Ogun’s Three-Horse Race
SINCE 1999, this is the first time there will be General Elections in our country and I won’t be in a position to write my usual political analyses. This is an indication that the situation has changed. I am now on the other side of the divide. So, I have to be content with reading political analyses written by other people, including those that simply advertised ignorance and unfamiliarity with the prevailing variables.
However, I feel compelled to at least share my thoughts on what may be the electoral calculations for Ogun State in the coming polls. Perhaps, because I had just participated in one of the most rigorous and extensive campaign tours ever to be undertaken in the state since its creation 38 years ago. It was a campaign train, which stopped in each of the 236 wards, as well as other communities with huge population.
The fact is that, while there are 14 political parties fielding candidates for the gubernatorial elections in the state, only three are seriously contending. These are the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is the ruling party with incumbent Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the flag bearer, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose candidate is Mr. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) with Senator Akin Odunsi as its candidate.
Barring the issue of collection of Permanent Voter Card (PVC), which is acute in the state, the number of votes that would have been available for the three candidates to vie for should be about 1,920,708. The Ogun Central Senatorial District, with six local government areas, has 811,571 or 42.25 percent of the votes. There are 597, 663 votes or 31.12 per cent in the nine LGAs in Ogun East Senatorial District, while Ogun West Senatorial District with five LGAs has 511,474 votes or 26.63 per cent.
As typical of political contests in Nigeria, the deciding factors are usually the origin of the candidates, the incumbency factor, strengths of their key supporters, popularity of the candidates and their political platforms and, perhaps, other geo-political considerations.
From the angle of origin, Senator Amosun is the only candidate from Ogun Central, which incidentally has a good majority of the votes, while both Odunsi and Isiaka are from Ogun West. Ogun East has no serious candidate in the race. The implication is that the indigene factor is in favour of the incumbent Governor, as he is the only one from the Central. Again, since his entry into politics in 2001, he has always enjoyed fanatical support across the district, which he represented between 2003 and 2007 in the Senate.
In the West, while Odunsi is from Ado-Odo/Ota LGA, Isiaka is from Imeko Afon LGA. Incidentally, Ado-Odo/Ota LGA is the most populous in Ogun West. In fact, its voting strength (270, 327 or 14.07 of the state’s total votes) is more than that of the four other LGAs combined. Isiaka’s Imeko Afon LGA has the smallest number of votes in the zone (29,009 or 1.51 of the total state’s figure). On the face value, one may think the indigene factor favours Odunsi, but the contrary is the case. In his local government, the indigenes constitute just about 20 percent, while the non-indigenes are the majority. It is, therefore, a metropolitan LGA, where other issues such as performance and popularity of the candidate, will determine who gets the votes. Also, in this LGA, there are many Egba people that are indigenes and vote alongside the people from Ogun Central.
What this translates to is that the largest voting bloc in Ogun West may be up for grabs by the candidates favoured by factors other than the indigene variable and this is where the incumbent Governor equally has an edge. In any case, while the people of Ogun Central are eager and have achieved a near consensus that their son, Amosun, should serve for two terms as permitted by the constitution, the refrain in Ogun West is that the people should support Amosun now in his second term bid and then prevail on him to support them in producing the next governor in 2019. It should be noted that Ogun West has never produced an elected Governor since the state was created in 1976.
Ogun East, therefore, appears to be the beautiful bride. Apart from being a district without any of the serious candidates, it also has nine LGAS and since a candidate can only be declared winner after securing most of the votes, as well as securing one-third of the votes cast in at least 14 LGAs, the district is important for both its votes and purpose of achieving constitutionally prescribed spread.
In this District, the mega LGAs are Sagamu, Ijebu North and Odogbolu. The PDP and SDP are strong in Ijebu North and Ijebu Ode, while APC is the strongest in Sagamu and Odogbolu. Also, the ruling party will clearly control Ikenne. The rest of the LGAs will be real battlegrounds, where the votes will be shared, though it is believed that each of the candidates will be seeking to take the mandatory one-third of the total votes.
In terms of the incumbency factor, popularity of the candidates and their key supporters and acceptance of their party by the people, the APC whose flag-bearer is the incumbent still stands shoulder higher than others. While the top-rate performance of Governor Amosun gives him the opportunity to assure the people that he can do more, his opponents are using this strength to also campaign against him. They are calling the attention of the people to the areas, where the present administration has not touched.
However, in a smart way, the governor has equally been throwing a counter-punch by reminding the electorate that the administrations before him to which both Isiaka and Odunsi belong saw these problem areas but refused to solve them. He is stretching the argument further that if he is gradually and steadfastly solving the problems, it means while his opponents cannot be trusted, he only requires more time and resources to fully satisfy all interests.
It should also be mentioned that among the three candidates that are all professionals, the only one who equally has a statewide political machine of his own is the incumbent Governor. Isiaka is a creation of both former Governor Gbenga Daniel and controversial politician, Buruji Kashamu, who is also battling with his own senatorial contest, where his APC rival, Dapo Abiodun is daily gaining ascendancy. In the same vein, Odunsi is a protégé of Chief Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State.
Also, in most cases, when you have a three-horse race, the incumbent is favoured to win. That is why it has been difficult for the opposition to make any appreciable impact in federal elections before now. Today, APC is sending jitters down the spines of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because the race is now between two parties. With opposition forces spread so thin, the incumbent has the chances to consolidate.
With all these calculations, it is obvious that Amosun, the incumbent Governor in Ogun State, is still well placed to win the coming elections and is coasting home to a landslide victory.
Olaniyonu is Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ogun State.