The verdict of the Ogun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which recently ruled in favour of Prince Dapo Abiodun as duly elected Governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC) is bound to change the political narratives and permutations in the gateway state.
It would be recalled that the three-member tribunal, led by Justice Hamidu Kunaza, in the verdict that lasted more than 11 hours unanimously dismissed all the prayers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu.
On the one hand, the verdict solidified the March 18, 2023 election victory of Prince Abiodun and upheld his position as the legitimate governor of Ogun State by reaffirming his mandate as the people’s choice and further strengthening his acceptability as the number one citizen in the state. It also gives the governor and his administration a renewed sense of legitimacy and credibility.
It is obvious that the governor’s victory was a rude shock to the opposition, who was under the illusion that the cash rolling around would translate to victory for their candidate.
This was much more reflected in the fanfare and reveries in their camp on the eve of the ruling. But, as the tribunal’s verdict was being unveiled, the truth hit very hard; the opposition, who had thronged the premises of the Isabo Magistrates’ Court in large number in a carnival-like atmosphere could not stand the outcome and started the exodus of exiting the venue one after the other.
Surely, the victory is a reflection of the mood of the state. It is also the confirmation of the dominance of progressive politics in the state since 1999, which has seen Aremo Olusegun Osoba, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and now Prince Abiodun as the state’s helmsman.
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, a former US President after the failed attempt to invade Cuba in 1961; failure is an orphan, while victory has many fathers.
Apparently sensing the new beginning in the politics of the state and prior to the ruling by the tribunal, thousands of loyalists of former governor Amosun, led by Chief Derin Adebiyi jumped the boat to formally align with the mainstream APC in the state, led by Governor Abiodun. This move has swelled the ranks of the ruling party and further solidified it as a party to beat in the state.
Prince Abiodun was ecstatic by the return of the prodigal members, even as he appreciated their loyalty to their leaders when things were not going the way they had expected.
The governor said: “I want to congratulate your sense of loyalty to leadership, which I will say is not only commendable, it is enviable. This is a culture that we must promote and entrench. It is a culture that is fast eroding; it is a culture that we are fast losing. Loyalty is 100 per cent.
“For some others, they move once things are not working well, but for you, you stay put. This sense of loyalty is worthy of emulation.
“We must appreciate the fact that there can only be one leader in a party at a time. Even when we have ambitions and desires, we must subordinate ourselves 100% to leadership and believe that it is in that subordination that will allow us to flourish and achieve our objectives, our dreams, our desires and aspirations, not by forming factions or by breaking away.
“Because by so doing, it only weakens the fabric of that collective union that we call our party. You must appreciate that there can be only one leader of the party at a time in the state, and that leader is the governor.
“As the leader of the party, I appreciate the task bestowed on me and it is my duty to work towards individual and collective welfare of our members.”
The verdict could also potentially reshape the dynamics within the opposition parties in the state to the advantage of APC. The ruling party must prepare for defections from some of the fringe parties, going by political trends in the country as witnessed in the past.
Recently too, the state chapter of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has aligned with the APC by congratulating the governor on his tribunal victory while advising Adebutu to jettison the idea of going on appeal.
Further consolidation by the ruling party may lead to internal restructuring, and reassessment of strategies by the PDP but this may lead nowhere. Its structure is collapsing
Governor Abiodun’s public standing and image have been bolstered as a strong and capable leader, both within the state and at the national level. The outcome could influence future electoral activities in the state, as political parties and candidates may take note of the outcome and adjust their strategies, accordingly.
Overall, the verdict has the potential to reshape the political landscape in Ogun State by providing stability, strengthening the ruling party’s position, and influencing future political dynamics.
By Lekan Adeniran is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Ogun State.