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ANALYSIS: Can Amosun, Okorocha Deliver Their Puppets in Ogun, Imo?



By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau

 (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – It may not be arguable for one to aver that the Ogun State politics has not been this keen, volatile and extremely capricious. In other words, ‘all is not well’ politically right now, in the Gateway State. Not even the rumblings and uproars, of 2010, but which finally rested in 2011 – during the struggle for the seat of power between a former Governor of the State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) and the Late Dipo Dina aka (DD Direct) on one hand, and former President Olusegun Obasanjo versus OGD on another hand, were as this perilous, lavish, and to cap it all, ‘too close to call’, can be equated to how situations presently unfold.

The closest to the present political events in Ogun State was the killing of DD Direct in January 2010. Late Dina, historically, was among the active and foremost members of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Prior to his gruesome killing, Dina who was the Ogun State Governorship candidate of the proscribed Action Congress (AC) in 2007 general elections, was a formidable opposition Leader and a big threat to OGD and his co-PDP stalwarts.

Sadly, the late politician was not lucky, as he was first allegedly abducted, driven away to unknown location and later was found dead, along the Sango-Otta road, in the first month of 2010. The late politician is still being mourned up till date. More intriguing about his killing is that his murderers are yet be found, let alone being prosecuted and punished!

Another pulsating political episode that comes closer to the present – was the battle between OBJ and OGD before the change of administration in 2011. The war was over the choice of Governorship candidate of the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The present Governor was once a PDP member. He even served one term (2003-2007) as a Senator under the party platform, but he and OGD later fell apart politically, making Amosun to jostle for a new platform to actualize his political ambition, setting the stage for a serious battle between Baba and OGD.

 While OGD was working with Chief Joju Fadairo-led PDP EXCO of the State, with Gboyega Isiaka, aka (GNI) as Governorship candidate, the former President, (OBJ) was scheming with Dayo Soremi-led harmonized EXCO faction of the party to front for his ally and junior in the Army, Adetunji Olunrin. Just as we are witnessing now, the political clash was like a titanic war. Then, Yewa sentiment was in the frontline of political argument and calculation. In justifying this, candidates (Isiaka and Olurin) of the two main political gladiators were from Ogun West. But despite the brazen show of might, OBJ and OGD candidates lost the hot seat to the outgoing Governor Amosun. Indeed, it was a huge loss to the two Leaders, as well as to their party – the PDP.

The stage for the ongoing political hurricane was set in October 2018, when the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted its Governorship primaries across the country. Just as it has become the usual grand design of many political class to succeed themselves with their rubber-stamp head, Governor Amosun gave backing to his anointed candidate – a serving House of Representatives member, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade.

Amosun, perhaps, suspecting a non-cooperative National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC, led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, carried on with his plot, without any recourse to the top Leadership of his party. In October 2018, his faction of the APC organized a parallel primary. At the exercise, Akinlade was announced the winner, alongside other consensus candidates compiled by the Governor himself.

However, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the State’s APC candidate was declared as the winner at the factional primary. In the end, Akinlade’s name was dropped by the APC NWC, and it recognized the faction that produced Abiodun, therefore, submitted his name to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the State’s Governorship flag bearer.

What then followed were accusations and counters; name calling, controversies between the Governor and the APC NWC, and by extension, the supporters on both sides and the general public.

The battle took a dangerous and outrageous twist in February this year, when the APC Presidential train moved to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. To a large extent, the first trigger was pulled via a demeaning outburst by the immediate past Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. He hauled horrible aspersion at unnamed co-political men (opposition). Having realized that the target of the verbal assault was targeted at their boss, Governor Amosun’s political acolytes, who have overtime switched to another party – the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), otherwise called Egbe oni paki (the cassava party) immediately took offence and attacked back, with stones and sachet water, aimed at the VIPs on the podium. While Oshiomhole was booed, President Muhammadu Buhari hurriedly made his speech, ending what could have been another grand rally to an abrupt end. The President himself narrowly missed being hit by stones by the suspected political thugs.

Now that everything is scattered and the outcome looks bleak and unpredictable in Ogun State, the big questions are who among the actors in the saga will conquer and how? What are the dynamics that will work for the eventual winner and what will be the odds against the losers?

Governor Amosun; His Political Son and the Incumbency Factor

Being the Governor, Amosun may be comforted with the power of incumbency. The theory is that, he has the financial muscle more than his rivals in this political combat. Also, he might also be able to manipulate and control the State security apparatus to work in his favour. But this permutation is still in doubt, as where the interest of Abuja lies in the debacle remains indefinite. To worsen this, other powers who are against Amosun, but within the APC might attempt a fast game. The forces may manage to hijack the security formation in the State while the exercise lasts. If this happens, the outcome will be a loss to the Governor.

