History is repeating itself in Ogun State, analysts say, drawing reference from the 2011 political drama which led to the defeat of then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), during the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
OGD, as Daniel is popularly called, was hell bent on imposing Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka as successor. He met a brick wall from former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who had equally thrown his weight behind Tunji Olurin, a retired military officer.
When Obasanjo had his way, Daniel’s anointed candidate, Isiaka led other loyalists to pursue their ambition in Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), a development which swept PDP off the stage and paved way for the incumbent governor, Ibikunle Amosun, who defied all odds and coast home to victory on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
And eight years down the line, there seems to be a replay with Amosun in the eye of the storm. When the governor’s plan to install Adekunle Akinlade as successor in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) failed his loyalists headed for the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), in pursuit of the ambition.
Interestingly, Amosun had vowed to ensure victory of his anointed candidate on the platform of the APM in the next election and insisted on backing President Muhammadu Buhari who is the APC presidential candidate.
The battle line is drawn already between the ruling APC and the APM. But how far can the two parties go to avoid calamity which befell the PDP in 2011? Can the APC win the governorship seat without the support of the incumbent governor? Has the APM built enough political structure that wound earn it victory in 2019? These are some questions begging for answers.
Insiders told our correspondent that the governorship candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun, banks on the structure of the ruling party across the state and as well as the external forces, including the “Lagos Cabal” to win the election. As oil magnate, he equally has the financial war chest to battle the incumbent governor if at the end Amosun fails to bow to pressure to toe the path of reconciliation.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the APC candidate “has been depleting Amosun’s political structure” by luring formidable politicians in the governor’s camp with tickets and perhaps, assurance of “juicy offers” if Abiodun finally emerges as governor. A number of former governorship aspirants on the platform of the APC have pitched their tents with the Abiodun camp.
Findings revealed that the immediate past Chief of Staff to Amosun, Tolu Odebiyi, had teamed up with Abiodun’s team camp before his resignation two weeks ago. Also, a former Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Afolabi Afuape, resigned to pick State House Assembly ticket for Abeokuta South I Constituency.
However, Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the governor who has vowed to work against his party in the gubernatorial elections still has the control of the APC executives.
Besides, the agitation for power shift to Ogun West against Ogun East where the APC candidate hails from may hamper his chances at the poll.
More so, keen political watchers submitted that it would be difficult if not impossible for the ruling APC to win the governorship without Amosun’s support.
Amosun has vowed that “I Senator Ibikunle Amosun will not work for any other candidate that they are rooting for to become governor. No way. They are free to do whatever they want to do, but I will not support them.
“I want to tell you that all we need to participate in this election, God has provided it for us. God that provided all those things for us will see us through.”
But a top APC chieftain who pleaded anonymity told Daily Trust on Sunday that the “APC will win with or without Amosun’s support.”
“Don’t forget that the APC has built its structure across all wards in the state. And without Amosun, the structure is already in place. You will agree with me that the APC candidate has the support of major stakeholders. The second highest political office holder which is the Vice President is from the state.
“The first election is that of the presidential poll. Once Buhari wins, there would be a bandwagon effect. Buhari will win this election although it maybe with a small margin. So, I don’t see the APC losing Ogun to other party.” the APC stalwart said.
In dramatic twist, the man at the centre of the battle, Abiodun played down the crisis last week, expressing hope that Amosun would lead his campaign.
He said: “Our issues are internal and there’s no how such internal crisis would not occur.
“I am convinced that there is still enough time between now and the election time. We have mechanism within the party that we use in settling our disputes.
“We would soon flag off and of course the governor would be at our flag off. He (Amosun) is the leader of the party in the state. I am sure that he would be raising my hands up as the candidate of the party.”
On the part of the APM, the newly birthed political party is banking on the governor’s political structure. Besides, the choice of Akinlade from Ogun West, a region which has not produced governor since 1976 when the Gateway State was established, is the party’s selling point, although, the ADC governorship candidate, Isiaka, who equally hails from the region, is campaigning on the power shift sentiment.
Analysts argued that the new party faces a herculean task of “selling the party” to the electorate barely three months to the election. As at now, the APM has no leadership structure in the state.
Besides, top monarchs from Ogun West, including socio-political organizations in Yewa-Awori have openly identified with the ADC’s Isiaka, a development which might have depleted the APM candidate’s home-based strength.
Nevertheless, the Majority Leader of Ogun State House of Assembly, Yinka Mafe, who was one of the first callers in the APM, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the party’s chance in the next election is “bright.”
Mafe said, “The chances of the APM are very bright. We are gearing up towards launching our party in the state. And I think after the launch everything will be obvious.
“The candidates that won the primaries in the APC before it was manipulated are ready to reclaim their mandates in the next election,” he said.
The legislator, however, spoke on how to tackle some take-off challenges in the APM. He said, “We have some challenges I must say ahead of the election. We have to embark on a lot of voter education and house to house campaign on the difference between the APC and the APM. We have to let people know that we are fighting injustice.”
Mafe, who represents Sagamu Constituency I said, the drama playing out between the APM and the APC should not be compared with 2011 scenario.
He said, “The 2011 scenario is quite different. Ours is an obvious case of injustice. The Lagos cabal connived with the National Chairman to steal our mandates.
“And between 2011 and now people’s awareness has greatly increased.
“The PPN had just three weeks or so before the election, but we have about two months to do campaign and sensitisation. We have a youthful governorship candidate and 26 State House of Assembly candidates who are on ground. So, there is obvious difference between 2011 and 2019.”
An electorate, Sanmi Olaniyi, who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday in Abeokuta, said the two parties may lose out in the election because the “electorate are now wiser. They only vote for individual and not parties.”
“For me, the APC and the APM are same political parties. I bet you if the APM wins the 2019 election, the members would return to the original party although I cannot categorically say which party may win the election because it’s too close to call. More so, the electorate are wiser now, they vote for individuals and not political parties,” he said.