By Adewale Balogun
The recent exchange of correspondence between the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and members representing Ogun State at the National Assembly (NASS) uncorks the long-standing tension brewing within the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State affirming that all is not well with the newly formed coalition of three parties in the State namely the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). It is, no doubt, a confirmation that there is a crack in the house that may gradually lead to a wide schism.
To the spokespersons of the Ogun APC, it is democracy in action; an in-house affair being mischievously puffed up by the opposition. But this is only to be taken with a pinch of salt. To insightful minds, the issue goes beyond such reasoning; it is not only an expression of angst over who gets what which eventually led to blood-letting and public unrests at three different locations in the State within a spate of three weeks, it is also a self-confession; an exposé of a hastily arranged marriage of strange bedfellows gone awry. The macabre dance also, in a wider sense, reveals that some of our elected representatives from the Local Government to State and National levels were not fit and ill-prepared for the revered political offices they now occupy.
Both letters were loaded with missiles fit to demolish a kingdom. At the onset, there was a clear indication that incumbent Gov. Amosun is only a sitting duck who has little or no control over the party structure – imagine a governor saying the serving Ogun APC Senators and House of Representatives members have “scanty regard for me and my office because you believed that I played no role in your emergence as party candidates and subsequent elections in 2011…” This assertion is true anyway.
Amosun himself was at the mercy of the party elders when seeking the ticket. He was so blinded with his gubernatorial ambition that he could have signed even his own death warrant if only to get the only slot he was interested in then. And he eventually got the governorship ticket. Why would those he had no hand in their emergence as candidates or at the general elections look up to him and revere him as their leader? His emergence as the gubernatorial candidate of the ACN having been ‘selected above others’ as written in the lawmakers’ letter also conjectures lack of internal democracy in the party that preaches fairness and equality.
The crux of the matter was that the ACN picked Senator Amosun exclusively for lack of a strong candidate to face the powerful but crumbling PDP machine in the State then. Having ran on the platform of ANPP in the 2007 election and, with the demise of Otunba Dipo Dina, the AC strongman in the 2007 gubernatorial race, the doors were wide open and Amosun did not have to go through the ‘mills’ before being ‘selected’ as the Party’s standard bearer. The party would later have itself to blame for this. On getting to office, Amosun jettisoned the party machine; appointed into ‘juicy’ positions and favoured only his SIA group – the faction comprising those who have been on his itinerary since his PDP days to ANPP, CPC, ACN and lately APC. Regrettably, he carried this too far with his intransigency in harmonising the party structure after the APC coalition to accommodate the other coalescing parties’ members. This triggered the present trouble within the fold and the rest is now history.
Earlier on, in a letter dated 23 January, 2011 written by Gov. Amosun to party leaders, the NASS members were seriously peeved by His Excellency’s electoral assessment of the members prior to 2011 election. On Hon. Taofik Buraimoh, Gov. Amosun was alleged to have declared: “He has no political clout nor the wherewithal to successfully prosecute and win in election, his choice as candidate is alarming, ridiculous and worrisome. He is a nobody (sic) coming to Nigeria from abroad”. Kehinde Odeneye of Ijebu North East was said to have not been able to enjoy the required broad-based support amongst (sic) the electorate in his own local government – Ijebu North East, Kunle Adeyemi was considered to be weak in electoral value while Segun Williams was not strong nor had the resources or popularity to win.
Governor Amosun, in his toxic letter also accused the federal lawmakers of plotting against the State, demonizing his character, distracting the attention of the government from governance, blackmail and general unrest to create a window of embarrassment for the State in the National Assembly. Not done yet, he also indicted the NASS members of nursing second term ambitions. Ironically, Gov. Amosun could be said to be guilty of this as posters proclaiming his candidature for second term have flooded Ogun streets and his adoption for second term had been a common discussion at various fora for anyone who cares to listen.
Governor Amosun claimed he once occupied the seat which Senator Gbenga Obadara now occupies in the Senate but the Senators were quick to say that they were not benchwarmers having sponsored a number of Bills and Motions in the hallowed chambers. This is a direct indictment on the Senator Governor and also a challenge to tell Ogun people his activities while in the Senate.
Now to face the reality, the submissions of the two parties in the on-going imbroglio show that the ACN found its way into government not because it was that strong in numbers but simply because of the unresolved crisis in the then PDP. The PDP had technically lost the election ever before the ACN dealt it with a severe blow aided by the unsuspecting Ogun electorate. That was why anybody that played the ACN card in 2011 elections was a potential winner and that resultantly brought in majority of the representatives we have at the local, state and federal levels.
The most charging of the questions asked by the NASS members was Amosun’s penchant for fomenting trouble in all the political parties he has been as they accused him of destabilising any political party he joins. Till date, he remains the most widely travelled in the political domain having been in five political parties and dumping them once he realises that his ambition to be governor will not be fulfilled. Aside accusations of bossiness, meanness, malice, vindictiveness occasioned by Gov. Amosun’s political feebleness and ideological susceptibility, he is said not to be disposed to superior argument – always insisting on the carrying out of his orders to the letters to the altruistic point of even supervising its execution. These are actually not a quality of a good leader.
Despite his admittance of breakdown of law and order in the party secretariat and Ewekoro meetings, as the Chief Security Officer of the State, he fell short of reading riot act to the malefactors; instead, he shifted blames on the NASS members, accusing them of working against his government and surreptitiously advancing second term ambition. Confused as he was, he attempted roping in the immediate past Administration in the State as he intermittently makes veil references to it as ‘Masters of violence’.
In all these, he never saw the reason to institute an enquiry into the mayhem that erupted neither at the party secretariat nor at the Ewekoro meeting despite the reports filed and footages recorded by the media personnel who were on ground and manhandled at both events.
In his usual manner of transferring responsibilities and to indirectly inform the public to brace up for more troubles ahead, he wrote in his letter to the NASS members that he has instructed Chairmen of Local governments in the State that they will be held accountable for any breach of peace in the State warning political gladiators to conduct themselves peacefully within the ambit of the law as any breach of peace and security will be viewed seriously. Methinks the onus rests on the chief executive of the State to place the police and other security agencies on red alert. Why instructing lesser executives at local government level to do what he has failed to do at the State level? Reading his riot act to all political gladiators to conduct themselves peacefully within the ambit of the law as any breach of peace and security while the perpetrators of the dastardly acts are not only known but roaming Ogun Streets free suggests the thrashings of the journalists and shooting of policemen are only eye openers for what the public is to expect in the nearest future.
Balogun, an educationist, writes from Ajura, Obafemi Owode Local Government, Ogun State