SUNDAY, 21 APRIL 2013
BY KAMAL TAYO OROPO SUNDAY MAGAZINE – SUNDAY MAGAZINE
THE fact that Senator Ibikunle Amosun was a latecomer to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Ogun State is beginning to tell on his handling of matters under his leadership. He was perceived to be individualistic, one who might prove difficult to manage when larger interests are put on the table. But he got the approval of party leaders to fly the ACN flag based on the consideration that he is a grassroots mobiliser with a structure on ground.
Internal wrangling, which had considerably weakened the PDP, helped in no small measure to actualise the ACN victory in 2011.
Barely two years after, many top ACN members in the state are getting disillusioned by the day over Amosun’s style of governance, especially regarding political patronage and equitable development all parts of the state. They are threatening to quit the ACN should the party go ahead to re-present the governor for a second term in 2015.
A top party source said; “there is no way we can go back to our people to support this man in 2015. He’s proving to be a bad market.”
While the PDP may not necessarily be the ultimate beneficiary of the emerging disaffection in the Ogun ACN, the advantage may go to the Labour Party (LP), whose only governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State has been making serious and telling in-roads into the political firmaments of Ogun State. The Guardian gathered that a possible switch to LP by many ACN members could already be at an advanced stage. This is in spite of the yet-to-be-registered All Progressive Congress (APC), whose delayed arrival is adding to the environment of political uncertainty.
Unlike in Lagos State and other ACN-controlled states, politics in Ogun is largely played along four perpetually contending divisions, each always trying to assert and advance its socio-economic-political interests. They are Egba, Ijebu, Remo and Yewa. Governor Amosun had been accused of bias in the distribution of projects in these divisions. He is accused of wanting to feather the nest of his cap, which is already very long and tilted in favour of those fiercely loyal to him and his interests alone. ACN members who are supposed to come to Amosun’s defense also, incidentally, accuse him of bias.
When on March 5, 2013 the crisis in the state House Assembly boiled over, one interesting fact emerged: that the four divisions of the state are well represented in the character of the four major actors involved – Rev. Remmy Hassan (Ijebu), Mr. John Obafemi (Remo), Mr. Job Akintan (Yewa) and Ms. Adijat Olaleye (Egba). It is a delicate balancing.
Though, the governor still appears to enjoy support of the party’s leadership, former governor, chief Olusegun Osoba, on whose back Amosun rode to power prefers a studied silence and distancing himself from the day-to-day running of the state affairs. The national chairman of the party, chief Bisi Akande, in reaction to charges of bias leveled against the governor by a section of the party, insisted that there is nothing wrong with the governor and “he is performing very well.” Yet, frayed nerves have not been assuaged. Akande, who is former governor of Osun State is accused of “according too much respect to the office of the governor.”
The case of Osoba’s seeming indifference, according to a top ACN stalwart in the state, is more surprising. “Of the three names Osoba nominated for the post of commissioner, none was accepted. The governor gave all manner of excuses to reject the nominees,” said one of the original CAN members, sometimes loosely referred to as Osoba faction.
“He (Osoba) always insisted on respect for constituted authority. But some of us had always been loyal to the party. I have never changed party. We have been there since Day One and we cannot just allow anyone to rubbish the gains of the party in the state,” he said. The former governor had also distanced himself from the so-called Osoba group, saying, “they are party loyalists and party discipline must be maintained at all times.”
Amosun, upon coming to power realised that the State House of Assembly might have been composed to checkmate him whenever he goes out of line. Immediately, he brought on his side the seven non-ACN members, who were mostly those who came with him from his former political alignment. He did not stop at that as he went on to divide the remaining members right in the middle to guarantee a loyal House.
How far this contrived loyalty would go remains for time to unravel. Looking at the March crisis, which shook the State House of Assembly to its foundation, as well as the uproar that greeted the bond/loan being sought by the governor, all may not be in the governor’s kitty yet.
Presently, there are two major groups within the Ogun ACN, the SIA group, an acronym of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, which of course are the governor’s core loyalists, and the original ACN members. The SIA group is believed to be “taking everything and locking out most of those who do not belong to Amosun’s camp.”
Matter almost took another dimension during the revalidation exercise for party members, held recently in Abeokuta. Crisis began when members of the SIA group allegedly insisted on registering first, thus breaching the order with which the membership register should follow, allowing for the registration of older members who are already on the list.
Efforts to make them understand the situation proved abortive, as the affected members became violent. While the fight was on, the members loyal to the governor allegedly stole the register and disappeared, thereby cutting short the exercise. Members of the SIA group allegedly came with fake membership cards, which were discovered.
All may not be too well with politics in the Gateway State, but it could be better of Amosun learns to dispense governs more equitably.