An Overview: Ogun State Race to Government House

by Olubukola Ogundeji
Ogun State

As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) sets the stage for the 2019 General Elections, the Nigerian electorate will be witnesses or participants in what might turn out to be the most unusual electoral cycle in our recent history.

One of the most interesting in the 2019 elections, will be the race to occupy the Ogun State Government House. In short, who will be the next Executive Governor of Ogun State?

Right now, there is nobody, political juggernaut or otherwise, who can answer that question with any degree of certainty. And, for good reason too. This is because the current waters in the normally highly competitive politics of Ogun State have never been more muddled: muddled by the inordinate ambition of Ogun State’s so-deemed political godfathers and juggernauts.

Under what would be deemed normal circumstances in current Nigerian politics, the battle for the top seat in Ogun state was expected to be between the candidates of the two major political Parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). More people with political aspirations claw and scratch for positions and space in both parties than in all others, in the mostly correct assumption that chances of success are greater.

However, and fortunately for the people of Ogun State, the race for Government House has been thrown open as never before. Maybe, and very likely too, the time has come for a non-major Party contender with new ideas to step into the Ogun State political arena and win the gubernatorial seat.

In their attempt at a grasp of the current political situation, pundits have analyzed the candidates and Parties from the perspectives of hitherto sharp practices which were designed and defined by charlatans and carpetbaggers to be the norm. It has always been about who has more political godfathers, more tons of money (combined) to buy voters and votes, and the control of touted political structures (fake or real). A would-be aspirant who has none of these, is generally regarded as a political non-starter.

For this purpose of this writeup, I tried to find the logic (if any) behind the actions of an incumbent Governor Ibikunle Amosun against his own political Party (APC), and the possible consequences of his actions thereof. In what appears to many as a classic case of arrogance and abuse of power, Governor Amosun is blatantly sponsoring his preferred successor Hon. Adekunle Akinlade and other proteges on another political platform, the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM), against the official candidates of the APC. This action is seriously anti-Party politics, punishable by expulsion from the APC, if proven to be true. However, the actual reason for this obviously desperate and suicidal political act may not be as far-fetched as one would imagine. Please read on.

In another political theater, there is an unfolding drama, in the courts and within the political arena, between two heavyweights of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). In this scenario, we have a stupendously rich old gambling icon, Chief Kensington Adebutu (who desires to give himself the pleasure of crowning his son Governor before he dies), and an acclaimed a juggernaut in Ogun State politics, Senator Buruji Kashamu. As clearly stated by the latter in a recent Press conference, “this will be a fight to the finish”. And, as far as both sides are concerned, there will be no quarter given.

Within this melee is the certificate scandal surrounding the official candidate of the APC, Dapo Abiodun. As Mr. Abiodun stated on a recent ill-advised interview on Channels Television, the matter is before the court for adjudication. A mere shadow of his usually over-confident and cocky self, Dapo Abiodun had to read his notes to articulate his vision for Ogun State. All said, it seemed rather absurd that he could not answer straight questions about schools/colleges attended. A few memes about his unfortunate performance are now making the rounds on social media.

Dapo Abiodun’s emergence as the Ogun State gubernatorial candidate of APC, in preference to so-dubbed APC consensus candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, is the reason Governor Ibikunle Amosun appears to have gone berserk. Well, so it seems.

But then, why does it matter so much to Governor Amosun that Akinlade should succeed him in Ogun State? Why would he risk sacrificing his political career and his legacy in Ogun State to install Adekunle Akinlade?

Some say it is on account of Amosun’s strong commitment to the Yewa cause that seeks to produce a Governor for the first time in the history of Ogun State. Maybe so. However, a few powerful sources who ought to know (and usually do) say that it is a whole lot more than that.

It is believed that Governor Amosun may have joint ownership interests with Hon. Akinlade in a company called Clevland Investment Management Limited (CIML). CIML runs a revenue automation data processing system software that purportedly increases the efficiency of State Governments to track, collate, and collect Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), run taxes, and more. Governor Amosun’s administration deployed the services of CIML and appointed Hon. Akinlade as Senior Special Assistant on Taxation and Revenue. And, from 2011 to 2014, it was Akinlade’s responsibility to take charge of the Directorate of other Taxes at the Board of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Ogun State. Akinlade was later redeployed to the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for undisclosed reasons before resigning in October 2014 to contest for a seat in the House of Representatives.

CIML runs the software system that the leadership of Ogun State civil servants, workers and trade unions accuse the Amosun administration of using to make questionable deductions from workers emoluments, Cooperative Association payments, pensioners entitlements, and other business concerns in Ogun State.

To throw some light on the foregoing, it appears that CIML is to Ogun State and Amosun what Alphabeta is to Lagos State and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. And, in this case, Adekunle Akinlade is the only one who can be trusted by Governor Amosun to safeguard the goose that will continue to lay the golden eggs with which he (Amosun) intends to fund his private and political goals.

