In Ogun, It’s Still Politics with Bitterness

Former Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and his successor, Dapo Abiodun have continued to exchange bitter words, leaving many to wonder if they will ever resolve their political differences, writes Wale Igbintade

The no-love-lost relationship between the former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and his successor, Dapo Abiodun, reared its ugly head last week when they both traded words.  During the exchange of the bitter words, Amosun urged the incumbent to focus his energy on serving the people rather than shying away from his statutory responsibilities or making excuses.

The two leaders have been at loggerheads since the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state where Amosun was not favourably disposed to Governor Abiodun succeeding him.

Since then, it has been jabs, tantrums, bitterness, accusations, counter-accusations and attacks.

The current trouble started when the ex-aides of Amosun called on President Bola Tinubu to use his good offices to persuade Abiodun to pay their severance gratuities, which have been pending since 2019.

They lamented that despite the humongous amount accrued to Ogun State under the Tinubu-led administration and the charge of the President for the state governors to cushion the economic hardship through payments of outstanding debts to their citizens, the governor had refused to fulfil his pledge to offset the severance allowance.

According to a statement made available to journalists in Abeokuta, representatives of the former Special Assistants who served between 2015 and 2019, Fakorede Adesanya, Okoya Babatunde and Musiliu Oladeinde, said Governor Abiodun met them ahead of the 2023 elections and promised to pay the severance allowance. 

“This is an acknowledgement that we are entitled to and deserve the allowance,” the statement added.

“The governor has denied us the legitimate entitlement for five years. This has caused us psychological trauma. In the course of time, the value of the gratuity has depreciated considerably. Many of our colleagues who resigned from their jobs to serve Ogun State could not return to their jobs. Many of them and their families are in financial straits, hence our appeal for President Tinubu’s intervention,” said the representatives of the ex-special assistants.

In one of the several letters sent to the governor, dated August 5, 2021, the former appointees lauded the achievements of the Abiodun-led administration in the state, including the retention of the 2,000 workers employed in the twilight of the last administration rather than laying them off.

It added that: “Many of us resigned our jobs in order to serve our state. As the current helmsman, you would have taken cognisance of our plight during the four years of our faithful and selfless service. As we noted in our earlier letter on the subject matter, dated June 6, 2019, we humbly appeal to Your Excellency to kindly offset the severance in order to encourage sacrificial service to the good people of Ogun State by public office holders.”

As soon as the plea for President Tinubu’s intervention was made, Governor Abiodun, through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Hon. Kayode Akinmade accused the ex-aides of deliberately playing to the gallery over unpaid severance allowances. He asked them to blame their former principal for their woes, and not Governor Abiodun.

Akinmade said blaming Governor Abiodun on such matters was a sheer act of blackmail and mischief, adding that Amosun, and not the incumbent governor, was responsible for the non-payment of the severance allowances of the former special assistants. He said Amosun, against the extant law and protocol of civil administration, paid all his political appointees before leaving office and left his special assistants out of the arrangement, adding that Abiodun could not pay the former special assistants any severance allowance when their former boss had decided on those he considered entitled to the allowance.

He, therefore, advised the affected former political appointees to put the blame of callousness and insensitivity on their former boss after which they can appeal to Abiodun for possible redress on compassionate grounds.

The statement read: “It has been proven severally without any contradiction by stakeholders and political watchers alike in Ogun State, that the greatest distinction between former Governor Ibikunle Amosun and the incumbent, Prince Dapo Abiodun, is simply a penchant for vendetta by Amosun, while Abiodun is compassionate without animosity. It is therefore unbelievable that some former political appointees, under the auspices of former Special Assistants during Ibikunle Amosun’s administration, could accuse Governor Abiodun of non-payment of their severance allowances.

“It is obvious that these individuals are either playing to the gallery or being carelessly mischievous, knowing full well that Dapo Abiodun, by his nature, orientation and background, would never abuse power, irrespective of who or what is involved, a virtue he has demonstrated many times to the astonishment of many.”

In a swift response, Amosun said the governor’s comment was nothing but a smear campaign against his person and his past administration. 

In a statement by his media office and signed by Lanre Akinwale, the former governor said during his administration, he paid the severance benefits of political appointees who served during the administration of his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, without asking the beneficiaries to resort to begging, appeasing, worshipping and bootlicking him.  He added that he paid it voluntarily, fully aware that government is a continuum.

The former governor noted that he considered it part of his responsibility to the affected people for the services rendered to the state. 

He described the present administration’s directive to blame him despite having the handover note in the last five years as unthinkable.

The statement said: “It is beyond logical reasoning and common sense that a government that had spent more than five  years in office, will still be shying away from its statutory responsibilities to the people of Ogun State. It is high time the present administration in Ogun State cured itself of the pull him (Amosun) down syndrome it suffers from. Who God has lifted up, no amount of politicking and deliberate attacks can bring down.

“Amosun has served the people of Ogun State selflessly, passionately and committedly. His legacies are still noticeable across the nooks and crannies of the state, spanning different sectors. It is sad and unthinkable that the present administration will direct the affected appointees to Amosun after detailed information about his (Amosun’s) government was presented in the form of handover notes to the present administration five years ago.

“It is obvious that the present administration deliberately refused to pay the severance of the past appointees just because they served with Amosun. Isn’t this a vendetta? Time is ticking away, we will only advise the present administration to stop the politicking, blame game, and pull- him -down syndrome. Rather, it should concentrate on delivering good governance,” the statement concluded.

As the two continue to brandish their verbal swords against each other, the affected special assistants, unfortunately, have to rely on the timely intervention of the president, though it is unknown when that might occur.

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