Apart from the presidential election, gubernatorial poll is another electioneering event that engages the attention of most Nigerians. This is so because government at state level is much closer to the people than at the federal level. Therefore, who becomes the chief executive of a state is very important to the people. That is why many stakeholders ensure that the process of selecting those that will stand election at the state level is based on merit, equity and fair play.
The 2019 governorship election will be fiercely contested in the states, with the exception of a few states which have different dates for their gubernatorial poll arising from election court decisions. The forthcoming gubernatorial election will be hotly contested in many states of the federation, especially in Ogun, Imo and Lagos states.
Incidentally, these states are under the control of All Progressives Congress (APC) government. The APC problematic governorship primaries where states were allowed by the national leadership of the party to choose either direct or indirect mode of primary can be blamed for the outcome of the party’s fractious primaries in Ogun, Imo and Lagos. The action of the APC national leadership in Ogun and Imo primaries did not go down well with the governors and two states respectively.
Whereas Lagos has managed to overcome the crisis generated by its gubernatorial primary where an incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was dropped in favour of a Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the new political godson of APC national leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is not the same with Ogun and Imo states where the candidates of Governor Ibikunle Amosun and Governor Rochas Okorocha did not get the APC governorship tickets.
But in politics, it is not yet over until it is over. The Eko scenario is being closely monitored by pundits and other stakeholders. While Lagos is still having an APC gubernatorial candidate for the 2019 poll despite the war of words over its primary, it is not the same with Ogun and Imo states. Both Amosun and Okorocha are running for the senate and both are campaigning for President Muhammadu Buhari at the Federal level using the APC platform. They are also campaigning for their preferred gubernatorial candidates in their states using different political parties. a
This scenario is not new in Nigerian politics. During Olusegun Obasanjo era some AD states supported Obasanjo in the presidential poll. While Okorocha’s candidate and political godson, Uche Nwosu, was rejected by the APC in Imo because of having blood relationship with Rochas and coming from the same senatorial zone as Rochas that has produced Imo governor in the past 16 years, it is quite different from Amosun’s candidate, Adekunle Akinlade.
Although the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) does not recognize zoning in the sharing of elective positions, some political parties have chosen zoning as a way of ensuring an all-inclusive participation in the nation’s politics. They have chosen zoning to address equity and fairness in the distribution of political powers.
For example, since 1999 when this political dispensation became operational, the presidential seat has been rotating between the South and the North of the country. The extant zoning arrangement has produced four presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari in that order.
Some states have similarly adopted the power rotation principle to ensure that governorship seat rotates among the three senatorial zones in the state. Others have zoned federal and state assembly seats as well. The same applies to some local government areas in the country where chairman and councilor seats are rotated within the wards of the council.
Anambra and some other states in the South East have used zoning principle to deepen the democratic process in the zone. Zoning of political post is not alien to other geo-political zones of the country, including the South West. But the zoning arrangement does not debar any other candidate from contesting any of the polls. While the PDP and the APC zoned their presidential seats to the North in the present election cycle, there are still other candidates from the South using other political platforms to contest the presidential poll.
While some people may not frown at the action of Amosun for vying for the senate under the APC and supporting President Muhammadu Buhari, they are yet to come to terms with Amosun’s support for his preferred gubernatorial candidate, Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied People’s Movement (APM). This group had expected Amosun to support the APC gubernatorial candidate for the election. Yet some other people do not see anything wrong with Amosun’s electoral choices and support. Amosun has many supporters in this group.
It is a well known fact that Nigerian politics still lacks some basic principles. Nigerian politicians can change platforms like dresses. They can be in one party today and jump to another the next day. The extant laws of the land also permit such nocturnal movements. Since every politics is about personal interest, a politician is free to support any candidate at any material time and at any election. It is within the rights of Amosun and Okorocha to do so.
Based on the foregoing, therefore, Amosun did not do any wrong in supporting Akinlade’s gubernatorial ambition. In lending full support to Akinlade, Amosun is playing the card of equity and fairness in the rotation of gubernatorial power in the state. He does not want a particular ethnic group to be denied of governing Ogun State after other ethnic groups have had theirs. In other words, Amosun wants the governorship seat to go to a senatorial zone that is yet to produce the governor of the state.
By so doing, Amosun is rooting for political inclusion and justice to the zones and ethnic groupings in the state. In a state where the zoning formula is entrenched, nobody or group of persons should begrudge Amosun for supporting Akinlade. What is at stake is quite beyond party politics and party loyalty. It is in fact within Amosun’s right and power to do so.
It is quite instructive that some commentators have argued that since the creation of Ogun State, the people Yewa-Awori of Ogun West are yet to produce the governor of the state. Ogun East and Ogun Central have had theirs. And since Adekunle Akinlade is from Ogun West, his candidature would have ensured that justice is coming the way of his people very soon. That is exactly what Amosun is fighting for. He needs the support of Ogun people.
Therefore, nobody has any right whatsoever to question Amosun’s stand in this regard. Governor Amosun should not be crucified for exercising his political freedom as enshrined in the nation’s constitution and the electoral laws. Besides, Akinlade as an indigene of the state is also free to contest the gubernatorial election using any platform he deems fit.