Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that with the rug removed from his feet, while he is yet struggling to find appropriate support system for his collapsing pack of cards, the Allied Peoples Movement, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State is hemmed in on all sides by severe trouble
At the beginning of the week, a photograph emerged of Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State grinning from ear-to-ear in a handshake with President Muhammadu Buhari. Apparently, it was an uncluttered hint that he still had the President’s ear, for those who may harbour doubts arising from his suspension from his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), the previous day.
Amosun’s grandstanding over the control of the APC in Ogun State, particularly following the ill-fated primaries in which the governor failed to position his favourites for different offices, particularly for the governorship contest that will produce his successor. Having failed to railroad the NWC and the elders of the party in the state to accept his bid to give the party’s gubernatorial ticket to Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, his annointed candidate, Amosun unabashedly attempted to tear the APC in Ogun state into shreds. Although he has been partially successful in using a combination of threats and barefaced violence to hold down a sizeable number in his net, the majority of APC faithful have opted to live under the governor’s heavy hand, refusing to drink from his poisoned chalice.
A little while ago, the impression was given that anyone who did not follow Amosun to his proxy party, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) was doomed. By openly supporting an opposition party that is fronting Akinlade as its governorship party, Amosun was playing a delicate gamble, that may yet eclipse his political sun, that is already being dimmed with the result of the Presidential and National Assembly elections and has further become overcast with his indefinite suspension from the APC.
Every stakeholder in politics has identified lack of internal party democracy as one of the bane our democratic experiment. Add the seeming impotence of political party hierarchy to discipline erring members and we have the pervading disaster in all the political parties. In an ideal situation, Amosun and anyone who displays similar destructive tendencies should have been called to order by his party long ago. The fact that Amosun was allowed to carry on for this long, nearly wrecking maximum damage against his political family nurtured the notion that he was a sacred cow. At every turn, Amosun held up his friendship with the President like a badge of honour, but when Buhari was stoned and disgraced at a political campaign, ostensibly under the governor’s watch, he became tongue tied to explain what went wrong. Indeed, there is no precedence of the Presidential stoning incident in Ogun in the annals of Nigerian politics. A few days after, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo was treated to a similar spectacle of dishonour supervised by Amosun’s acolytes.
It is not clear which of these despicable actions earned Amosun suspension from the APC. What seems to be emerging is that the leadership was perhaps hesitant to strike the hammer of justice against Amosun because it was unsure of how deep the virus he emitted had eaten into the fabric of the party. Having been convinced with the outcome of the Presidential and the NASS elections, in which the party bagged the three senatorial slots and six out of the nine federal constituencies, it moved against Amosun with a decisive action that clearly reestablished the supremacy of the party.
With the remaining three federal constituencies in Ogun state shared one each by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the APM, no one is left in doubt that the APC and its governorship candidate, Mr. Dapo Abiodun, may be coasting to victory, all things being equal. Already, Hon. Titi Oseni-Gomez former Speaker of the Ogun state House of Assembly who contested the Ogun Central senatorial seat on the ADC platform, but lost to Amosun has collapsed her structure in favour of Abiodun. In Ogun East, Mr. Deji Ashiru who also made a bid to become a senator on the ticket of the ADC has taken a similar course as Oseni-Gomez. It is difficult to say why the influence of the ADC governorship candidate, Mr. Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka is dwindling. It is not unlikely that self-preservation may have informed their action. In the days ahead, there is a good chance that the Abiodun camp may increase in number from members of both factions of the PDP who may want to join the APC political train that seems to have gathered greater steam.
From the result of the NASS elections, it does not look as if Amosun and Akinlade were able to communicate the distinction between the APM and APC to their followers. The APM had adopted Buhari as its presidential candidate. And it was at this instance that the President made, what has since become an infamous statement to the effect that the people were at liberty to vote any candidate of their choice, though he raised Abiodun’s hand as candidate of the APC. The confusion in the mind of the people as they cast their vote was apparent as 10300 votes were recorded for the APM in the senatorial contest, in which Amosun, the chief sponsor of the APM contested on the platform of the APC. Those votes were supposed to be delivered to the APC if the people were properly schooled.
The woeful performance of Amosun supporters who vied to become federal lawmakers on the ticket of the APM is instructive. In Ifo, Mr. Leke Adewolu, Commissioner for Special Duties did not only lose, the APC recorded one of the highest votes in this constituency. Mr. Rotimi Rahman, Chairman of Ogun Local Government Service Commission failed in his bid for a seat in the House of Representatives on the platform of the APM. In Sagamu, Hon. Yinka Mafe, a serving member of the Ogun State House of Assembly who contested for a House of Representatives seat on the ticket of the APM lost. The example of the serving member of the HoR, Hon. Micky Kazeem, representing Obafemi/Owode is very pathetic. He was defeated by Hon. Olumide Osoba even in his Wasinmi Polling Unit. Kazeem recorded an uninspiring two votes against 237 votes for Osoba.
There is no doubt that the APM was a Special Purpose Vehicle to play a spoiler role against the APC, particularly in Ogun state. Of the about 36000 recorded by the party presidential and national assembly elections, 33000 came from Ogun.
With the rug removed from his feet, while he is yet struggling to find appropriate support system for his collapsing pack of cards, the APM, the governorship contest in Ogun state this weekend, which was too close to call not too long ago has unexpectedly become predictable. In Ogun West, the homestead of the ADC governorship candidate, Isiaka, Chief Tolu Odebiyi has already become senator-elect. He is from Yewa. The people are mainly Yewa/Awori. With Odebiyi, Yewa already has the senate slot. Meanwhile, the APC governorship aspirant Abiodun’s running mate, Alhaja Noimot Oyedele-Salako is from Ota-Awori, a people who have never had a shot at such a high office. That axis also has the people of Agbara/Atan who despite contributing the highest IGR were neglected by Amosun.
Unfortunately for Amosun it seems to be raining trouble from all quarters. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been at loggerheads with the governor over unpaid salaries to Ogun workers. It is hardly the kind of opposition one should be faced with close to a make or mar election.