The outburst of the maverick politician and National Leader of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) , Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu last June, has altered the narrative of politics in the country and in particular in the APC.
The occasion was Tinubu's pally, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital to seek the support of the state APC delegates for his presidential ambition during the build up to the presidential primary election of the party.
Hitherto, it was believed that President Muhammadu Buhari and the supposed cabal in the Aso villa had a preferred presidential candidate which would be forced on the party and consequently on Nigerians at the next general polls.
Nevertheless, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, against all political moves and manipulations, emerged the ruling party’s presidential candidate at the June 8 2022 keenly contested primary election at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
During the Abeokuta pally, Tinubu introduced two new diction into the Nigeria politics, "Emi lo kan" (it is my turn) and O lule (he failed) which since then have become what could be described as clichés for all aspirants across all political divides in the next general election.
It is understood now that while candidates on the opposition sing "Emi lo kan and O lu'le", the candidates in the ruling party’s slogan is "O lu'le ti" (he will not fail).
Interestingly, what played out at the venue of the APC Presidential Primary election was against the expectations of political pundits. All major political factors in the Southwest who had at one time or the other benefitted from Tinubu’s benevolence and believed to be against his presidential bid withdrew their aspiration and supported Asiwaju’s candidacy at that crucial moment.
One of such men was the immediate past governor of the Ogun State and Senator representing Ogun Central, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA). He was one of those believed to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s backed candidates at the presidential primary.
Others who stepped down their presidential ambition allegedly in the overall interest of the Southwest and solidarity to Asiwaju Tinubu were governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) , Dr. Kayode Fayemi and former Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole among other notable politicians and presidential aspirants.
Whatever transpired at the APC presidential primary may have been confined into the annals of history, but the roles played by individuals either in support or against candidates at the event will continue to hunt them and even work against them as we inch towards the next general election.
Nigeria is less than seven months to the next election, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC), timetable.
Earlier, the governorship and state House of Assembly primaries held at the state level, across all the eighteen INEC recognized political parties in Nigeria. At least, thirteen of those political parties have candidates for elective posts in the gateway state.
According to the list as published and pasted at INEC Ogun State office, Magbon, the political parties and their governorship candidates are:
All Progressives Congress (APC) ------------ Abiodun Adedapo Oluseun
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ------------ Adebutu Oladipupo Olatunji
Social Democratic Party (SDP) --------------- Ojeshina Anthony Olatunji
African Democratic Congress (ADC) ------- Adelanwa Mayemilola Michael
Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) ---------- Okusanya Adedeji Samson
African Action Congress (AAC) -------------- Harrison Adeyemi
Action Peoples Party (APP) ------------------ Falana Olufemi Omoshile
Action Democratic Party (ADP) ------------ Sokunbi Kazeem Olanrewaju
Accord (A -------------- Adebisi Oyewale Ganiyu
Allied Peoples Movement (APM) --------- JolaOluwa Olutosin
New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) ----- Kassim Jackie Adunni
National Rescue Movement (NRM) ------ Ogunrombi Tofunmi Oludayo
Action Alliance (AA) ---------------- Iskil Ogunyomi Safiat
The list, as seen here, is subject to adjustments and final ratification by the national secretariats of each political parties before the September deadline as scheduled by the electoral commission.
As expected, the grievances generated by the party primaries are yet to abate. No political party in the gateway state can claim to have absolutely overcome the challenges of the last primary elections. What obtains now in all the political parties is akin to the peace of the graveyard. While the victors cannot celebrate their success at the primaries, the aggrieved are either in courts to challenge the conduct of the primaries or waiting patiently to strike back with a view to hampering their parties’ candidates’ success at the next elections. It is a waiting game, only to be decided by time.
Not much dust was raised in other political parties like in the APC and PDP in the state as a result of the just concluded primary elections. In the PDP, Mr. Jimi Lawal, on one hand, who contested the governorship primary with Hon. Adebutu Oladipupo at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta official venue of the election is contesting the authenticity of the delegates’ list used for the primaries. On the other hand, Hon. Segun Sowunmi, another PDP governorship aspirant who held his factional governorship primary at the historic Iwe Iroyin, Oke Ilewo, Abeokuta, is also claiming to have won the party's primary
However, until the courts decide otherwise, the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state remains Hon. Adebutu Oladipupo. Until recently, not much of political activities was heard from the camp of ex-governor Amosun, especially after he stepped down as a presidential candidate of the APC. However, SIA, at a luncheon and award presentation by the Abeokuta Club, stirred the hornets’ nest. The senator reportedly reminded those in attendance at the event that his sponsored governorship candidate and the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) won the last governorship election “convincingly”, but was allegedly rigged out to favour the incumbent governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, PDA. Amosun who claimed that those who rigged PDA into power in the last governorship election had apologized to him and he had forgiven them, was emphatical in his resolve to ensure the Iperu born seating governor did not make second tenure to the Oke Mosan Governor’s Office in 2023. Interesting, too, a past civilian governor of the state, a chieftain of the APC and incidentally, one of the party bigwigs that supported PDA at the last governorship election, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, was also at the event where Amosun reportedly vowed to stop Abiodun’s second term bid. How the Owu-born senator intends to achieve this political task set for himself remains a mystery. Even political pundits are confused on how the ex-governor would achieve this proposed political feat. Already, half, if not more than that of his foot soldiers have left him to either PDA’s camp or Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate’s camp (LADO). Political pundits blamed that development on SIA’s latest political strategy of holding the cards too close to his chest, all in the name of political secrecy and not to allow the opposition camps know his next line of action. This got many of the senator’s followers confused and left with no other options than taking some decisions on their own. Except some miracles happen, it is unlikely that SIA will have a say on who becomes what in the next general elections in Ogun State.
