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Former Ogun State governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, last week declared never to have anything to do with the incumbent, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, thus drawing the battle line ahead of 2015. Shola Oyeyipo writes
For the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, this is not the best of time. Although internal crisis is a common feature in virtually all the political parties, the turn of events in the Ogun APC appears to be niggling as it is undermining the successes of the Governor Ibikunle Amosun administration and at the same time, raising the stakes for the opposition parties in the state.
Amosun and former governor Olusegun Osoba have been at loggerheads over who controls the APC structure in Ogun State. Although the situation had been subdued over time for obvious reasons, it blew open last week and the survival battle has since led to the factionalisation of the party executives in the state, along the camps of the two gladiators.
Thus, while some of the lawmakers both at the state and national levels had openly declared support for Osoba, a hoard of other party men including the national leadership of the APC appear to share in the plight of the governor. As it is, the present scenario makes the APC in the state very vulnerable, if not nipped in the bud.
Indication that all was not well with the party manifested earlier in the week when Amosun, while briefing the leaders of the APC in the state on the outcome of the meeting held penultimate Friday at the national secretariat of the party, said he had great respect not only for the party, but its state and national executive members and pleaded with those present to ask Osoba what exactly he wanted from him. He claimed to have done everything humanly possible to carry Osoba along in whatever his administration was doing, but that things seemed not to be fine with the former governor.
The governor said Osoba could not however respond to his rapprochement but had to leave after securing proper permission from the party’s national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande.
Amosun also described as white lies, allegations that he stormed out of the meeting of the APC stakeholders in Abuja. “I left the venue of the meeting after due permission from the interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, who presided,” he said, disclaiming the allegations outright.
On arrival at the meeting, Amosun said he told the party chieftains including Akande that he would leave early because of preparations for the state investors’ forum held in the state recently.
"I did not storm out as widely reported, rather I left the venue of the meeting after proper permission from the chairman of the meeting and others because of the investors’ forum billed for the following day. It will be wrong for anyone or group to say, write or insinuate that I stormed out of the meeting when I actually received the permission of our revered party chairman, Akande."
He however reiterated at the meeting that he had done everything to carry Osoba along, but that the former governor had called his bluff.
Responding, somewhat to Amosun’s claims, Osoba at a separate meeting last Thursday at his Ibara, Abeokuta residence, said he would never have anything to do with Amosun again, let alone reconcile with him. He therefore directed his loyalists to henceforth keep records of their meetings because those who do not possess voters’ cards would not be allowed to vote.
Addressing the crowd of supporters who allegedly came from all the 236 wards in the state, Osoba said: “You know we have been together since 1988. Sooner than later, everything will be settled. Henceforth, at every ward meeting, please keep your registers because the one they presented are fake ones. This time around, there is no room for any crisscrossing. Whoever does not have a voter’s card, will not vote.”
“We are here today, no one induced you with N10,000 or N20,000 before you came here. You are not like those people they are inducing with money before attending meetings. Go and open registers at every ward. At the next meeting, I expect all the 236 wards to have their registers and send them to their various local governments,” Osoba stated.
On his stand on the proposed harmonisation in the state, Osoba maintained that the battle line had been drawn between him and the governor and charged his loyalists to remain calm and focused.
“Don’t listen to any hearsay, if you have anything that is not clear to you, ask your executive members. Your executive members came to me and said they don’t trust me again; they said they don’t believe in me again; that I will soon forgive and say everything has been settled. They said I will tell them that some Obas had appealed to me.
“I was shocked and asked them what led to this. They said they had concluded and their decision was that everyone should go his or her way. Second, they said they were not ready for any harmonisation, not even 70/30, 80/20, 95/5. Is it true or not?” Osoba asked.
Continuing, he said: “Our people here are the original party members. You are not dubious; you have tellers; you don’t want to associate with those that do not have tellers. You are the ones who collected the tellers with your hard-earned money and not government money. You followed party procedures and not crisscrossing around. Where we are now, there is no room for harmonisation or reconciliation.
“If it has got to that stage, it means, we have drawn two parallel lines. We went into an inner meeting and inside there, I vowed to them that I would not forgive or reconcile with anybody.
