*How Obasanjo hoodwinked the governors in 2003
*The fate that awaits PDP in the zone
*Why Bola Tinubu’s politics may be paying dividends
Occasioned and buoyed on by the recent judgment on the gubernatorial election in Ekiti, a judgment which tossed Segun Oni out of Government House, Ado Ekiti, describing him as an impostor who did not win the election to be governor of the state in 2007 (not to mention the re-run of last year), the rag-tag movement which claims to be the resurgent progressive of Yoruba South West is making an impression.
With the incremental ascendancy of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the immediate past governor of Lagos State, who marches on in the Yoruba South West geo-political zone, the movement, coalescing under the banner of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, is today savouring a sense of de javu. Worse, its main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which made an undisguised capture of five out of the six South West states in 2003, but has now lost two other states in the wake of judicial pronouncements on the 2007 governorship elections, appears to be on an unmitigated self-destruct mission. Like kamikaze pilots, the PDP leaders in Ogun, Oyo and Osun states seem very determined to pour chilled water on one another.
But if it was just to be that, it would have been redeemable. As the 2011 elections draw near, the leaders continue to magnify the spectre of possible disintegration even as the chasm widens. This report looks at each of the states in the South West and attempts to feel the political temperature, particularly against the backdrop of penultimate Friday’s landmark judgment.
To Thy Tent Oh
It was Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, then President and Commander-in-Chief who started it all. He may be about to put a stop to it, albeit, subconsciously.
For a people steeped in proverbial vituperations, the House of Oodua, largely domiciled in the South West area of Nigeria, may be about to experience a rebound and one which would, no doubt, have far-reaching consequences for the entire Nigerian nation.
It was just before the 2003 general elections, a time when Obasanjo as President had become thoroughly embattled. He had many rivers to cross.
First were the rampaging members of the National Assembly who wanted to impeach him.
Then came rumours and stories of rumours about the possibility of his deputy, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, being the main sponsor of the impeachment move. In addition were stories about a particular accord reached between Obasanjo and the Northern establishment that he would be President for just one term and, therefore, verged on a breach of agreement for Obasanjo to seek re-election.
As all these were going on, Obasanjo was plotting secretly to demonstrate to Nigerians that he could fight back by, first, securing his base which is the South West, a base he lost completely at the polls in 1999.
This was ironic. For a President Obasanjo who had the traditional title of Balogun Owu and who doubles as the Ekerin Egba, Obasanjo claimed to be first a Nigerian before even identifying with his Yoruba stock. Therefore, seeking to dominate the South West appeared to be a fresh quest for him.
So, just about three weeks to the 2003 general elections, Obasanjo consummated his plans. In an exclusive interview with former governor of Osun State, Bisi Akande, who is today the National Chairman, Action Congress of Nigeria, CAN, and who was also a victim of Obasanjo’s garrison politics, Sunday Vanguard was told of how Obasanjo conned the then Alliance for Democracy, AD, state governors.
“We went to invite elders like the Awujale of Ijebuland, we went to invite Bishop Gbonigi, we went to invite Bishop Ladigbolu and asked some of our leaders to meet with Obasanjo and we met with Obasanjo again”, Akande said. “We met him in Otta but that time, Obasanjo who said he would not sit down to talk to Papa Abraham Adesanya because he claimed to respect the old man was unfazed this time around. He simply laid down there on his couch, sleeping, and he was no longer going to compromise”.
What led to that encounter was that Obasanjo had some seven months earlier persuaded, pleaded with and cajoled the AD governors in the six South West states not to conduct council elections. If they had, they would have cleared all the council seats in the geo-political zone, leaving Obasanjo’s flanks bare and exposed because those who ensured Obasanjo’s victory in 1999 were at war with him. Obasanjo had his own secret agenda of capturing the states in the zone but could only do so if the council elections were not held in the last quarter of 2002, some six months before the general elections of 2003.
This was to be a season of understandings because the encounter Akande referred to was only three weeks to the 2003 presidential elections and the AD had led its supporters to understand that there was an earlier understanding between Obasanjo and the party. To give vent to this understanding, AD also opted not to field a presidential candidate for that election.
Akande said they presented a shopping list to Obasanjo:
“We demanded for four things:
“Proper handling of the Census;
“Restructuring of the country; and
“Obasanjo agreed in toto. He started using Senator Femi Okunrounmu as witness. He said, ‘Oh! don’t you know I have been working on this? Don’t you know that that is also what I want for this country’?
