By: Kayode Odunaro
The Presidential and National Assembly Election have come and gone and Nigerians have truly decided at the federal level for a Renewed Hope in favour of All Progressives Congress, APC. For me as a patriotic Nigerian, it is time to move on May 29, in hope of a re-engineering of our nations’ chances in the comity of nations with the Presidency of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. All efforts at rewinding the hands of the clock are for me mere splitting of hairs. I participated fully as other eligible and patriotic Nigerians in that decision by voting in my Ward 2, Ilaro, Yewa South LGA and I can report that the election in my unit was peaceful, orderly and well conducted with ballots sorted, counted, recorded and announced for Presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives election in my presence. I can witness in any court of the land to a transparent election devoid of rigging, vote buying or selling or violence. It was truly a democratic event and APC won with huge margins.
Predictably from results announced across Ogun State, what happened in my polling unit was not a unique occurrence but a state wide phenomenon with the three senators and 9 House of Representatives members as well as the now President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu all of APC coasting home to an uncontestable victory. Apparently, the same was virtually replicated in neighbouring mega city state of Lagos with APC carting away all three senatorial seats and 20 out of 24 House of Representatives seats. Uncharacteristically and shockingly, the President-Elect lost by about 10,000 votes to Labour Party’s candidate Peter Obi in what could only be explained as the result of ethnic politics mingled with what may at best be described as religious bigotry on the part of a major religion with massive membership in the mega city of Lagos. Even at that with the results of what could be regarded as the ‘local’ elections of senators and House of Representatives members, it is clear that the two states of Ogun and Lagos remains APC strongholds even with the surprising results of Labour Party in the presidential poll.
Fast-forward to the rescheduled March 18, 2023 Governorship and House of Assembly poll in the two states, and one cannot but foresees a sure win for APC in spite of some local frenzy swimming against the tide of a sweeping APC broom. As a close watcher and participant in the politics of both states over the years with insights informed by on the ground participation in and out of governments of both states, one would not be walking on a limb to forcefully declare that APC will carry the day in the gubernatorial races of both Ogun and Lagos State with the electorate returning Prince Dapo Abiodun and Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as governors respectively and indeed a majority of the state legislators.
The reasons for this conclusion are out there for any perceptive observer not carried away by any sentiments- be it religious, ethnic or just the spur of the moment trend. In Ogun State, Prince Abiodun seeking a second term have many deliverables to his credit in less than 4 years across all LGAs and senatorial districts in the areas of road infrastructure, health care, education, agriculture, ICT, youth development and ongoing pioneering effort in aviation as well as siding with the interest of the people when faced with such challenges as the global COVID-19 pandemic or the ill-implemented currency redesign policy that inflicted untold hardship on many. If one were to go by scores on performance within a period and with resources available, then the incumbent governor of Ogun State is on good stead to win the coming guber race among a coterie of disparate, troubled and contrived opposition parties and candidates.
But Prince Abiodun equally have other concatenation of issues working in favour of his re-election. The last presidential and federal legislative election is one of such issues. The campaign of voting APC from “top to bottom” sank well with the people of Ogun State and amidst negatively timed implementation of currency redesign and fuel scarcity skewed against the party, discerning and sophisticated electorate massively voted for the renewed hope promise of APC by voting Asiwaju Tinubu, three senators and 9 House of Representatives member in a 100% win against all opposition who went home empty handed. With a President-Elect of APC, Ogun State people are not in a hurry to vote in a governor in opposition to a Federal Government controlled by APC. The people of the state are more politically sophisticated than to commit such blunder, all other things considered.
The above assertion is further buoyed by the fact of virtually all major political actors in Ogun State are conglomerating in APC. As I wrote of the unique circumstance of party politics in Ogun State a while back, all the living former elected governors of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Senator Ibikunle Amosun are in APC. All the former deputy governors namely Senator Gbenga Kaka, Alhaja Salmont Badru, Prince Segun Adesegun and Mrs. Yetunde Adenuga are all APC members with substantial political followings rooting for the re-election of Prince Abiodun. In this class only Senator Amosun is openly against the re-election of the governor in what tantamount to anti-party activity with his support for African Democratic Congress, ADC candidate, Barrister Biyi Otegbeye. Again, all former Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly since 1999 namely Rt. Hon. Titi Oseni Shodunke, Rt. Hon. Tunji Samson Egbetokun, Rt. Hon Suraju Adekumbi are in APC working for the re-election of Governor Abiodun. Only Rt. Hon. Muyiwa Oladipupo broke rank in this pack. As we know in a democracy, majority will always have their way while minority are allowed their say but no more.
But such minus of the minority among political leadership of Ogun state for the incumbent governor is more than compensated for by the forces and grassroots reach of the mass mobiliser in the form of Senator Solomon Adeola, the chairman of Senate Committee on Finance and now the senator-elect for Ogun West. Among with other top political gladiators, Senator Adeola popularly called Yayi is not pulling any stop to ensure the re-election of Governor Abiodun with his grassroots approach to campaign across Ogun West and beyond. And shortly after the February 25 election, there has been a rash of political decamping from some heavy weights in the major opposition parties. In ADC, Engineer Yinka Akintomide and his supporters joined the APC shortly before the election. Prince Segun Seriki of PDP also crossed over to APC and Governor Abiodun. Also, a candidate in the just concluded election Hon. Kolawole Lawal Moboluwaduro, KLM, of APM, the incumbent member representing Yewa South-Ipokia Federal constituency is now an APC member following his crossover and is campaigning vigorously for Prince Dapo.
