+Along With His Relationship With Gov. DAPO ABIODUN
This is a story of 3 popular Ogun politicians, who have been close friends for over 20 years and who had a Gentleman’s agreement and understanding for the 3 of them to succeed one another as Governors of Ogun State.
It is the story of former Ogun Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and Gov. Dapo Abiodun. About 20 years ago, the 3 of them were very, very close friends and political associates. Gov. Abiodun was the youngest of the 3.
The 3 politicians had a lot in common. Let’s quickly tell you that they started as young and ambitious politicians. At various times, they all wanted to be Senators or Governors in the State. Also, at various times, they all had to move from one political party to another. OGD, for instance, had to leave AD for PDP to realise his gubernatorial ambition in Ogun State. When he defected to PDP many thought OGD had made a mistake. But he was proved right. It was the same thing with Senator Ibikunle Amosun. He moved to so many parties before he finally won the ACN’s ticket to run for Ogun governorship and he won eventually. He was at some point in the PDP, then ANPP, then CPC before he followed Buhari to APC. Its the same thing with Gov. Dapo Abiodun. He also had to move from one political party to another party.
In 2003, Dapo Abiodun contested with OGD for the PDP Governorship ticket. OGD, Doyin Okupe, Yemi Adefulu, Titi Ajanaku, Col. Shoda etc were the PDP aspirants who contested the Primaries at the Cultural Centre, in Kuto, Abeokuta.
OGD won. Dapo Abiodun came second. But at that time, there was supposed to be a Gang up of the so-called “True Remo” as the agitation then was that OGD was from Ijebu and not Remo. So they had thought there could be a tie; meaning ballot may not be decided at first vote, so all the other so called Remo people will step down for Okupe. But DA who came second immediately declared support for OGD, collapsed his campaign structure and rebranded some of his Campaign vehicles to OGD. That was why some people who were on DA’s campaign, including his PA, Koye Ijaduoye made it into OGD’s government.
At the same time, Amosun was contesting for Senate on the platform of the same PDP. So they all don’t have a choice than to campaign together where the person running for Governor is actually the flagship of the party, winning the governorship will guarantee winning for other posts like Senate.
The Guber ticket was not as attractive then because few people can take the risk against Aremo Olusegun Osoba. Many had thought OGD was only wasting his time because PDP was not popular in the SW then, and Osoba caught an image of someone who had the entire Ogun State political environment wrapped up totally.
Since they were facing a common enemy they had to find a way to work together. OGD was coming from the AD background in Lagos, so he still had friends in Lagos government. So, when Amosun needed funds to shove up his campaign, OGD recommended him for a Tax Audit for some Lagos State Government Agencies but he did not disclose his identity as PDP candidate in Ogun.
City People gathered that years back, the 3 of them had an understanding to support one anther’s ambition. It all started with OGD’s ambition to rule Ogun State. When OGD was running for office, Senator Ibikunle Amosun supported OGD. Gov. Dapo Abiodun also supported him. Recently, an exclusive photograph of the 2 campaigning for OGD surfaced on social media with Dapo Abiodun holding the microphone for OGD at a political rally.
Surprisingly, shortly after OGD came to power, he parted ways with Amosun who had moved to APC to contest for governorship. After his 2 terms, OGD fielded a governorship candidate, who ran against Amosun in Ogun State. Amosun was bitter. Once Amosun won, he declared total war against OGD and for the 8 years he was governor, he frustrated OGD. He seized some of his assets like his Abeokuta hotel. He also dragged OGD to EFCC. A case was initiated against OGD which is still on till date.
It was a similar thing that happened between Amosun & Dapo Abiodun. Both had a cordial relationship during the 1st term of Amosun. So close were they that Dapo Abiodun co-ordinated the whole of Ogun East for Amosun and he invested personal funds in making sure that Amosun succeeded. In doing all these, Abiodun had assumed that Amosun would support his governorship ambition. It was when Abiodun realised that Amosun had come out with a Yewa Guber Agenda that he began to have problems with Amosun. It was during a private session with Amosun that Amosun told Dapo to pick the Senate ticket for Ogun East because the governorship ticket was going to go to Yewa axis.
