Ogun Governorship 2019: Why the coast isn’t yet clear
Since 1999, Ogun State has never had it so unclear in an election year, not to have a clear-cut direction of a possible heir apparent to replace the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Less than eight months to the general elections, uncertainty and anxiety are noticeable in the political space, as the electorate is unsure of which political party or candidate that will likely take over the number one seat in the state.
The Guardian learnt that all the political parties and camps, including the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are currently in frenzy, as they are unable to put their acts together, to know the mind of the kingmakers.
So far, 13 aspirants have indicated interest to succeed Amosun. They include; House of Representatives member, Adekunle Abdikabir Akinlade; Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Suraju Adekunbi; Abiodun Akinlade and Chief Kola Lawal; Lagos West Senator, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola a. k. a Yayi; and former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI), all from the Yewa zone.
Others are House of Representatives member, Oladipupo Adebutu; an aide to the Kaduna State Governor, Jimi Lawal; Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Bashorun Muyiwa Oladipo; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Bimbo Ashiru; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; former Commissioner for Information, Sina Kawonise; and former Green Eagles captain, Segun Odegbami (who is yet to make up his mind).
Of all the contenders, it is said that Yayi, until last week is the only one giving the governor sleepless nights and a fight for his money.
“Yayi’s status is seriously terrifying Amosun, a development that has forced the governor to adopt gimmicks of spreading stories that Yayi has joined GNI’s camp and that he has also retraced his step back to Lagos.
“It is only Yayi that has the Tsunami that can upset Amosun’s plans. Since he has failed with all his plans, he has now adopted open confrontation, sponsoring of rumour. Yayi has not gone anywhere, he is still in APC, whatever anybody says about his defection is not true,” a party Chieftain said.
While it is rumoured in some quarters that the ‘slow-start’ in parties might not be unconnected with government’s infiltration of the parties to unsettle them, a school of thought has it that it is all about mind game, using stylish intimidation and brandishing achievement as trump card.
The Guardian learnt that the crisis within the APC, which has been severally denied, may soon explode, possibly after the gubernatorial primary, as party stalwarts are patiently waiting to see if there is going to be imposition, as alleged that the governor might settle for his Chief of Staff, Tolu Odebiyi, a rumour that had been debunked.
Though it appears there is no crisis within the party, it was learnt that party handlers have succeeded in gagging chieftains from voicing their frustration and resolve not to allow a manipulation of the primary.
Yet, only the APC appears to be in good stead to retain the state, considering the ‘flawless’ party congresses, unlike what happened in Oyo, Lagos and other states, but the unspoken rancor is capable of jeopardising its chances, if poorly managed.
It was gathered during the week that key members of the State Assembly, especially those who have spent a minimum of two terms are likely to defect en masse to other parties shortly, as the APC has perfected a new policy to disqualify those who have served two terms from re-contesting.
As at last Monday, the affected Legislators were holding meetings within and outside the state, in a bid to protect their political careers. A chieftain of the party in the state confirmed to The Guardian that the planned defection of the Legislators would negatively affect the party, as they “would not be leaving the party without going with their supporters.”
Another factor that might puncture plans of owners of APC, political analysts claim is the retreat of the Chief Olusegun Osoba’s camp, who were allegedly lured few days to the congresses from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), where they hibernated to pave way for a plot to impose loyalists.
Now, the next strategy is to reduce the influence of Yayi, as the SDP decampees have been “rendered ineffective” within the party after the congresses. They may be forced to leave when they realise they had been conned.
The Guardian authoritatively gathered that if urgent steps are not taken, APC might repeat the same error that handicapped PDP in 2011, when the party was torn-apart, paving way for the coalition that installed Amosun.
The factionalisation of the PDP then-Otunba Gbenga Daniel faction and former President Olusegun Obasanjo faction, led to the formation of Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), which led to mass exodus of the PDP members to PPN, and yielded GNI.
The PDP, which should be in good stead of reaping from whatever happens in the APC, is likewise unstable. Two factions-one loyal to Senator Buruji Kashamu and the other, Adebutu’s are yet to reconcile. That is not giving the PDP the right atmosphere to consolidate.
It is rumoured that Adebutu is eyeing the Labour Party (LP) ticket, should Buruji succeed in throwing him out of the senatorial district. The party, which was previously touted to be strong opposition in the state has already been polarised into two factions. Buruji was alleged to have sponsored the emergence of another faction, which might cut the wing of Adebutu if he eventually plans to fly on the LP platform. With the look of things, the LP would be dragged to court to settle contrived issues, a development that might hamper its plans for the general elections.
For the SDP, nothing might happen there until those who returned to the APC retrace their step.
The new bride in town, African Democratic Congress (ADC) is seen to have some prospect, as a strong opposition to the ruling APC. But the influence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo might scuttle its chances, The Guardian reliably gathered.
It was gathered that the former president is not actually in control of the state, as it is difficult to have him as a political partner.
Another factor, which might work against ADC, according to political watchers, is the character of GNI believed not to be very reliable. He was anointed in 2011 by OGD, but in 2015 he abandoned his boss and aligned with Buruji. “Now that Obasanjo is backing ADC, he has abandoned Buruji and PDP to align with Obasanjo. We consider him a traitor who should not be trusted,” A PDP chieftain, disclosed.
However, while the 2019 general elections present a good opportunity for Ogun West Senatorial District to produce its first governor since the creation of the state in 1976, sources say that a Yewa agenda might not be feasible because those who claim to support the Yewas are not sincere.
Like what happened in 2011 with the emergence of Gen. Tunji Olurin of PDP and GNI of PPN, who both hail from the zone, aspirants and elders from the zone are working to scuttle the zone’s chances. Despite all the parties zoning their governorship seat to Yewa, the zone is already in disarray with different camps emerging daily, posing a serious threat to their unity.
This development has given courage to other zones, especially the East Senatorial District to continue to mobilise support, declaring zoning as unconstitutional.
It will take time for the cloud hanging around the Ogun governorship to clear. The merchants of politics who are behind the scene know what they are doing, to stoke confusion.
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