Ogun PDP’s thorny road to 2023 gubernatorial race
• Adebutu, Showunmi Feud Over Candidacy, Appeal Court Ruling
• Lawal Also Angling For Ticket
A peculiar challenge facing the Ogun state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since it lost power to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2011, is gradually resurfacing as the 2023 governorship election fast approaches.
Former member of House of Representatives, Ladi Adebutu, whom the national headquarters of the party had recognised as Ogun PDP governorship candidate is being challenged by Segun Showunmi, who is also claiming to be the party’s candidate for the 2023 governorship race following a recent ruling by an Appeal Court in Abuja.
Since 2011, the major opposition party has not been able to resolve the rift that tore it apart when former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and erstwhile Governor of Ogun state, Gbenga Daniel (OGD) in the build-up to the gubernatorial election at the time, supported different candidates. Loyalists of Obasanjo supported the late General Tunji Olurin while Daniel, who was the incumbent governor at the time backed Gboyega Isiaka.
Like Isiaka, Olurin was from the Ogun West zone, the only district yet to produce a governor. The seat of power has always been rotating between Ogun Central and East since Nigeria returned to democratic rule. The power tussle between Obasanjo and Daniel forced the former governor to push his loyalists and Isiaka to contest the 2011 governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN).
Both factions conducted separate primaries and while Olurin emerged as the governorship candidate of the faction loyal to Obasanjo, Isiaka won the gubernatorial ticket of the faction loyal to Daniel. But with the help of the late Senator Buruji Kahamu, who supported Obasanjo, the former governor and his loyalists had to leave the PDP after the court declared Olurin as the duly-elected flag bearer of the party.
Olurin came second behind the winner, Senator Ibikunle Amosun of APC. However, if the votes of Olurin and Isiaka were added, PDP would have successfully defeated Amosun.
Again in 2015, the party was factionalised into three groups. A faction was loyal to Kashamu, the second faction was loyal to Daniel, while the third faction was loyal to Dimeji Bankole, a former speaker of the House of Representatives. Both Bankole and Isiaka, who along with Gbenga had returned to the PDP, laid claim to the gubernatorial ticket of the party.
Dimeji, with his Abuja connections, thought of hijacking the ticket but somehow backed out midway. Again, in the election, Amosun, who was the incumbent governor on the APC platform didn’t find it difficult to defeat Isiaka.
A similar scenario played out in the 2019 governorship election, which was considered both within and outside Ogun as the best opportunity for the PDP to have reclaimed the state because of the serious infighting within the ruling APC at the time. Amosun, who was the outgoing governor had sponsored his loyalists in APC, led by Gboyega Akinlade, to contest on another platform against Governor Dapo Abiodun.
Unfortunately, PDP could not take advantage of the opportunity due to the struggle among Adebutu, Kashamu and others. One of the factions was led by the then chairman of the party, Engineer Bayo Dayo, who was loyal to Kashamu. The second faction comprised nine members of the state executive that supported Adebutu while the third faction was loyal to Bankole.
Isiaka, as of 2019, had also left the PDP to contest the governorship election on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). Eventually, Kashamu was recognised by the court as the candidate of the party, which eventually forced Daniel and other critical stakeholders in the PDP to support Governor Abiodun.
WITH the fast approaching 2023 gubernatorial election in the state, the scenarios that played out in 2011, 2015 and 2019 are recurring. The National Working Committee (NWC) led by Senator Iyorchia Ayu had recognised Adebutu as the party’s authentic candidate for the next governorship poll but Showunmi is currently claiming that, based on the recent Appeal Court ruling in Abuja, he is the flag bearer of the party for the next election.
The Ayu–led NWC had on June 7, 2022, presented a Certificate of Return to Adebutu in Abuja, confirming him as the party’s gubernatorial candidate in the state but the faction led by Samson Bamgbose had described the declaration of Adebutu as the governorship candidate “illegal and an affront” to the judiciary.
Adebutu won the governorship primary election of the PDP, which was held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, on May 25 but the Bamgbose-led faction, which claimed to be the authentic leadership of the party in the state alleged that the Sikirulai Ogundele–led executive, which conducted the governorship primary election that produced Adebutu was not known to the law and therefore acted ultra vires.
Secretary of the faction, Raphael Olaosebikan claimed to have conducted the authentic governorship primary in which Olusegun Awoyemi emerged as the candidate.
Olaosebikan, however, said that the Bamigbose-led committee emerged through the election conducted by the Engr. Bayo Dayo led-exco in May 2020 while justifying the authenticity of the faction.
On the same day of the primary election, the Segun Showunmi-led faction held a parallel governorship poll, which produced him as the governorship candidate. While Showunmi is claiming the party’s ticket, another aspirant, Jimi Lawal, is also prowling to get the ticket. Though, much is not being heard about Awoyemi and Lawal in recent times, Showunmi had been laying claim to the party’s ticket following the ruling of the Court of Appeal in the case between him Vs. PDP and two others, which he said clearly favoured him.
Showunmi noted that the issue he brought before the Court of Appeal was whether or not the Ogun State High Court, sitting in Abeokuta, was right to have declined jurisdiction to entertain the matter brought before it. He has since been referring to himself as the authentic candidate of Ogun PDP for the 2023 governorship election.
But in response, the Adebutu Governorship Campaign Organisation has warned Showunmi to desist from misrepresenting the Appeal Court ruling and to stop forthwith. It also urged the media not to address Showunmi as an Ogun PDP candidate.
But when prompted whether it will proceed to the Supreme Court for further clarification on the Appeal Court ruling, a credible source from Adebutu’s camp said Showunmi is only fooling himself by simply misinterpreting the Appeal Court ruling to suit his inordinate ambition.
Meanwhile, the NWC is yet to take another position regarding its recognition of Adebutu neither has it or is it intending to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the former member of the House of Representatives.