Friday, 14 January 2022 08:29

[OPINION] How Not To Cast The First Stone - Tajudeen Adekoya

The Senator Adamu Abdullahi-led Reconciliation Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) set up by the Mai Buni National Caretaker Committee was on a one-day trouble shooting mission to Ogun State on Friday, January 7, 2022. Essentially, the Committee was tasked to mediate in the crisis rocking the party in the state and to see the best way to pilot reconciliation efforts, preparatory to the 2023 general elections that are approaching.

The major thrust of the Committee’s business was to broker a peace deal and mend fences between the faction of the Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, and that of his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who is currently representing Ogun Central at the Red Chamber of the National Assembly. It shouldn’t be surprising that the crisis is far from being over, just as the Committee which was saddled with the responsibility did all it could within its reach to thaw the frosty relationship between the two factions, but at the end of its mission recognised the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led faction as the authentic leadership of the state’s executive.

“In unity lies strength, I wish the winning side will be magnanimous in victory and the other side accepts the reality. Everyone has his own time,” Sen. Abdullahi said. It should be noted Amosun ought to realise that he is no longer the governor, but his ambivalence and maverick stance towards the current administration in the state is an aberration and an act of insubordination to the constituted authority which he once sat upon.

 

As Emperor, throughout his eight-year (two terms) in office, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (his predecessor), who was already declared, “persona non-grata”, dared not walked freely the streets of Abeokuta (the state capital), let alone raise unnecessary dust against the sitting governor. But the reverse is the case with Amosun in his acrimonious rivalry with his successor in office, Abiodun. The current governor (Abiodun) and his predecessor, Amosun, were very good friends, but at the mere indication of the latter for the plum number one job of the state in mid-2018 pitched him against the former. The Ogun Central senator threw caution to the wind and resorted to all forms of shenanigans and other dirty tricks in a bid to scuttle the governorship ambition of his estranged friend. The current travails the immediate past governor is facing in the political calculus of the leadership structure of the (APC) party are the attendant repercussions of his bargains, and this explains why it is not desirable to cast the first stone at your benefactor who subsequently became his foe.

“Never play with the feelings of others, because you may win the game, but the risk is that you will surely lose the person for a lifetime,” Williams Shakespeare. Government is all about continuum. Reminiscent of the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State, the attendant camaraderie or dirty tricks employed by political gladiators who were then, calling shots at the centre with plots to foist their own anointed son, Mr Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade, as successor in office, and frustrate the ambition of the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Dapo Abiodun, from winning at the poll presented a comic relief of such that had made the principal actors looked like a ribaldry butt of jokes before the people of the state and beyond. Events preceding the electoral victory of Prince Dapo Abiodun as Ogun State Governor in the May 9, 2019 were such that they were riddled with the sphinx of evil machinations and intrigues in a deft bid to outdo him.

However, despite overtures by critical stakeholders within the party, well-meaning Nigerians, spiritual leaders and respected traditional rulers to persuade Amosun to accept the candidature of Abiodun and work collectively for the victory of the APC at the governorship poll, he was adamant and uncompromising to ‘let go’ the emergence of his bosom friend, now turned estranged. In not less than 28 trips, Amosun shuttled to Aso Rock (Abuja) to get the attention of PMB to rescind and upturn the decision of the national leadership of the party in a bid to give the Ogun APC governorship ticket to Akinlade, but it ended in a stalemate.

 

Fresh, but still memorable was the attack on President Muhammadu Buhari at the presentation of the party’s flag to the Ogun State governorship candidate of the APC held at Abiola Stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta, on Monday, February 11, 2019. At the rally, the then sitting governor had a raw deal and rebuffed every entreaty to allow security agents detailed from Abuja to take charge and frisk every member and supporter into the stadium. He had allegedly ordered the gate to be thrown open to allow hired street urchins gain entry under the guise of paving ways for all the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) members to attend the ceremony when it was evidently suspected there was likely to be a breakdown of law and order while the 35,000 capacity facility was filled to the brim.

