Time tolls for Ogun APC as 2023 challenges fester
How long or short time is in politics depends on the mileage already covered. While many observers believe that the 2023 general election cycle is still far away, others hold that there is no much time left for planning and strategizing.
In Ogun State, it is just as if 2023 is tomorrow. Political fireworks and underground schemes are afoot, ostensibly to battle the incumbent governor and restrain him to a single term in office. Already, the old and new contenders, as well as, pretenders have started gearing up.
Opposition parties are also plotting to wrest power from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. The Guardian investigation showed that plans are also in top gear within the ruling party to checkmate the incumbent, Prince Dapo Abiodun, in 2023.
APC Of Factions
Although stakeholders and party chieftains claim that APC remains “one indivisible body,” The Guardian gathered that there are currently not less than four different factions of the party within the state. Discernible are – Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA) grouping; former governor Olusegun Osoba splinter; those loyal to the Senator representing Lagos West senatorial district in the Senate, Solomon Adeola (Yayi); the incumbent governor’s group and possibly, former Governor Gbenga Daniel’s bloc. Sources disclosed that in the coming days, these lineups would start struggling for the state’s number one seat.
But, even as the perceived fractionisation remains a well-guarded secret for several months, it was gathered that the party might witness a replay of similar things that happened in the build up to the 2019 gubernatorial poll. Then, the Amosun faction left the party for Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in a grand bid to actualise their dream of producing the governor.
It would be recalled that prior to the 2019 election, differences between Amosun, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Osoba came to the fore, when the Tinubu/Osoba camp allegedly settled for a political warhorse, Yayi, an indigene of Yewa zone, to succeed Amosun.
The problem broke out during the ministerial selection, when APC and Tinubu were said to have nominated Bode Adeaga, who served as the returning officer of the party during the 2015 general elections in recognition of his efforts, only for Amosun to opted for his crony, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who served him as Commissioner for Finance in the first term of his administration. That action, to Tinubu and others, amounted to a grievous affront by a man, who was immensely assisted into the party.
Yayi’s strong impact, especially his hold on the people at the grassroots, who had lost confidence in Amosun’s administration then, led to mass exodus of the then governor’s supporters to Yayi’s camp.
The Lagos Senator was touted as one of the aspirants that could upset Amosun’s succession plans, particularly his desire to foist his preferred candidate on Ogun APC. However, in a sudden about-face, the Senator withdrew from the race, choosing instead to pursue his re-election to the Red Chamber of the National Assembly.
Also, sources close to the Senator said his withdrawal was instigated by two promptings. They include the fact that “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was not in support and that Adeola doesn’t want to move out of APC to realise his gubernatorial ambition, since he was encountering some punitive hostilities from Amosun.” Yayi’s withdrawal, which became a subject of intense speculations then, did not only alter existing permutations, but also further exacerbated APC crisis in the state.
Immediately Yayi withdrew from the race, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who hails from Ogun East came into the picture and built his campaign team on the existing structure of Yayi, which some political watchers claimed was too late for the Amosun’s camp to realise.
After this, Amosun succeeded in picking Abdulkadir Adekunle Akinlade (Triple A), also a Yewa indigene, as his anointed candidate to succeed him.
But, in the build-up to the election, when the heat became too hot for him within APC, the former member of the House of Representatives defected to APM, and eventually lost the gubernatorial contest to Abiodun. He however, staged a return to the party alongside his followers.
Currently, with Triple A and his group’s return to APC, where they rejoined Senator Amosun, feelers indicate that Governor Abiodun’s chance of clinching a second term in office in 2023 appears a tall order, considering that the governor is being accused of abandoning all those that supported him against ‘Amosun’s force’ to win the 2019 election.
The Guardian checks indicated that as things stand currently, the governor doesn’t seem to have a structure of his own yet, because many of those who worked for his election came from Yayi faction, especially given that Yayi and his loyal footsoldiers have returned to his faction. This, party sources said, would be a strong factor that might endanger the governor’s re-election bid.
It was also gathered that Abiodun sidelined the Osoba camp that joined with the Yayi bloc to enthrone him as governor by failing to offer them any significant appointment in his cabinet.
A chieftain of the party in the state confided in The Guardian that there is definitely going to be challenges in the party in the build up to the 2023 election, based on the various power blocs’ ‘insatiable,’ craving, noting that Abiodun can never have 10 per cent of them when the time comes.
“One of the factors that will work against Abiodun’s re-election is the fact that he is someone, who is yet to understand the game. The Osoba and Yayi’s camps that he used to win the 2019 election have not been offered anything tangible in his government as we speak.
“Also, the coming of someone like OGD into the APC to vie for the Ogun East Senatorial ticket in 2023 is a disadvantage for him, because both Abiodun and OGD are from Remo. Abiodun might not get the support of the Akile ijebu, who worked for him in 2019. The Akile Ijebu people are already grumbling and ready to slug it out with him in the next contest too. He might not get their support,” the source disclosed.
A top female APC chieftain told The Guardian that the incumbent, having realised the challenges ahead of him, has been reaching out to Amosun in the past few months for a possible reconciliation, through top officials in the presidency in a bid to work together in 2023.
It was also gathered that Amosun would not team up work with Abiodun except the governor agrees not to seek re-election, an option many see as impossible.
Though Amosun’s camp is currently lying low in order not to be seen as the enemy of the administration, feelers show that in the next few months, the camp may roll out their campaign for 2023 poll, just as the camp is said to be patiently waiting till after the party’s congress to know the next step.
There are quiet pointers that Amosun still remains a strong electoral factor owing to his grip on the state, more so, as he enjoys the support of the presidency and might stage another surprise to ensure he installs his candidate as the next governor of the state.
The fact that almost all the federal appointments meant for the state were single-handedly made by Amosun, including the ministerial and ambassadorial appointments given to his cronies, supports that belief.
Sources disclosed that regardless of power of incumbency, Prince Abiodun would find things difficult in his re-election bid, particularly as he might have lost the three senatorial districts even before the election. For instance, in Ogun Central, Amosun still controls the grassroots, just as the aspiration of Yewa people to have a stint at the number one seat would definitely lure them to support Akinlade, with a split of votes from the Ogun East.
“Ogun West would be battle ground, and whoever can spend more money will win the district. Senator Tolu Odebiyi is back in Amosun’s lineup and ready to comply with the camp’s decisions in the next election. Bisi Otegbeye, Akinlade and Yayi are moneybags that Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) can never outspend, to win the zone for Abiodun. It will be a fruitless voyage for GNI and he might decide to pull out from Abiodun camp and go solo once again.”
When contacted, the Publicity Secretary of Ogun APC Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye declined comments, saying, “I see the issue of 2023 as premature.”
An elder statesman told The Guardian that one thing that might actually work against Abiodun in 2023 is the fact that the masses are tired of his approach to governance, stressing that that has further “underdeveloped the communities and also impoverished the people.”