ANALYSIS: Ogun Polls: How Kashamu may reap from Amosun’s war with APC

Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State [Photo: The Guardian Nigeria]
Former Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun [Photo: The Guardian Nigeria]

If the March 23 presidential and National Assembly elections will serve as the perfect measure of the mind of the average Ogun voter, then the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun, may likely to win the governorship poll this Saturday.

He would also be drawing from the bandwagon effect of the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and other APC legislators.

But the Ibikunle Amosun factor, although a beneficiary of the APC victory two Saturday’s ago, may have disrupted that calculation

The Allied Peoples Movement, (APM), has a candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, who enjoys the support of Mr Amosun, the incumbent governor and Senator-elect for Ogun central senatorial district.

The candidate was a governorship aspirant in the APC. His defection to the APM is a fallout of his inability to secure the ticket of the APC in spite of the full backing of the governor of the state.

Testing ground

The stand of Mr Amosun to oppose his own party for the governorship election, but would support Mr Buhari in the presidential polls is a confusion that played out in the last presidential and National Assembly elections. It would be testing its efficacy in Saturday’s polls.

Mr Akinlade won a controversial governorship primary organised by the governor and other stakeholders, but a panel sent by the headquarters of the party conducted a separate primary which produced Mr Abiodun as the candidate.

Since then the APC’s house of commotion is yet to find peace, as the contentions set the outgoing governor against the national leadership of the party, represented by Adams Oshiomhole, over the selection of candidates for the 2019 general elections.

The status quo of the overwhelming powers of incumbent governors was what Mr Oshiomhole chose to alter.

Although he got his senatorial ticket of the party, Mr Amosun failed to secure any tickets for his preferred candidates for the governorship and those for the Ogun State House of Assembly.

Instead, the NWC approved the list of candidates which had Mr Abiodun as the governorship candidate. The governor did pull some strings across the presidency and other power quarters to get Mr Oshiomhole rescind his decision and accept his list but the combative APC national chairman refused to yield.

The chairman’s reasons: the governor attempted to lord it over the majority of party members in the state by “brazenly” imposing candidates for virtually all elective positions in the state.

Mr Amosun payback package is to ensure the APC loses the governorship election this Saturday even if it would reduce his standing within the APC fold.

The ruckus over the list of Ogun candidates for the election had turned into a game of wits, ego and power play, especially between the governor and Mr Oshiomhole.

The latter as the national chairman of the party, had refused to yield to pressures from the governor and other APC governors alike, to accept the list of candidates they submitted, having faulted the process through which the candidates were selected.

The Tinubu Factor

The current struggle to emplace Mr Amosun’s successor has been observed by many watchers of the Ogun State politics as an interplay of forces emanating from the stables of Governor Amosun himself on one hand and former governors of Lagos and Ogun State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Segun Osoba and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the other.

This struggle echoes from the support the incumbent governor received from Messrs Tinubu and Osoba in his emergence as governor in 2011 on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, when as a consensus candidate of the party, he ended the reign of the PDP in the state after his unsuccessful bid with the ANPP.

But he fell out with the duo over the spoils ahead of the 2015 elections.

They were reported to have worked against Mr Amosun’s reelection bid in 2015, setting the stage for the current political divisions in the state. Mr Amosun, obviously did not get the backing of the APC’s national leader to get his anointed candidate, Mr Akinlade, a serving member of the House of Representatives for Egbado South and Ipokia Federal Constituency, as his successor.

Mr Abiodun, on the other hand, has the backing of the Vice President and other national leaders of the party.

The vent of bitterness opened at the beginning of the struggles in October, is still emitting its magma of animosity to the fears and unsettling of party loyalists. Mr Amosun is currently paying for his ‘sins’.

He is currently under suspension by the leadership of the APC for alleged anti party activities along with his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha.

Zoning formula

Another angle of the resistance against Mr Amosun’s ambition to install Mr Akinlade is that posed by those of the Ijebu-Remo axis of the state.

It is believed that power oscillates between the Ijebu-Remo on one side and Egba-Egbado axis on the other. Mr Amosun is accused by promoters of this school of thought of violating that unwritten tradition by bringing a man from his own geopolitical zone.

Mr Akinlade is from Yelwa, the Egbado area. This view is endemic both within and outside the APC. It is pertinent that the PDP candidate, Buruji Kashamu, who hails from the Ijebu-Remo zone stands to benefit from this permutation.

‘No peace deal’

A peace and reconciliation committee was established try to pacify the aggrieved aspirants and those who had defected to return to the party and work for it ahead of the 2019 elections.

The committee, headed by the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, had terms of reference to deal with all issues within the South-west. Series of meetings were held in Lagos with all the stakeholders in attendance. Recent developments have however shown that the peace move, although laudable, did not achieve much.

The battle lines are still indelible and all parties have gone their separate ways.

Apparently, as a pre-emptive strategy ahead of the presidential elections, the national leadership of the party dissolved the executive committees in the state, as well as local government and ward executives.

Their dissolution was part of the resolutions reached during the National Working Committee meeting presided over by Mr Oshiomhole, in Abuja, and set up caretaker committees to handle the elections.

The APC leadership has taken a similar step by suspending Mr Amosun from the party ahead of the governorship and house of assembly selections to ensure he would not be able to use the party’s structure in favour of his anointed candidate.

Buhari’s ‘confusing steps’

But President Buhari has not helped his party in the run-up to the election. He had said during his presidential campaign rally that the people could vote for the candidate of their choice during the governorship election.

The president’s counsel is seen largely as self-serving, having secured the governor’s promise to deliver the state to the APC for the presidential election.

Mr Amosun seems to have made good his promise. The APC won clean in the presidential election in Ogun. If the president’s words should be taken with seriousness, then the APC voters now know where to turn.

With other parties such as the PDP, SDP and others rearing up to replace the APC in the state, there is no doubt that the party is in dire straits. Its supporters are divided along the lines of personal interests as portrayed by the governor on one hand and Dapo Abiodun and the rest of those favoured by the NWC’s decision on the other.

The crisis has whittled down the power of the party with the governor’s weight now missing behind the governorship candidate.

Party members believe that it is not wise to undermine the power of the governor to sway votes in favour of Mr Akinlade and in opposition to Mr Abiodun.

Gaining from confusion?

Mr Kashamu may be the apparent gainer in all of APC’s calamities.

He has a sturdy chance of taking over from Mr Amosun. He has successfully weathered the storm which assailed him from within his party.

There also seems to be quiet from the PDP. The leaders of the PDP would rather win Ogun with Mr Kashamu than lose it to APC, so a ceasefire had since been maintained against the embattled senator.

He is also sharing the same zone with the APC candidate. The Ijebu-Remo zone has nine of the 20 local governments in the state and they have a very high voting population.

However, his inability to ensure victory for his party even within his senatorial district paints a gloomy picture of his ability to win the governorship on Saturday.

If the APC votes are split between Messrs Akinlade and Abiodun, then a careful moping up of the residue may favour a possible Kashamu victory.

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