The street urchins threw objects at the President and leaders of the party who were in attendance during the rally with stones and sachet water. While PMB was raising Abiodun’s hand, the crowd jeered, “No, No” and hurled objects at the President and the APC candidate (Abiodun) who is now the governor. The fracas which began like a mild drama subsequently degenerated, shortly after Amosun handed over the microphone to the then, National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to address the crowd.

Amosun had said: “Come Saturday, let us go out and vote for President Muhammadu Buhari and on March 2, let us look elsewhere. I hope you understand me and get my message. And let it be known to you all, after the March 2 poll, we shall all become APC again.” Also, erstwhile Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola (now, Minister for Interior Affairs) had cautioned those he labelled as “hypocrites” against “staying indoors and fighting the home outside”. The Ogun Central Senator is leading a rebellion in the state against the leadership of the APC over the rejection of his political godson, Hon Adekunle Akinlade, as the APC governorship candidate. Akinlade had moved over to pick the flag of the APM on Saturday, March 9, 2019, which he lost out to Abiodun, the APC candidate.

However, as if that wasn’t enough, one began to wonder whether government is actually a continuum or not. Few days to exiting office, Amosun was busy heaping sands at every available space where his successor, Abiodun, was expected to hold his inauguration activities. Forget that Amosun had promised to ensure that his successor got a hitch-free inauguration, pointers to the fact that the predecessor was still nursing the ill-feeling that his surrogate did not emerge his successor was obvious.

The foyer to the inauguration venue, June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, was blocked with heaps of sands and a grader under the pretence of the ongoing construction of the Kuto flyover and also, the road reconstruction of Roundabout. And the feeling you get was that, a governor who was not interested in what happens to his state after leaving office, just because his choice of successor was not heeded. Like a joke taken too far, Abiodun inherited a near empty treasury from his predecessor, who hurriedly elevated a dozen of directors from the civil service to Permanent Secretary (PS) status and also employed hundreds of fresh graduates into the service, without due process in the twilight of his exit from office on May 29, 2019, all in a bid to make the state ungovernable for his successor.

Meanwhile, with these anti-party activities, the party’s hierarchy wielded the big stick and sanctioned him with suspension from the APC, but the punishment was subsequently lifted owing to his strong and close personal relationship with PMB. The 11-man committee led by Senator Adamu Abdullahi met separately with the two factions (Abiodun’s group at the Presidential Lodge and Amosun’s at MITROS Residences), both at Abeokuta, the state capital, in choosing the path of reconciliation and guard against polarising the party in the state.

 

Ogun State Governor, Abiodun, and his predecessor, Amosun, had stuck to their guns on the soul and structure of the party in the state. While registering its displeasure, the Amosun faction reportedly wrote petitions against Abiodun, alleging that due process was not followed in the conduct of the last congress in the state. Hope is not yet lost for a second chance, just as the party has opened its door for the aggrieved faction to close ranks and work collectively for the progress of the party. In his remarks during the visit of the 11-man Reconciliatory Committee, the state party’s Chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi, had counselled the aggrieved faction to embrace dialogue for a lasting peace resolution of the crisis.

He said: “We are charting the path of reconciliation and inform everybody that our door is always open for all members of diverse opinions and beliefs. “In sports, there must be a loser and a winner. However, we have been magnanimous with our victory and we appeal to our people on the other side to be gallant and embrace the olive branch that we have extended to them.

“I believe that our major task is to bring everybody together in unity and peace. This path of peace has been our major pre-occupation and we will do everything within our capacity to ensure that we bring everybody together, because our strength lies in unity.

“To this end, I enjoin estranged members to come back to the mainstream of the party to harness the all-inclusive policy of His Excellency (HE), Prince Dapo Abiodun.” Be that as it may, rejection of any form to broker a peace accord portends no threat to the re-election bid of Prince Dapo Abiodun for his second term in office in the coming 2023 General elections.

Adekoya writes from Ijebu-Igbo, in Ijebu North LGA of Ogun State

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