Abiodun, Amosun back to battle ahead of 2023 polls

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BY BRIGHT JACOB

Uba Group

The Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, his predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun and the All Progressives Congress at the weekend engaged in a war of words over Amosun’s allegation that his successor was rigged into the office and must be removed.

Amosun on Friday broke his silence over the 2019 governorship election, alleging that Abiodun was rigged into office.

The former governor who claimed that Abiodun had since apologised, vowed that the governor would not return to power in 2023.

Amosun had backed Adekunle Akinlade who contested on the platform of the Allied Peoples Movement against Abiodun who was the candidate of the APC.

Abiodun defeated Amosun’s anointed candidate with a margin of 19,517 votes.

Abiodun polled 241,670 votes to defeat Akinlade who had 222,153 votes.

More than three years after the election, Amosun who represents Ogun Central in the Senate declared that his friend-turned-foe, Abiodun did not win the 2019 election.

He spoke in Abeokuta after receiving an award from the Abeokuta Club to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the association.

He added that he had moved on because those who orchestrated the rigging had apologised to him.

“During the last election, thank God, Chief Osoba is here, I have said it; we won convincingly. They rigged, rigged, and ended up with 19,000.

“Some of them came to apologise to me. I can’t mention names. We won that election. But I have moved on. We did our work; we will continue to do what we have to do. God will be with all of us,” the former governor said.

Speaking later in an interview with journalists, Amosun declared that he was not in support of Abiodun’s administration, saying he must be removed.

He also assured his supporters that the next line of action would soon be made public.

“Just wait, very soon, you will hear where we are going next. You know my stand, and my stand is my stand. I am not supporting this administration that is there now. He must be removed,” he said.

“It was indeed Olusegun Osoba who stirred the hornet’s nest by throwing challenges to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Amosun”

Akinlade who was Amosun’s anointed candidate in 2019 is now the running mate of the PDP’s governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, ahead of the 2023 governorship election.

Ogun, not anybody’s father’s inheritance- Abiodun

Responding, Abiodun declared that he would not be distracted by any person who has a problem with self-delusion, noting “Ogun State is not anybody’s father’s inheritance.”

“CBN"

Also in an apparent response to Amosun’s allegation, Abiodun has said that he would rather focus on his mandate and not join issues with anyone who wants to play God.
Speaking with newsmen on Saturday shortly after the grand finale of the 50th anniversary of the Abeokuta Club, the governor called on the people of the state to ignore his predecessor, insisting that he would not join issues with him.

“I will not be distracted by any person or persons who have a problem with self-delusion. I will not be distracted by any person who does not appreciate that Ogun State is not anybody’s father’s inheritance; we are all stakeholders in this commonwealth called Ogun State.

“I am not going to join issues with anyone that wants to play God; I will leave them to God; God can deal with whoever is challenging His authority and wants to play God. All I can say is that what we stand for in Ogun State is an administration that is committed to providing purposeful leadership and purposeful infrastructural development across the length and breadth of the state,” he said.

Governor Abiodun, however, expressed his disappointment that a former governor and a sitting governor in 2019 would cry that he was rigged out during the election.
“How can we on the outside take on an incumbent and then be accused of rigging out an incumbent in the same party? Anyone can explain their failure whichever way they like; anyone can also begin to pant and threaten that they will do whatever,” he added.

Equally responding to Amosun’s claim, the Ogun State chapter of APC, asked the people of the state to pray for Amosun because he is suffering from “political amnesia and out-of-office loneliness.”

The party, in a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye, described the ex-governors claim that Abiodun did not win the 2019 election as “an after-lunch belching of a man suffering from political amnesia and loneliness.”

“The quoted statement was not only an insult to the psyche of the people of Ogun State but also a sad indication that the former governor is yet to purge himself of extreme arrogance and intolerance that were his trademarks, which earned him a suspension from our party, even as a sitting governor.

“The APC, therefore, calls on the public, and particularly our esteemed members, to pity and pray for the former governor as he suffers from political amnesia, loneliness and absolute lack of touch with reality.

“There is absolutely no truth in the specious utterance of the former governor who is still sulking from the electoral defeat of his surrogate party in 2019. Our party and candidate not only won fair and square but the victory of Prince Dapo Abiodun was also attested to by his co-contestants, many of whom later joined APC and are still in APC.

“Having been witnessing the frustrating exodus of his former political allies who openly said they were tired of endemic lies; and his failure to wrest the party structures from the incumbent governor, the recourse by Senator Amosun to ‘elated’ after-lunch belching is understandable and pitiable.”

Genesis of controversy

John Oshibanjo, who was at Abeokuta Club where the whole drama began, said it was indeed Olusegun Osoba who stirred the hornet’s nest by throwing challenges to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Amosun.

“I can never forgive Obasanjo and Amosun for my 2003 gubernatorial loss, in fact, they rigged it against me,” the former governor was quoted as saying.

