FEMI OYEWESO in this report writes that the bad blood generated following the outcome of the recently held primary elections of the Ogun State chapter of All Progressives Congress is threatening its prospect in the forthcoming general elections
Though the primary elections of the Ogun State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) has come and gone, the controversies generated is yet to abate. The disagreement has so much degenerated to disaffection and serious hatred which is now threatening the prospect of the party in Ogun state.
It is observed that this brouhaha transpired because many who had hitherto nursed the ambition of aspiring for elective positions have been injured to the marrows. Hence, if all these party members who sustained varying degrees of injuries in the course of conducting the exercise are not genuinely appeased, the dissatisfaction still trailing the aftermath of the primary elections may rob the party of any electoral victory in the forthcoming elections in the state.
The controversy is more intense in the struggle to get the party’s governorship ticket.
Of course, two governorship candidates emerged through the parallel primaries conducted in the state. While Prince Dapo Abiodun emerged through a governorship direct primary mode of the election conducted by the Mohammed Indabawa-led APC electoral committee, Hon. Abdul – Kabir Adekunle Akinlade emerged through the direct primary mode of the election conducted by the Chief Derin Adebiyi led state executive committee.
Results of the parallel primaries which produced Abiodun and Akinlade have, however, made the political bigwigs within the state chapter of the partyto be at dagger drawn, ready to throw away the baby with the bathwater. While many of them have vowed not to work for the electoral success of Prince Abiodun who emerged as the party’s governorship candidate after the primaries supervised by members of the APC electoral committee sent by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, others have threatened to defect to another political party to realise their ambitions.
For instance, reports have it that a substantial number of APC members who belonged to the Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s camp have in principles, defected to other political parties. Aside from this, sources close to the governor’s office at Oke -Mosan, Abeokuta, who pleaded anonymity, also confided in LEADERSHIP that Amosun had given his consent to work for the electoral success of the governorship candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC) penultimate week when former President Olusegun Obasanjo visited him in his office.
Aside from APC members defecting to other political parties, the dissatisfaction generated by the conduct of the APC primary elections in Ogun has also forced the political juggernauts to resort to a campaign of calumny against one another, particularly, the Amosun’s camp and that of Abiodun who won the APC’s gubernatorial ticket. They also resorted to hiring protesters to drum support for each other’s candidate. The protesters include allegedly hired youths in the state, members of the transport unions as well as the market men and women who drum support for their chosen candidate with the sole aim of de-marketing each other.
A typical example of the protest was the rallies staged by councilors elected on the platform of the party who on Friday 26 October, staged solidarity rally at the campaign office of Abiodun in Iperu Remo, hailing the NWC’s decision on Ogun gubernatorial primary election. But four days later, another set of councilors elected on the same platform of APC also held a meeting at the Oba’s Complex Conference Hall, State Secretariat Complex, Oke- Mosan, Abeokuta where they declared that they would not support Abiodun except Akinlade who is Amosun’s anointed successor.
The Ogun APC women were also not left out of the game as hundreds of them under the aegis of Women In Politics (WIN) led by Mrs Abosede Akande also embarked on protest. The placard wilding protesters in Abeokuta also declare their supports for Abiodun.
While these were on-going, observers and analysts have continued to express dismay over the occurrences and ask questions regarding why Amosun’s preferred candidate, Akinlade lost out.
Why Akinlade Lost
Several reasons can be adduced for why Amosun’s preferred governorship candidate, Hon Akinlade, lost out in his bid to clinch the APC governorship ticket of the state. Many were of the views that Akinlade was not a popular politician, hence his loss in the election. There were others who held the views that personality defect of his principal, Amosun, cost him the loss.
But of course, the first justifiable reason was that Amosun’s supporters boycotted the date set aside by the APC’s electoral committee for the conduct of the governorship primary election. The NWC had declared that the primaries would be organized under the supervision of the committee members deployed to the state for the purpose of the exercise. But when the Mohammed Indabawa led committee arrived the state and fixed 3rd October 2018 as the date for the governorship primary, APC members loyal to Amosun boycotted the exercise.
Amosun’s camp, however, had it own governorship primary on 2 October, 2018 which the state government declared a public holiday for school children, insisting that the exercise was supervised by the state chairman of the party, Chief Derin Adebiyi. These, basically, explained why the APC national leadership refused to recognize Akinlade as the party’s flag bearer in the state.
