The emergence of Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the gubernatorial flag bearer of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in 2011 predicted trouble for the status quo. It didn’t take long for it to burst.
BY DAUD OLATUNJI
The simmering crisis in the Ogun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC had been predicted after the controversial entry of Senator Ibikunle Amosun into the fold of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria and his eventual emergence as the party candidate prior to the 2011 general election in the state.
His announcement as gubernatorial flag bearer in 2011 was followed by violence as supporters of aggrieved governorship aspirants in the party threw caution to the wind as they damaged furniture and fittings at the party secretariat located along Abiola Way in Abeokuta that day.
Before Amosun’s entry into the defunct ACN, many aspirants had jostled for the governorship ticket, among whom were Remilekun Bakr, Lekan Tejuosho, Gbenga Obadara.
However, political exigency projected Amosun above them all. His unique selling points were his capacity for grassroots mobilization and his intimidating structure on ground.
However, despite these advantages, he was faced with the looming fatherly figure of the former governor of the state and leader of the party in the state, Aremo Segun Osoba.
Amosun, formerly of the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP went with a large chunk of that party into the ACN.
However, no matter what he came along with, he was rewarded with only the gubernatorial ticket and his associates, many of whom had aspiration to the National Assembly and the State House of Assembly were denied.
It was a wound that touched Amosun and which time has refused to heal.
The first troubles: The first sign of trouble was the choice of a running mate. Whereas Amosun was alleged to have desired a female as a running mate, and reportedly desired the wife of the late politician, Dipo Dina, but the party declined and presented him with Prince Segun Adesegun.
He allegedly swallowed his pride but not without a little protest thereafter, when he objected to the party’s refusal to grant slots to the majority of his followers who came along with him from the ANPP. At one point Amosun reportedly decided to quit ACN and move to the the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) but he was allegedly prevailed upon by former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Consequently, Amosun then retraced his steps, accepted the number of candidates given to him by the party.
Fortunately for Amosun, the ACN swept the polls in the state and he was subsequently sworn in as the governor of Ogun State on May 29, 2011.
It was thus not surprising that the governor who rode to office under the banner of the ACN started having series of battles with the leadership of the party that took him to power few months after he was inaugurated.
The first point of real trouble was in the State House of Assembly, where all ACN members were aligned to the party structure.
Agents of the governor were alleged to have helped in creating a division in the unanimity in the ACN caucus and also drawn the six opposition members to the governor’s camp to create a comfort zone for him.
How it began: In the 26- man House of Assembly in the state, the defucnt ACN had 17 members, the PDP six members and PPN three members .
Out of the 17 ACN members, only one was originally from the Amosun group, while the others belonged to the party mainstream.
But in the lobby and scheming for who controls the leadership and structure of the House of Assembly, Amosun decimated the ACN mainstream and reportedly lured over, the six PDP and three PPN members, and thus was able to stop the ACN elders’ choice of Adijat Oladapo-Adeleye as deputy speaker and instead, put his man, Tola Banjo in that office.
The APC in Ogun State is now split into two with one tendency known as the SIA group, an acronym of Senator Ibikunle Amosun and the original ACN members most of whom are loyal to the respected party leader, Osoba.
Crisis almost came to a head during the revalidation exercise for party members, held in Abeokuta.
The crisis began when members of the SIA group allegedly insisted on registering first, thus breaching the order with which the membership register should follow that should have seen older members who were already on the list, registering first.
The recent troubles: At the centre of recent troubles in the party is positioning by elected office holders for the APC ticket in 2015. National and state legislators not belonging to the SIA group are apprehensive that they could be shortchanged for the 2015 party ticket.
Governor Amosun has himself expressed dissatisfaction with the ambivalent attitude of the old guard towards his administration as he this week accused them of doing everything to put a distance to his administration.
The only exceptions are Senator Adegbenga Kaka representing Ogun East and Adekunle Adeyemi a member of House of Representatives from Ifo/Ewekoro.
To show their grievance against the governor, the National Assembly members stayed away from the recent launch of the APC, leaving Amosun to dance alone at the unveiling of the party in the state.
Many party elders including the state leader of the party, Osoba were also absent at the launch. Less than 24 hours after the event, the speculation that Amosun might have been dumped by the party played itself out as the posters of the former managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Fola Adeola, who is believed to be inclined to the old guard, flooded major streets in Abeokuta.
A normally reliable source confided in Vanguard that Adeola remains a trump card the old guard could throw up. According to the source, Adeola is an Egba man, a Muslim and a technocrat who is sellable for the plum job.
With that threat has also come suggestions that Amosun is himself considering dumping the APC for either the Accord Party or All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA should the current troubles continue.
The recent endorsement of Amosun for second term and the counter reaction by the other group has shown that Amosun and his political party are on collision course on many issues and things are already falling apart between the governor and the party.
The violent attack at the party secretariat at Ewekoro where about ten members of the party almost lost their lives when some political thugs invaded the function further manifested the crisis in the party.
It was a crisis that was long ago predicted, only that no one then could have predicted the scope of the troubles.