OPINION

Ogun 2023: How Ladi Adebutu Emerged as the People’s Villain By Austin Oniyokor

I read a piece that was being circulated on some WhatsApp groups by a ghostwriter known as “Johnson Shodunke” entitled “Ogun 2023: How Ladi Adebutu Emerged as the People’s Hero”.

For a moment, I thought the ghostwriter meant to write “Ogun 2023: How Ladi Adebutu Emerged as the People’s Villain”!

Otherwise, what kind of a man lives his life around elections? It has been said that a politician thinks of the next election while a statesman thinks of the next generation. Just the same way “our friend”, Stephen Shodunke told us that he had barely stepped down from the House of Representatives in January 2016 (sic) when he announced plans to contest the governorship election in 2019, the serial governorship hopeful is said to be gearing up for the 2027 election. Typical politician, you would say! However, the puzzle is: how can someone who was in the House of Representatives between 2015 and 2019 be said to have “stepped down” in 2016? Perhaps, the phrase means something else in their lexicon. Or did he mean to write that barely eight months after he emerged as a member of the House of Representatives, he announced his governorship ambition? Whichever way one looks at it, hopping from one election season or cycle to another isn’t how to be a hero. A villain is more like it!

How can a man whose governorship ambition has consistently hit the rocks in the court of the people and the court of law be termed a “hero”? If he is a “hero” for losing his governorship quest back to back, then what would he have been if he had won?

We were all living witnesses to how he was dusted and defeated by the late Senator Buruji Kashamu in 2019. He was so pained that he went public, threw caution to the wind, and rained curses on the great philanthropist and members of his family as if the family members were the architects of his misfortune. What kind of a hero is that? A villain is more fitting!

The loss of the PDP in 2019 at the national level had more to do with the level of insecurity in the land which was exacerbated by the kidnap of the Chibok girls and the insistence of the then President to seek re-election despite the agitation for power shift. It had nothing to do with the issues in Ogun state PDP.

“Our friend,” Stephen Shodunke said Ladi Adebutu “discharged” the PDP in Ogun State “from the prostrate form…” without giving specifics or details of what he did. That’s a pointer to the fact that Ladi Adebutu did not do anything in concrete terms for the party. All he did, if any, was in furtherance of his ambition! He then cheekily submitted that “From nowhere, PDP became the prized orphan that is (sic) about to be adopted by a foster parent, led (sic) by Jimi Lawal.”

From the incoherence and the illogicality of his submissions, it was clear that the ghostwriter was either bereft of recent history or deliberately chose to distort or rewrite it altogether.

In 2011, Ladi Adebutu left the PDP for PPN. When he saw that he couldn’t achieve his ambition on that platform, he ran back to PDP. Between 2012 and early 2014, he was in the Labour Party (LP) where he labored without anything to show for it politically. As the 2015 general election was approaching, he returned to the PDP on which platform he went to the House of Representatives between 2015 and 2019. Upon losing the PDP governorship ticket to the late Distinguished Senator Buruji Kashamu in 2019, he left again to pitch his tent with the Allied People’s Movement (APM). So, at what point was he there for the party, if not for himself and himself alone? Granted, he may have given some handouts which have since ceased.

A political party worth the name should be open to people. At no point should anyone see it as an external of his family’s estate. In case Stephen Shodunke (assuming he exists) doesn’t know, Chief Jimi Lawal was invited by stakeholders within the PDP to come and save them from the suffocating grip of Ladi Adebutu. They couldn’t understand why an aspirant would constitute himself into the party, its leader, and the electoral college, determining who gets what even in their wards, LGAs, Constituencies, and Senatorial Districts.

That was why Lawal’s entry into the race caught on like wildfire that almost consumed Adebutu. Twelve (12) of the 20 Party Chairmen in the 20 LGAs that make up Ogun state aligned with JAL and delivered their delegates to him.

Again, it was not true that “all relevant documents approved of the formal adoptions by Adebutu” (whatever that means). That was why Adebutu’s lawyers employed every trick in their legal books to ensure that the pre-election suit instituted by Lawal was not heard and determined on merit.

They knew Lawal had the majority of the authentic delegates monitored and certified by INEC since May 2022 whereas they later bamboozled some elements at INEC to endorse what they submitted to the umpire with Iyorchia Ayu’s collusion in October 2022 – five whole months after the authentic delegates list had been out!

By the time the case got to the Supreme Court, the same lawyers who frustrated the hearing of the substance of the case were the ones who pointed out to the court that the judgment being appealed against was delivered outside the 180 days prescribed by the Electoral Act 2022!

Hon. Adebutu told the whole world when he visited one of his associates in Abeokuta shortly before the election that the “judicial victories” did not come cheap. Your guess is as good as mine!

It was this heavily tainted, nay stolen mandate that Adebutu took to the polls on the 18th of March, 2023. And the outcome was predictable. The election in Ogun state was won for the APC by the PDP because of the intolerant attitude and vaunting ambition of a man who thinks there is nothing money cannot do. Now, he knows better. How then can such a man be described as the “People’s Hero”? No, he is the People’s Villain!

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