By Ayobami Ife
Barely a week to the governorship election in Ogun State, each of the African Democratic Congress(ADC), Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Labour Party(LP), New Nigeria Peoples Party(NNPP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) is in the last minutes efforts to outwit the others and enhance chances of emerging victorious on March 11.
But the question is, what are the chances each of them has to win majority of the valid votes cast in the Gateway State?
PDP and Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu
Hon. Ladi Adebutu is the main opposition politician and candidate of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), in the state. He has undying ambition to govern Ogun State. He hails from Iperu in Ogun East, same town where the incumbent governor Dapo Abiodun is also from.
Adebutu is popular in the state and promised to run a welfarist – like government if given the mandate. Adebutu has demonstrated this across the three senatorial districts of Ogun with his empowerment scheme which dates back to when he was a member of the House of Representatives. He is also hoping to make political capital from the perceived disenchantments in the land over APC government in the state and at the Centre. He is hoping to latch on it to zoom its way to power but the odds against him are daunting.
Adebutu’s governorship ambition is coming at a time his kinsman is the incumbent governor. It is generally seen as an attempt to disrupt the prevailing political calibration in the Gateway State. What seemed to be the unwritten rule is that any sitting governor from a given zone, should be helped or allowed to enjoy a second term. Former governor Gbenga Daniel(Ogun East) and Senator Ibikunle Amosun(Ogun Central) both benefited from that arrangement. Should Adebutu ambition succeeds, it would derail the arrangement and unnecessarily puts other zones longer on the waiting line for their turns. This, it was learnt, makes Adebutu’s ambition unviable and unrealistic in the estimation of Ogun people. The thinking in some quarters is that, is he aspiring to appropriate the expected one more term of Dapo Abiodun from him? Will he govern for only one term if he wins? These are issues agitating the minds of people of other zones.
Besides, Ogun PDP is bogged down by intractable crisis of division since 2011. It has not regained its rhythm afterwards. Devoid of unity, it has never been able to enter election season united. This explained its poor showing in 2015, 2019 and the recent presidential and national assembly election in the state.
The situation is not likely to change on March 11.
Also, the disenchantment resulting from the party primaries of May 25, 2022 has also not disappeared yet. One of the aggrieved PDP politicians, Otunba Jimi Lawal, has threatened that there can be no genuine unity and reconciliation without justice.
Lawal is still in court in respect of the PDP governorship ticket. All of these seemed to dim the prospect of PDP in the forthcoming governorship election and even Otunba Segun Sowunmi, is still contending with the state PDP over the governorship ticket.
Some politicians of the PDP fold are Chief Semiu Sodipo, house of Representatives candidate, Chief Toyin Amuzu, its senatorial candidate in Ogun Central, Olumide Aderinokun, a serving federal lawmaker, Hon. Segun Adekoya. These are not likely to be able help Adebutu to power or victory having been battered terribly by the APC victorious candidates on February 25.
Again, the political climate in Ogun State does not showcase Adebutu as an alternative to Dapo Abiodun. The son of renowned philanthropist, Chief Kessington Adebutu, has a slim chance of winning the governorship poll in Ogun State
Labour Party (LP) and Kehinde Shogunle
The Labour Party is relatively new in Ogun State. It does not have viable structure in place, has no elected lawmaker and its candidates for the elections are not known names in the state. This was revealed the more in the abysmal performance of the party and its candidates during the Saturday Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The state executives have been dissolved by the national body following an intractable crisis rocking it.
The acting national publicity secretary of the party from the state, Dr. Abayomi Olufemi Arabambi has been suspended which further polarised the party in the State. Abayomi led a group of registered political parties to endorse Dapo Abiodun, two days ago, for a second term.
Uncertainty still hovers over the party regarding governorship candidate.
Barely a week to the governorship election, Ogun residents cannot say with confidence if LP has a governorship candidate. A former Finance Commissioner in the state, Kehinde Shogunle, who is said to be the party’s governorship candidate has not been seen or heard campaigning. There is also hardly any poster or billboard about him in respect of March 11 governorship election.
Labour Party or its candidate does not stand a chance of winning governorship election in Ogun State and same applies to NNPP and its candidate.
