For Abiodun’s camp, the latest intrigue is the handiwork of Governor Amosun, who, they said, was yet to come to terms with the succession crisis he has had to grapple with.
Ogun State, the traditional hotbed of politics, is still very much in the news for well known reasons. The blues playing out there is as intriguing as it is enthralling. Even some six weeks to the 2019 general elections, some sideline spectators are already predicting victory for their preferred candidates. That, of course, is in order, as people see things differently. But in politics, unlike other games, there is no use predicting beyond the next fortnight. For even the so-called dark horse can spring a surprise. In this instance, all eyes are now on the embattled candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Prince Dapo Abiodun. Since the open primary that threw him up as the governorship candidate for the forthcoming poll, the party has been tottering from one crisis to the other. All efforts to reconcile the gladiators have been to no avail.
The latest in the series of moves made to reconcile the warring factions is the National Peace and Reconciliation Committee inaugurated on November 21 by the National Working Committee (NWC) to find a lasting solution to the prolonged stalemate so that the party could go to the next year’s elections as one strong united family.
Oshiomhole while charging the committee with the mandate during its inauguration had said: “Do everything to ensure peace within the rank and file of the party.”
But Amosun’s preferred candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, along with his other loyalists, turned down all entreaties and dumped the APC for the Allied People’s Movement (APM).
The Spokesperson for the defectors, Lamidi Olatunji declared:“After extensive and due consultations with our elders, members and stakeholders in the APC in Ogun State, we have come to the inevitable conclusion to seek the general mandate of our people in the 2019 elections on the platform of the Allied People’s Movement (APM).”
Even at that, Abiodun, in his readiness for continued dialogue and genuine reconciliation, still strongly believes that the matter could be amicably resolved. While keeping an open mind, however, some of his traducers, who were bent on playing the role of a spoiler, introduced a fresh intrigue into the crisis. In their desperation to disqualify him from the race, they went into the archive, dug out form CF 001 Abiodun filled and submitted to the INEC in the 2015 senatorial election and began to cry the blues over an alleged discrepancy in the qualifications he declared for the governorship race in the 2019 coming election. According to them, when he ran as APC Senatarial candidate for Ogun East in 2015, he claimed to have attended the University of Ife, graduated in 1986 and Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, Georgia, US, (1989) in INEC form CF001 and backed it up with an affidavit he swore to at the high court, Abeokuta, Ogun State. Abiodun’s decision not to include the two degrees in the form CF 001 submitted for the 2019 election, they said, fueled the suspicion that he did not partake in the mandatory National Youth Service.
In a suit filed at the High Court in Abuja, Abdulrrafiu Baruwa is seeking an order to disqualify Abiodun from contesting the election and a declaration of his rival claimant, Jimi Lawal, as the governorship candidate of the APC.
For Abiodun’s camp, the latest intrigue is the handiwork of Governor Amosun, who, they said, was yet to come to terms with the succession crisis he has had to grapple with. A supporter of the APC, who did not want his name in print, dismissed Baruwa’s claim as irrational, spurious, and illogical, saying the party would triumph over the enemies of their candidate. His words:”We are not bothered. We know all their antics; Amosun is behind it all. Having made 28 attempts to upturn the victory of our candidate, he wants to use the judiciary to achieve his goal through the back door. They have failed already!
In all of this, Governor Amosun appears to be walking a tight rope. With his seeming hypocritical move to retain his membership of the APC, he may possibly latch on the goodwill of President Buhari to win his senatorial seat, and eventually leave his anointed candidate in the lurch.
Currently, Amosun and his two other loyalists are vying for the three senatorial districts in the state on the platform of the APC. Going by the INEC timetable, both the presidential and the National Assembly elections will be holding on the same day, February 16. If peradventure, President Buhari wins and they also secure their respective seats in the upper chamber, the bandwagon effect of the victory would certainly be an added advantage to Abiodun, the APC candidate, and rob off Akinlade of his so-called popularity. The general yearning among the populace would be to align with the power at the centre rather than turning the state into an enclave of a budding opposition party.
However, the APM supporters are not looking at the other side of the coin. They are still basking in the euphoria of the huge crowd that thronged MKO Stadium, Abeokuta, the state capital, on Thursday, December 20, 2018 to witness the flag off campaign of Akinlade, predicting victory for their candidate. “The mammoth crowd that held down Abeokuta last week is a clear message that the state belongs to us. We have made the point, and we are forging ahead in victory, one of the enthusiastic supporters of the party told Sunday Sun.
In a quick reaction, the Deputy Media Director, Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation (DAPCO), Mr Tunde Emilola-Gazal, dismissed the optimism as an illusion, declaring that the rented crowd would not save the party from an imminent defeat in the coming election. He said the state civil servants as well as workers in the state-owned institutions who were being owned several arrears of salaries and deductions would be waiting for them at the poll, adding that they would be paid in their own coin.
He said: “Senator Ibikunke Amosun is politically naked. But the only thing he wants to hear is that he is a semi-god and that is what his co-travellers in his new party, APM, are telling him, whereas, they know that he is naked, stark naked.
“If anybody will succeed Amosun, it is not Akinlade and, definitely, the vehicle cannot be APM. It is an open secret that Amosun is the masquerade behind APM. But what goodwill does Amosun have to market his party and its candidates,” Gazal further quipped.
It appears fresh trouble is looming for Amosun. Last week, the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole, splitting more fire, said he would do everything to stop him and his counterpart in Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, from using the president’s goodwill to campaign and win their senatorial elections. His words: “After using the goodwill of the President and the party to win, they will now go and mobilise against the party’s governorship candidates in their respective states. We won’t allow that. The best way is to show them the way out”.
In politics, as they say, it is not over until it is over. Going into a major election like this ordinarily requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders to guarantee the victory for the party and its candidate. Therefore, the immediate task before the new caretaker committee of the party in Ogun state is to find a way to amicably resolve the crisis before the election.