Still, a school of thought which believes recent happenings in politics, especially at the just concluded stand alone or staggered governorship election in Osun State was not an expected outcome, is of the opinion that SIA may still spring surprises as he has more time to prepare his camp for the next polls compared to the time he floated the APM in 2019. Feelers from the ex-governor’s camp revealed the likelihood of an APM governorship candidate, again from the Yewa zone, Ogun West Senatorial District with a deputy governorship candidate from the Ijebu zone, Ogun East Senatorial District like in the last election. This appears a good political calculation for SIA who has been there before and have working understanding of how things run in politics. The intent of Amosun is to divide the votes in the Ogun East which is the strong hold of the incumbent governor, PDA who already has a formidable rivalry in the PDP’s governorship candidate, Adebutu. Again, it is believed that SIA has begun talks with leaders of thought in the Ogun West Senatorial District on why the zone should not bungle the rare chance of one of their sons becoming governor of the state, by not repeating the mistakes of the last governorship poll. The Ogun Central is believed to be in the kitty of the Owu-born senator owing to the infrastructural development and facelift given to Abeokuta, the state capital during his tenure as governor. Nevertheless, all these are permutations which may not tally with the reality. Again, time will settle this, too.
Moreover, the Oxford Learners’ Dictionary defined syndrome as a recognizable pattern of signs, symptoms, and or behaviours. Research shows that syndrome has a way of spreading, uncontrollably once it found a way into any society. In 2019, the Kwara APC came up with “O to gee”(enough is enough) to dislodge the PDP administration and truncate the dominance of the Saraki dynasty in Kwara politics. When Tinubu introduced O lu'le, it was never intended to affect the political fortune of the outgoing governor of the state of virtue (Ipinle Omoluwabi) , Osun, Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola who lost his second term bid to Senator Ademola Adeleke of the PDP. O lu'le means he failed. And no one prays to fail in his or her endeavours, however, it happens still. And there is a second version or opposite of “O lu'le” which is “O lu'le ti” which has been invented by loyalists of any incumbent elective position holders, be it governor, senator, or honourables at the National Assembly or the state House of Assembly in solidarity for their continuity in office. Nevertheless, those two clichés will dominate political campaign space in the electioneering period of the next poll. They will work in favour and against candidates alike. Politics, today, as reflected in the Osun governorship poll, has shown that power of incumbency may not yield positive results for whoever relies on it. The decision lies with the electorate, who are now kings and queens. With the new technology of voter accreditation invented by the INEC, politicians can no longer rig elections. And where violence is reported, results of such polling unit will be cancelled. That was what affected the outgoing governor of Osun State. He was not removed for non-performance, delay in payment of workers’ salaries or found wanting in the performance of his statutory responsibilities as a governor. Nay. But his “arrogance” and elitist style of administration which had unconsciously made him unpopular with the Osun electorate before the election. A close examination and comparison of the political scenario in Osun, before the last governorship election, with what obtains in the gateway state as we approach the next general election shows no difference. A seating “one-term” governor engaged his predecessor who had served the statutory two terms in office in a battle of supremacy and the predecessor vowed to stop the incumbent’s second coming as governor. The governor and his handlers thought it was the ranting of an ant. Today, we are all living witness to the consequences of treating threats with levity.
What happened in the last staggered governorship election in Osun may replicate in Ogun State, in the next elections if the ruling party does not move to reconcile the incumbent governor and his predecessor. If the APC in Ogun thinks what former helmsman, Amosun, said recently was an empty threat, the party may end up regretting after the next elections. Those who know said a meeting, recently, in Lagos at the instance of the APC Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and some leaders of the party in the Southwest, including a former National Chairman of the ruling party and former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande and Aremo Olusegun Osoba among other chieftains, failed to reconcile the duo. It was learnt that PDA bluntly refused to accept a proposal to divide the elective positions between him and the camp of his predecessor in office, SIA. It was further revealed that Chief Akande reportedly expressed disappointment at the lack of political party supremacy and the arrangement which gave governors powers to decide the fate of the party in their states. It is believed that Amosun’s recent outburst may have been a direct reaction to what transpired at the Lagos meeting. As things stand now, the renewed rivalry between SIA and PDA should be an issue of concern to the APC and all major political stakeholders in the state.