It was at that point that Dapo Abiodun got angry and decided to defy Amosun and joined the governorship race. That was how Amosun reneged on the Gentleman agreement he had with Abiodun and the relationship among the 3 gentlemen crashed.
Let’s tell you more. Before the election that took OGD to office in 2003 as governor of Ogun State, Amosun formed an alliance with, and lined behind Daniel to become Ogun State governor in 2003. Amosun was one of those that worked for Daniel’s victory while Dapo Abiodun also played a vital role . The arrangement between them was for Daniel to go for 8 years, after which Amosun would take over from him, while Dapo Abiodun runs for Senate but they fell apart. In 2011, Amosun contested on the platform of the Action Congress (AC) and he won the governorship race.
They all gave him their support to run on the platform of the AC. But credit for his victory goes to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who facilitated his acceptance into the AC’s fold. It was Tinubu who introduced Amosun to Chief Olusegun Osoba who was the leader of the AC in Ogun State. After much pleas and persuasion by Tinubu, Osoba accepted and allowed Amosun to have the AC’s ticket in Ogun State. He had a slim chance, but by divine orchestration, the ruling-PDP in the state was split into two, with a group going to a newly formed Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) and the other remaining in the PDP, owing to an intractable intra-party crisis that rocked the party in the state. Amosun became the governor and he and Dapo Abiodun remained friends
In 2014, preparatory to the second term of Amosun, Dapo Abiodun was invited to help APC in Ogun East Senatorial district because the party was almost dying there. Out of conviction for the good job Amosun was doing in the state, he accepted to serve, because the party was in comatose. They did well, Dapo tried his best. According to Dapo Abiodun in 2003, politics was local, because playing Politics from grassroots to the top was very low. Regular meetings were hardly held at wards, local government, senatorial and state levels. “In 2015, we did everything that we should have done. We ran a very good campaign, from providing electricity to Ogun Waterside in a community that had no light for over 12 years, to constructing roads, to giving transformers to those communities that didn’t have electricity and to giving out scholarships to indigent undergraduate students in tertiary institutions of learning. They left nothing undone.
“In every ward, local government and senatorial district, we were having meetings. The fortune of the party obviously changed before we began to participate. It is most unfortunate that, I fought hard to convince myself because most of my colleagues in my industry who, have asked me, “Dapo, what are you doing in politics? You are doing well in your various businesses, God has been so good to you, why are you going to waste your time and energy?” I always told them that, if all of us decided not to participate then, we would leave governance and administration to fools. I would be governed by them. And we would sit down in Lagos and we would begin to complain that, ‘look at what is happening here’ The only thing you can do is to ensure there is a change and to ensure good governance is to actually participate. I believe that, if a few of us in the private sector who have done well in our various and diverse backgrounds who have made successes of our various businesses, participate then, we could begin to change how people see politics.
Since 1999, when the fourth democratic dispensation was ushered in, no sitting governor has ever succeeded in imposing his “anointed son” as successor in office in an unbroken pattern. Thus, the candidates of the opposition parties have always been the beneficiaries. In 2011, Otunba Gbenga Daniel attempted to foist his candidate, Prince Gboyega Isiaka of Peoples’ Party of Nigeria (PPN), on the people, but he failed. While brandishing his closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari at every turn, the former governor, Amosun, who has remained in the APC was elected as Senator. He attempted the same succession approach through his candidate, Akinlade of the APM, but he too lost. On account of irreconcilable differences, Daniel and Amosun, shortly after the former assumed the office, parted ways.
Having tried unsuccessfully in 2007 general elections, through his defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), to upstage his hitherto bosom friend, Daniel, who was seeking a second term re-election, Amosun, subsequently, collapsed his party into Alliance for Democracy (AD), and other political parties, which subsequently, metamorphosed into the Action Congress (AC), the governor wriggled his ways, through the intervention of former governor of Lagos and a leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to defeat other co-contestants, like Dr Razaq Bakare and Engineer Temitope Kuyebi, and emerged the standard bearer of the party in 2011.
Former governor of the state and a state leader of the then, AC, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, was at first unfavourably disposed to the candidature of Amosun. Following several pleas and persuasions, more than 10 times, involving the intervention of notable stalwarts of the party, including erstwhile Osun and Ekiti State governors, Chief Bisi Akande and Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Prince Dapo Abiodun, among others, Osoba who owned the party’s structure in Ogun, accepted to allow Amosun raise the standard of the party.
