Ogun 2023: Intrigues as PDP plots against APC
As preparations for the 2023 general election gather momentum, Ogun State is one of the South West states where the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is likely to experience improved fortunes.
Findings in the last few months revealed that the PDP has been working towards presenting the right candidate in its bid to give the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a tough fight. And sources within the party hinted The Guardian that if APC retains Governor Dapo Abiodun as its governorship candidate, he would most likely face Mr. Oladipupo Adebutu, who is one of the aspirants with the brightest chance of securing the PDP ticket.
In 2019, Adebutu missed the opportunity to contest the election due to a court ruling that prevented him from being the party’s flagbearer.
The late Senator Buruji Kashamu, instituted several suits to challenge the PDP and Adebutu’s candidacy, maintaining that the faction of the party that produced him (Kashamu) as the candidate was the one recognised by law, as against the faction that produced the former member of House of Representatives.
As such, the court recognised the late senator and mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to put Kashamu on the ballot paper as PDP’s candidate, instead of Adebutu, who was then the preferred choice of the most party faithful.
The PDP eventually came a distant third in the election proper, and Kashamu was among the first to congratulate Abiodun after he was declared the winner.
It was later alleged that the late senator worked against the interest of his party, to the advantage of the APC. The same allegation of backstabbing was also levelled against former Governor Gbenga Daniel, who, in the aftermath of the 2019 poll, defected to the APC, is also accused of backstabbing the PDP in the 2019 governorship election.
Even though Kashamu, Adebutu and Abiodun are from the same Ogun East Senatorial District, which in 2019 claimed the right to produce the governor, major traditional rulers and stakeholders from the zone were skeptical about Kashamu’s candidacy.
At the moment, one of the factors that may improve PDP’s chances of taking the reins in the state, in 2023, is the internal crisis that is ravaging both Governor Abiodun’s camp and that of his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
In the aftermath of the party’s state congresses, factions loyal to Abiodun and Amosun came up with separate state executives after the October 16 exercise.
Observers are still waiting on Governor Mai Mala-Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) to decide on the outcome of the congress.
However, the Abiodun faction, with the privilege of incumbency, is at present having the upper hand but the tight grip of Amosun on the grassroots poses a serious threat to the incumbent’s chances of wrestling the party structure and retaining the party’s ticket.
Some observers are of the view that if President Muhammadu Buhari, eventually okays the direct primary proposed by lawmakers, it may further complicate Abiodun’s quest to get a second term ticket.
But a source within the ruling party told The Guardian that the incumbent still has a strong influence in Ogun East, and may also use the power of incumbency to attract needed votes in the primary and the main elections, especially in the Iperu Remo axis where he and Adebutu hail from.
According to the source: “The ongoing rehabilitation of Iperu Remo Road that the Abiodun-led administration is doing is a strategy to get the people to vote for him.”
The governor is also likely going to bank on the influence of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who is also from Ogun East, to secure his second term bid.
It was alleged that Osinbajo, before the 2019 governorship elections, made efforts to prevail on Adebutu (through his father, Kessinghton Adebutu), to suspend his governorship ambition with the offer to go to the senate, but the former member of the House of Representatives refused claiming his supporters would be disappointed.
While Ogun East is a key battleground for the APC, and the PDP in 2023 (if Abiodun and Adebutu get their parties’ tickets), Ogun Central may likely experience a four-way battle where the influence of Amosun, former Governor Segun Osoba, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, and other gladiators will be put to test.
It is, however, widely believed that Osoba and Bankole may likely give their support to Abiodun, to the detriment of Adebutu, or whomsoever that the PDP might field as its candidate. This could give the governor the edge since he has been doing everything possible to ensure the gladiators in Ogun Central glue to his side.
Ogun West, with the least voting strength in the state, is too close to call for both parties. But stakeholders are of the view that the incumbent may have a little edge.
The senator representing Lagos West, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, is currently scheming to transfer his political base to Ogun West where he has allegedly signified intention to contest for the senate seat for the third time. He has already designed a campaign slogan – “From West to West,” referring to the movement from Lagos West to Ogun West.
It was gathered that Senator Adeola has already surrendered his Yayi Platform to Abiodun, but this, many fear might constitute an albatross to the incumbent, as indigenes of Ogun West are not pleased with Adeola’s scheming, which they view as an insult.
The development is said to have created bad blood between Abiodun and the incumbent lawmaker representing Ogun West, Tolu Odebiyi.
It is uncertain whether the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in 2019, Nasir Gbenga Isiaka, who hails from Imeko, Ogun West, who defected to the APC will throw his heart into the ring again.
It is also being speculated that the former Gbenga Daniel’s ally may also want to try to book a seat at the Senate on the platform of APC, in 2023.
Depending on how APC addresses its challenges, the PDP hopes to capitalise on these lapses, especially now that the major opposition party has closed ranks after its national convention.
Many see Abiodun’s performance rating as below par, just as some in the state allege that he runs the state like a premature businessman who is confused regarding the best way to deliver the dividends of democracy to his people. They pointedly accuse the governor of handling road construction with levity, a development that supporters of the governor describe as frivolous.
The COVID-19 pandemic paralysed the world economy in 2020 and the consequences of the #EndSARS protests added to challenges faced by governments across the country. These are serious issues that could have slowed down any government. That said, it is not true that Abiodun is not giving road construction and rehabilitation the needed attention since 2019.
For Adebutu, the PDP is the party to beat in 2023, as the Ogun people own the structure of the party. He stressed that members are now so united to the extent that the next governorship primary would be done as seamless as the national convention.
He expressed optimism about getting the party’s ticket for the 2023 gubernatorial contest and go-ahead to deliver the state from the alleged Abiodun’s failed expedition.
He added: “Over one million people who are seriously impoverished and traumatised by insecurity are with us in the PDP in Ogun State today. With this potent army, we will wrestle the state from the grip of failed leaders who are associated with bad, failed and discredited governance.”