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Ogun guber candidates grapple with cyclical confusion ahead of poll

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Gbgoyega Isiaka


• Amosun joggles Akinlade, Ogun West
Less than two months to the March 2, 2019 governorship election, none of the major four contenders in Ogun State is free of tricky political entanglements. For the political parties, they are yet to figure out what to do based on the reality that there is fire on the mountain. Although the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and that of major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are devising various approaches to contain the wrangling within their platforms, it is a different ball game for African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Allied People’s Movement (APM).

The two fledgling parties have some internal issues to contend with, if they are serious about putting up a good showing in the poll. While ADC is presenting Mr. Gbgoyega Isiaka, who hails from Imeko Afon Local Government as its flag bearer, APM has Adekunle Akinlade from Ipokia Local Government Area, both in Ogun West.

It could be recalled that there is a rotational agreement of the governorship seat among Ogun West, Ogun East and Ogun Central with population strength, however, placing the west at a disadvantage, which is one of the major reasons it has not been able to produce a governor since the state was founded over 42 years ago. The closer it moves to producing the governor was in 2011 when it lost abysmally to the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, from the central. This happened despite the fact that all stakeholders in the state then agreed that a candidate of Ogun west ought to have emerged.

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A few weeks away from the next election, history is about to repeat itself as Amosun is convinced that Ogun West, by right, should produce his successor but his party is looking the other way. Former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel of the erstwhile ruling PDP in 2011 also had similar issues of taking his successor from the zone but his party did not support the candidate of his choice.

A similar scenario that cost Ogun West and PDP the opportunity to produce the governor in 2011 of which the incumbent governor capitalized to emerge on the platform of then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) now APC is currently playing out in the ruling party but this time with slight differences.

Daniel had then insisted that Isiaka must succeed him but some powers within PDP opposed him. They rather preferred Gen. Tunji Olurin (rtd), who is also an indigene of Ogun West. Isiaka, with the support of the former governor, defected to Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) to pursue his ambition when the erstwhile ruling party denied him the ticket despite having won the governorship primaries.

Daniel, like Amosun, played double game by supporting PDP’s presidential candidate in 2011 in the person of erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan, but backed Isiaka on PPN’s platform for governor. Unfortunately, his divided attention cost both his party, Isiaka and Ogun West the seat, he lost on all fonts and is having to re-invent his political wheel.

Whirlwind in APC
APC leaders cannot be said to be unaware of the confusion in its fold, just as the incumbent has not hidden his disdain for his party’s governorship standard-bearer, Mr. Dipo Abiodun, who hails from Ogun East. Abiodun had emerged at a parallel governorship primary conducted and recognized by the National Working Committee (NWC)-led by Adams Oshiomhole against Amosun’s preferred choice of Akinlade. The imbroglio was an extension of the long but subtle political tussle for supremacy between the incumbent governor and the leaders of the party, Bola Tinubu and Chief Segun Osoba.

Amosun had allegedly aligned with some cabals in the presidency to undermine Tinubu, who supported him against Osoba in 2011 and 2015. However, both Tinubu and Osoba have no choice than to join forces to stop Amosun from installing his (Amosun) preferred candidate in the coming election. The duo got the backing of the NWC. Having realised the difficulty of pushing Akinlade through the ruling party, Amosun encouraged him and his other adherents to defect to APM while he remained in APC to pursue his Senatorial ambition in Ogun Central. Osoba and Tinubu are however, not relenting in backing Abiodun, a situation currently setting the party at variance.

Akinlade as Amosun’s mascot
Some observers have said Amosun’s insistence in backing Akinlade, who is now the candidate of APM, should not be seen as anti-party activity, as it rightly should be called, but that it must be seen as his desire to ensure fairness and justice that a Yewa indigene succeeds him. A member of the ruling party in Ogun, who preferred not to be mentioned, said, “Amosun was right as he is tending to be just in his decision that his successor must come from Ogun West, because the zone has not produced a governor since the creation of the state in 1976. This must have informed his choice of a member of the House of Representatives, Akinlade, from Ipokia, who is one of his core loyalists.”

