Ogun: Between a governor and an emperor By Abdul-Yekin Alli
As Nigerians prepare for the epic battle that this week’s governorship elections represent, one state that will be in the spotlight is Ogun State. Political developments in the state are highly interesting because in addition to the amiable governor of the state, Prince Dapo Abiodun, there is a former governor who in deportment and comportment carries on like the lord of the manor, intent on proving his political superiority even in the face of scandalously woeful failures.
Watchers of the Ogun political environment say that Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the immediate past governor of the state, has had enormous trouble shedding the toga of a demigod and emperor. They say that when providence gave him opportunity to be governor, he had the support of notable individuals like ex-Governor Segun Osoba and interest groups. However, shortly after he became governor, he declared his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, persona non-grata in the state. This was in addition to his administration going after the former governor through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). During the eight years Amosun spent in power, his word was law; he was, for all practical purposes, an emperor. Indeed, in 2019, the power he believed he had assumed gave him the impetus to impose a governorship candidate on a weary populace in the bid to consolidate his power and assume godfather status in the state after his tumultuous terms.
But the people had other ideas and, unable to realize his devious ambition in the All Progressives Congress (APC), he reached over to the Allied Progressives Movement (APM) and anointed a candidate, Hon. Abdulkadir Akinlade, as his preferred successor even while retaining his seat as an APC governor. In the advanced climes, this gross desecration of a political platform would have attracted outright dismissal or suspension from the party. Sadly, however, the flamboyant governor carried out his sordid anti-party games with impunity and were it not for providence which charted a different course in the succession battle, he would today be calling the shots as the political numero uno in the Gateway State. The man of power was humiliated in the 2019 governorship election even as a sitting governor, but nothing was going to stop his delusion of grandeur. And so President Muhammdu Buhari came to the state to campaign for his re-election but got pelted with stones along with other dignitaries like Vice President Osinbajo; the then APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and many others.
It was a terrible day and a jolted Buhari had to appeal to the people to vote for him at the presidential election and any other candidate of their choice for the governorship. APM thugs were having a field day and it was apparent that the president was trying hard not to offend the sensibilities of Amosun who had previously given the impression in Abuja that he had unchallenged control over the party machinery and the state’s electorate. It was a criminal show of shame!
But the perfidy did not stop there. Despite his candidate’s electoral loss and his extraordinarily good fortune of being elected Ogun Central senator on the same APC platform he had rubbished in the bid to install a successor, his hatred for the elected governor who had contributed morally and financially to his (Amosun’s) own election as governor did not abate. He made Abiodun his arch enemy, enraged by the fact that all efforts to take charge of Ogun through proxy had failed. Then came sponsored stories and sundry allegations against Prince Abiodun. The Iperu-born prince was called every negative name under the sun, including, most laughably, being an “ex-convict”, but the people’s governor would not be distracted. It is no wonder, then, that he has been able to deliver on his promises in various sectors and enhanced the IGR of the state beyond even the critics’ wildest dream. Today, Ogun is surpassed only by Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital; the FCT, the seat of federal power, and Rivers State, a top oil-producing state. As a matter of fact, the Gateway State is now competing with Lagos in infrastructure development.
Even at that, the senator who cannot help himself uses every opportunity he gets to launch acerbic attacks on the governor. And he has not stopped his games: during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly polls, he reportedly asked people to back the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in Ogun Central. But it was the APC candidate that triumphed most gloriously. In the governorship election coming up on Saturday, the ex-backer of Akinlade is now queuing up behind Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in yet another loser’s game. He retains some boys in the APM while using others to advance the ADC’s doomed cause, and yet he is supporting some PDP candidates, so he alone is associated with four different political platforms (APC, APM, ADC and PDP).
And who really is he in the state that protesters would be calling upon him to remove the sitting governor? Vowing to unseat Abiodun, Amosun undermines the credibility of the royal fathers, the intelligentsia and the industrialists who have endorsed the performing governor for a second term of office, people like the FCMB founder, Otunba Subomi Balogun, and Globacom boss, Mike Adenuga, among many others. On the political front, we have the likes of Osoba, Daniel, Dimeji Bankole and co who are all on the Abiodun train. It is interesting that “protesters” did not visit the residences of these political titans but chose Amosun’s to ventilate their grievances. Conscious efforts were made last weekend to portray Amosun’s foot soldiers as patriotic Ogun youth protesting against Abiodun. But whoever God has made cannot be unmade, and that’s why the endorsement galore keeps increasing for Abiodun even as the people keep wondering who the combative former governor really thinks himself to be!
By May 29, Amosun will cease to be a senator. He will not be an elected representative of the people at any level and will not be the state governor, so why the obsession with dragging Ogun down at this critical period? Observers, analysts and discerning minds have already read between the lines and dismissed Amosun’s anti-Abiodun campaigns; they know, as our elders say, that one’s enemy’s horse is never tall enough. They know that his actions are all due to bile. The emperor is set to meet his waterloo on Saturday.
Alli contributes this piece through firstname.lastname@example.org