Osoba was also quoted as accusing Amosun openly of concentrating his infrastructural development in the Ogun State capital.

“May be some fellow wanted Senator Amosun to keep quiet, like a pet dog? No, he had to respond to the uncharitable allegations of Chief Olusegun Osoba,” Oshibanjo said.

On the premise of Osoba’s allegations that Amosun and Obasanjo rigged him out in 2003, Amosun pointedly told him how impossible it was for an ‘ordinary Senator’ without Executive or electoral powers to rig Osoba out of government.

Amosun further said it was Osoba and 13 others who collaborated and rigged the Allied People’s Movement out in 2019 when APM actually won the election convincingly and indeed those who participated in the electoral fraud had apologised to him.

On the issue of infrastructural development in Ogun Central, Amosun refuted the very wrong assertion of Osoba.

According to Amosun “I touched all zones in the state within the limit of available resources, even the best road in Sagamu today, Akarigbo Road, was constructed by me. It is not an accident of history that Abeokuta was made the capital of Ogun State 42 years and everything we did for Abeokuta was according to over 40 years old master plan and indeed Abeokuta though the capital of Ogun State is home to the Ijebus, Remos, Yewas,, Awori, Anango, Ogu, etc.”

When asked if he will support the reelection of Dapo Abiodun, Amosun who is entitled to his opinion and beliefs which he has never hidden, pointedly told the audience his mind “I am not going to support the reelection of the present government and I will let people know soon my political direction.”

Oshibanjo noted that it was unfortunate that people were too fast to judge without understanding the genesis and foundation of the discourse.

“Like it or not, Senator Ibikunle Amosun remains a political colossus and indeed he has carved a strong haven for himself and cult-like supporters. He is indeed a political force in Ogun State,” Oshibanjo stressed.

Tough political fight ahead

Ogun State appears to present the toughest political fight for an incumbent governor come 2023, as some powerful forces within and outside the ruling APC have assembled themselves against Governor Dapo Abiodun for the exalted seat.

This is not new and perhaps, unconnected with the nature and dynamic of Ogun politics.

Ogun is one of the most endowed and enlightened, in terms of resource states in the country. It is the only state that has ruled Nigeria thrice – Obasanjo, Shonekan, and Obasanjo.

Governance in the state is not looked at administratively but in terms of power and performance, or what anyone could attain on a platter of gold. Those who govern the state must have to work hard to convince the enlightened citizens of the state to get there.

Presently, those who want to contest the governorship in 2023 are really working assiduously to sell their candidacy. Even the incumbent, Governor Abiodun, who is seeking reelection is not finding it easy, just as all of them are in the race.

The governor, despite all the good things he claimed to have done for the people in the last three years of being in power, is still not comfortable with his second-term bid. Apart from the fact that the opposition members are deep right in his throat, he is facing an enormous crisis within his party, the APC.

Governor Abiodun has not overcome the onslaught faced in 2019, with Amosun, who stood strongly against his being elected on the ticket of the same party they both belonged to.

Amosun’s team and other groups within and outside the party that stood against his first term, are still around, working to ensure that he does not come back.

For the past two years, there have been intrigues and power play in the state, as the political parties both popular and unpopular are warming up for the governorship race and other elections in the state in 2023.

The climax of all these had been the primaries of the political parties, which picked candidates for various elective positions.

What is going to make the 2023 government election in Ogun State different from the two previous governorship elections this year in Ekiti and Osun in the South West is the fact that it falls into the general elections when virtually all the elective positions would be contested for.

This means that it would not be an election in which the party and members would focus on one particular candidate but each candidate contesting would focus on his/her own election.

Although the Ogun State governorship election, which is the centre of attraction and with the situations of things, is definitely going to be between the usual two major political parties, the APC, which Abiodun represents, and the People’s Democratic Party which Ladi Adebutu, the son of a lottery magnate, Keshinton Adebutu, would fly its flag.

That is why there had been mudslinging among the two candidates and their supporters.

What is also going to make the governorship election in Ogun different this time around is the fact that the battle is going to be fought between two contestants from the same Senatorial zone, the Ogun East, unlike before, which used to be between Ogun West versus Ogun Central or Ogun East versus Ogun West or Ogun Central.

Both Adebutu and Abiodun are from Ogun East Senatorial zone and they are ready to confront each other head-on, wit for wit; intrigues for intrigues and money for money.

Abiodun and Adebutu have what it takes to win elections. Adebutu had contested elections before in the state and he had won in all the posts he contested. As a matter of fact, Adebutu can’t be a pushover in the coming election, he would want to use all it takes to convince the people of the state that he stands a better chance now than the incumbent, Abiodun whose tenure, so far, has proved unimpressive.

The opposition members are not only banking on this but are relying on the general notion that the APC has failed the nation with a lot of things, particularly, on security and scarcity of food items, which is the concern of the ordinary people.