An APC stalwart from Ogun West Senatorial district, who spoke exclusively with our correspondent regarding why Akinlade lost the gubernatorial ticket to Abiodun, Elder Solomon Bajomo, said governor Amosun himself knew that his candidate, Akinlade is a hard-sale for the party.
According to him, “Even among his Anago people of Ipokia local government, Akinlade was not their choice; he is not a popular politician and it would have been a big disgrace to the governor. That was why Governor Amosun ordered that we should go ahead and have our own primary conducted by the state executive committee members of the party without waiting for the NWC accredited electoral committee.
“When the governor asked us to bring a consensus candidate that will fly the flag of our party, we elders of Ogun West Senatorial district met and deliberated on three candidates. His Chief of staff, Tolu Odebiyi, and Hon. Isiaq Abiodun Akinlade tops our priority. But our governor turned them down and imposed Abdul-Kabir Adekunle Akinlade on us. We were surprised but had no option than to concur.”
Political analysts also maintained that another factor that was responsible for why Akinlade lost the APC gubernatorial ticket was the inordinate ambition of his principal, Governor Amosun at imposing a successor. They are of the opinion that the governor wanted an annointed successor in order to further solidify his hold on the party.
They argued that the manner at which Amosun went ahead to pick Akinlade was not acceptable to other members of the party despite that APC national leadership said candidate could emerge either through a consensus arrangement, indirect or direct mode of primary election.
For example, at the party’s extended stakeholders meeting held in September, Amosun openly declared that the party in the state had zoned the governorship seat to the Yewa-Awori people of Ogun West Senatorial district and that the party would adopt a consensus arrangement. It was at that extended stakeholders’ meeting that Amosun also unveiled his decision to retire into the Senate after completion of his term by May 2019.
But the statement did not go down well with others, particularly APC politicians from the Ijebu/Remo areas of the state. These politicians reportedly confronted the governor and told him that the party had never at any time made such a decision.
Two former deputy governors, Senator Gbenga Kaka and Prince Segun Adesegun were among those who reportedly confronted Amosun that such arrangement does not exist in the party. But the governor allegedly told the duo that Ogun APC took the decision when they left the party for Social Democratic Party (SDP) where they contested and failed the year 2015 general elections before they returned to APC.
It was gathered that Amosun’s explanations did not go down well with these Ijebu politicians who further argued that the Yewa-Awori agitation for governorship should wait pending when an Ijebu or Remo person would have also governed the state for a two terms.
They were said to have premised their argument on the fact that Ogun state was divided into two blocks of Egba / Egbado Province and Ijebu / Remo province.
Observing the antics that Amosun was determined to impose a candidate on them, these politicians resolved to go for a direct primary mode of election to pick the party’s gubernatorial candidate because there were numerous others who are interested in becoming the governor. But Amosun selected a consensus candidate against the wish of many others who are interested not only in the governorship ticket alone, but other elective positions.
It was also observed that the fear of Amosun was that if there had been a level playing ground, Akinlade would not emerge, hence he chose to organize the consensus primary that produced Akinlade. During a mock primary conducted by Amosun at the Presidential Lounge in Abeokuta, APC supporters pelted Amosun with sachet of “pure water” when names of their candidates were excluded from the list which the governor eventually produced.
Amosun had reputedly loaded the list with names of his commissioners, personal aides as well as cousin and nephews. The development so much infuriated those who had hitherto been loyal to the governor but whose names were missing on the list. This also forced some of them to withdraw their loyalties and support for the governor and re-aligned forces with Amosun’s opposition. Some of these politicians included the deputy speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Olakunle Oluomo from Ifo State constituency 1 who was even attacked in his constituency office in Ifo by thugs.
Unconfirmed sources said, Amosun had verbally attacked Senator Adeola and boasted that the Ilaro born lawmaker would never be his successor. Adeola had come into the state, built structures across the three Senatorial districts of the state in preparation for the 2019 governorship election. But Amosun allegedly used all the instruments available at his disposal to run Adeola down, calling him so many unprintable words.
When all entreaties at persuading Amosun failed, Adeola had to return to Lagos but the political structure he had put in place switched their supports to the Dapo Abiodun’s camp. This also worked as a big minus for the emergence of Akinlade’s candidature.
Also, aside from this, the group loyal to the former governor of the state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba is another factor responsible for Akinlade’s loss in his bid to clinch the APC governorship ticket.
