• Monday, July 15, 2024
businessday logo


Amosun vs. Abiodun: Who laughs last?

Amosun vs. Abiodun: Who laughs last?

Come 25 February, 2023, the presidential elections will be decided. Two weeks later, many governors, aspirants to federal and state houses would also know their fate. For politicians, their hangers-on, political jobbers, and beneficiaries of political hand-outs, would feast on gladiators’ financial largesse.

By the fundamental rules of engagement for political leadership and its skewedness, corruption, cronyism and prebendalism – a system of sharing government revenues to benefit self, supporters, and members of their network no matter how much it impoverishes the larger society play various parts. Worse still is the role of politicians who have amassed sufficient resources and clout to install and remove leaders. No state offers this kind of prebendalism than Ogun, the country’s Gateway State.

The immediate past governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, has not only publicly threatened that he will stop at nothing to remove his successor, former friend and incumbent governor, Dapo Abiodun, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from office, he has equally thrown his weight behind the candidacy of the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) candidate, Biyi Otegbeye.

Although an APC Senator representing Ogun Central in the National Assembly, spoke during an interview with BBC Yoruba on Monday. He had earlier told journalists that he was not in support of Abiodun’s administration, saying the governor must vacate his seat at the expiration of his first four-year term. “Just wait, very soon, you will hear where we are going next. Clearly, you know my stand, and my stand is my stand. I am not supporting this administration that is there now. He must be removed,” he enthused at the 50th anniversary of the Abeokuta Club in August.

In October 2021, he spearheaded a parallel state congress at the Ake palace ground, where Chief Derin Adebiyi emerged as state chairman. However, the national headquarters of the party, which had the governor as leader of the party in the state, had its congress at the M.K.O. Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta. The election, which was conducted under the supervision of a seven-man state congress committee led by Chief Wale Ohu, produced Chief Yemi Sanusi as the state chairman of the party.

It is interesting to note that Otegbeye, the new-found bride in Amosun’s camp contested the APC primaries against Abiodun and lost. Abiodun contested the primary election with five other aspirants; Abdulkabir Akinlade, Biyi Otegbeye, Modele Sarafa-Yusuf, Owodunni Opayemi, and Remi Bakare. Abiodun scored 1,168 votes while other aspirants had nil with two voided votes.

About the time Amosun was threatening to “remove” Abiodun from office, Otegbeye ran to court to withdraw his suit seeking the invalidation of the process that produced Abiodun as APC candidate “to pursue his remedy elsewhere”. Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of Federal High Court not only dismissed the suit but awarded a cost against Otegbeye. The denouncement to the ambivalence of Amosun and “elsewhere” theory of Otegbeye crystalized Monday.

Said Amosun said, “For the presidential poll, I can assure you, both right, left and centre, that we are supporting one person (Tinubu). I believe we are supporting one person. On the governorship poll, that’s a different ball game. I don’t belong there. For the governorship, that is different. I don’t hide behind one finger to fight. On the governorship front, my supporters and I don’t belong to that side. I do not support the APC on that side. Biyi Otegbeye is the person I am supporting and ADC is the party.”

Read also: 2023: Abiodun replies Amosun, says predecessor’s outburst empty

Ever pugnacious, Amosun, who did not give details of the reason for his stance, fell out with the governor in 2019, prior to the APC primaries in the state. When Abiodun became the APC candidate that year, Amosun fielded his anointed candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, on the platform of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). It would be recalled that Abiodun defeated Amosun’s anointed candidate, Akinlade with a margin of 19,517 votes. Abiodun polled 241,670 votes to defeat Akinlade who had 222,153 votes. Soon after APM’s defeat Amosun who won his Senatorial election on the platform of the APC was suspended from the ruling party for anti-party activities.

Both Akinlade and Amosun have since parted ways as the once-upon-a-time godson is now in cahoots with and running mate to Oladipupo Adebutu of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, (PDP). But like he did in the 2019 polls, Amosun is backing Otegbeye, who is from Ogun West. He wastes no opportunity to discredit Abiodun and runs parallel APC machinery in the state, along with the support of his APM surrogates, most of whom have jumped ship to join Abiodun.

Unknown to him, his political clout has run out of steam. Political exigencies and fortuitous circumstance have coalesced to make his erstwhile allies to walk quietly back and seek peace with Abiodun. These include 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, as well as Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, who served as Amosun’s deputy in his second term as governor. With them are hundreds of their supporters.

Leading other Amosun’s followers to join the incumbent governor’s re-election team, an erstwhile chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State, Alhaji Tajudeen Lemboye said they had decided to “leave Egypt” and rejoin the mainstream. Similarly, a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs under Amosun, Jide Ojuko, in another reunion ceremony pledged unflinching support for Governor Abiodun’s re-election, 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.”

Filled with messianic sensibilities, Amosun blasphemed when he plays God in Ogun politics. “I am not supporting this administration that is there now. He must be removed”, adding that: “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 this, while speaking during the combined meeting of all the APC members across 16 Wards of Ado-Odo/Ota local Government on Thursday described as unfortunate Amosun’s grandstanding. He said his (Abiodun’s) victory during the 2019 general elections became a success story despite the opposition of his predecessor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun.

He said he wasn’t perturbed of the usual stock-in-trade of the former Governor, but he would rather be focused and look ahead towards a successful reelection. “I watched it on television recently a former Governor saying he would work for the emergence of our presidential candidate, Senator Bola Tinubu, he is definitely going to win the election. But for someone to sit somewhere and say he is going to work for a finished and successful assignment is vain.

“He is a member of our great party and he said that he will not work for the emergence of our party in our state. He is someone that could not even work to become a candidate of the party and he is saying he won’t work for the party during the forthcoming gubernatorial election. Was he even part of those that worked for my emergence during the last election? God will surprise them,” Abiodun fired back rhetorically.

However, ahead of the March election, Abiodun has been using his focused and qualitative governance and provision of enabling environment for a Public-Private Sector Partnership to create enduring economic development and individual prosperity for the people of Ogun State as the bargaining chip.

In terms of his performance, Abiodun is highly rated for his proactive approaches to unemployment and the economy along with improving infrastructure in long-neglected communities across all the nooks and crannies of Ogun State.

It is said that he is more inclusive because he spreads social amenities round the 20 local governments. He has developed no section of the State at the expense of the other unlike his predecessor, who was provincial in service delivery.

No doubt Amosun’s influence has waned drastically since he left office and he is yet to realize that he ceases to be the primus-inter-pares in Ogun State politics the day he swore to truncate the governorship ambition of Abioudun at all cost in the run-up to the last 2019 General Elections. But with time ticking away of the clock towards 2023, the electorate will decide when or not it is time to sing Nunc Dimittis to Amosun’s political career or to celebrate the rising profile of Governor Abiodun. Time will surely tell.

.Alao writes from Ajala-Obafemi in Ogun State