Femi Ogbonnikan writes on the intrigues that have characterised the aftermath of the March 9 governorship election in Ogun State
The emerging scenario in Ogun State has become very complex and interesting since the declaration of Prince Dapo Abiodun, as Ogun State Governor-elect. Though it is not news many Nigerian politicians are not good sportsmen, often showing the character of bad losers, the outgoing governor, of Ogun Senator Ibikunle Amosun has set a dishourable record by outrightly refusing to pay Abiodun due courtesy.
What makes the Ogun situation more pathetic is that ordinarily, Amosun should be all smiles and rejoicing, after all, his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the same platform he had vied for and won the Ogun Central Senatorial seat ticket, also won the Number One public office.
Rather than sheath his sword, Amosun has continued with the same belligerent manners with which he prosecuted the party preliminary elections and the general election. The outgoing governor has been up in arms, waging all forms of war of attrition against the governor-elect who has suffered many things in the hands of Amosun, who vowed to do everything humanly possible to thwart his emergence as his successor. Jolted and saddened, Amosun is now crying wolves where there is none, following the defeat of his preferred candidate, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, through his adopted infant party, Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM). Likening his latest moves to that of a bee with its venom on a revenge mission, Amosun is not leaving any stone unturned in his latest desperate assault on Abiodun.
Sadly, the governor has rejected the popular axiom that those who live in a glass house should not throw stones. From his Ibara, Abeokuta Housing Estate expansive Glass House, Amosun is throwing stones at Abiodun. Despite entreaties from well-meaning Nigerians, particularly those in Ogun State, to eat the humble pie, the outgoing governor, has remained ambivalent and elected to fight the titanic battle, by hook and crook, not minding whose ox is gored. He cashed in, on the opportunity as a payback time for Abiodun and his political godfathers for denying his godson the opportunity to succeed him in office. To many a people of the state, it is believed that it is only the outgoing governor that can tell why he is crying more than the bereaved (Akinlade) and also becoming more Catholic (leader) than the Pope (the Ogun West people) he has professed to protect their interest and lead the agitation in the quest to have one of their sons to become the next governor of the state.
Nonetheless, if not for sheer providence, a stooge of the outgoing governor coming onboard, it is feared, would have been a sad reminder of the continuity of the last eight years of glacial insensitivity of the outgoing administration to the plight of both the local and state government workers who have been groaning arising from the pang of bad governance.
With the attendant castrated financial resources of local governments administration and by extension, arbitrary deductions in salaries, unpaid pensions; contributory pensions; gratuities, unpaid cooperative savings deductions of both public and civil servants in the state, culminating in low morale, the emergence of the Governor-elect is seen as a blessing coming at the right time when hopes are already dashed, with the increasing impoverishment of the workforce. On Monday, March 11, the day INEC declared Abiodun as governor-elect, it was gathered, that the cheering news was received with wild jubilation as workers in their respective offices at the Okemosan, Abeokuta, the seat of power, took to songs of praise to the Almighty God for the divine intervention.
The civil populace are not left out. They are also happy with the change of guard.
Artisans, market women and men, students, civil society groups, road transport workers, among others are now heaving a sigh relief and optimistic of a new dawn to berth, with the emergence of Abiodun, a successful businessman, as the new helmsman to pilot the affairs of the state, with people-oriented programmes aimed at ameliorating the poor living conditions of the people.
Meanwhile, Amosun, yet to accept the defeat of his godson, Akinlade, is unrepentant and adamant in handing over the baton of leadership to his successor, Abiodun. In less than two months to vacate the office, which will lapse on May 29, the outgoing governor has continued to cause more problems for the in-coming administration. He is yet to inaugurate a transition committee that would facilitate a smooth hand-over to the new administration. More worrisome trends too are the recent elevation of 20 senior civil servants to Permanent Secretary status, selective job placement of some of his cronies and favoured relations into the state civil service, inauguration of the governing councils of the state-owned tertiary institutions, the establishment of the State Investment and Promotion Agency that were hurriedly put together in a bid to rock the boat of the state for the in-coming administration.
While berating the outgoing governor for his reluctance, an Owode-Egba-based, Ogun State, social commentator, Ola Muritala, in an open letter to Senator Ibikunle Amosun, on his Facebook account titled, “When Will Amosun Inaugurate Transition Committee?” Wrote, “Undoubtedly, government is a continuum and goes with the rules of actions, which serve as element for progress and change.
“In Ogun State and many other states of the federation, having successfully, concluded the gubernatorial elections of March 9, 2019, it is important that governance move to the next agenda and responsibility.
“After elections, the general norm for exiting regime is to inaugurate a transition committee saddled With the responsibility of ensuring a seamless transition to the next administration, in which any responsible or responsive government will not waste time in effecting.