The governor himself is not showing any sign of regret or disloyalty to his party by openly supporting Akinlade against the candidate of APC. He even took the national chairman of APM, Alhaji Yusuf Dantalle to President Muhammadu Buhari to pledge the support of the party to the president’s reelection ambition. His excuse was that some political parties have endorsed Buhari while others, under the umbrella of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), have also adopted PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The incumbent is also hinging his decision on the general desire of the people of the state that an indigene of Yewa from Ogun West should take a shot at Government House Oke Mosan.

His argeument is that the people massively voted for Akinlade in the primary as the flag bearer, but the APC national leadership denied them their choice and instead gave the ticket to Abiodun, which according to him, resulted in the massive exodus from the ruling party to other parties in the state.

What this shows is that whenever and wherever the choice of the people is tampered with, they can form a movement that can be very difficult to tame. In just two months, APM has become a movement to reckon with. That is the power of a critical mass when their wish is subverted. It is why Amosun decided to swim or sink with Akinlade. The governor took the decision to counter the result of the acrimonious Lagos gubernatorial primary that was allowed to stay by the national secretariat of the party, whereas that of Ogun was upturned.

However, as Amosun is projecting Akinlade of APM, the erstwhile governor of the state, Osoba is not resting on his oars to take Abiodun round and present him to some traditional rulers in the state for endorsement. Time will, however, tell if the incumbent can have his way by installing Akinlade against the wish of the party or whether Osoba and Tinubu will be able to install Abiodun despite the ongoing certificate saga he (Abiodun) is currently facing in the court.

Ogun West’s bargain
Ordinarily, Ogun West should have been happy to take advantage of the crisis in the ruling party, especially since the apex socio-cultural group in the area, Yewaland Development Forum, is backing Isiaka, but the zone is in a fix as the incumbent governor Amosun is supporting another indigene from the area.

In a telephone conversation with The Guardian, President of Yewaland Development Forum, Alhaji Ayo Adeyemi, said it was unfortunate that the chances of Ogun West is becoming slim as Akinlade and Isiaka name from the same zone will be on the ballot paper in the next election, a similar scenario that cost the area the governorship in 2011 when Isiaka and Olurin contested on different platforms, which gave victory to Amosun from another zone. He, however, expressed optimism that his forum would continue to support Isiaka with the hope that he would win and become the first Yewa indigene to rule Ogun State.

Although Isiaka may be popular, he is however, going into the election on a weaker platform, to APC and PDP. On the other hand, while APM has endorsed Buhari as its presidential candidate, ADC is tilted towards endorsing Atiku as its presidential candidate. An insider source from APC told The Guardian that the ruling party, having envisaged that ADC may not pose serious threat to Abiodun in the election, has allegedly perfected plans to tame Amosun immediately the presidential election, which will come first, is over and peradventure Buhari wins.

PDP challenges
The major opposition party stands the chance of reaping from a fractured ruling APC and the other contending ADC and APM platforms but it also has its own setback that must be resolved before the election.Copious among the issues confronting Ogun PDP is the Senator Buruji Kashamu’s governorship faction, which is claiming to have the nod of the Court of Appeal and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s standard-bearer for the poll. This is against the wish of the party’s NWC that has endorsed Ladi Adebutu as its candidate for the election.

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If Kashamu insists on contesting the race on PDP’s platform between now and March, the party’s vote will be seriously divided in Ogun East, which is the Senator and Adebutu’s strong base. Abiodun, who is also from the same district, may eventually have the upper hand. It is also being insinuated that the Senator is doing the bidding of the ruling party, not that he is necessarily committed to winning the governorship for his party. The fact, however, is that Kashamu commands a lot of political influence in Ogun East with his Omoilu Foundation, which he currently uses to empower many of the indigenes.

Another challenge for PDP is Daniel, whose relationship with Isiaka must have been restored after the intervention of some elders of Yewa. Whether he (Daniel) will eventually support the ADC candidate because of their long time affinity or work for the candidate of his party is not clear yet. Curiously too, Kashamu is currently parading the former governor’s name as the PDP’s senatorial candidate of his faction for Ogun East.

In the final analysis, the state of confusion in all the contending political parties is such that it is difficult for political observers to predict the likely outcome of the coming election. The incumbent governor may likely use the power of incumbency to install Akinlade, but that may be difficult to achieve as his party may resolve to use presidential might to frustrate his efforts, especially since Tinubu was recently made leader of Buhari’s reelection campaign team.


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