The failure of some Ogun State All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains, backed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to decisively deal with Governor Ibikunke Amosun, for alleged anti-party activities has not only confused many members of the party but cast doubt in the minds of the electorate about its seriousness to win the governorship election in 2019.
It was learnt that the leadership of the party had mooted the idea of suspending Amosun and withdrawing his senatorial ticket for openly endorsing the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) where most of his allies will contest the next election, but President Muhammadu Buhari was alleged to have frustrated the move.
The president’s position on treating Amosun’s matter with kid gloves was said to have angered the national leaders of the party that seem to have no choice but to play along because of the election.
It was also learnt that the NWC was planning to exclude Amosun, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu from the Presidential Campaign Council because of their legal actions against the party, but the source alleged that the president did not agree.
There is no doubting the fact that President Buhari has a soft spot for Amosun who has been his political ally since their days in the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and the closeness has made him a sacred cow the Adams Oshiomhole-led national executive cannot touch.
But, the party succeeded in announcing the suspension of the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party and its other executive committee up to the ward level and replaced them with a three-man caretaker Committee headed by Chief Yemi Sanusi with Mr Ayobami Olubori to serve as Secretary and Tunde Oladunjoye as the Publicity Secretary of the party.
The dissolved SWC led by Chief Derin Adebiyi has dismissed its suspension, insisting that it has a four-year mandate and disclosed that there was a petition in court against the decision of the NWC. Amosun did not only assure the state Exco that they would complete their terms but crticised members of the NWC for trying to “destroy Ogun State because it is the home of President Buhari.”
For Amosun, both the APC and APM members in Ogun State are working for the re-election of President Buhari and they are to ensure he (Amosun) wins the senatorial election. To him, with the election time table that fixed Presidential and National Assembly elections for February 16, next year and state governorship/State House of Assembly on March 2, 2019 it is possible to use the two weeks period to de-orientate electorate to switch from looking for broom logo on the ballot paper to cassava.
But he seems to be getting it wrong. The free-for-all between some members of the APC and APM in Odogbolu and Iperu where many were allegedly wounded must have signaled the dangers ahead when the campaign properly begins.
For the members of both parties, the bitter rivalry has begun and all efforts by the governor to make them see themselves as one has not proved successful. While members of SIA political caucus have embraced APM, the members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) within the party led by the former Governor of the State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba have rejected the double-dealing, otherwise tagged as anti-party activities of the SIA group and have seen the development as opportunity to have their party back.
But the APC members were rattled with the takeoff of the APM governorship campaign at MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta where Amosun was alleged to have spent over N1billion Naira for mobilisation.
The root of the alleged NYSC certificate scam of the APC governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun was traced to some APM members in the state as a way of discrediting the business mogul. Although some people have blamed some APC members for the alleged scandal for losing the primary to Abiodun, it was surprising that Abiodun has not come out clean on the certificate scandal.
Also, some APM members have gone to town to remind the electorate on how Abiodun allegedly withdrew electric transformers he donated to some communities in Ogun East Senatorial District after losing the election to the PDP candidate, Senator Buruji Kashamu in 2015.
However, some APC leaders in Ogun State have described Amosun as a desperate politician who was bent on destroying the party to achieve a personal interest. They alleged that his desperation to impose Adekunke Akinlade on the state was to cover up on sundry financial misdeeds, which have left the state in a huge debt.
To his critics, Ogun State has never been so divided along tribal lines as Amosun’s policies in the last eight years have polarised the indigenes. They have constantly accused him of concentrating infrastructure on only two local councils – Abeokuta South and Abeokuta North local governments while roads in Ogun East and West Senatorial Districts have been abandoned. The non payment of several months of deductions from the civil servants and abysmal treatment meted out to the staff of Tai Solarin University, Ijebu Ode where workers are owed about two years’ salaries and emoluments are part of the criticism of Amosun.
But the pig fight between APC and APM members was not strange to many observers who described the imbroglio as reminiscent of what happened between PDP and PPN in 2011.
However, Amosun’s supporters have disagreed and opined that the current political scenario is not the same as that of 2011. To them, Amosun has achieved more than his predecessors in office and has more followers who are ready to obey his instructions. They also believe that with the support he is getting from the presidency he is likely to successfully handle two political parties.