“Less than two months to the expiration of the current controversial administration in Ogun State, the government led by Senator Ibikunle Amosun is yet to inaugurate its transition committee, as we are witnessing in many states of the federation, where new governors are expected to take the mantle of office on May 29, 2019.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after declaring Prince Dapo Abiodun as the clear winner of the gubernatorial election held in the State on the 9th of March, 2019, went ahead to present him a Certificate of Return on March 28, 2019 and will be sworn-in on May 29, 2019.
“If by now, Governor Ibikunle Amosun is yet to bring on board, the transition committee, then, observers are justified to ask when this will be done. In fact, the recent desperation on the part of the incumbent, makes the question more pertinent.
“To take our State to the next level through qualitative governance and a high level of prosperity, equity, fairness and justice for all, there is an urgent need to give the next administration a smooth take-off and it is imperative to quickly put in place a transition committee whose major responsibility is to ensure a seamless transition to the next administration.
“Could it be that His Excellency, the incumbent Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, may be hiding something questionable or afraid to respect tradition necessary for his handing over? Or he is yet to come to terms with the reality and inevitability of handing over to someone he cheekily called a rookie, “who could not even win a senatorial election, let alone a governorship election”?
“Few days ago, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State inaugurated a transition committee and charged members to ensure a smooth hand-over to the newly elected governor of the state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
“The governor of Borno State, on his own part, has warned contractors in the state not to extend or expect any payment beyond May 29, 2019. His reason was that he does not want to tie the hands of his successor.
“However, in Ogun State, the reverse is the case. Mr. Ibikunle Amosun is busy making appointments, promotions and secrete recruitment of his cronies into the civil service’s top positions. few days ago he announced a Governing Council and Vice Chancellor for a University that was yet to admit students. He followed later with the appointment of about 18 permanent secretaries and two General Managers to the State-owned media organizations. The Governor is reportedly busy selling lands and awarding phones contracts, while exerting pressure on financial institutions to grant last-minute loans and overdrafts. Many property owners who felt threatened by primitive acquisition of the departing governor have taken newspaper adverts to warn about buyers who may want to buy lands already sold to them by the Governor. They alleged the governor wanted to forcefully take over their lands, for which they already paid hundreds of millions of naira into the state covers, and resell to unsuspecting members of the public.
“The big question is, When will Amosun inaugurate his Transition Committee? With his failed third term bid through a proxy, whether Mr. Amosun likes it or not, whether he is sponsoring a hushy-washy petitions at the Ogun Elections Petition Tribunal against a party he claimed to belong to or not; he will finally and unavoidably hand over power to Prince Dapo Abiodun on May 29, 2019 at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta. Nothing is permanent, not even the permanent secretaries. The world itself is temporary. The only thing permanent in this world is change. On May 29, 2019, the government will change hands and the people’s choice, the victorious Prince Dapo Abiodun, will mount the rostrum to take over as he has been destined”.
Also, erstwhile Special Assistant (SA) on political matters to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Gbolade Oshinowo, in an exclusive chat, noted that the stance of the outgoing governor is a sad reflection of his resistance to the in-coming administration of Dapo Abiodun.
“The posture of the Governor reflects an unbending resistance to the incoming Dapo Abiodun. This is unbecoming and impolitic. The election has ended, the people have made their choice. It is incumbent on all of us to respect the outcome of the Democratic process especially those who have benefited from the system and hope to continue to benefit from the system. Amosun must bow to the wishes of the people and make peace with his successor today. The alternative is fraught with too much danger for the system and for the personnel including himself”, said Oshinowo, who is also, the Ogun State chairman, African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Besides, in a telephone chat, former Director-General, Senator Ibikunle Amosun Governorship Re-election Campaign Organisation in 2015, Chief Bode Mustapha, admonished the incoming administration of Dapo Abiodun not to lose sleep over the developments.
“He (Amosun) too was faced with the same situation eight years ago and all he did was to reverse all of such appointments and engagements in the civil service. As far as I am concerned, the governor elect is well within his right to do same, especially in view of the newly approved minimum wage and bearing in mind the quantum of debt that this administration has plunged Ogun State into which is unprecedented in the history of the state”, stated Mustapha, a brief former Chairman, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
Former Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to ex-governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Mr Wale Adedayo, added his voice to the call on the outgoing governor to exhibit a spirit of sportsmanship in accepting defeat of his preferred candidate, Akinlade.
According to him, “it is ungodly and certainly perfidious to use an office won by APC to fight the same party.
“How much was Amosun was worth ahead of the 2011 general elections which brought him to office, to the effect that he could bankroll APM in Ogun State? The transport and other unions were forced, using resources of the state to back APM. That couldn’t have happened if Abuja had done the needful about a perfidious being, who knows next to nothing about faithfulness.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari had really behaved as a true leader of the party, there is no way an Amosun would have been part of the last elections. He would have been removed from office and personally remanded by now. That is an incontrovertible fact!
“But since we are concerned about the last elections, Amosun may want to look in the mirror and confirm how many APC members were arrested by the law enforcement agencies for electoral malpractices. Ninety-nine percent of those arrested were his top aides. They were caught in the act.”