The Political Actor’s Influence and Votes

With respect to influence, Governor Amosun has a lot to galvanize on and gloss over. First, his candidate is from Yewa, so he is likely to muster a reasonable number of votes from this end. Although, it is being contested that, Akinlade hails from the minority clan of a yet, minority tribe in Ogun State – Ipokia. With GNI a more grounded and grass root politician, as well as the candidate of another opposition party, the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Amosun’s political son is likely to face with a fierce battle as most of the votes from that zone will be shared by his candidate and Isiaka. However, Amosun’s contender may have a jolly ride in Ogun central zone. Being from the area, and having reasonable support of his Egba kinsmen, the splinter that will be experienced in the voting in the district might not have any devastating impact on Akinlade – Amosun’s candidate chances. In addition, Akinlade is likely to poll more votes, as the results of the last Presidential Election showed that more votes were recorded from Ogun central than the West (Yewa) and East (Ijebu) zones. Still, that outcome might be as a result of general support given to President Buhari in that part of the State. So, if that should be the case, it means neither Amosun, nor the APC was the magic factor, rather, the candidate himself – Buhari. This is a strong statement that may tell on the outcome of votes from the zone.

Defection and Realignment

Prior to the Court of Appeal judgment Thursday (March 7, 2019), on the opposition PDP authentic Governorship candidate, the Ogun East obviously appeared to be the dead end for Governor Amosun. However, with the latest realignment by a rival PDP candidate, Hon. Ladi Adebutu, after losing in the court to another strong Ijebu politician, Senator Buruji Kashamu, the outgoing Governor and his candidate are likely to poll a fair share of votes from Ogun East after all.

In all, Amosun and his political son, with their old and new foot soldiers are likely to have things working in their way.

APC, Dapo Abiodun; How Likely To, and Where To Muster Votes?                                        

The favoured APC candidate hails from the Eastern zone of the State. He was before now, a closed ally of Governor Amosun. He has also stayed long in the Ogun State politics. But now, the same politics has separated the two old friends. Ironically and painfully too, despite that Prince Abiodun is from Ijebu – the tribe with large population in Ogun State, this gentleman may not find things rosy for him among his men. The reason is that, in the entire Ijebu, Senator Kashamu and Adebutu dynasty are the ones calling the shot – of where the political pendulum swings in the that part of Ogun State. In 2015, Kashamu, against all odds, won the State Eastern Senatorial zone election. The victory was attributed to his huge financial strength, the love he enjoyed from his people and his popularity in the land. On his own, Ladi’s father (Adebutu Kensington) (Baba Ijebu) is a business man, a widely acclaimed philanthropist and very acceptable at grass root fellow. Whatever electoral value Ladi claims to have today, or that he will add to anyone, is on the account of his father’s popularity and generosity. In other words, the votes from East will largely be shared by Kashamu and Adebutu. Abiodun will record votes in the same zone, but the number is most likely to be inconsequential to what will be recorded by the known and established political ‘brands’ in the area. If not for the APC crisis, whatever votes that could have been recorded by the party from the eastern zone would have just been a booster.

The Awujale Angle

For the followers of Ogun State politics, the Awujale of Ijebuland HRM Oba Sikiru Adetona for long has differences with Amosun. This is evident in several instances. The latest was likely the invitation of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to the popular traditional annual Festival – 2018 Ojude Oba Day. Giving the brawl between Mr. President and Saraki, as well as the National Assembly (NASS) he (Saraki) Chairs, and by extension, the robust relationship between Amosun and President Buhari, the invite was perceived by political adherents to be an affront to the Presidency and the State Governor. However, it is said that the Monarchy has shifted post – now working with the APC candidate. The question is: if HRM has political relevance, to what extent in the entire Ijebuland, most especially for such support to earn Prince Abiodun a deserving victory from his zone? A convincing answer to that; if you ask me; I do not have.  

Abiodun and OGD Dimension

Indeed, it is the moment of deep permutation and realignment. Shockingly, after less than two weeks of loss at the Presidential poll and while the candidate has approached court over alleged manipulated Election, the Director General of Atiku Campaign Organization, OGD abandoned the candidates of his party and declared support for the candidate of the same party that defeated the PDP at the just concluded Presidential poll. Why and for what reasons did OGD decide the way he did? Well, the trio (Amosun, Abiodun and OGD) were friends and once belonged to the same political family. OGD may also be banking on his supporters that spread across the remaining two senatorial zones. But can his support to Abiodun trigger any surprise? Time; Only time and outcome of this historic election will tell.

GNI; What Expected Surprise?

GNI is another strong force to reckon with. He has been and out of Government circle. He hails from Imeko side of Yewa – the densely populated clan of Ogun Western zone. The candidate, aside being a successful technocrat is also a grass root politician. He is rated to be strong and wields influence to muscle majority votes from Yewa. However, the concern with him is: if he locks down the Ogun West, can he achieve the same in the Central and East? Still, if he manages to stir surprise in the central, he is most unlikely to record remarkable votes in the east, obviously because of the political superpowers in the area. We shall wait on how fate will work for or against him in this fiasco.

