Kashamu’s Associates Sing New Song in Ogun

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Kunle Abdul-Azeez

Ijebu-Igbo, the headquarters of Ijebu North Local Government Area of Ogun State, was agog recently as loyalists of the late Senator Buruji Kashamu dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and joined the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The defectors, who made public declaration at a carnival-like event, said they were highly impressed by Governor Dapo Abiodun’s sterling performance in office and decided to switch camp in furtherance of their unflinching support for his administration.

This latest defection climaxed the series of movement of political heavyweights and power blocs in recent days into the ruling party which, analysts reckon, is likely to fortify and reposition the APC as the most formidable in the race for 2023.

Indeed, the tide in Ijebu-Igbo was of more significance judging by the fact that the town was the base of Senator Kashamu, who bestrode the polity of the state like a colossus during his lifetime. The late politician represented Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly between 2015 and 2019 and also ran for governorship on the PDP platform in the last general election.

Kashamu, it will be recalled, died on August 8, 2020 as a result of complications from COVID-19. However, since his demise, many of his associates and loyalists have been in a quandary over their political future. Of course, two options appealed to them: either to remain stuck to the gravely fractured party of their benefactor or seek accommodation under a more receptive and stable platform.

The chequered story of PDP in Ogun State is well known. Over the years, the party has been in the throes of factional crisis with rival members always fighting for control of structures and working at cross-purposes. Kashamu, who concretised his hold on the party through series of court verdicts, deft manoeuvring and heavy spending, was at the centre of the protracted battle for the soul of the party.

While Kashamu seemed to have tamed the gods in Ogun PDP, criticisms trailed his handling of party affairs, especially since the party continued to lose crucial elections and failed to take the levers of governance. Some chieftains, who were opposed to his style, plotted against him and this inevitably aggravated the factionalisation of the party. A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, actively promoted the revolt against the late Senator.

The opposition party was deeply divided, with two factional executives laying claim to legitimacy and authenticity in the state chapter and practically leaving teeming members disillusioned. This was the sordid situation till Kashamu passed away last year.

With the vacuum created by Kashamu’s death, some forces swiftly moved in to poach his men. Though some of the Senator’s supporters fell for the gambit, others quickly beat a retreat and sought their fortune elsewhere.
This, perhaps, was what happened in Ijebu-Igbo on Thursday, last week, when the only PDP member in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Sylvester Abiodun, defected to the APC. The defection of the lawmaker, representing Ijebu North 1 state constituency, made the 26-member House of Assembly a one-party affair.

Scores of APC leaders and supporters received the lawmaker into the ruling party. Notable among them are former Deputy Governor of the state, Prince Segun Adesegun, Senator Biyi Durojaiye, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Tokunbo Talabi, the Governor’s Senior Special Adviser on Political Matters, Tunji Egbetokun, Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Hon. Biyi Adeleye, the lawmaker representing Yewa North 1 state constituency, Adegoke Adeyanju, and a former lawmaker, Hon Joseph Adegbesan.

At the event, a minute silence was also observed for Kashamu while Chief (Mrs) Tuke Omotara led the entire structure of the late Senator in Ijebu North to the APC. Amid intermittent singing and dancing, the defectors praised Governor Abiodun, saying they were happy to join him in taking the state to greater heights.

In his remarks, Hon. Abiodun, who described the late Kashamu as his political mentor, said his movement to the APC was a homecoming. The lawmaker explained that his constituents were duly consulted and carried along about his defection. He promised to work for the progress of the party ahead of 2023 general elections.

“Senator Buruji Kashamu will be glad wherever he is that I joined the ruling APC, as he was the first governorship candidate to visit Prince Dapo Abiodun to congratulate him for his success at the election,” Hon. Abiodun further stated.

The lawmaker also urged all party faithful to cooperate with the party leadership in order to build a better and virile country.

Meanwhile, on the same day in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state, scores of members of opposition parties formally joined the ruling party. The APC welcomed defectors from PDP, African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Action Democratic Party (ADP).

Notable leaders that defected included Otunba Tola Odulaja, former Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the ex-Governor Gbenga Daniel, Aremo Tola Alimi and Alhaja Adeleke. They were received into the APC by the state Caretaker Chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi, who was represented by Chief Dina and Engr. Ayo Olubori, the Deputy Chairman and Secretary respectively. At the event, both Egbetokun and Adeleye represented the state governor.

The defectors, who spoke one after the other, hinged their decision to join the APC on the robust performance and landmark achievements of Governor Abiodun, particularly in the area of infrastructural development and unbiased style of administration.

Addressing the gathering, Egbetokun declared that the defectors had made the right choice by moving into the progressives fold. The Governor’s aide promised that the party would ensure equity, fairness and justice and treat all its members equally irrespective of when they joined. According to him, there will be no discrimination in the party as all members have equal rights.

He advised the new members to be loyal to the cause of the party and also ensure they canvass more people to join the party. He stressed the need for intending members to take advantage of the ongoing membership registration and revalidation exercise of the APC.

Egbetokun restated the commitment of the current administration in the state to formulating and implementing programmes that would have tremendous impact on the well-being of the people.
In a related development, some erstwhile members of the Kashamu faction led by the PDP candidate for Ogun Central Senatorial District in the 2019 election, Hon. Biodun Sanyaolu, defected to the APC. The defectors were received by Governor Abiodun at his office in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.

Speaking during the visit, Sanyaolu disclosed that the former PDP members were happy with the Governor’s performance since taking the mantle of leadership in the state. He said as stakeholders, they are willing to contribute their quota to ongoing development efforts and support the present administration to further take the state to lofty pedestal. He pledged the loyalty and support of the new APC members for Governor Abiodun and his administration in the state.

However, Abiodun welcomed the defectors, saying they made the right choice by joining the progressives fold. He remarked that the APC has become the choice of everyone in the state. He charged the new members to do everything possible to promote peaceful coexistence and survival of democracy.

The governor, who emphasised his commitment to running an all-inclusive administration, assured the defectors that the ruling party would ensure equity, fairness and justice for all members, irrespective of social status.
Abiodun also promised to ensure that the dividends of democracy spread across the nooks and crannies of the state, urging all stakeholders to cooperate with the APC-led government in the state.