Another intriguing power play is about unravelling in Ogun State. It has been on for quite a while, but those who want to control the levellers of power perpetually are not relenting in their antics. They are back again in the trenches; they want to re-launch themselves back to reckoning using a different game plan.
As already known, the 2023 governorship race is now open, and gladiators of all hues have indicated their interests to slug it out with incumbent Governor DapoAbiodun who is seeking re-election for his second term as provided for, in the Nigerian constitution. The list of aspirants who have so far thrown their hats into the ring is already out there in the public domain for the scrutiny of the electorate.
Aside from the recent deft approach by a new entrant (Hon. LadiAdebutu of the Peoples Democratic Party) to slug it out in the gubernatorial contest, what is of particular interest to political watchers in the state is the fresh scheming by the immediate past governor, Senator IbikunleAmosun, who is hell-bent on seizing the control of power from Governor Abiodun in the coming 2023 general elections. Part of the game plan is to substitute his former anointed candidate in the 2019 governorship election, Hon AbdulkabirAdekunleAkinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) with one BiyiOtegbeye (aka BOT), who hails from Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government (Ogun West).
The intrigue that propped up Akinlade as a contender in the last governorship election against the candidacy of Prince DapoAbiodun is already a familiar story. In the end, the governor had a field day when the Supreme Court finally affirmed the mandate of the good people of Ogun State freely given to him in the March 9, 2019, election.
Before the landmark ruling of the Apex Court, the Chairman of the Election Petition Tribunal, in an unanimous judgment, had described the petition filed by Akinlade as “destined to fail”, while the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan also dismissed it, saying it “lacked merit”. The Supreme Court subsequently concurred with the judgments of the lower courts.
For someone who had a genuine concern for the development of the state, that was an auspicious time to beat a retreat. Yet, despite all entreaties made by Governor Abiodun to make the contending forces sheathe their swords and join hands with him to achieve his developmental goals, his predecessor remains adamant and continues to sustain his vaulting ambition to dictate the shots. This partly accounted for the recent botched attempt by his camp to hijack the structure of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last state congress.
Now, a full cycle of the leadership selection process has been concluded with the successful hosting of the National Convention of the party and the power mongers have been put in their rightful places. At the height of the power squabbles that culminated in the parallel state congress, Amosun had expressed displeasure over the exercise, accusing Governor Abiodun of bringing in people from other states to participate in the congresses. In the final analysis, Abiodun’s camp triumphed and emerged as the authentic body recognised by the national leadership.
On top of it all, Abiodun was appointed as the Chairman of the Election/Planning subcommittee, when Mala Buni-led Extra Ordinary Convention Planning Committee approved the reconstitution of the subcommittees of the National Convention Committee. The Governor was initially assigned to chair the Election Appeal sub-committee but he was reassigned to replace his counterpart in Katsina State, Bello Masari. The National Convention was ultimately held on March 26. The rest is history!
All the way from the build-up to the 2019 general elections to this point, it has been a win-win situation for Abiodun’s camp, a development that has devastated its rival contenders. Now, they are greatly disillusioned that the entire party structure is firmly in the hands of the authentic group recognised by the NWC, while the governor continues to shine like China wares within the hierarchy of the national leadership. With his victory and acceptance at home and abroad, some of them are already crying wolf, where there is none, as they face the risk of political extinction.
Even at that, those of his other traducers who believe they have an axe to grind with the governor will not just let go. On one hand, there are those who want to do everything possible to stop his re-election bid at all costs by cooking up all manners of imaginary allegations. On the other hand, there is the Amosuncamp which is working on a new game plan to achieve its end. Part of the grand plan is to dump Akinlade and prop up Otegbeye as a way of upsetting the balance of arrangement that the present administration had made as to its succession plan and consequently pitch the people of Yewa-Aworiland (Ogun West) against the incumbent Governor Abiodun who is from Ogun East.
Prior to this time, Amosun had thrown a different kite, opting for either one of his former political associates, Mr. Jimi Lawal, or Senator Lekan Mustapha as a possible sellable candidate for the coming governorship race. But he realized that the idea will not fly for two reasons. One, both Lawal and Mustapha are from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun East, which coincidently falls within the same Senatorial District with the incumbent governor. Two, while the former has jumped the ship and pitched his tent with the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP) in the state with a view to actualizing his governorship ambition, Mustapha is currently representing Ogun East in the red chamber of the National Assembly and may possibly not want to trade off his seat, hence his preference for Otegbeye.