The ‘Master’ and Unstoppable Kashamu

The master schemer, ruthless, daring and unstoppable Senator Buruji Kashamu, may have concluded within himself that he is going nowhere in the ongoing political debacle. He may therefore, be all out to make an instructive point – that, to those who are against him, ‘I am the master strategist; the political master and Lord’. Very Clearly, Senator Kashamu’s influence is effectively restricted to the Ijebu territory. He is confident over this, and it shows in his body language. Overall, Kashamu can be said to be a spoiler, as he will not let go, the bulk votes that will still go to him, despite the fact that no supporting votes will come from the remaining two zones from the State for him. And like Adebutu, Kashamu’s realignment with any of the three leading – contestants Akinlade, Abiodun and GNI, may amount to imminent victory.

The VP Osinbajo; Oshimhole; Osoba and Tinubu Angle

Apart from the fact that VP Osinbajo is from Ogun State, it must be noted that his politics is rooted in Lagos State. And besides being the number two citizen, the respect of his office, Prof Osinbajo does not really have much stake in the fight for the choice of new Ogun State Governor.  Rather, the real masquerade behind the mask is perceived to be the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He is believed to be collaborating with a former Governor of the State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and the APC National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole, to deal with the outgoing Governor. Tinubu and Amosun have since been embroiled in messy political counter. This largely, is the more reason why Amosun could not work in confidence with the VP, Osoba and Oshiomhole, who are believed to be his unrepentant loyalists.

President Buhari’s Neutrality

Amosun and President Buhari have been friends in their days in the oppositions. Again, the President appreciates the political sagacity of both Tinubu and Oshiomhole. This accounted for why he played down the crisis. In doing this, he played a fatherly role, by allowing all parties to express themselves politically. What do you expect from him? He is a politician and he realizes the grievous implications of any political miscalculation and move from his end. After all, the crisis started after three States – Benue, Kwara and Sokoto have been lost to the opposition due to political differences. President Buhari must have questioned himself repeatedly that with regard to my political ambition, can the APC afford and survive another batch of exodus? However, at the surface, his support is for his party and its candidate. But what about inside him? Where his interest ultimately belongs, giving the way he has been going about Ogun and Imo States APC Political imbroglio is difficult to determine.

Owelle Rochas Okorocha; How Far Can He Fare?

The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha was also caught in the similar political trap like his Ogun counterpart. But unlike Amosun, who from all angles, appears to be somewhat favored to survive the odd experience, Okorocha is far from achieving the same feat. The Governor’s calculation from the onset is very weird and utterly wrong. His choice and insistence on fielding his Chief of Staff and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as the candidate of the ruling APC and the next Governor of the South eastern State is likely to fail and fail woefully.  Just like his Ogun colleague, Okorocha, having fallen out of favour – from Comrade Oshiomhole, who declared that the APC had no space for ‘’Emperor’’, Okorocha despite the diatribe, remained in the party, contested his Imo West Senatorial district Election on the platform of the APC, but shopped for another platform in the Action Alliance (AA) party for his preferred candidate to rival his political party candidate – Hope Uzodinma. 

Now, the stage for the Imo Governorship contest is set for the political lightweight, in Nwosu, a veteran politician, Uzodinma and political heavy weight in the likes of a former Deputy House Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha (PDP); a former Governor of the State, Ikedi Ohakim (Accord Party) and serving Senator, Ifeanyi Ararume flying the flag of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The question again is: can the unknown Nwosu and less impressive Uzodinma weather the wild storm of influence these giant politicians and candidates? I doubt the duo capacity in this regard.

The Governor himself does not seem to be in full control of the State. In the just concluded Presidential poll, his party, APC, only made an average show, as the APC polled 140, 463 as against the PDP that recorded 334, 923 votes.  Okorocha must have realized that his State falls within the political zone his party does not enjoy much popularity. So, he ought to know that nothing must be taken for granted. He failed this in this aspect. He also seems to be very selfish, desperate and blind-folded by his personal political ambition. Whereas, he should have been faced with the reality that he and Amosun may have found themselves in the same circumstances, yet, the political dynamics of their States and zones are different.  And to worsen the matter, Okorocha’s victory about fortnight ago was allegedly not real, as well as dramatic.    

The Returning Officer of his Imo West Senatorial zone Prof. Ibeabuchi Izuchukwu Innocent, after regaining his freedom from hostage by the perceived Governor’s supporters exploded and alleged that he was put under ‘’duress’’ to return Governor Okorocha as the winner! But can this man survive this alleged accusation most especially as the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has vowed that his Commission would not issue Certificate of Return to any candidate whose victory is announced when its ad-hoc officials are held hostage. Honestly, if anyone asks me, what is the fate of the APC in Imo? My simple but blunt response will be that the party is dead already in that part of Nigeria. 

Finally, in all, the political logjams that have engulfed both Imo and Ogun are with many episodes, and the last part is the Saturday, March 9, Polls. This phase no doubt, will be daring, dangerous, and likely to be very bloody, but then, we shall all see how it will be finally concluded. Surely, in the end, the winners and losers will be known, thus every actor will know where he belongs. Really, I can’t wait to see the end of these tensed political games.  

E-mail: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com; Twitter: @tajudeen Balogun; Facebook: Tajudeen Balogun; Skype: tjaysuccess10@gmail.com

 

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