“As I stand before you today, I swear before God and Jesus Christ, my Lord, I promise you all that the issue of forgiveness is no more. If you stand firmly as a warrior, that is enough for me. If you are ready, there is no more room for reconciliation. If thousands of people prostrate, it is what you want that I will do.
“It is what you say that I will say. I will stand where you stand. I want to appeal to you, don’t be distracted. They said they have given them the party structure. Leave them! Are you dragging the party with them? It is those that have people that have the party,” he posited.
On the move by the national body to settle the crises in all the states by appointing caretaker committees, Osoba said: “They said they have set up elders’ committee, don’t mind them. I don’t know who is older than me politically among them. None of them was closer to Awolowo than I was. I wined and dined with him. I don’t have confidence in those people up there again. They are interested in eating you up; don’t allow them to deceive you again.
“They are coming soon. When they come, they will not meet me, it is you the executives they will meet. Tell them what is on the ground. It is not the issue of party. When did we form APC? Not up to a year! You people are the vehicle and the vehicle is moving. We have dropped the traitors and the betrayers. When I call you then, will you join me?” he asked.
Osoba explained that the threat from the governor’s camp to all the senators, members of the House of Representatives and some of his loyalists at the state assembly would not hold water. “The battle line is drawn. Now, it is fight to the finish.
“They are the ones that are threatening Obadara, Kaka, Odunusi and other members. They don’t give them money, hoping they would turn back when they starve them of money. Leave them, we are moving to the Promised Land and over there, there are many offices and positions available. I believe you all understand me very well.
“They said they are planning for convention, what concerns me with the convention? They once asked me to come and be their chairman and I told them that I did’t have interest. Those leaders in Abuja said they could trade with all those aspiring to send the senators and the reps. I want to assure you that we will definitely get to the Promised Land. The original Action Group, the true Awoist Group. This is not an abusive time. Leave them with their own, don’t join issues with them.
“They said what does Osoba want? If you read newspapers this week, they said they have given me everything I want and my questions to them are; can they pay back all the money I spent during the elections? Can they reward my good name that gave us victory during the elections? Can they pay back all my efforts to the assembly; all these people that we used during the elections? How much have they paid then? Each ward was given N10,000 then.
“Now multiply the amount with 236 wards that we have in the state. It amounted to N2.3 million and that is the only money they spent during the elections. If it is more than that, let them come out and say it.
“I want all of you that are here, that laboured both in the rain and sun for this party not to suffer in vain. Don’t drag issues with them, just leave them, we will get to that Promised Land. If within just 48 hours of calling you and we have this kind of crowd, which are not rented ones, I want to believe that success is ours and I will forever be happy with you.
“As soon as you leave here, continue with your ward meetings. All our members that have defected or forcefully sent packing to the Labour Party and Peoples Democratic Party have been discussing with me. They said they are ready to come back; that anytime they hear the trumpet from me, they will move to the river shore.
“They may call you to come and pick up jobs now, don’t answer them. After three years in office and few months to the election, they are deceiving you. I am going to start from now on to move to the three senatorial districts and from there to all towns and villages in the state. You can still remember the way we are doing our campaign then. The same strategy will be adopted now,” he said.
Osoba explained that as soon as he concludes consultations with some elders and leaders, he would contact the people, adding that the decision on where and what to do would have been concluded. “Don’t listen to rumours again, they are on their own. Just wait for me. When I meet with the leaders, you will hear from me,” he said.
However, with the jabs from the two camps, it is clear that the battle line has been drawn and the die, cast. Certainly, this is not going to be an easy one from either of the camps, even the opposition would go the extra mile before it could cash-in on the situation in the ruling party.
Yet, sensing that the division within the APC is festering, with no sign of abating soon, the opposition PDP has begun to leverage the situation. The state executive committee of the PDP, led by the chairman, Chief Bayo Dayo, in collaboration with one of the party’s stalwarts and financier, Buruji Kashamu claimed to be wooing aggrieved members of the PDP back to its fold as well as attracting disenchanted APC members, while at the same time, entering into an understanding with the Labour Party (LP).