Interestingly, as the intrigue rages, so also has been a progressive decimation of Amosun’s followership. The latest among the harvest of losses his camp has recorded in the recent past is the defection of Dr. TundeIpaye back to the APC. Ipaye was his former Commissioner for Health and Deputy Director-General, Akinlade Campaign Organisation in the last governorship election. Justifying the reason for dumping his former boss and reuniting with the APC, he said he had made several entreaties to Amosun to “let go” the past and join hands with Abiodun but he shunned him and vowed to continue to make the state ungovernable.
It is high time Amosun dropped this unnecessary shenanigan and ego-tripping and embraced the peace efforts by some well-meaning individuals who are so concerned with the progress of the state. Failure to heed, he may sooner than later realize that “it is no use throwing the charge only to realize that no one is following.
The same advice goes to those traducers who want to smear the hard-earned reputation of the governor, alleging frivolous accusations of wrongdoings. For instance, OladipupoAdebutu, a PDP governorship aspirant, in one of his unguided outbursts, recently raised a false alarm, claiming that the governor had embezzled the state’s fund.
However, his former close associate, BiyiAdeleye, now the Special Adviser to the Ogun State Governor on Political Affairs, was quick to give it back to him in full measure.
The PDP chieftain had in a viral video accused Abiodun’s government of powering street lights with generating sets.
Adeleye in his scathing response to the allegation, fumed: “What we are doing in Ogun state is that we are going to transfer the energy from the generating set to our IPP. If you look at Abeokuta for example, we have already transferred some of them to the IPP project.
“They don’t get energy from generating sets anymore. So, if we are doing things timely to make sure that these projects are well done, we are using the generating set as a pilot scheme to see the functionality, to see how this is going to work for us and transfer to the IPP.”
Also, another group of mischief-makers, in its desperate move to thwart the re-election bid of Governor Abiodun, recently came up with some malicious, spurious, and unfounded allegations. First, they said the governor had chosen not to contest for his second term in office because he “has seen it all”.
When that failed, the desperadoes under the auspices of “Good People of Ipokia” again cooked up another scam, claiming that they had secured the consent of the National Headquarters in Abuja not to consider Abiodun for a second term. The so-called petition, which was posted with the name of the petitioner purportedly from “Abeokuta South”, was deliberately shared on the social media platform with the aim of blackmailing the governor and dampening the spirit of his teeming supporters.
Unfortunately for them, their true identity has been unveiled; they are the losers of the last governorship election in the state.
But they got it all wrong. They have reached the end of the road in their evil machination. On their own volition, they embarked on a journey of no return. And now, they are alone in the political wilderness crying wolves.
What’s more! With his eyes on the ball, Abiodun is marching on with his desire to take the state to the next level. In his three years of stewardship, he has shamed his enemies with several landmark achievements spread across the different zones of the state. He has made good his promise to deliver the dividends of democracy to the good people of Ogun State with the administration’s five cardinal pillars of ISEYA (Infrastructure—Social Welfare and Well-being—Education—Youth development—Agriculture and food security).
Despite the shenanigans of his political rivals, he has kept faith with his “inclusiveness mantra which has attracted a steady inflow of admirers from other political parties, resulting in an ever-expanding support base across the length and breadth of the state.
On account of his good stewardship, several concerned stakeholders have continued to pour encomiums on the governor for even distribution of developmental projects across the state, urging him to continue to remain focused on his determination to leave “our dear state far better than he met it”.
It was, indeed, in recognition of his focused leadership that a group of people, under the able leadership of the Special Adviser to the Ogun State Governor on political matters, Hon. AdebiyiAdeleye, Monday, led a powerful delegation to the Iperu- residence of the governor to present a cheque of N50 million for the purchase of his expression of intent and nomination form for his second term re-election. It was an epoch-making event.
ApagunBiyi while presenting the cheque, commended the governor for his people-oriented programmes, affirming the support of the group in ensuring that he is re-elected as Executive Governor comes 2023. He also assured Prince Abiodun of the group’s total commitment to the actualization of this agenda.
The governor, in his response, thanked the DA Mandate Remo chapter for the gesture and financial support towards his re-election bid and promised to continue with his good works. He also assured the good people of the state of his commitment to building a great future for the state. As they say, the reward of hard work is more work. It, therefore, goes without saying that a brighter future lies ahead of the state with Abiodun’s re-election. Yes, people can scheme; they can aspire, and even conspire, the ultimate decision as to who governs the state next lies with the electorate. And from the feedback so far coming from the people, there is no doubt that they have come to the conclusion that continuity is the best way to lead the state to the Eldorado.
Salako writes from Okeagbede, in Imeko-Afon LGA of Ogun State