The outcome of Osun State governorship election where the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke trounced the incumbent governor and candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) Gboyega Oyetola has rekindled the hope of PDP chieftains in Southwest of re-enacting the 2003 political scenario.
Apart from Lagos State that survived the PDP’s onslaught in that year, other five states in the region were “captured” in circumstances that redefined the politics of the region.
Although supporters of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) that later metamorphosed into APC alleged rigging and accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of deploying federal might against the party to win governorship elections in Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Oyo states for the PDP, many blamed political arrogance and entitlement claims of the progressive politicians as chief reason for losing the elections to the PDP.
If ballot stuffing, falsification of election results and other electoral malfeasance were blamed for losing the election to the PDP in 2003, such excuses may become untenable in 2023 with various electoral reforms the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has introduced, as well as the coming into force of the 2022 Electoral Act, which allows technology to reduce malpractices during elections.
The infighting and unresolved crisis that made APC mincemeat for the PDP in Osun State is prevalent in almost all state chapters of the party in the geo-political zone.
Observers said if Osun APC had resolved its internal wrangling and brought together the factions before the election; the result could have been different, given the achievements of Governor Oyetola and his ability to improve on the welfare of the people in the state.
Apart from Aregbesola’s loyalists that dumped APC, others that remain in the party allegedly worked against it and ensured Oyetola did not win the election.
Efforts by the presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande to resolve the crisis were unsuccessful. In fact, the matter created acrimony between Tinubu and Aregbeola, who warned the National Leader of the party to “stop playing God.”
In fact, Aregbesola was not in the country to cast his vote in the crucial election where many APC members allegedly undermined the success of their party.
Ekiti’s narrow escape
EKITI State APC escaped losing the June 16 governorship election to the opposition because of the inability of the PDP to field a winning candidate for that election.
But 2023 general election when contestants for the Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates will slug it out among themselves will likely going to be a different ball game. There are still unresolved issues about how some candidates emerged in both APC and PDP and threats from those who lost out during the primaries to work against their parties.
Besides, the coming election will provide opportunity for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) to convince Nigerians that the party, indeed is popular in Ekiti State as being claimed by the governorship candidate of the party, Chief Segun Oni, who is challenging his defeat at the tribunal.
Ondo’s non-aligned status could help opposition
ONDO State will not go to the polls for the governorship till 2024, but when members of the National and state assemblies will face the electorate in 2023. That will allow political parties to test their strength in the state.
Observers say never had the state experienced strong politicians from the three senatorial districts struggling to control the state. The incumbent governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, an APC chieftain is from Owo in Ondo North Senatorial district. Former governorship candidate of the PDP in 2020 election and Akure-born Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Eyitayo Jegede, as well as the former governorship candidate of ZLP, Agboola Ajayi, who hails from Ese-Odo, Ondo South Senatorial district are battle ready to win the state for their respective parties.
Political trajectory of the state indicates that Ondo electorate consider quality of the candidate ahead of party consideration and this explains why Ondo is the only state in the Southwest governed by three different political parties at different times since 1999.
Although Akeredolu will not be on the ballot party in 2024, his performance and ability to resolve internal issues within APC are part of the factors that will determine if APC will retain its tenancy in Alagbaka Government House after his tenure.
Oyo State: Unending battle between old and new entrants
IF the unresolved crisis between Oyetola and Aregbesola sealed APC chances in winning governorship election in Osun State, the intrigues and crisis bedeviling Oyo APC, if not resolved, will make their quest to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and return to the Agodi Government House, Ibadan, a mirage.
Although PDP in the state is not free of internal crisis, which makes the party vulnerable, APC is not yet united to pose any threat to the second term ambition of Governor Seyi Makinde.
Since 2021 when the party held its controversial state congress that produced Mr Isaac Omodewu as the chairman of the party, efforts to reconcile aggrieved party members have not been successful. It was believed that new entrants into the party, led by Senator Teslim Folarin, after the death of the former governor of the state, Otunba Christopher Alao-Akala manipulated the process to impose Omodewu on the old members of the party.
