[OPINION] Ogun: The Road To 2023 – Femi Ogbonnikan


All is now set for the 2023 general elections. After the usual horse-trading, power squabbles and contestation among the state actors, virtually all political parties planning to participate in the coming elections have finally submitted the names of their candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) well ahead of the deadline. Except where substitution becomes absolutely necessary, these are the standard bearers recognised by the law to run for various offices across all levels of government. The rest is up to the electorates to decide who among the galaxy of contenders is worthy of their votes.

In Ogun State as, indeed, in the rest parts of the federation, the governorship primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), where Governor Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun emerged as the elected standard bearer of the party for the 2023 elections, has come and gone. Moving forward, therefore, it is imperative for the stakeholders to put the unnecessary bickering of the recent past behind them and rally round the incumbent Governor to take the state to the next level. In the long-run, his genie has revelled up unity among various aggrieved parties in the ruling APC in the state.

Recently, I watched with a deep sense of loss the home-coming of former Governor Ibikunle Amosun amidst the mammoth crowd of sponsored supporters who converged on the Palace of the Ake Palace ground, Abeokuta, to give him a rousing welcome after his botched ambition to run for the office of the president. According to JK Galbraith, Canadian-born US Economist, “There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.” What Senator Amosun did in the just concluded presidential primary of the APC by announcing his decision to step down for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the National Convention, is politically expedient and proper for the protection of the Yoruba interest in the Nigerian project. But the unnecessary hubris brought into the scenario made me to cringe in disbelief, because absolutely nothing really called for the carnival-like procession.

In the first place, the INEC has yet to officially declare a notice for the 2023 general elections. And the campaign by aspirants to woo delegates for the presidential primary has equally come to a close. As stipulated in sections 99 (1) of the election guidelines, “political campaigns in public can only commence 90 days before the polling day and must end 24 hours prior to the election date in accordance with any other rules and regulations stipulated for candidates and their parties by INEC.” Campaigning outside prescribed time period attracts a maximum fine of N500, 000.

There can be no doubt that the Ogun Central Senator is very well aware of these restrictions as a lawmaker and politician of his standing. Yet, he deliberately feigned ignorance of it and called out his purported supporters from his Ogun Central Senatorial District to showcase the strength of his political structure. In doing so, he was only being smart by half, campaigning passionately for Tinubu, whereas beneath the façade is a deep seated hatred and animosity for Governor Abiodun.

His words: “In this Ogun State, since 1999, I am on camera, except for Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, I am not talking of pre-1999, no human being, dead or alive, has served Ogun State the way I have served. I have done eight years as your governor. By next year, it will be my 8th year in the Senate. Just between 1999 and now, I have served Ogun State with 15 years of my lifetime. Since 1999, Ibikunle Amosun has paid his dues in Ogun State and I am still paying it. Put your mind at rest, we are APC, APC is ours.”

To start with, who does not know the intrigues that edged him out of the party? And now that he has realised the futility of his effort to wrest power from the incumbent governor, who is going to take responsibility for his decision to embark on a political journey of no return? What is next after the public show of shame?

Amosun lost relevance in Ogun State politics the day he swore to truncate the governorship ambition of Prince Dapo Abioudun at all cost in the run-up to the last 2019 general elections. In and out of office, he has been causing undue disquiet in the party by promoting internal dissention, while at the same time masquerading as the founder of the modern Ogun State politics.

All of these intrigues have come to nought. Unknown to him, his political clout has run out of steam. While making mockery of himself in the name of being in charge of the structure of the APC, his erstwhile allies are walking their ways quietly back into the mainstream power politics under the firm control of Governor Abiodun. Just recently, some of his staunch supporters, like Senator Lekan Mustapha, former Commissioner for Health, Dr Tunde Ipaye who was also, Deputy, Campaign Director-General, Allied People’s Movement (APM) Governorship Candidate (Adekunle Akinlade) in the 2019 gubernatorial election, and hundreds of their supporters as well as former Commissioners ate the humble pie by reuniting with the mainstream APC loyal to the governor. The immediate past Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Jide Ojuko, in a recent reunion ceremony pledged unflinching support his teeming supporters for Governor Abiodun, saying: “We are now in APC proper, no more in illegal association. We will never go back to the road that is endless. As the party primary is concerned, you have won the ticket. If it is party politics, I would have brought only politicians, but because of election, I brought voters. With me are representatives of various bodies, unions and associations.”

Ojuko is not alone in the new-found-welcoming relationship with the performing administration of Governor Abiodun. Within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the centre is no longer holding, as the party is enmeshed in several crises, bordering on leadership structure control and the recent emergence of Ladi Adebutu as the governorship flagbearer in the coming 2023 general elections. The duo governorship aspirants, Segun Showunmi and Jimi Lawal, who lost out to Adebutu, have kicked against the choice of the Iperu-Remo born politician as the governorship candidate of the party.

What’s more! Today, support for Prince Abiodun’s re-election bid for a second term has become a movement swirling across the length and breadth of the state.

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