YINKA OLUKOYA writes on the forces that came into play before and during the governorship election in which Prince Dapo Abiodun emerged as the governor-elect of Ogun State.
The governorship election held in Ogun State, penultimate Saturday, was indeed another watershed in the political history of the state. Before March 9, the day of the election, there was no doubt that nobody could easily predict the winner and eventual successor of the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. The hazy situation was due to the unpredictable developments across the state in the build up to the governorship poll in the state.
Permutations on which political party or candidate for the governorship seat would carry the day had left some political pundits puzzled, considering the level of preparations and acceptability of each of the political parties and its candidate before the election.
The political situation in the state was tensed few weeks before the election due to the high level of rigorous and massive campaigns embarked upon by the political parties and their candidates, especially the three leading political parties in the state namely, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Allied People’s Movement (APM). The situation was further heightened by the various alliances and coalitions formed by the political gladiators, few days to the election and which, indeed, changed the political dynamics and permutations in the course of the election and also altered its outcome.
It is not news that the APM and its candidate, Honourable Adekunle Akinlade, enjoyed the support of the outgoing Governor Amosun, of the APC. The governor defied party ethics and loyalty as he defiantly resolved to install his preferred candidate as his successor. Amosun, who won his election back into the Senate to represent Ogun Central Senatorial District and who will be completing his two term of eight years in office as the fourth democratically-elected governor of Ogun, did not hide his interest in ensuring Akinlade’s victory at the March 9 election.
The brainchild of Governor Amosun, the APM, became an instant household name within the shortest period of time of its birth and almost immediately after it joined the political league in the state. Those who became disgruntled or embittered as a result of the APC party primaries held in the state in 2018 for the governorship, National Assembly and state House of Assembly ticket dumped the party and headed for the APM on which platform they had hoped to achieve their ambition.
Amosun had, at different for a, vowed to hand over the mantle of leadership of the state to Akinlade on May 29. However, this was not to be as his calculations failed and he would, instead, be handing over the baton to Dapo Abiodun of the APC who won the hotly contested governorship election in the state. As against the governor’s wish, the determination and strong will of the national leader of the party in the state, former Governor Olusegun Osoba, coupled with the effort of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, contributed to the victory of APC at the poll.
Prior to the governorship election, various moves were made by the APM to woo and win the who-is- who in the state politics to its side. One of such major political alliance was between APM and Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Adebutu was recognised by the leadership of PDP as its candidate for the election, while Prince Buruji Kashamu was duly recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s candidate for the same election, based on a court judgment
There was a legal battle between Adebutu and Kashamu, which finally went in favour of the latter. The judgment was delivered less than 72-hours to the governorship election. With this development, the APM and its candidate, Akinlade, swung into action and sought for the support of Adebutu who, no doubt, has strong political footings in the state.
Prior to this development, it was gathered that Governor Amosun had been having meetings with Adebutu, to work with him to achieve his desire to have Akinlade as his successor. This effort came to fruition less than 48-hours to the election, when Adebutu announced his support for Akinlade of APM and also directed his supporters to follow suit. This open endorsement by Adebutu further boosted the chances of the APM candidate.
APC and its candidate too did not relent in the task to ensure the party’s victory. The party equally got a big endorsement from a former governor of the state, Chief Gbenga Daniel. The former governor is a force to reckon with as far as Ogun politics is concerned and his message to his followers was considered to have changed the game.
The last-minute open endorsement of Dapo Abiodun by Gbenga Daniel sent a shock wave across the entire state and outside its borders. Until when he openly declared his support for the APC candidate, Gbenga Daniel was the Director General of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Committee. So, the step taken by him became quite shocking as many people were of the view that he ought to have remained in the party until the determination of the suit filed by the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging the outcome of the February 23 presidential election in which President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC emerged winner.
Also, not left behind in the defection race, two senatorial candidates, Honourable Titi Oseni-Gomez and Mr Deji Ashiru, both of the Action Democratic Congress (ADC), defected to APC, hours after losing their bid. This move was also another icing on the cake for the ruling party in the race towards the governorship election.
The people of the state went into the election and voted Abiodun, Adebutu’s kinsman, having defeated his close rival, Akinlade, with less than 20,000 votes. The election was too close to call.
With these alignments, the state might be shifting towards becoming a one-party state as major political actors are moving into APC. An indication to this effect came to fore last Sunday when a vast majority of Daniel’s supporters reportedly asked him to lead them to APC. They claimed to have worked for Abiodun’s victory, having listened to the voice of their leader.
As things have turned out, the entire process leading to the election was a political drama which would forever be on the minds of the people of the state. The election itself was one out of many as far as the state is concerned.