When a house is divided against itself, an intruder waits patiently for a perfect time to attack such house. Regrettably, the consequences may not be favourable to all the occupants of the house. Now, the PDP in Ogun which hitherto has been weathering turbulent political storm appears to have overcome the challenges and is more formidable and battle ready for the next general elections in the state. If the APC’s house is not put in order ahead of the electioneering, those singing “O lu'le ti” (he will not fail) for the seating governor, PDA may be aiding him into a journey of political oblivion prematurely. This is because political pundits believe PDA is not better than the outgoing governor of Osun in performance, the latter was adjudged far better. Still, O lu'le.
At this juncture, instead of attacking SIA individually and in cluster groups of PDA supporters in APC Ogun, collective efforts should be geared towards mending the broken political fence between the two warring camps. The two principals have to be told some hard truths. Truly, everyone in politics has to protect his interest. But where the personal interest clashes with the overall interest of the majority and the wellbeing of the society, the need to reappraise ones stand and stance on the issues becomes imperative. Here, we are talking of the peaceful political progression and development of Ogun State which overrides individual interest no matter how highly placed.
Interestingly, politicians on this side of the clime are not good students of history. They do not learn from the past to plan for the future. Are we not where we are now in the state as a result of what happened, especially in the APC? Watchers of political trend in the state are of the opinion that a repeat of the OTEDOLA scenario which played out as a result of irreconcilable political rifts in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), in Lagos State during the governorship primary in the early 90s. Sir Michael Otedola of the National Republican Convention (NRC) who was thought to be unpopular at that election returned elected as the governor. It was everybody’s loss because all the major stakeholders failed to do the needful. Should the Ogun APC and the national secretariat of the ruling party wait until “had I known”?
Coming to the local, the PDA administration has suddenly woken from slumber. It was surprising that the public water supply which has become history in the state under the present administration, especially in Abeokuta, the state capital started running. Again, the Prince Dapo Abiodun’s government which promised to make all roads in the state smooth through his “zero tolerance for potholes” has been jolted into action probably by what happened in Osun. Many roads in Abeokuta and I believe in other major towns in the state are now being patched to make them smoother. Nevertheless, as it is characteristic of politicians, the governor said his recent efforts to deliver dividend of democracy to the electorate was borne out of genuine concern to make life meaningful for them and not for the gains of the next election. PDA did not stop there, he went to the Sango-Ota axis of the Lagos/Abeokuta expressway where he threatened to take over the rehabilitation of the road, if the Federal Government fails to mobilize contractors to the site in two weeks. Let the governor be reminded that there are more roads begging for his administration’s attention in terms of completion or rehabilitation to boost the economy of the concerned areas and ease transportation challenges for the residents. It is desirable for the electorate in the state to pray for the sustenance of this renewed political will of the governor in order for him to spread the dividend of democracy evenly to the three senatorial districts in the remaining part of his first tenure in office.
The governor is now seen more in public than in the last three years he has been in office, taking pictures with everyone, even civil servants at the State Secretariat, Oke Mosan. Political pundits doubt if this new political strategy will help him retain his seat in the next poll. One of the major issues the governor or his administration is battling with is the issue of the arrears of pensions to retirees in the state. In one of his interviews when he assumed office, Governor Abiodun assured workers and pensioners of a robust working relationship under his government which he promised would prioritize their welfare.
According to him, his father who was a retired teacher advised him to tow that wise path. Even now that Baba is late, PDA should do everything to honour the dead. Instead of meeting with those retirees regularly and make them see reason with his government, he has chosen to pass the blames to his predecessors in office, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) and Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA). If after three years in office, the governor is yet to come to terms with the fact that government is a continuum, is it not a matter of “thought swallows answer”?
In conclusion, as we approach the electioneering period, precisely by September 28, political campaigns will begin according to the INEC’s timetable for the 2023 general elections, all aspirants should wake up to the reality that voting pattern in the next poll may not be business as usual. If the incumbent is popular with the electorate, the result will be “O lu'le ti”. However, if any of the aspirants in the opposition is able to have more electorate on his side, such aspirant will be singing “Emi lo kan” at the end of the polls approximately about seven months from now. No politician should be deceived by the various endorsements by students’ unions, traditional rulers or trade associations. Only those who have the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) will decide your fate at the polls, not Baba so pe. If they failed in Osun, they can fail anywhere in Nigeria of today!.