Recently, Dayo, the state secretary, Semiu Sodipo, South-west secretary, Pegba Otemolu, Ogun West senatorial district chairman, Leye Odunjo and one time commissioner for women affairs, Chief Mrs. Mary Ogunyomi and other members of the party recorded a major boost for the PDP when they successfully sold the idea of collaboration to the Labour Party.
The team which visited the Sango-Otta residence of Hon. Abiodun Akinlade met with the PDP exco. And going by the tone of their discussions and the reactions that followed, it was obvious that they both considered the situation in the APC and analysed the strength in partnership.
Akinlade, a third term House of Representatives member representing Yewa South/Ipokia federal constituency, is the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology. He is a frontline governorship aspirant in Ogun State from the Labour Party and insisted that his governorship ambition was propelled by the need to "promote the dignity of our people and improve their welfare."
The PDP chairman said the visit to the leaders of LP had been proposed a long time. And that the agenda was simply to enter into collaboration with the party ahead of the 2015 elections.
"Even if they say we came to beg, I agree because we cannot do a party alone. When we were together, we won elections. It is only bastards that do not get angry but at some point we must drop anger and work for the good of the people. Even the president begged Otunba Gbenga Daniel that he was ready to offer anything he wanted. But instead of accepting, he declined and at the end of the day, we lost the election as a product of anger.
"But now, it is time for the anger to be over. We have been moving round to get our aggrieved members back into the PDP fold. We need to corporate – as it is now, no one can win election except we come together. I have outgrown contesting elections and I don't have a child in politics but what is the benefit of being in politics without winning elections, so that is why we are pleading that we should collaborate. Even Gbenga Daniel's people are working with us.
"If we work together, we will win elections. And I don't want deception. If we agree to work together, we should agree to it that way. That is why we are begging people," Dayo explained.
Interestingly, the members of the LP were not averse to the proposal. It was welcomed with the calculation that it would work in the overall interest of Akinlade who is believed to be nursing a governorship bid in 2015.
Comrade Adesegun Bamodu, while speaking, expressed the views that the two parties could work together for the purpose of defeating Amosun.
"We believe we are LP members but members of the APC are here, some members of the PDP, PPN and supporters of Hon. Akinlade are here too. We know PDP and LP are twins and there is the chance to work together but our main concern is that Amosun must go. When you see some ACN within LP, something pushed them into LP," he noted.
A member of the defunct ACN, Mr. Wole Shodipo, who is currently in Akinlade's camp, was also disposed to the idea.
As a way to make the deal favourable to the group, two major issues were perfected at the meeting. One was the issue of waiver for those coming into the party. Second was that the governorship candidate of the PDP must come from Yewa. The two conditions, however, would make it easy for Akinlade to take his governorship ambition into the collaboration.
Though the PDP constitution provides that only those who have been members of the party for an upward of two years can seek elective offices on its platform, the PDP in Ogun State is already working with its national secretariat to grant those its wooing waivers.
"Some are saying we have decided on who would be governor and that positions have been given out but that is not true. I told our national chairman that there are people just coming into the party in the last six months and he told me the procedures that we will go through to get waiver for the people. Some are saying they'll become strangers but that is not true.
"What we will do is that everyone will go to the field to canvass support. We came to plead that you should calm your frayed nerves and let's work together," Dayo assured the people.
According to Hon. Samson Onadumren, the chairman of the G13 in the state House of Assembly, who is also part of the arrangement, when the idea is perfected, "serving members of the state House of Assembly from the various parties will join the collaboration," assuring the gathering that "the number of state assembly members coming into the arrangement are numerous."
As it is, Ogun appears more a delicate turf for all the parties, the ruling APC inclusive. The saving grace, perhaps for the APC is the successes of the Amosun administration, regardless of the swirling misgivings in the party as a result of the crisis between him and Osoba.
It is the belief of many that irrespective of what anyone says about the Amosun administration, he has set the path for an easy comeback through his successes in the last three years, a development agenda said to cut across the different sphere of the economy.
That notwithstanding, the APC, observers contend, must quickly look into the situation and close ranks if it wants to run through this election easily, otherwise, it is creating the room for an unsavoury situation, the result of which may be unpalatable.