By Bolanile Daniels
A few months before party primaries took place towards the end of 2018, it could be safe to wager that the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State would be a straight battle between the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) and the biggest opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
From 2011 to 2018, APC had remained the dominant party in the state while PDP, which had become a shadow of itself due to protracted internal crisis, retained its position as the main opposition party.
But the crises that followed the primaries in both APC and PDP have now produced some deft political moves across the state, leading to a reconfiguration of the political space.
While PDP is battling with the factionalisation that has seen Mr. Ladi Adebutu and Senator Buruji Kashamu continue to lay claim to the party’s ticket, it is the APC crisis that has had a far more impact on the state’s political tempo and colouration as the 2019 elections approach.
The APC crisis began when the Ogun State APC chapter, firmly under the control of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, organised its internal affairs to select candidates for the forthcoming elections through ‘consensus’. This process produced Hon. Adekunle Akinlade as the party’s governorship candidate. However, the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) ordered that the candidates must be selected through Direct Primary, thereby refusing to ratify the emergence of Akinlade and the other candidates produced by the process as dictated by the state chapter.
According to the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, the Amosun camp then failed to participate in the subsequent primaries that the panel set up by NWC conducted. This APC NWC panel’s primaries produced Dapo Abiodun as the party’s governorship candidate.
Akinlade, who had emerged from the initial primary allegedly conducted by the state APC, later decamped to the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) together with a large chunk of the APC structure as well as Amosun’s undisguised backing.
Ever since then, happenings across the three senatorial zones of Ogun State show that APC has continued to hemorrhage. As things stand with the party in the state, the Amosun camp controls all party structure in Ogun Central and Ogun West. The decamping of a huge majority of Amosun’s foot soldiers and political associates to APM and the continued disagreement between the remnants of the camp who still stay back in APC and the party’s national executive, therefore cannot but tell in a yet-to-be-defined manner on the fortunes of the party.
APC’s Loss, APM’s Gain?
The crisis within APC in the state has greatly dimmed its chances of outrightly winning the forthcoming governorship election, as feelers show that some members may likely defect to other parties close to the election.
Those who would not have courage to defect would remain in the party possibly to cast protest votes from within. And this is plausible since the governorship election would hold after the presidential election. The overriding political feeling among APC members in Ogun today is that the re-election of the President Muhammadu Buhari is a unifying project and, once it is achieved, everybody could then vote his conscience in the governorship and state assembly elections. Unless a major change happens, it is difficult to predict that majority of APC members, especially in Ogun Central and Ogun West, would work for the party’s victory in the governorship election given the suppressed bitterness occasioned by perceived sense of injustice and high handedness of the NWC they see in the process that produced Dapo Abiodun as governorship candidate.
With Amosun’s popularity, especially among the Egba in Ogun Central, his ability to trounce other political parties, including his own APC, to control and deliver huge votes from the zone for his preferred candidate that is carrying the APM flag is definitely not in doubt.
On the other hand, the Yewa people, who dominate Ogun West, have expressed great enthusiasm at the possibility of having their son occupy the Ogun Government House for the first time in the history of the state.
Ogun West is dominated by the Yewa with Ogun East largely inhabited by the Ijebu and Ogun Central by the Egba. Out of the three districts, only Ogun West is yet to produce a governor to date.
Will the Yewa therefore be expected to vote for an Ijebu man from Ogun East in the person of either Dapo Abiodun of APC or Ladi Adebutu of PDP, thereby depriving themselves the golden chance of possibly winning the governorship seat for the first time?
The votes from Ogun West, presumably, would be overwhelmingly shared between Akinlade of APM and Gboyega Isiaka of ADC. Both are Yewa indigenes. However, Akinlade has proved to be more accepted by the masses, given his appropriation of the well-oiled Amosun grassroots machinery and his highly successful door-to-door campaign across the zone.
Also worthy of note is the fact that a growing number of Yewa frontline opinion moulders and leaders, including monarchs and even the usually politically neutral Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, have declared their support for Akinlade as their preferred candidate. Major economic and socio-political blocs in the zone have also done same.
Therefore, as of today, in two of the three senatorial zones in the state – Ogun Central and Ogun West – Akinlade and APM appear to have been gifted good electoral fortunes by the continuing APC crisis.
Whither, Ogun East?
To further make the scenario more interesting, Ogun State APC members have, in muted protests, often described Dapo Abiodun as a candidate that was allegedly foisted on the party. And the general feeling in Ogun East is that he is not from the ‘core’ Ijebu while leading political influencers from the Senatorial zone within and outside APC would prefer a ‘core’ Ijebu indigene to be the next governor.
Abiodun is a Remo indigene from Iperu, the same town Adebutu comes from in Ogun East…
From all indications, Adebutu is not going to work for Abiodun just as it sounds out of place to expect Buruji Kashamu or Otunba Gbenga Daniel to work for the APC man to secure Ogun East votes. With Ogun East, it is clear that just before the elections, both the Kashamu and Adebutu camps of the PDP would close ranks and work together. As a result, Adebutu, backed by a combination of the OGD, Buruji Kashamu and the Adebutu Kensington political might in the Ogun East would naturally get more of the votes with Abiodun and Akinlade sharing the rest.
Although in politics, nothing is really over until it is actually over and permutations may change in less than 24 hours to an election, the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State may likely throw up a shock. Looking at the big picture, it appears it is Akinlade, the candidate of the dark horse APM party, that holds the ace for now.