Ogun 2019: Plot to decide Amosun’s successor in top gear
The contest to have Governor Ibikunke Amosun’s successor in Ogun State is already unsettling not only members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), but camps of opposition parties in the state.
Indeed, power brokers in the state are as uncertain as the voters on which of the political parties will produce the next governor and members at both the state and National Assemblies, as the plots for 2019 general elections have begun.
Ogun State is the home of many prominent power brokers in Nigeria. Their influence to swing election in any direction cannot be under-estimated but 2019 may be entirely different, for apparent lack of consensus. The electorate may determine who they can trust among politicians seeking their votes.
However, the performance of Amosun in the last seven years is going to be one of the major factors to determine the acceptability of the APC in the state. His scorecard has been a subject of controversy. While his supporters are convinced that he has done creditably well in “rebuilding” the state, some have contrary opinion to his style of administration and sundry allegation of abuse of office.
In fact, Amosun critics have been interrogating his achievements on the five pillars he premised his administration, namely; Education, Health, Agriculture that enhances industrialization, Urban renewal, Housing and Infrastructure.
While huge investment in urban renewal in Abeokuta South and Abeokuta North local councils are well acknowledged, other 18 local councils complain of skewed and concentrated modernization, which has become campaign issue among opposition parties in the state.
Apart from his achievement in urban renewal, Amosun supporters are struggling to justify his seemingly “dismal performance” in other areas such as alleviating suffering of the people and improvement on human capital.
However, his ability to command a stronghold of the party to ensure there were no parallel congresses in Ogun State as it happened in Lagos, Oyo and Ondo has proved him to be fully in charge.
Some had feared the congresses will be hotly contested but the politician in Amosun work hard to reduce the influence of the Lagos West Senator, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola who was though to have a hold on Ogun State governorship race. Adeola and his supporters were conspicuously absent at the state congress. He is said to be romancing with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and may emerge its flag bearer.
Also few days to the congress, Amosun’s meeting with the former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba was also seen as a master stroke to douse tension and pave way for him to install his aides at the party Exco. A source said the deal with Osoba would see the latter’s son contesting for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Having settled with formidable leaders in the state, Amosun’s Senior Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Chief Derin Adebiyi emerged the Chairman of the party, while his long standing political associate and former Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Bashiru Fadayiro and Patrick Ogunde emerged Deputy Chairman and Secretary respectively.
With the composition of the current executive members of the party in the state, Amosun may not have problem when it comes to getting his anointed choice as the governorship candidate of the party. Though he is yet to disclose his choice aspirant for the office but he has described the person as a “wiz kid from Ogun West Senatorial district.”
If he could eventually make good his promise to support an aspirant from Ogun West, the senatorial district that has not produced governor since the creation of the state in 1976, Amosun might win the hearts of many who want the senatorial district to produce the next governor for justice, fairness and equity.
While many have speculated that Amosun may eventually settle down for his Chief of Staff, Tolu Odebiyi, some contenders from the Senatorial district like a member of House of Representatives, Hon Adekunle Abdikabir Akinlade are penetrating the delegates to clinch the ticket.
Other APC leaders from the zone include, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Prince Suraju Adekunbi, Hon Abiodun Akinlade and Chief Kola Lawal.
But there is also another strong APC governorship contender from Ogun East Senatorial District, Jimi Lawal, a new entrant into the politics of the state and an aide of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. His supporters believe he can win a free and fair primary of the APC in the state, slightly higher than Hon Bimbo Ashiru, an Ijebu man also eying the number one seat in the state.
Though APC in Ogun State appears to be peaceful and better coordinated than opposition parties, a chieftain of the party who pleaded for anonymity told The Guardian that, “Yes, people think so but those of us inside know that all is not well and we are yet to know how the party will manage the crisis that will follow the primary, we know the thinking of the governor, he has perfected plans of imposing a candidate on us and this will be roundly resisted. So the peace you mentioned is a peace of the graveyard.”
But another party chieftain disagreed and pointed that if the party could hold a rancour free congress, then it is capable of holding a peaceful primary that will be acceptable to all.
While the APC manages to organise with a level of decorum, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State is daily loosing members because of protracted troubles.
There has been a protracted legal tussle between the factions loyal to Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon Ladi Adebutu. While the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given recognition to the Kashamu faction based on the court judgment, which has been appealed, Adebutu’s faction is enjoying the support and recognition from the national secretariat of the party.
Besides, the governorship ambition of both party men from Ogun East does not enjoy popular support Senatorial district, for the fact that more people are in favour of favour zoning the governorship to Ogun West, has further deepened the crisis.
With the level of uncertainty on the fate of the party in Ogun State, both gladiators are said to have oiled their plan ‘B’ in order to achieve their ambitions. While Buruji is said to be in hold of the Mega Party in Ogun State, Adebutu is believed to be the major financier of the Labour Party (LP).
Miffed by the endless crisis in the party, its governorship candidate in the last election, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka had on Thursday resigned his membership of the party.
Isiaka, in a letter to the chairman of the party in the state and copied to its national secretariat in Abuja noted that, “This has not been an easy one for me as I recall with nostalgia, the opportunities and privileges which the membership of this party conferred on my political career; the peak of which was the kind consideration given me to be the flag bearer of the PDP in the last gubernatorial election in Ogun State.
The exit of Isiaka and his teeming supporters known as The Believe Movement (TBM) spreading across all the 236 wards in the state is a big minus to the PDP.
The First Class Accounting graduate of the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) is believed to be on his way to African Democratic Congress (ADC). Informed sources close to him disclosed that Isiaka might formally declare for ADC next week.
His closeness to former President Olusegun Obasanjo during the presentation of the party in the state and the large number of his supporters that have joined the party in Ogun State further confirmed that Isiaka would soon announce his aspiration to govern Ogun State under the banner of the ADC.
Writer and journalist, Mr. Sina Kawonise is also in the race. The former Commissioner of Information in the state is aspiring under the Social Democratic Party (SDP), while Tope Tokoya is making frantic efforts to sell Accord in Ogun State.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and a chieftain of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Hon Dimeji Bankole is also an aspirant, struggling to wrest power from the APC. Bankole is believed to be penetrating the grassroots, especially youths in Ogun Central Senatorial District through his Dimeji Bankole Movement (DBM).
His concentration on his Senatorial district has made some political watchers to believe speculate that the former Speaker may be planning to go for the Senate and use the platform to slug it out with Amosun, who is believed to be nursing the ambition to return to the Senate, after his eight year sojourn as the Chief Executive of the state.
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