More favourabe to the re-election calculations of the incumbent Ogun State governor is the circumstances of the major opposition political parties and their candidates. In Ogun State, the major opposition going towards election are Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and ADC. PDP until very recently was not only bogged down by litigation and internal crises but its major candidates, Hon. Ladipupo Adebutu was only recently affirmed as the candidate of the party at the Supreme Court. With the loss of its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the February 25th election to Asiwaju Tinubu, candidates like Hon. Adebutu looks like an orphan without help from anywhere except the famed deep purse of his father which may count for nothing or be countered by a discerning and sophisticated electorate of Ogun State.
The case of ADC and its candidate is even worse. In the first place its candidate Barrister Otegbeye was a contestant with the incumbent governor at the APC primary where he lost and briefly litigated against the victory of the governor. Shortly after, the candidate was adopted by Senator Amosun in his vow to unseat his party’s incumbent governor and after shopping for political party, Barrister Otegbeye landed in ADC with heavy financial and logistics backing from Senator Amosun. With much time and resources spent on litigation, as Barrister Otegbeye was at some point judicially denied the candidacy of ADC, and the ‘newness’ of ADC as a party of reckon and indeed a fringe party in the race toward Oke- Mosan, it was clear that Barrister Otegbeye may have backed the wrong horse in his ambition to govern Ogun State, notwithstanding his attempt to ride on an Ogun West justiciable quest to govern the state for the first time since its creation. The case is worsened with the outcome of the February 25th election. Going forward, the party and its candidates also suffers from the credibility problem of its perception as a ploy by Senator Amosun to settle personal scores and stage a comeback through proxy at the Governor’s Office that he held sway for 8 years.
All said, in the race between the incumbent governor, Prince Abiodun, Hon. Adebutu and Barrister Otegbeye, the opposition candidates are challenged by a myriad of problems and negative perception that will certainly see Ogun State people deciding for Prince Abiodun having a second term. I clearly see him coasting to victory.
By the same token Mr. Sanwo-Olu look set to win the governorship seat of Lagos State. Hitherto, I had told many of my observation of Lagos politics to the effect that it will take except a unique occurrence happens, it will take about three electoral rounds for any party to upturn the progressive political structure that came into being since 1999 election of Senator Bola Tinubu as governor of the state. The structure was such that virtually all sectors including non-indigenes were locked in and given a sense of belonging to ensure repeated electoral victory. My three electoral cycle was premised on the possibility of mis-governance of sort or a yearning of people for a change in due course.
In spite of the rash of “Obidient Movement” whose epicenter coalesce around Lagos, Abuja and most South East states and the religious politics against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the now President-Elect, Lagos State is still firmly in progressive ambit and APC is not shaking in its firm grip on the governance of the state with Mr. Sanwo-Olu coasting home to victory. The first prop of this assertion is the result of the last election which saw APC sweeping all senatorial seats and virtually all House of Representatives seats. The factors now identified as responsible for the President-Elect marginal loss of Lagos, namely the Obidient Movement and religious factor are not expected to forceful nature for the Governorship and House of Assembly Election. One is almost 100% sure of a repeat of the voting pattern of the senatorial and House of Representatives election for the “local election” of governor and House of Assembly members.
The re-election of Mr. Sanwo-Olu is also buoyed by the fact of the quality of opposition parties and candidates to him. Hitherto, it has been PDP and coterie of candidates that had virtually turned into serial electoral failures in Lagos State since 1999. It looked like an advanced was made by PDP with the breakaway of Mr. Olajide Abdul-Azeez Adediran popularly call ‘Jandor’ from his APC roots with his “Lagos 4Lagos” mantra. That was until he selected Funke Akindele, a popular thespian as deputy governor over Mr. Gbadebo Rhode-Vivour against the counsel of Chief Bode George, the political godfather of PDP in Lagos and beyond. Rhode-Vivour soon opportunistically joined Labour Party and has now divided opposition against Mr. Sanwo-Olu and APC into what may be ineffectual challenge of splintered opposition. With Rhode-Vivour turning into an Igbo ethnic candidate on account of his maternal origin of Ukwa East, Abia State, a major rug was pulled under the feet of Jandor’s PDP.
While all these were afoot, Mr. Sanwo-Olu had since received many to politicians as de-campees from PDP and other major parties as well as endorsement from Afenifere on the basis of competence and known deliverables of good governance in all sectors in the last three and half year. Indeed, a major argument was that no one can vouch for the competence or antecedents of the opposition candidates to the extent of handing over the affairs of the mega city of Lagos to greenhorns. For Lagosians, Mr. Sanwo-Olu is still the best man on the ballot. And with a President-Elect of APC who was indeed a former governor of Lagos State, it is reasonable to expect Lagosians to do the right thing of re-electing Mr. Sanwo Olu instead of any gamble with candidates whose public service antecedents and private accomplishments are at best rudimentary and lackluster. I also see Mr. Sanwo-Olu coasting home to victory on March 18 like Prince Abiodun in neighbouring Ogun State.
Conclusively, I urge voters in Ogun and Lagos State to go out and exercise their rights with good governance and performance as guide and indeed, cognizant of the fact that it is not always the best of deals for any state to be in opposition with the party in control of the Federal Government.
Chief Kayode Odunaro writes from Ilaro, Ilaro-Yewa, Ogun State