Ogun PDP and burden of Buruji Kashamu
The Presidential campaign team of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is said to be having serious headache over the intractable crisis in the Ogun State chapter of the party and its implication for the February 16 governorship election.
The campaign team had banked on benefitting from the conflagration in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Governor Ibikunke Amosun’s style, which gave birth to Allied Peoples Movement (APM), but the deepening war of attrition between factional groups in the PDP, may prevent the party from having political gains from the APC/APM debacle.
Although the former governor of the state who is also the Director General of Atiku/Obi Campaign Organisation, Otunba Gbenga Daniel is said to be making last minutes efforts to save the party which control of the state in 2011, the attacks and reprisal attacks by loyalists of Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon Oladipupo Adedibu, last weekend, showed that Daniel’s effort was coming too little, too late.
Indeed, Daniel did not only express his disappointment at the actions of factions, but declared that he would soon make his position known to the public. A source disclosed that the Atiku/Obi Campaign Organisation is already looking at the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) with special focus on African Democratic Congress (ADC) to deliver Ogun State for Abubakar Atiku.
Kashamu and Adebutu had taken their battle to the Abraham Tabernacle Shagamu, where Daniel, last Sunday had his annual thanksgiving service. Prominent Nigerians, including wife of the PDP presidential candidate, Mrs. Titi Atiku were seated and the service had started when Adebutu arrived at the church. His presence did not attract much attention as he quietly went for his seat.
About five minutes later, Buruji arrived with a large entourage and one of his aides (name withheld) went straight to Adebutu and tapped him at the back and on his cheeks, asking him to stop contesting the governorship ticket of the party with Kashamu. He was said to have told Adebutu that he should acknowledge that Kashamu is not his mate in politics and should learn how to respect elders. Adebutu was called unprintable names, which led to what an eyewitness called a “show of shame.”
Adebutu allegedly pushed the agent provocateur and he fell. This attracted the attention of their supporters who engaged themselves in a war of words and almost disrupted the church service. But the visibly angry Adebutu did not see it as something to overlook, he stormed out of the church. Entreaties from Mrs. Atiku and Daniel could not make him change his mind.
Outside the church, Adebutu could not immediately locate his driver as Kashamu crowd had blocked the arena and this further exposed him to another round of attack.
Suspected party thugs believed to be loyal to Adebutu arrived and the two sides engaged in a free for all. It took the intervention of a combined team of armed security men from the Police, State Security Service (SSS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigeria Vigilance Service (NVS) before normalcy was restored.
Onlookers are of the opinion that the attacks was the last straw that truncated the moves to bring the two warring factions together to save the party from extinction in Ogun State.
Few days before the battle in the cathedral, Kashamu had allegedly extended hands of fellowship to Adebutu group, that they should close ranks and support any faction declared as authentic by the court. To Kashamu, it was better for the contending groups to work and win together – in the overall interest of the party.
He said, “As the saying goes, “united we stand; divided we fall,” he said, adding “It is only in unity that we can stand tall together. It is true we are in court. But, we are hopeful that the issues will be resolved sooner than later. However, in the overall interest of the party, it is better and wiser for us to work together as members of the same family pending the resolution of the issues in court. We may have had our disagreements and issues, and have submitted them to the court for adjudication; yet, we have been talking to one another.”
Kashamu’s optimism paid off as the Federal Capital Territory High Court had dismissed the suit filed by Adebutu to challenge the nomination of Kashamu as the governorship candidate of the (PDP) in Ogun state.
Justice Adepoju said although Adebutu was nominated by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, the primary election where he emerged as candidate was conducted in violation of a subsisting court judgment. The judge held that the PDP National Working Committee acted in bad faith by flouting a subsisting judgment of a Federal High Court delivered by Justice Ibrahim Buba.
With the judgment, Kashamu and the candidates that emerged through the primary election conducted by the Adebayo Dayo-led faction remain the party’s flag bearers for the forthcoming election.
Despite the judgment that sealed Adebutu’s ambition and other contestants from his faction of the party, he has not stopped his campaign. His campaign vehicles were still visible everywhere and his foot soldiers still engage in house to house campaign.
Despite the crisis that bedeviled the party, PDP is still believed to have a good control of Ogun East where Kashamu represents them in the Upper Chamber. But the number of registered voters as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) put the zone as having the least in the state. According to the electoral body, Ogun Central has 909,855 registered voters with six local councils while Ogun West comes second with 751,218 registered voters with fivelocal councils and Ogun East records 710,635 registered voters and has nine local councils.
Although analysts believe that the number of registered voters may not determine the electoral strength of each zone, but the number of those who have collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and willing to cast their votes will ultimately show the senatorial district with the ace.
The governorship candidate of the APC Dapo Abiodun is from Ogun East. He will slug it out with Kashamu to know who controls the area but Kashamu had roundly defeated Abiodun in 2015 when both of them contested to represent Ogun East in the Senate and Kashamu loyalists are of the opinion that nothing has changed.
Ogun East is not the only senatorial district where two strong contenders are struggling to outsmart one another in the March 2 governorship election. Both the governorship candidate of the ADC, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka and that of APM, Adekunle Akinlade are from the Ogun West, which has not produced governor of the state since its creation in 1976.