“He said all the things we were asking for were very simple things; he said those things were his own ideas, too; he said they were simple things to be done. “But deep down in my mind, I knew Obasanjo was deceiving us”.
By dawn, the cock crowed. AD lost Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states to the PDP. Only Lagos State, then governed by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, withstood the onslaught. But because, according to Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State, the “capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil”, there is danger ahead.
Governor Daniel can see that danger and he declares: “We are all endangered species”.
This was a very realistic Daniel speaking just last Thursday to members of the Presidential Campaign Council of Goodluck Jonathan for President in the South West Zone.
Daniel, who appeared very dissatisfied with the way events were unfolding said: “In this room our expectation is that we should tell ourselves the truth and if the truth must be told, in the politics of the South west, we do have challenges. My worry is that when former President Obasanjo was there we could not take Lagos. I do not think we have managed our victory well. The worst disaster is losing Ekiti State. If we are not careful, and God forbid, it could be the end of our party in the South West. The capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil. We are all endangered species. If we think deeply, we will know. We must forget this issue of I want to be Governor, Senator or anything. We must work together, otherwise we will look like jokers, and if we lose it; it will be terrible. In Ogun State, there is no other party. What we have is internal crisis”
Daniel was to drop the ‘T’ name, TINUBU. Tinubu may be considered a Janus by some politicians but the fact can not be denied him that he is holding tight and consolidating on the South West.
“But we will not”, Daniel charged, “concede one inch of space to the rampaging Bola Tinubu machinery. What happened in Ekiti State is a big shame to all of us without exception. What we have in our hand is a major challenge”. Daniel then went ahead to reel out a litany: “In Osun, what I am hearing is scary. If that kind of thing happens, it will be a disaster. I think people here should be able to go back home and tell the Governor some things. We must bury self interest. I was with the former Governor of Ekiti and some members of his exco yesterday and they are feeling bad. They feel unhappy. They feel a sense of abandonment and feel bad that their President even congratulated the new Governor a few hours after the court case; they feel he should have at least waited for 24 hours. But I explained to them that he is the president of all”.
But all these did not happen over night. It was becoming obvious that the PDP would at some point begin to lose in the South West.
In the states taken over by the PDP, apart from the sense of participation with and as the ruling political party at the centre, there is hardly anything concrete or serious to show for the PDP take over of the South West. Indeed, Daniel, who feels very bitter at the turn of events was seen in many quarters as the beacon of hope in his first three years as governor of Ogun State but his second term appears to have been bugged down by intra-party squabbles over sharing of money with some leaders of the party, a thing, Daniel told Sunday Vanguard “I would never do”.
In an earlier interview with Sunday Vanguard, Daniel said the practice in Ogun State before his emergence was such that people were content to just pull wool. He made it clear that his insistence that governance is about delivering on the promises made to the people before making available their mandate is the only way to govern and not to deceive the people.
But in the face of what Daniel himself described as “the rampaging Bola Tinubu machinery”, it would be apt to interrogate the state of affairs in the South West states regarding their preparation for that rampage. In a much earlier interview with Tinubu, the former Lagos State governor made it clear to (Sunday) Vanguard that “governance – and good one at that – is the only weapon the progressives have against the conservatives and that is what we would continue to employ in putting them to shame”. The man who has brought this stark reality home to the PDP in the South West, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, while describing the PDP, told Sunday Vanguard in an interview:
“That thing they call PDP is not a political party. It’s been a business concern, an agglomeration, an election machine. That is what that thing is for. And once elections are over, they turn against themselves, against one another, within the same party and they become the strongest opposition to themselves because for them it is about power that is what unites them and it is not power to do good or for the benefit of the people but power just for its sake. Because they know that the party they belong to is a fraud and in their private moments they will own up to you that no decent human being should be in that party. But right now, that is where Nigeria is and that is why we are where we are. I have a lot of friends in PDP, even some of my colleagues in the academia are in the PDP. But I have always said to them that PDP is a virus much worse than HIV. If you are decent, of reasonable competence, honest and ready to work and serve the people of Nigeria, once you become a member of the PDP, the virus
afflicts and affronts you in a way that you begin to behave in the manner a typical PDP member behaves”.
With the many crises afflicting PDP within its fold, would anybody blame Governor Fayemi for being that caustic?
No! But the man who is now Ekiti State governor after over three and a half years of litigation drove in the nail on the coffin: “We really need to crack PDP in order to have a Nigeria of our dreams”.
He may have taken the first step by cracking the PDP in Ekiti State. In the other states of the South West, the PDP appears to be groping.