The party was not only polarised between the old members, who described themselves as Progressives and PDP decampees that have taking over the control of the party, its ripple effects had forced many leaders to dump the party.
It was gathered that efforts to resolve the crisis by sharing positions among the three tendencies in the party – The Ajimobi group, Unity Forum and Folarin group failed, as Folarin group alleged insisted on merging the Unity Forum with Ajimobi group to have a slot, while his group will go with two slots in the Senate and apply the same sharing formula for other positions.
While party leaders in both Ajimobi group and Unity Forum were still contesting the sharing formula, Folarin emerged as the governorship candidate of the party and his loyalists also won most of the positions for next year’s election.
In reaction to how Folarin had hijacked the structure of the party, former governorship candidate of the party in the 2019 election, Adebayo Adelabu decamped from the party to pick the governorship ticket of Accord Party.
Some of the aggrieved APC members, who joined Adelabu to Accord include, Senator Ayo Adeseun, Hon. Ademola Ojo, Alhaji Bashiru Akanbi, Alhaji Isiaka Alimi, Dr. Olusola Ayandele, Chief Kunle Sanda, Prince Ayodeji Abass-Alesinloye, Mr. Bimbo Adepoju, Hon. Samuel Egunjobi, among others.
Also a chieftain of the party and Ajimobi’s close associate, Engineer Joseph Tegbe also defected to the PDP, in protest of how the party structure was seized by new entrants in the party.
Tegbe disclosed that his defection was further fuelled by the decision of the national leadership of the party, which he alleged of supporting the minority to hijack the party structure, contrary to the desire of the majority.
Some APC leaders that joined Tegbe in PDP are, Jide Adéwálé, Fatai Akinsanmi, Erelu Jaiyeoba, as well as Hafiz Oladejo.
Besides, some Oyo APC members are also fingered in attempt to resuscitate Labour Party (LP) in the state and many observers are watching how APC will achieve its aim of serving quit notice to Makinde, who is the major beneficiary of the disunited and crisis-ridden APC in the state.
But the acting State Publicity Secretary of the party, Hon. Shittu Adebayo Mukaila said the party was not surprised that Tegbe left and described him as a political merchant. He said Tegbe has been working for the PDP since 2018 when he lost the primary to emerge as the candidate of the party.
However, Bolaji Tunji, spokesperson of former Governor Abiola Ajimobi said the party should brace up and do all that is necessary to reconcile aggrieved members and stop exodus of members decamping from the party.
He said, “Many are dissatisfied with the present scenario, believing that the national leadership, especially the previous national caretaker committee, was complicit in the crisis rocking Oyo APC and the crisis in other state chapters of the party.”
While advising the Senator Abdulahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NEC) to quickly intervene in resolving the crisis, Tunji enjoined all the different groups in the state APC to be ready to shift grounds to accommodate each other. He said: “Inability to resolve this problem will keep the APC in continued opposition in Oyo State.”
Ogun State: Amosun’s supporters turn their back against APC
THE defection of Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, the political godson of the former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun to the PDP has furthered weakened the ruling APC in the state. To make the matter worse for the party, Akinlade left APC with many grassroots politicians from almost all the 20 local councils.
In fact, 234 councillors, who served during Amosun’s administration, are part of many leaders, who dumped APC to strengthen PDP in the state.
Akinlade has been picked by the governorship candidate of the party, Hon. Ladi Adebutu as his running mate to harvest more members of the APC to PDP.
Although Amosun has dissociated himself from the political moves by his associates, but many believe that the defection was a strategy from his group to ensure APC lost the election to the PDP and return later to capture the party from Abiodun’s grip and rebuild it ahead of 2027 election.
A source close to the party said, Amosun’s supporters are working on the same political strategy Aregbesola’s group adopted in Osun State, which made APC to lose the governorship election.
The war of attrition between Governor Dapo Abiodun and his predecessor began in 2018 over the governorship ticket, which Amosun wanted Akinlade to win. But with forces from outside the state, Abiodun won the ticket and Akinlade decamped to pick the governorship ticket of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). Abiodun won the election.