In plain terms, Adekunle Akinlade’s succession of Amosun as Governor may not be so much a cause to advance the agenda of the Yewa/Egbado people, but a personal agenda by Amosun to further secure the source of finance for his political future and more.

And, if Governor Amosun is so concerned about fairness and the balancing of power in Ogun State, why is he desperate to install another Muslim after eight (8) years of Muslim leadership in a State that harbors the largest Christian Church denominations in Nigeria? In fact, if any Muslim candidate wins the gubernatorial race, that would be a potential eight-year Islamic leadership in addition to Amosun’s eight (8) years, for a potential total of sixteen (16) years. Those who echo the clamor of Governor Amosun and some political bigwigs must know that there is no fairness or balance of power in such an arrangement.

It stands to reason that Governor Ibikunle Amosun has a great deal to lose if any other, except his anointed successor, becomes Governor of Ogun State after his tenure. It is against this backdrop that he had to launch the desperate political move to fund and promote Akinlade on the platform of APM against his own Party (APC).

So, how will the APC hierarchy treat Governor Amosun’s betrayal and preposterous behavior? What are the odds that an impetuous, but feisty ram would win a head-butting contest against battled tested buffaloes? It remains to be seen whether Governor Ibikunle Amosun has bitten off a lot more than he can chew.

As the major players “cancel” each other out more by fate than by any man’s cunning, there is the greatest likelihood that Ogun State citizens will be the eventual winners. Why? The doors have already been opened for the citizens to consider the candidates of smaller Parties more on their vision and capacity, rather than Party affiliation.

In other words, players and supporters are already seeking alliances with whichever candidates they consider the most-likely-to-win in other Parties – old or relatively unknown. These Parties and their gubernatorial candidates include the following: Rotimi Paseda – Social Democratic Party (SDP), Gboyega Isiaka – African Democratic Congress (ADC), Segun Odegbami – Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Sina Kawonishe – Yes Electorates Solidarity Party (YES).

At this point, it’s getting more likely that the Ogun State race may be forced into a run-off in the forthcoming elections. This opinion is based on the following deductions:

  1. The geographical strength/spread of each of the gubernatorial candidates in each of the three (3) senatorial districts – East, West, and Central.
  2. The number of candidates coming out of each of the districts.
  3. Candidate antecedents, vision, capacity, appeal, and integrity.
  4. Candidate and/or Party affiliations/alliances and strategies to woo a significantly disenfranchised electorate.
  5. The tactical deployment of people and available financial resources.
[Sadly, rigging has become a constant in most election processes (from USA to Russia, to Asia, and Africa). However, the effect may be diminished by the fact that most of the electorate is seriously disenchanted with our failed crop of politicians and their antics.]

Ogun East Senatorial district has the largest number of serious contenders (about eight) for the Gubernatorial seat. This is because many in the district believed that the pendulum of governance would (or should) swing back in that direction after the tenure of Governor Amosun (Ogun Central). They are Dapo Abiodun (Remo), Ladi Adebutu (Remo), Buruji Kashamu (Ijebu), Rotimi Paseda (Ijebu), Sina Kawonishe (Ijebu), Demola Ogunbanjo (Ijebu), Yomi Odunowo (Ijebu), Babasola Adegbuyi (Ijebu).

Ogun West Senatorial district has only two serious contenders – Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (Yewa) and Kunle Akinlade (Yewa). And, from Ogun Central Senatorial district there are Segun Odegbami (Egba) and Dimeji Bankole (Egba).

Twenty (20) local governments make up the three (3) Senatorial districts in Ogun State: nine (9) in the East for Ijebu/Remo, six (6) in Central for Egba, and five (5) in the West for Yewa/Egbado. And, according to the Electoral Law, the candidate to be declared winner must secure no less than one quarter (25%) of votes cast in at least two-thirds of the twenty local governments.

In a scenario such as envisaged in the forthcoming elections, the Ogun East votes will be so badly split up such that no candidate/Party gets nearly enough to sniff at, if all contenders take their various slices of the Ogun East “pie”.

From Ogun Central Senatorial district, when one considers the historical factor of Egba solidarity for their own, the likelihood exists that either Segun Odegbami or Dimeji Bankole will secure an outright win over any other candidates. An outright win, however, does not mean that one or more of the other candidates will not secure more than a quarter of votes cast in some of the local governments.

In the same vein, while Gboyega Isiaka or Kunle Akinlade (probably both) may emerge clear winners in their native senatorial district of Ogun West, there is a strong possibility that neither will secure the percentage of required votes in the other senatorial districts.

Therefore, unless there are alliances of sorts, the stage almost seems set for a runoff. This is because each of the gubernatorial candidates appears more likely to get the required percentage of votes from only their native Senatorial districts, and not all three. A likely runoff, however, may be prevented by how well the parties/Candidates perform on a combination of strategy, complexity of alliances, plus the quality/appeal of the individual candidates.

At the end of the day, choosing the next Governor of Ogun State may come down to that candidate with the most credible message, a powerful vision, and appeal – whether in the first round of elections, or in the possibility of a runoff.

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