As Ogun APC woos deserters, more work ahead for Abiodun
While the current government in Ogun State is yet to clock one year in office, it appears politicians in the state are already eyeing 2023 and strategizing on who becomes what in that year’s general elections.
Therefore, political alignment and re-alignment have begun in earnest. Though contest for political offices in the state has been mainly between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999, indications are that unless the PDP gets its act together, things might be different in 2023. Ogun State appears to be heading for a one-party state, going by the return of those who left the party, as well as those who contested against it.
Before last year’s general elections, the PDP had been seriously weakened as a result of internal crisis hence it performed poorly. The party, with the recent development, has weakened further.
Governor Dapo Abiodun, immediately after he won the election, initiated a policy of an inclusive government and started wooing key political opponents into his administration. The policy has been yielding positive results.
Only last week, six of the PDP Chieftains defected to the APC at a colourful ceremony in Abeokuta, the State capital with their numerous supporters.
They are Alhaja Salmat Makanjuola Badru, former Deputy Governor; Hon. Dave Salako, former House of Representatives member; Elder Joju Fadairo, former state chairman of the party; Chief Pegba Otemolu, former Secretary of the party; Iyabo Apampa, a former BoT member and Hon. Ayo Odugbesan, former Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
Other PDP Stalwarts who also defected at the ceremony were, three commissioners who served under Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Prof. Segun Awonusi, Dr. A. Salako, and Alhaji Aliu Ajibode.
The Governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 election, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka also defected to the APC with his supporters at the event, thereby strengthening the APC further.
In his speech to welcome the decamping team, Gov. Abiodun stated that with the defection, the state had become a one-party state. Before the defection, the APC under his leadership was wobbling.
The Governor appointed his commissioners, special assistants and other aides seven months after assumption of office. Within the period, not much was achieved in terms of settling down and providing infrastructure.
Political observers had argued that it was because the Governor lacked a political structure of his own and that other politicians, including those outside the APC, were putting pressure on him to give slots to them.
The speculation was that he used the structure of Senator Solomon Adeola and that of former Chief Segun Osoba to get into office. Adeola campaigned vigorously for the governorship but later withdrew to contest the Senatorial seat in Lagos West.
Among the prominent politicians in his structure, which he handed over to Dapo Abiodun were Bode Mustapha, former House of Representatives member and Tunji Egbetokun, former Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
The argument for some, including members of the APC, was that the Governor is now building his structure with the defectors and others towards the 2023 elections.
But other people see it (defection) differently, pointing out that, Abiodun, on assumption of office, had disclosed that he would run an all “inclusive” administration.
With the defections, there are now four blocs within Ogun APC – those of Gov Abiodun, Osoba, Yayi, and former Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
It must be pointed out that, Amosun, the immediate past governor, before he left office urged his loyalist to decamp to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), which had Hon Kunle Akinlade as its governorship candidate. He lost to Abiodun. But a few weeks ago, after the Supreme Court had confirmed Abiodun’s victory, Amosun’s loyalists announced their return to the APC at a press conference. However, their return has not been formalized with a ceremony of allegiance to the Governor.
However, the opinion of some APC members is that their return was more of a curse than a blessing.
They fear the returnees will fight to see former state party chairman, Derin Adebiyi return as the party’s chairman despite the fact that the national leadership had appointed a Caretaker Committee with Yemi Sanusi as the Chairman. There are speculations that they intend to form a parallel party Executive.
Concerned people are anxiously waiting to see how the Governor is going to ensure unity.
Another challenge, awaiting the Governor is the complaint by the Osoba’s “political family” that they have been sidelined in appointments.
They (Osoba group) were not present at the swearing-in ceremony of the commissioners, or at the ceremony organised by the party to receive who decamped.
At the ceremony, the Governor gave a hint that until Amosun’s loyalists who announced their return to the party, do the “needful”, they would not be recognised.
He told the crowd: “Anyone cannot say he is joining us (APC) through the backdoor or through the window, that is illegal. If anyone wants to join us, he will come through the proper channel.
“It is important that we all appreciate each other, this is politics and we all have our strength, we all have a role to play. The way we are going, you can see, if anybody intends to join us, we know what to do. This is the only way to join the party, this is the only acceptable way to join the party.”
“The party is yet to be formally notified of any defection. When we get a formal report of the defection, we will study it and react appropriately.”
The Publicity Secretary to the party’s Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye said: “Anybody can just assemble themselves anywhere and say they have defected to the party but it is left for us as a responsible party to study the situation and react accordingly,” Oladunjoye added.
He said in a statement that the party is yet to be formally notified of any defection. “When we get a formal report of the defection, we will study it and react appropriately,” he said.
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