In this piece, SULAIMAN FASASI of Abeokuta Bureau traces the development that led to the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Ogun State and how the PDP gave itself no chance
When Governor Ibikunle Amosun took over the reins of power in 2011 in Ogun state, he had his developmental blueprint cut out. And he understood that before any meaningful development could take place in the state, the state must first and foremost be secured.
So while he was determined to fix the infrastructure, he also was determined to tackle security challenges in the state. This perhaps explains why Ogun State was celebrated as the Investment Headquarters of Nigeria with over 50 companies opening shops within the short span of the administration, leaving no one in doubt that the government has put in place favourable and friendly policies thereby creating employment opportunities for the teeming youths in the state.
These and many more had put the newly formed All Progressives Congress, APC in a commanding pedestal of political situation in the state. This is coupled with precarious situation of the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party in the state. Governor Amosun was elated during an inspection of the ongoing projects in Sagamu local government where he declared PDP dead and buried.
The major turnaround in the political scene was when former Governor Ggenga Daniel joined the Labour Party. With Labour Party, the former governor was able to re-lunch himself and prove to the world that his political base was still intact in the state.
This development formed the basis for negotiation to rejoin PDP in October 2014. In fact, the re-union party was such a gathering that threw panic into the spines of the governor and his supporters. Many observers were of the opinion that if PDP could sustain the tempo, then Amosun must be ready for a serious battle in the 2015 elections.
During the PDP re-union party, Daniel was quick to sound a note of warning to the party faithful recalling how internal wrangling cost the party victory in 2011, how many loyalists dumped the party for Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN and need to put itself together for a successful outing in 2015.
But like ‘a dog that was destined to doom which will never hearken the hunter’s wisdom call’, instead of the party to learn from its mistakes, the crisis degenerated to the point that more splinter groups emerged. All other blocs including that of Dimeji Bankole, Daniel, Jubril Martins-Kuye were quick to move for the reconstitution of the State Executive Committee, at least to have a fair share of what was to come.
Buruji Kashamu who was having the control of the party before the return of Daniel wasted no time to further establish his grip on the structure claiming that the executive has a life span backed by a statement of competent court of jurisdiction and that any attempt would be swiftly rejected with a contempt charge.
The party, owing to how it was re-lunched in the state, produced no fewer than 11 governorship aspirants prominent amongst whom were former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole who was backed by Daniel and Martins-Kuye and Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka backed by the State Executive and Kashamu.
Just like many other states of the federation, sensing the likely danger the aspirations were likely to cause, the National Working Committee of the party, gave a directive cancelling the December governorship primaries until issues within the party were resolved. This is after the Kashamu bloc has dictated all the 26 Ogun House of Assembly slots.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was that, the NWC dramatically adopted the same primaries it didn’t authorize.
This alleged injustice and winner-takes-it-all approach did not go down well with many stakeholders of the party. Agitation of the people was simple – putting credible candidates forward for the elections in order to give a good fight.
For Daniel, apart from being pushed to the back seat and marginalizing his followers in the scheme of things, the only way to give Amosun a good challenge was to field a credible candidate from the governor’s stronghold of Ogun Central and that was the main reason for his support for Bankole. This would have successfully divided the votes in the six local governments while the parties scramble for the rest of Ogun East and West.
Kashamu, known for no political experience was of the view that the Ogun West zone has been allegedly marginalized since the creation of the state and that the only way to compensate them was to field a candidate from the area. The zone has only five local governments.
Since the two gladiators could not reach any compromise, the two went on its separate ways each pursuing its different course. At this juncture, Daniel and his followers were only interested in the presidential election and how to return President Goodluck Jonathan without selling the candidacy of Isiaka. About 48 campaign vehicles were purchased and branded leaving out Isiaka’s name and image in the branding while a host of the followers decamped to join Amosun in the APC.
At the end of the election, Amosun secured 40.57% of the total valid votes that returned him with just 11.7% for Isiaka in Ogun Central, in Ogun East, the call was close with 17.2% to 16.8% respectively while Amosun also defeated Isiaka in his base of Ogun West with 15.7% to 12.95% respectively.
With Daniel’s support, Amosun arguably would have won the election but with a very slim margin but the former chose to hands off from anything that had to do with the governorship election in the state. He was particularly accused working against Isiaka’s candidacy.
The result from the former governor’s local government, Sagamu at both presidential and governorship election speaks volume. During the presidential election, Daniel delivered the local government with 17, 263 votes as against 15, 761 of APC but the same local government was won by APC during the governorship election with 18, 491 as against 14, 011 of PDP.
Putting the situation into perspectives, the coordinator of President Jonathan Campaign Organization in the state, Segun Seriki while speaking with Nigerian Pilot said he was between a credible platform represented by the former governor and a controversial platform represented by Kashamu.
According to him, Kashamu rubbished the whole election matters by his choice of candidates adding that the election was lost before the real contest. He opined that PDP would be as good as dead in the state ahead of 2019 if Kashamu continues to control the structure in the state.
He said, “many of them though I was obeying OGD, the trust is that OGD has the widest mass appeal in Ogun State. When I was appointed as the campaign coordinator, I was left between a credible platform represented by OGD and a controversial platform represented by Kashamu but I chose Daniel out of personal conviction.
“Kashamu took over the structure of the party in the state through questionable judicial process and wrote names of candidates. He controls the party structure and imposed unpopular candidate in all the elections in an arbitrary manner even when credible candidates abound.
“He rubbished the whole election matter during the governorship election. I expected someone with self aggrandizement and fielded all the candidate, with this madness of imposing candidate on all of us, he should also thought of funding the election before the madness but he was fighting me because of money, we lost the election before the election.
“If he continues to control the party, the party is as good as dead in 2019; he doesn’t have the capacity to do that. The future is bad especially for the young ones as much as he continues to be in control of the party in the state.”
Meanwhile, the PDP governorship candidate has also voiced his position about the election explaining that the PDP conspired with Amosun against his candidacy adding that he has resolved to challenge the result at the tribunal.
Isiaka, who spoke to journalists in Ado-Ekiti shortly after the meeting of PDP Southwest leaders, hinted that all electoral fraud perpetrated during the said election would be made public soon, alleging conspiracy and complicity between his rival and certain individuals within PDP to undermine electoral process. Although Isiaka declined revealing the alleged conspirators, he asked his followers to look up to the tribunal where he said many things would be revealed.