APC and Dapo Abiodun
Governor Dapo Abiodun and his All Progressives Congress(APC) are candidate and party to beat on March 11.
Abiodun who who is seeking re-election and APC appeared firmly rooted on the ground to repeat the 2019 feat and the chances have been brightened the more with the 100 percent success recorded in the last Saturday Presidential and National Assembly elections that saw Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu winning Ogun State and the party sweeping all the three senatorial seats and Nine House of Representatives.
This is a moral booster for APC and lessen the task. Abiodun came to power in 2019 on borrowed robes but he has today made one or more robes for himself. He has his experience and achievements in road works, youth employments, infrastructural developments and capital investment such as Agro Cargo Airport as campaign tools to canvass for second term and he is already leveraging on it.
The governor also has pillars of support committed to his second term project.
In Ogun East, former deputy governor Gbenga Kaka, Tele Ogunjobi, Senator – elect Gbenga Daniel, Com. Tunde Oladunjoye, Senator Lekan Mustapha, former Deputy governor,
Chief (Mrs) Yetunde Onanuga, elected local government chairmen and councillors, including Wale Adedayo, and party elders, youth leader and mobiliser, Armstrong Akintunde, among others are assiduously committed to the reelection bid of the governor and their firm grip of Ogun East makes it impregnable to any opposition party. All the former Deputy governors in Ogun East are also behind the governor. The traditional rulers under the leadership of Awujale and Paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona and the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi have given him their endorsement and blessings in furtherance of Abiodun’s second term bid.
So, Abiodun is looking forward to harvesting a relatively bulk votes from the Ijebu extraction of Ogun East Senatorial district having six local governments while the Remo zone of it comprising three local governments will be a battle ground between him and his kinsman, Hon. Ladi Adebutu of the PDP.
Given the trouncing of the PDP during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections, coupled with the incumbency factor, Abiodun is expected to win Ogun East.
In Ogun Central which is his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun,’s stronghold, Abiodun has Amosun to contend with, who has not made secret of his resolve to dethrone his successor come March 11.
The former governor and a serving Senator on the ticket of APC is backing an Insurance guru and lawyer, Barr. Olubiyi Otegbeye, who is the governorship candidate of African Democratic Congress(ADC).
Amosun said he is backing Otegbeye against Abiodun on the side of justice, equity and fairness for the Ogun West senatorial district, which has not yet produced a governor since the creation of the Gateway State. Amosun said Abiodun should not return this May 29 having lowered the bar of governance and development in the state.
In the estimation of Amosun, only Otegbeye could arrest the perceived drift in Ogun State on the watch of Dapo Abiodun.
However, it is left to be seen how the Senator can make good his threat. His alleged support for the PDP Senatorial candidate, Chief Olumide Aderinokun and House of Representatives candidate of Allied People’s Movement(APM), Mikky Kazeem, for Abeokuta South federal constituency against the candidates of the APC, Senator – elect, Shuaib Salisu and Reps – elect, Afolabi Afuape, failed as his preferred candidates were roundly defeated.
But the ready support of former governor Olusegun Osoba, former Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon. Kunle Oluomo, former Ogun Assembly member and commissioner, Hon. Adijat Tunrayo Oladapo – Adeleye as well as the elected local government chairmen and councillors in Ogun Central are on the side of the governor to help counter Amosun and his preferred candidate.
All of these positioned Abiodun as the most formidable political force in Ogun State today.
The same hold true for the governor in Ogun West senatorial zone where he enjoys a formidable support and commitment of the people to deliver block votes to him. Senator Solomon Adeola, Reps member elect, Prince Gboyega Isiaka GNI, Hon. Abiodun Akinlade, Hon. Tunji Akinosi are among his support base. Abiodun’s deputy, Noimot Oyedele – Salako, is from Awori extraction of Ogun State, a constituency with high voting strength. The royal fathers from the zone under the leadership of Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle and the Olota of Ota, Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege have equally endorsed him for a second term and pledged their support for the governor’s re-election bid.