According to political commentators and feelers from the people of the state, it is not only in Ogun State that the apathy that the people have for the APC would be displayed in the coming elections but across the country as well.

Of the two hot contenders in Ogun, Abiodun and Adebutu, the pressure is much on Abiodun with lots of enemies to contend with. It was even argued that he remains one of the most criticised, since the state was created.

Amosun is still at loggerheads with him and most of his foot soldiers are still drifting to the PDP and are working seriously against him.

It was said that Adekunle Akinlade joining the PDP, who was the favourite of Amosun could spell doom for Abiodun’s reelection since there is the possibility that the people from Ogun West where Akinlade who is the running mate of Adebutu, comes from would want to back him.

Though Abiodun is banking on the support of Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, who is equally a strong politician and very close associate of the former Governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel, from Ogun West, it was argued that the people of the zone are more attuned to Akinlade than him.

One of the issues still going round the state emanated in April this year, when one of the members of APC, Ayodele Oludiran, petitioned the National Chairman of the party and the Independent National Electoral Commission on why Abiodun should not be voted for in 2023.

Oludiran alleged that there were discrepancies in the form CF001filled by Abiodun in 2015 and 2019, alleging that he, Abiodun, concealed criminal offenses committed in the United States of America.

It was also noted that the outburst of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that if not for God and him, Abiodun couldn’t have been the governor and that since then the governor has been battling how to appease Asiwaju, to help him again but the body language of Tinubu has proved that he was not looking that direction, since he too, now has his election to contend with, unlike 2019 when his hands were not filled.

“Abiodun and Adebutu have what it takes to win elections. Adebutu had contested elections before in the state and he had won in all the posts contested. As a matter of fact, Adebutu can’t be a push over in the coming election, he would want to use all it takes to convince the people of the state that he stands a better chance now than the incumbent, Abiodun whose tenure, so far, has proved unimpressive”

Abiodun is also facing the issue of workers in the state who at a time threatened strike action over unpaid salaries.

With the Ogun governorship election going prophetic, the leader of Evangelical Spiritual Church, Lagos, Elijah Ayodele, said that though Abiodun would win a second term, it would not be easy for him. To win he must do a lot of reconciliation.

Abiodun, who claimed that he was sure of winning the election, said what Tinubu said was not the true reflection of his person; that he is not an emperor but holding the office of the governor in trust for the people, of the state, saying, he saw no reason why the people would not give him a second term because he has been fair, just and equitable to all.

In support of Abiodun against those castigating him the Ogun Progressives Agenda has said that it was mere propaganda to diminish him, for not performing.

The patron of the organisation, Rasheed Sanusi argued that Abiodun deserves a second term, arguing that people are just saying a lot of things to discredit him.

The Chief of Press Secretary to the governor, Kunle Somorin had in defense of his boss argued that the governor has always ignored his detractors but has remained focused and forging ahead with his laudable programmes for the people of the State.

The image maker of the governor had also said that the governor’s detractors would at the end of the day be put to shame because the people of the state are well aware of the progress made by the government of Governor Dapo Abiodun, who has been running the affairs of the government with civility.

Also the Ogun State chapter of Inter Party Advisory Council chaired by Samson Okusanya has indicated that the allegations against the governor on why he should not be reelected were spurious, and to smear him and his good work for the people of the state.

But the opposition has come all out to disparage Abiodun, saying he has betrayed the people of the state, labeling him a globe-trotting governor, who never cared about the affairs of the state and is always busy ruling from outside the country.

The Chairman of the PDP, Sikirulahi Ogundele, argued that the governor is not the type needed by the people but a person who will sit at home to look after the citizens.

The Deputy Governorship running mate of the PDP in the state, Adekunle Akinlade, in his recent speech, said that he joined forces with Adebutu to kick Abiodun out of office. He said that Abiodun has remained unpopular since he got to office because he has always been distancing himself from the people.

According to him, “the governor is just only warming up to the people for reconciliation, since he saw what happened in Osun with his colleague Governor Gboyega Oyetola, who was kicked out of office by the people’s verdicts.

Akinlade, who still pledged his loyalty to Amosun said, “The APC will suffer for betraying my boss and political father, Senator Amosun.”

He pointed out that the candidacy of Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi) who came from Lagos to Ogun West to contest the senate position “is a big slap on the people of Yewa and Awori, as he would be taught a big lesson of his life.”

The Director General Ladi Adebutu Campaign Organisation, Semiu Sodipo, also said that the PDP is battle ready to kick APC out of Ogun State, just as it was done in Osun State, where the people spoke and decided to elect the governor of their choice.

He said “let me say categorically that Tinubu, who claimed that he helped Abiodun in 2019 can’t help him now, because things are different now, and the circumstances that helped both of them are no longer there. The people are already yearning for the emergence of the PDP, which our grassroots candidate and the people’s choice, is going to flag its banner in 2023.”