Efforts by Akinlade to use legal means to overturn Abiodun’s victory were unsuccessful, as his petitions failed at all levels of appeal. By 2020, Akinlade and his co-travellers to the APM returned to APC but they were not integrated in the party’s structure by Abiodun.
Indeed, the state chapter of the party made efforts to suspend Amosun, Akinlade and their supporters but the national secretariat of the party did not allow the disciplinary measure to be effective.
The primary that gave Abiodun second ticket was not only controversial but the list was allegedly doctored to exclude Amosun’s supporters from the election, the reason the group would not want to work for Abiodun’s re-election bid despite the claim by some of them that they will vote APC at the presidential election.
Hopes by some members in Amosun’s camp that the manner at which he stepped down for the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu at the national convention party would assist in reconciling factions in the party were dashed as efforts to harmonise the positions of the two factions ahead of 2023 elections failed.
But some APC goons were not bothered about the defection of Amosun’s group to the PDP because Akinlade contested for the governorship and was defeated by Abiodun even when Amosun was the sitting governor with state machineries deployed to the advantage of the APM.
They believe that Amosun’s group is no longer enjoying strong political influence in the state to threaten Abiodun’s re-election, despite having almost all the Federal Government appointments allocated to the state.
Besides, the defection of the three-term governorship candidate in the state, Prince Nasir Gboyega Isiaka (GNI) to the APC is seen as a booster to Abiodun’s chance of winning 2023 election.
Isiaka, who is the promoter of The Believe Movement (TBM) is not just a grassroots politician from Ogun West with members in all the nooks and crannies of the state, he is believed to have a cult-like members, who are already routing for Abiodun’s re-election.
Although many elites in the state are yet to form a consensus about PDP’s candidate capability of governing the state but Abiodun’s performance has also not been exceptional, his ability to spread projects across the three senatorial districts unlike Amosun, who concentrated all his projects in Ogun Central Senatorial district is seen as an advantage that may give Abiodun widespread acceptability during 2023 election.
But observers have ruled out his winning Ogun Central, if some political moves are not made to assuage perception about his government.
Speaking on why he decided to dump APC for PDP, Akilade cited injustice and the way the party treated his political godfather and his supporters. He said, “I decided to run with Hon. Ladi Adebutu for two important reasons. One: To stop Abiodun from returning for a second term. This state needs to be reset. Since three years, people have not seen him, but after the Osun election, he started inviting people. It is too late. He will fail (O ma lule ni).”
But the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Tunde Oladunjoye has described Akinlade’s defection as a “good radiance”, noting that Akinlade has been playing politics of division in APC, rather than contributing to the progress of the party, since he returned from his sojourn to APM in 2019. But his exit and that of other supporters of Amosun is not a plus for Ogun APC.
How to defeat Lagos APC
Lagos State PDP governorship candidate, Olajide Adediran also known as Jandor and his running mate Funke Akindele have promised to “liberate” Lagosians from the grip of the APC that has been governing the state since the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999, but how to achieve it is not yet clear to the electorate.
Until last year, Jandor, who is the convener of Lagos4Lagos Movement, was a member of the APC and his inability to achieve his aspiration of winning the ticket of the party drove him out to join the PDP. But defeating the solid structure of APC in Lagos State with achievements of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu requires more strategic work than sympathy from few electorate.
However, there is no serious internal wrangling in the Lagos APC to show threats on its voyage to victory in the next year’s election, as the cold feat developed by old PDP members in the state against Adediran’s emergence as the candidate of the party and defection of some PDP leaders scampering for the ticket of other small parties in the state.
His choice of Akindele as his running mate and her electoral value is still being debated by analysts. Her supporters said the Nollywood star has potentials of attracting votes from the youths and women, especially those who follow her on her social media handles. It remains to be seen.
But many analysts said it is only a, “Concert of medium parties” that can give Lagos APC a run for its money, especially at this moment when its national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu is the presidential candidate of the party.