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Antics leave Ogun guber race open

By Seye Olumide Lagos and Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta
27 December 2018   |   4:20 am
If there is any state in the Southwest geopolitical zone where the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) might have some difficulties in the 2019 governorship...


If there is any state in the Southwest geopolitical zone where the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) might have some difficulties in the 2019 governorship election it is Ogun State. The challenges confronting APC in the state are not only peculiar, but also borne out of ‘ego and desperation’ for power by some stakeholders in the party.

Although, the incumbent, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has been accused of desperation as he wants to install his preferred candidate as successor, there are also concerns that the role played by some stakeholders of the party within and outside the state contradicts the alleged ‘collegiate agreement’ reached by Southwest APC leaders in one of their meetings in Ibadan sometime ago. This seems not to be helping maters.

One of the reported agreements at the Ibadan meeting was that none of the political leaders in the zone should interfere in the affairs of another. This was said to be one of the conditions reached to ensure appropriate reconciliation of frayed nerves.

At present APC controls the entire six Southwest states, having defeated Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the July 14, 2018 Ekiti governorship poll as well as successfully retaining power in the September 22 Osun governorship poll, its dominance of the region’s politics may, however, be shortlived if its leaders, especially the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) fails to address the existential problems facing it in Ogun before next general elections.

It is obvious that Ogun APC would go into the 2019 governorship election as a divided house, with Governor Amosun likely working for the success of his favoured candidate, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade, who is currently the standard bearer of Allied Peoples Movement (APM), while Dapo Abiodun, the recognized candidate of APC in Ogun, remains the preferred choice of former governor of the state, Chief Segun Osoba, national leader of APC, Bola Tinubu and Oshiomhole.

Amosun had been enmeshed in a subtle political leadership tussle with Tinubu and Osoba, since APC took over control of power at the centre in 2015. He allegedly relied on the ‘collegiate agreement’ and his affinity to President Muhammadu Buhari to assume the sole right to determine who succeeds him in 2019. This was never the case with other leaders of the party who felt otherwise. But with Oshiomhole’s inputs, the incumbent lost out in the governorship primaries held last October.

In his desperation to reverse the outcome of the governorship primaries, Amosun made several trips to the Presidential Villa to seek the intervention of Buhari with the aim of getting the NWC to reverse the emergence of Abiodun, but it was to no avail.

Surprisingly, after the various failed attempts to get Abiodun out using the Presidency, the next scheme was the litigation option, which circulated in the media, but this appears to be as a questionable approach.
A source within the party told The Guardian that the same approach, which some forces used in pulling down the immediate past Minister for Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, over certificate scandal, is being deployed against Abiodun.

It would be recalled that after many attempts to truncate Abiodun’s candidacy, a legal practitioner, Abdulrrafiu Baruwa, went to court to seek his (Abiodun) disqualification as governorship candidate of APC over alleged “false information” contained n the academic qualification he submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). This came as supporters of both Abiodun and Amosun continued to trade words over the allegation.

Implications of crisis and why Buhari might intervene
With recent developments, attention has shifted to President Buhari to intervene urgently and prevail on the warring factions to shealthe their swords in the interest of the party and the masses of the state. While Amosun has been allowed the opportunity of deciding Ogun Central Senatorial ticket for the 2019 election, it is left for Buhari to appeal to opponents of Abiodun to allow peace to reign before the election.

However, arrangement should also be put in place to ensure that the incumbent’s interests are adequately protected after he might have left office. This might be one of the reasons the incumbent and his supporters are fighting tooth and nail to see the governorship candidate out.

Another implication of the intrigue is the supremacy battle going on between Tinubu’s faction and the alleged ‘Abuja cabal’, which Amosun represents in the ongoing scenario.

A source in APC described the Ogun situation as part of the scheming in the Southwest ahead of 2023 presidential election, stressing, “If Abiodun is allowed to contest and he peradventure wins in 2019, it would be a plus for the national leader, who would have his men planted in states like Osun, Lagos and Ogun (Abiodun), which the outgoing governor and his loyalists oppose.

It would also mean that Osoba, whom Amosun allegedly disgraced in 2015 with the backing of Tinubu, would now stage a comeback to Ogun politics from which he has been ostracized in the last three years.
Possible impact on APC’s chances

Unless APC leaders address the issues before they get out of hand, opposition parties like PDP and African Democratic Congress (ADC) may snatch victory in the governorship poll.

The matter does not seem to be primarily all about Abiodun, who some entrenched forces in the party are said to be plotting desperately for his down fall, but about the party. But for the infighting in PDP, the ruling party would have kissed the next election goodbye by now. However, the possibility of the ruling party facing defeat cannot be ruled out with the growing popularity of Gbenga Isiaka, the standard bearer of ADC who hails from Ogun West.

Many believed that Ogun West deserves to produce Amosun’s successor, being the only district that is yet to produce a governor in the over 42 years since the state was created.

Yewa dilemma
With Akinlade on the ballot and backed by Amosun, the chances of Yewa people producing the next governor look remote. Akinlade and Isiaka are from Ogun West and therefore may possibly split the bloc votes from the area, a situation that will boost either Abiodun’s chances if he eventually overcomes the ongoing challenges. Whoever emerges as PDP candidate also stands to benefit from the impasse as no strong contender is contesting from the Central Senatorial zone in the next election.

While speaking with The Guardian, Isiaka expressed optimism that he would win the election, adding: “Concerning the unity of Nigeria, I think what we should be saying now is that these people are more united than ever. We visited the Council of Obas; I have been there twice before and this was my third time of visiting and I never saw the thing I saw in terms of support and encouragement. I am aware of how candidates have gone round and are still going round to ensure our unity. We are more united this time around than ever before.

“Talking about another candidate (Akinlade) coming from Ogun West, the governor having stated that he prefers a Yewa candidate, one would have thought that his strategy would have been different but since he has failed to do that, which he has the right to do, we will not have any issue with that, we will rather wait and see how things play out. We have no doubt in our minds that the field will react positively in our favour.”

On the possibility of power of incumbency working against him, Isiaka recalled how in 2015 the state’s machinery was used for the incumbent governor.

He said: “And we saw what the result was and that is when the incumbent, who was known all over and now that we are bringing somebody (Akinlade) out, who is clearly relatively unknown and wants to run under a platform (APM) which is also relatively unknown, I think we will still wait and see what will happen.”