Shortly after, he assumed office, Amosun shunned party elders’ advice. Even in his cabinet lists, no leader of the party had an input in it, but rather, he unilaterally drew them. It was gathered that four names for Commissioner nominees, that Osoba brought to Amosun in his office, in the presence of Chief Doja Adewolu were trashed into a waste bin. With the turn of events, the ACN collapsed its structure and merged with aggrieved PDP leaders to form a mega party called the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, to wrest power from the then, self-proclaimed biggest political party in the continent, the PDP.
However, miffed and distraught by the disdainful treatment meted to them, Osoba, the state leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), three senators, Gbenga Kaka (Ogun East), Gbenga Obadara (Ogun Central) and Akin Odunsi (Ogun West), who were privileged to have been picked at the party’s primaries, and a sizeable number of the party’s chieftains, had no option than to pull out of the party and formed a new party, Social Democratic Party (SDP), in 2014, preparatory to the 2015 general elections when it became obvious that Amosun didn’t want them in the party. The aggrieved party chieftains and loyalists felt they had been totally edged out of the party and Amosun had become the sole leader, calling the shots. They often referred to him as an “emperor”.
Consequently, the SDP crashed out when it lost all the seats (Governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly) contested in 2015. Soon afterwards, a truce was brokered when the national leaders of the party waded in, and reconciled all the feuding parties. By and large, the expectations of the aftermath of the reconciliation, subsequently, working together and building the party were still far from being over, just as the governor decided not to have anything to do with Osoba and other aggrieved leaders, but rather elected to run the affairs of the APC in the manner of a personal estate. Towards the tail end of the party’s primaries to elect candidates into the various political offices in October 2018, the unsavoury development escalated and reared its ugly head. The aggrieved leaders who had enjoyed the strong support of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC), national leader of the party, Tinubu, and others who the governor himself labelled “Lagos cabal”, called the bluff of Amosun. They presented an oil magnate, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who hails from Iperu-Remo, in Ogun East, through a direct primary held on October 3, 2018, against the preferred candidate of the outgoing governor, Akinlade, an illustrious son of Ago-Sasa, in Ipokia local government (Ogun West). Amosun who professed to be a promoter of a power shift to Yewa/Awori zone, a zone that has never ruled the state, since its creation in February 1976, was said to be pursuing a selfish interest. In a recent interview with THISDAY, Osoba noted that the promotion of the power shift to Ogun West was the sole plan of Amosun for his personal and selfish interest. According to the Octogenarian, the outgoing governor is the greatest enemy of the Yewa/Awori people who designed his elongation in office through a third term agenda.
Osoba faulted the process that produced Akinlade, before the principal, Senator Amosun moved his preferred Governorship Candidate and his close aides vying for both the National Assembly and State House of Assembly seats to the APM, to actualise their respective ambitions, while Amosun still remained in the APC, before his suspension, the platform on which he sought to contest.
His former close allies and kitchen cabinet members who felt slighted by this sudden move to the APM, in quick succession, dumped Amosun and pitched their tents with the APC Governorship Candidate, Abiodun.
At every public forum, he was sure of electoral victory for Akinlade, as he used to tell the people that his candidate was going to win the governorship race.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the disruption of the Presidential rally held at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta, the state capital. Amosun could not hide his disdain for the national leadership of the party, just as hired social miscreants stormed the main bowl of the stadium, booed and hurled missiles at the President, Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, serving Southwest governors, and other members of the entourage. Without mincing words, Amosun started beating the eardrum, while addressing the charging hired social miscreants in Yoruba dialects. According to him, “Let us swallow our pride. If we are afraid of the dog, it doesn’t mean we are afraid of its owner. Don’t worry, we are going to show them, that we are on the ground in the coming elections.”
Meanwhile, with an ominous sign of defeat that had beckoned, a few days to the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections, the APM signed a pact with a faction of the PDP, led by Hon Oladipupo Adebutu, federal lawmaker, currently representing Remo North/Ikenne/Sagamu Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, to shore up its support base. Besides, in his support for the APC’s candidate, Abiodun, former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, threw his weight behind his bosom friend and delivered his Sagamu home town with a landslide margin of votes.