You will find in this report, PDP governors who have created crises of many colourations for themselves. Yet, the full import of what is going on in the South West is that with the zones block votes, a PDP presidential candidate would either have to negotiate with the emerging political leader, Tinubu, or risk the consequences of being over-confident.
The reason is simple: The population of the South West in the three orders of Male, Female and the Total – Ekiti 1,212,609 1 ,171,603 2,384,212; Lagos 4,678,020 4 ,335,514 9,013,534, 27; Ogun 1,847,243 1 ,880,855 3,728,098; Ondo 1,761,263 1 ,679,761 3,441,024; Osun 1,740,619 1 ,682,916 3,423,535; Oyo 2,809,840 2 ,781,749 5,591,589 – respectively, the zone stands out as one of the most populous, with Lagos alone, a wholly ACN state with over nine million people and still counting.
But if the examples of Lagos and Edo State where Babatunde Raji Fashola and Adams Aliu Oshiomhole are delivering on good governance is anything to go by, then other states in the South West may follow.
Even former Military head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, could not but attempt to form an alliance with Tinubu but the former’s insistence on certain conditions poured cold water on the negotiations, leading to his decision to join the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC.
Lagos: ACN’s hold on Lagos continues but…
By Dapo Akinrefon
THERE is, no doubt, a gathering storm in the political firmament of Lagos State ahead of the 2011 gubernatorial race. In a bid not to allow a repeat of what happened during the 2007 elections, politicians in the state have already commenced subtle moves with a view to forming alliances.
Already, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has started in earnest in reconciling aggrieved members, in a move observers have described as appropriate, aimed at repositioning the party to win Lagos in 2011. This has even become more imperative in the face of the judgment in favour of ACN in the Ekiti governorship tussle. The godfather of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the incumbent governor, Raji Fashola, are already on a fence mending mission following the resolution of the duo to bury their hatchet.
It is a statement of fact that Lagos has always been controlled by the progressives since the emergence of the 4th Republic, when Tinubu contested election on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, and defeated Dapo Sarumi who was the PDP candidate in 1999. In 2003, the same feat was repeated by Tinubu when he defeated Funso Williams of the PDP, consolidating power – he was the only AD governor in the South West geo-political zone who did not lose. But in 2007, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, used all in its arsenal to attempt to wrest power from the AC; but it did not succeed. Having lost out at the 2007 general elections, the Lagos PDP was rocked by intra-party crisis. The party became polarized down the line with a battle between its governorship candidate at the election, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, and a prominent leader of the party in the state, Chief Olabode George. The degree of politics of bitterness between George and Obanikoro as well as their supporters divided the fold for more than two years.
The Lagos PDP meaningfully participated at the 2003 election in the state when the late Williams polled 700,000 votes as against Tinubu’s 900,000 votes. This was far incomparable to Obanikoro’s paltry score of 300,000 as against Fashola’s 800,000 at the 2007 poll. But the assassination of Williams in July 2006, threw the party into confusion, from which it has not fully recovered till date.
So far, the three major political parties in Lagos are gearing up to field candidates for the 2011 governorship poll. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which portrays itself as the largest political party in Africa, may have some hurdles to cross in its quest to wrest power from the ruling ACN.
So far, five aspirants have indicated interest in flying the party’s flag in 2011 and this they have done purchasing the expression of interest forms which goes for N20,000 after which, they are expected to buy the nomination form for N5 million.
Ade Dosumu, the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA; Owolabi Salis, a United States based lawyer who participated in the 2007 primaries of the PDP but later fell out with the party when he could not achieve his aspirations; Adedeji Aganga-Williams the minister of finance; Tunde Olorogun-Etti, a former local government chairmanship aspirant for Lagos Mainland; Babatunde Olalere-Gbadamosi, from Ikorodu; Musliu Olatunde Obanikoro, the party’s 2007 gubernatorial candidate; and Ademola Seriki, who until recently, was a former Minister for Water Resources, former Minister in charge of Steel, Minister of State, Defence, Minister of State for Interior in the cabinet of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
For all these PDP aspirants, one factor that may work in his favour of Seriki is the fact that many PDP supporters would remember him for doing his best for the party while he was a minister. Though some say he could have done much more, Seriki remains the only very visible PDP politician in Lagos today, apart from elders like Dapo Sarumi and Seye Ogunlewe. But then, Femi Pedro, former deputy to Tinubu, has also thrown his hat in the ring.
Then there is the DPA’s Jimi Agbaje, who emerged governorship candidate of the party at the 2007 election. Agbaje was among the 11 aspirants who initially took their exit from the AC over the alleged imposition of Fashola.