A political analyst and former commissioner in the state, who pleaded for anonymity however, disagreed with Amosun supporters and described his political experiment as nothing new. He said the end result could be easily predicted.
He said: “The unfortunate thing is that our leaders are not being told the truth by the sycophants surrounding them. Amosun should know that he has betrayed his goodwill in the state and should be ready to face the consequences. Both the APC and APM will fight themselves until they lose the election because people are tired of their shenanigans and horse-trading.
“Amosun is still being deceived by the crowd he gives N2, 000 for attending his rallies but he should conduct a credible opinion poll to know what people are saying”.
Meanwhile, if the public opinion in Abeokuta is anything to go by, the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (GNI) should be getting ready to succeed Amosun in May 29, next year.
The two-time governorship candidate in the state seems to have struck a deal with people in almost all the local councils while other parties were still trying to navigate their way out of internal crises.
But the governorship hopeful has raised the alarm over the state of insecurity in the state and urged the president and security agencies to stem the spate of politically motivated attacks that may truncate holding credible election next year in the state.
Indeed, he asserted that some politicians were compromising the security of the state to provoke a declaration of state of emergency, thereby stalling the election.
Addressing a press conference in Abeokuta on Thursday, the Director General of Isiaka Campaign Organisation, Tony Ojesina alleged that ADC supporters in the state are being hounded by suspected thugs belonging to APC and APM.
Ojesina said: “The African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Gboyega Nasir Isiaka Campaign Organisation is using this medium to call the attention of Ogun State citizens, security agencies, the media and good-spirited Nigerians — to the worsening state of security and general atmosphere of uncertainty currently pervasive in Ogun state — even as we approach the general elections in February and March of 2019.
“Whereas, every society has its share of anti-social elements that habour negative vices and which security agencies have to routinely deal with, we are constrained to observe – with trepidation – the deliberate and orchestrated plan to throw Ogun State into a state of security emergency before and during the elections; thereby making peaceful campaigns either unattainable or altogether make elections in Ogun State impossible.
“Our campaign organisation is not raising false alarm or crying wolf where there is none but we have concrete concerns – and genuinely so, to make this claim. Since the gubernatorial campaigns were officially launched on December 1, 2018, we have been on the road campaigning and interfacing with the electorate within the purview of what is practicable under the electoral law and INEC guidelines.
“The first indication of hostility occurred on Saturday December 1, 2018, when officials of the Ogun State Signage and Advertisement Agency attacked our advert materials (A-Boards) which were placed at strategic points in parts of Abeokuta – defacing them and carting them away where possible. It took the direct intervention and confrontation of the rampaging officials by Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka before temporary order was restored.
“The second indication of hostility happened on 5th December 2018, when our campaign convoy was brutally attacked at Ibese in Yewa North Local Government area by suspected agents of an opposition party. In that attack, one of our supporters sustained gunshot wounds and currently struggling to recover at the hospital. Another one of us had deep glass cut wounds; while many that escaped into thorny bushes got various levels of injuries and mental tremor. The incident was reported to the police and widely reported by the media; but we have it on good authority that the perpetrators are verified political thugs of a major political party in the state.
“The third discomforting incident occurred on 8th December 8, 2018 during the last day of our campaign tour to Abeokuta North local government; when some assailants stormed the venue and cut down a young and vibrant member of our party; ostensibly to embarrass us and create fear in the mind of our supporters. The mastermind of this dastardly act is a known agent of a splinter opposition party who recently left prison having been earlier jailed for second degree murder.
“What more, a day after that, we prevented what could have been the fifth recorded violent event when we regrettably cancelled our planned tour of Odogbolu local government slated for December 10, 2018 due to unfavourable but very reliable security reports which indicted that agents of the governorship candidate of an opposing political party had stationed deadly cultists to truncate our tour and possibly ensure a fatal incident there.
“From the foregoing, we see a sustained orgy of violence that is proving fatal at each turn. We also observe, having reliable information at our disposal that there are certain opposition parties that are deliberately triggering this crisis towards making Ogun State a theatre of war such that peaceful campaigns will be impossible and unfit to have elections here. They also intend to precipitate a possible declaration of ‘state of emergency’ in the process; thereby truncating the democratic process in our state.”