the one hand, the Managing Director of Hyden Petroleum Limited, Mr. Dapo Abiodun emerged from the faction of former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba. On the other hand, the camp of the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun produced a serving member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade as its own candidate.

Amid the divergent outcomes, the National Working Committee (NWC) recognised Abiodun as the APC governorship candidate. After all efforts to reconcile their differences failed, Akinlade eventually dumped the APC and chose to pursue his governorship aspiration in the APM, a completely unknown political platform until he adopted it.

But Akinlade did not quit the APC alone. He left with a sizable number of Amosun’s political allies across all the senatorial districts in the state. He equally took advantage of the rift in the state’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to poach some of its chieftains, who according to findings, could help him realise his governorship ambition.
Under four months, the APM, a relatively unknown political party, has become a defining factor in Ogun politics. Even without definite structures at all levels, the APM now has state-wide spread, depending on its campaign coordinators from the state level to the ward level to win electoral contest, especially the March 2 governorship election.

Recently, Akinlade explained how the APM managed to gain statewide acceptance within a period of four months. He ascribed the party’s astronomical growth to popular support the people of the state had accorded the Amosun regime and their decision to fight injustice he suffered in the hands of some powerful interests in the state and beyond.
On this ground, Akinlade said the 2019 election was not about him per se; neither was it in any way about the political platform he chose to pursue his governorship aspiration. Rather, according to him, it is about Ogun State. It is about the people of the state. We do not even structure at all levels. Yet, the people know us and share our dream.

For the APC leaders, therefore, the APM has perhaps become a major threat, not just to the APC, but also to the PDP in the state. This came to the open during the campaign rally President Muhammadu Buhari held in Abeokuta on Monday. At the rally, Amosun’s political allies protested the candidature of Abiodun before the president.

At some points, Amosun’s supporters booed the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, whom they alleged, connived with other powerful interests within and outside the party to thwart the nomination of Akinlade as the APC governorship candidate. For them, it is an injustice they have probably sworn to fight to finish.

What implication does this internal rift have for the electoral value of the APC in the state? Amosun claimed that he was still in the APC “to deliver Ogun State for Buhari.” He explained his decision to remain in the APC, citing two different rationales. First, said it was borne out of his unwavering support for Buhari. Second, he claimed that it was meant to protect the rights of those whose mandates were robbed by the NWC.

He, therefore, observed that the people of the state “are solidly in Buhari support and will vote massively for him.” As much as he was committed to Buhari’s re-election, Amosun said he was absolutely committed to Akinlade’s governorship aspiration on the platform of the APM.

After winning the governorship contest on March 3, however, Amosun promised “to bring all his political allies back from the APM to the APC” By implication, the APM is merely a special purpose vehicle for Amosun, Akinlade and their political allies.

Like his political godfather, Akinlade claimed that he had the backing of the president “to pursue his governorship aspiration on the platform of the APM.” Aside, he claimed, Buhari was never part of the powerful interests that worked against his ambition in the APC. On this note, he said he had been working for Buhari’s re-election across the state.

Specifically, Akinlade explained his resolve to seek support for Buhari’s re-election everywhere he campaigned in the state on two grounds. He, first, claimed that the APM “is now stronger than major political parties, especially the APC and PDP, in Ogun State.” Also, he said his supporters would not vote for Buhari if he failed “to campaign for him.

“That is why the APM also adopted him as its presidential candidate. I campaign for Buhari’s re-election anywhere I go to in the state. If I do not campaign for him, they will not vote for the APC. I have to tell them to vote for Buhari. I had to tell them Buhari would have helped if not for the position he found himself in the party.”

Unlike the case of the governorship contest, coincidentally, the Osoba camp agreed with the Amosun faction on Buhari’s re-election. The former governor had led the APC governorship candidate to Buhari in Aso Rock just the way Amosun had introduced the APM governorship candidate to the president. After the separate meetings, the president had equally endorsed the two candidates of different political leanings for the state’s governorship contest.

Likewise, Osoba claimed that Buhari’s re-election was indisputable, noting that he had been deploying his massive grassroots contacts statewide to realise it alongside the guber contest. Across the 20 local government areas (LGAs) in the state, the former governor claimed that he had been leveraging on his goodwill to ensure the president secure landslide on February 16.

After a meeting with Buhari on December 28, 2018, Osoba observed that 2019 “will by the grace of God be a defining year for the president. In 2003, a judgment was given where they the election in Ogun State was fraudulent and nullified by the tribunal. If he could defeat the incumbent president in 2003 in Ogun State, he will win the 2019 presidential election.”

With all these political gladiators campaigning for his re-election across the state, the dichotomy between the APM and APC ranks will shore-up Buhari’s electoral fortune in Ogun State compared with other South-west states. This is evident in the way Osoba, Amosun and Akinlade have been campaigning for Buhari’s re-election state-wide. The combined effort might give Buhari the largest votes in the region.

For reasons that hovered between Amosun’s political capital and the PDP’s self inflicted misfortunes in the state, findings showed that the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar might hold the shorter end of the stick in the state’s political calculus. Already, findings showed, a segment of Ogun PDP might be working for Akinlade.

Contingent on a recent survey, mainly in the state capital, Akinlade’s campaign machinery has been overwhelming with strong presence statewide. In Ogun West and Central, according to the survey, there is no appreciable showing that competes with Akinlade’s APM and Amosun’s wing of the APC. Even in Ogun East where Abiodun and the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Buruji Kashamu hail from, Akinlade’s presence is still very strong.

As much as APC’s leadership would have wanted to rein him in, Amosun’s time-honored relationship with Buhari has apparently been a limiting factor. Although he could rightly be charged for subversive political activities against the APC, Buhari’s emergence can be said to be working either directly or indirectly in Amosun’s favour.

The political engagements in Ogun have been a campaign of wits, huge resource and tenacity of purpose. Neither Buruji, nor Abiodun or even perhaps the governorship candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), Mr. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) can upset the applecart, which Amosun and Akinlade are currently shouldering.

As Akinlade recently said, the APM has no presidential candidate; Buhari is its adopted flag bearer. Consequently, there is little doubt the huge followers he has been able to garner within so short a period “will overwhelmingly vote for Buhari. Akinlade has been urging them to do so.” Besides, as Amosun said at different times, it is evident that if Akinlade win the governorship contest on March, he will at once return to the APC.

Apart from Lagos with its huge resources, no other state in the South-west has campaigned for Buhari. Buhari’s electoral fortune of Buhari might be in the South-west in particular and other parts of the South in general. Despite the rift in the APC, Ogun is sure to post an impressive showing for the president at the Saturday elections. With these convoluted issues, the APM has now become a defining factor in Ogun politics.