The Osoba’s “Matagba Mole” political movement was said to be completely disenchanted with Amosun and was not ready to support the governor’s bid to produce a successor. Members of the group claimed that they were the original owner of the party, but Amosun chased them away for a period of eight (8) years.
They alleged that in the build-up to the year 2011 governorship contest in Ogun, Amosun, who had contested twice and lost on the platform of CPC and ANPP, went into an alliance with the Osoba’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and was accepted.
They stated further that having used their platform at ACN to realize his ambition, Amosun completely shut the Osoba’s “Matagba Mole” group out of power.
They argued that Amosun only joined their party, “begged” for the governorship ticket in 2011 which they gave him and later but latter abandoned them.
They further argued that Amosun did not honour the agreement he had with them before becoming the governor just because , he was enjoying the patronage of the same “Lagos Cabal” whom he accused of now working against his interest in Ogun.
They noted that in 2015 precisely, Amosun forced the Osoba group to contest on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP), where they lost.
However, the politicians, upon returning to the APC, resolved that the only way they could remain politically relevant in the state was to work against any candidate of his choice.
Pundits are of the view that Amosun himself realized all these facts and that was why he chose not to participate at the party’s primary conducted by members of the APC electoral committee sent from Abuja.
They are of the opinion that when the Mohammed Indabawa-led electoral committee sent by the party’s NWC arrive the state, a futile attempt was made at hijacking and manipulate by agents of the governor.
According to them, when the primary was eventually held, Amosun’s group boycotted it, but Dapo Abiodun emerged as the winner and the “civil war” assumed a new dimension.
However, upon the recognition of Dapo Abiodun as the APC’s governorship candidate for Ogun state, several efforts were made towards persuading the national leadership of the party to reverse it and declared Akinlade as the winner.
According to some observers, the steps ranges from issuing press statements to reinforce the hopes of his followers, to organizing sponsored protests against the emergence of Abiodun and also sending emissaries to meet President Muhammadu Buhari to persuade him to prevail on the Adams Oshiomhole led APC national leadership.
Recently, some APC councilors elected on the platform of the party from the 20 Local Governments (LGs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) met at the Oba’s Complex Conference Hall, Oke – Mosan, Abeokuta where they declared that they would not support any governorship candidate of the party, except Abdul-Kabir Adekunle Akinlade who is Amosun’s anointed successor.
The trio of Honourables: Ololade Kazeem, Jide Opafola and Tunde Makinde who spoke on behalf of the councilors alleged that the mandate freely given by APC members in the state to Akinlade on 2nd October 2018, was “stolen” for Abiodun.
Aside from the councilors, scores of women from across the three Senatorial districts, who are also members of the state chapter of APC also trooped to the streets of Abeokuta to protest against the result of the APC’s NWC on the governorship candidate of the state.
They insisted that Akinlade, who was Amosun’s candidate, should be declared the winner. The protesters, who also took their protest to the governor’s office at Oke Mosan and the Nigerian Union of Journalists secretariat in Abeokuta, gave the NWC and the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, till Friday 26 October to reverse Dapo Abiodun’s victory for Akinlade, failure of which they threatened to go naked at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja.
The protesters led by the Chairman of Ilugun Local Council Development Authority, Mofoluke Soremekun, and other woman leaders in the three senatorial districts, insisted that they voted for Adekunle Akinlade and not Dapo Abiodun as announced by the national leadership of the APC.
As a way of demonstrating their seriousness, the women blocked the entrance to the Governor’s Office before moving to the Arcade Ground within the state secretariat where the deputy governor, Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga and the state party Chairman, Derin Adebiyi addressed them.
Addressing the women protesters, the deputy governor, Onanuga even assured them that she was ready to be part of the naked protest to enable them to achieve victory for Akinlade or force Oshiomhole out of office.
Also, on Monday 29th October, scores of APC youths, under the aegis of Ogun State Youth Forum staged a protest at the premises of the Governor’s Office in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta where they asked APC’s NWC to recognize Akinlade instead of Dapo Abiodun as the party’s governorship candidate.
The angry youths who besieged the premises were calmed down by the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Jide Ojuko who urged them to resist intimidation and march on until Akinlade’s mandate was restored. However,it is most unlikely that the national leadership will listen to their protest more so that the time given by INEC for the submission of candidates list has lapse. As it stands , Amosun has lost out in his bid to install his successor , and this is tearing the state chapter of the party apart .
Indeed ,how the controversy is handled will determine whether or not the APC will occupy Ogun Government House beyound 2019.