The battle grounds for Abiodun in Ogun West are Ilaro, the headquarters of Yewa South Local Government and home of the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress(ADC), Olubiyi Otegbeye, and Ipokia Local Government, the home of Hon. Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade, the running mate of Ladi Aebutu.
There may be sympathy votes for Otegbeye in Ilaro and it ends there while in Ipokia, it will be a hard battle for the governor who has Akinlade political stature to contend with. Akinlade was the governorship candidate of the Allied People’s Movement(APM) in 2019 and he defeated Abiodun in Ipokia at the time. Today Akinlade is the deputy governorship candidate of the opposition PDP but with the likes of the popular Reps members – elect, Hon. Isiaq Akinlade, Tunji Akinosi, and GNI, former deputy governor Salmot Badru, Senator Solomon Adeola, Chief (Mrs) Iyabo Apampa and a number of big politicians on the side of governor Abiodun, the Ogun PDP and Akinlade’s influence in Ipokia and Ogun West come March 11 would be drastically checked.
Dapo is most favoured to win the governorship election in Ogun state and the candidate to beat at first ballot but he needs to be wary of votes the state’s slippery civil servants and some sections of the workers in the state’s education sector, Local government staffers, the aggrieved retirees as well as the disengaged political office holders who have not been paid their severance package since 2015/ 2019. Political rivals may dig in through that quarters and use them to torpedo his chances.
ADC and Barr. Biyi Otegbeye
Biyi Otegbeye, a lawyer and an insurance guru from Ilaro in Ogun West is contesting for the first time. Hitherto, a member of the APC, Otegbeye moved to ADC when lost out in the governorship primary of APC. He had earlier sought to senatorial seat of Ogun West but could not push it through. He is running on wing of popular sentiment that Ogun West has not produced a governor yet and that equity, justice and fairness demand that the rest of the state support him to actualize the aspiration.
Acting independently, he does not have the political stamina to face either Adebutu of the PDP or the incumbent governor Dapo Abiodun. His ambition is perceived as a tool in the hand of Amosun to pursue personal vendetta or prosecute proxy war against Abiodun.
Again, Otegbeye’s Ogun West are not keen in his ambition. Critical stakeholders in the zone think Otegbeye’s ambition may imperil the 2027 governorship agenda of the zone. So, Otegbeye governorship bid is not a viable project now. He stands no chance of winning the race.
It is not a hidden thing that the traditional rulers are not aligning yet with the candidacy of Biyi Otegbeye even though he is the lone governorship candidate from Ogun West in the race involving two other major contenders – Dapo Abiodun and Ladi Adebutu of the APC and PDP respectively.
A notable monarch from the zone recently told newsmen that though the Obas are not against Otegbeye’s ambition, but there was the need to engage more stakeholders to make Ogun West agenda a reality.
The monarch said, “Everything in life is about dreams, aims and objectives. It is our dream in Ogun West that one day we will be in Okemosan. But we still need better planning. We need to engage everybody, all the critical stakeholders in Ogun State; so we will be able to work out our modalities so that one day, somebody from Ogun West will be governor. I believe in Ogun West and I believe in good governance.
“Dapo Abiodun is there today because we supported him to be there, and we expect him to reciprocate in supporting us too in 2027.
“Going into Okemosan as governor of Ogun State, not Ogun West alone, has to be between us and others zones – Central and East. And you can’t kill anybody’s dream to contest. It is the legal right of every citizen of this country to aspire about a particular position and go for it. But, we are looking at our own calculations that, the Ijebus should finish their terms, we supported them to be there. It’s a deal between us and them. We have supported them and we want them to reciprocate. It is not going to be Governor Abiodun alone, it’s going to be everybody; our brothers from the Central and our brothers from Ijebu.
“I am not saying Biyi should not contest and I’m not saying he’s not going to be the governor of Ogun State one day, but everybody still needs to put our hands on deck and work out modalities to make that dream come true. That’s our own position.
“Our own deal is that, we will support this governor (Abiodun) to be successful and subsequently ask all the Ijebus and the Egbas to reciprocate and support us.
“We have taken a position and Obaship is all about high integrity. We have taken a position and our position is that Dapo Abiodun should continue what he has started. This doesn’t kill our dream as well. We are still aspiring to be governor.”