But there is the incumbency factor which is working well for Babatunde Raji Fashola, seen by many as an achiever.
The die is cast for three major political parties, AC, PDP and DPA to slug it out. Nigerians especially Lagosians watch as events unfold and the possibility of new alliances formed to have a firm grip on the soul of Lagos come 2011.
But with ACN’s latest victory in Ekiti, the party’s hold on Lagos becomes tighter.
Oyo: Akala’s many rivers: Will he cross them successfully?
*Even as the opposition remains disunited
By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan
Until 2003 when the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, made sure that it controversially asserted itself in the South West, the zone had always been in the opposition to the centre. The zone had been very vocal and had always criticized the government at the centre.
But, immediately it aligned with the ruling government at the centre during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, things changed and suddenly, the zone became a shadow of itself. The PDP dominated almost all the states in the South West except Lagos especially in the second term of Chief Obasanjo.
But, judiciary as the last hope of the common man, intervened and two states – Ekiti and Ondo – were won by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and Labour Party, LP, respectively. This has no doubt given resurgent hope to the progressives who continuously say conservatives are alien to the zone.
According to the Oyo ACN through its secretary, Mr. Dele Akinleye, the implication of the victory that the party got in the two states was an indication that the PDP never won the states as claimed. He said the victory had vindicated the party which had been insisting that the PDP rigged the election. “They got there through rigging. That is why justice has returned Ekiti and Ondo back to us. It is a common knowledge that the South West belongs to the progressives”.
He did not mince words saying that the alleged temporary and shadowy victory of the PDP was caused by Chief Obasanjo while in office.
To him, the former President did that to prove to the Northern oligarchy that he too had influence in his zone.
“He used his power then as the President both in 2003 and 2007 but this time around, there is no way for them. We are getting all the states one by one. The progressives have won Ekiti and Ondo. And by the grace of God, we will win Ogun and Oyo in the next election”.
As for Oyo, he stated that it would still go back to its original owners – progressives. “PDP should not try to rig the 2011 poll because we will be on ground for them”, he warned.
In the words of Senator Abiola Ajimobi who contested the 2007 election on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, but has now defected to the ACN, the gradual loss of the state by the PDP is an indication that no matter how long falsehood thrives, in a twinkle of an eye, truth would catch up with it.
He stressed that progressives would take over Oyo State and other states in the zone where fairness and justice reign supreme adding that the progressives retrieved all their stolen mandate through court of law in the 2007 election, they would do all they can in the 2011 poll to ensure that power doesn’t go to the wrong people.
“If the progressives take over the states, the era of deception, violence, poverty, rigging and thuggery would be a thing of the past”, he said.
Sola Osotoye, the State Secretary of the All Nigeria People Party, ANPP, said the victory in Ekiti and Ondo should be a thing of joy to all progressives irrespective of party affiliation. “PDP is going. Nobody loves the party in Oyo and the whole of South West. Do you remember what happened when Akin Omoboriowo snatched the peoples’ mandate. They resisted and justice prevailed in the end”, he said.
Also, saying politics in Oyo and the South West has assumed a new dimension, the Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Mr. Ibrahim Taiwo, made it clear that “any pragmatic politician should rejoice at the latest development in the zone and the belief is that it would spread to other parts of the zone”.
In Oyo State , the story may be a little different. Though, there is crack within the ruling party, the opposition seems too weak to withstand the imposing structure of the PDP.
The aggrieved politicians including Senator Rashidi Ladoja, Senator Lekan Balogun, Elder Wole Oyelese, Alhaji Yekini Adeojo and many others who are progressives are hell bent on having a new leadership.
To them, the government of Akala has not done much to warrant a second term ticket and they all seem ready to do all they can, including defecting to another party, to make sure that Akala doesn’t get re-lection.
Akala, on the other hand, having ruled the state for four years has been able to win the favour of teeming supporters who have said he should continue.
First to give a nod to the second term ticket of Governor Akala was the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide. Others in attendance at the event were Chief Dejo Raimi, Kolapo Ishola, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo and many others.
PDP still wields some influence in Oyo State and except the opposition puts up more enlightenment and reduces confrontation on the pages of newspaper, it will not be a surprise if Governor Akala clinches the second term ticket. He has everything at his disposal to win the election. Though surrounded by hordes of critics, he may end up being the governor as there seems to be no opposition in sight except within the party; and might we add, the opposition is not united. And if this could be resolved by the national secretariat of the party, PDP may still rule the state for the next four years.