Senator Ibikunle Amosun has revealed that the declaration of support for the South-West by the Northern Governors of the All Progressives Congress, prompted him to step down for the presidential candidate of the party, Bola Tinubu.
Amosun and other presidential aspirants from the South-West, including the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, and former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, stepped down for Tinubu at the APC convention held in Abuja.
The former governor stated this last Thursday while addressing his supporters, drawn from all the local government areas of the state who converged at the Alake palace pavilion in Abeokuta for a welcome rally.
Amosun, who addressed his supporters both in English and Yoruba, said he was not desperate to be the party’s presidential candidate.
He said he alloted 20 per cent interest to the presidential contest while he gave the remaining 80 per cent to the general interest of the South-West and Nigeria.
According to him, “when I was declaring interest for the presidential seat two years ago, I had told my supporters that I was going into the race with 20 per cent interest while I would throw my support to anyone chosen by the party.”
Continuing, he said, “let me tell you this. You sent me to Abuja to go and work for us, I told them when I addressed them why I wanted to be president of Nigeria.
“But my wanting to be president of Nigeria cannot supersede the interest of all of us in Nigeria, all of us in the South, all of us in the South-West. “It got to a point that we realised that our brother governors from the North were even rooting to say they want the presidency to go to the south.
“Then, we say, if we want the presidency to come to the south, then, all of us, we must find a way to unite, we must find a way to drop all these personal ambitions for the overall interest of all of us in the entire South and particularly, the South-West.”
On Tinubu’s emergence as APC candidate, Amosun said, “I want to be President of Nigeria but my wanting to be president of Nigeria is just 20 per cent and that 80 per cent of it is that the presidency should come to the South-West; lo and behold, almighty God has answered that prayer, ultimately, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is our flag bearer will be the President of this great nation, Nigeria.
“So, what I want you to do, all the love, all the support, all the prayer that you have been giving to me, continue but, please, extend that support and prayer to our flagbearer, support APC, let us all campaign round because this is the only country that we have.”
Amosun said that except for former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no politician from the state, either dead or alive, had served Ogun state more than he has done.
Amosun, who spent eight years as governor, and is running for his second term in the Senate said he had committed 15 years of his life to serving Ogun state. Amosun had initially served as a senator representing Ogun central in 2003 and later became governor in 2011 where he spent eight years.
He said, “in this Ogun State, since 1999, I am on camera, except for Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, I am not talking of pre-1999, no human being, dead or alive, has served Ogun State the way I have served.
“I have done eight years as your governor, by next year, it will be my 8th year in the Senate. Just between 1999 and now, I have served Ogun State for 15 years of my lifetime.
“Let anybody that has done that come out, I am not talking of our referred fathers. I accept that there are so many giants that came before me, we stood on their shoulders and we are still standing on their shoulders, but the truth must be told and we must say it.
“Since 1999, Ibikunle Amosun has paid his dues in Ogun State and I am still paying it. Put your mind at rest, we are APC, APC is ours.”
What many don’t understand about Amosun is the fact that he is very influential in the scheme of things, politically. He showed how influential he is at his declaration in Abuja when he attracted a lot of Senators & House of Reps members from the North to attend and speak at his declaration. City People can authoritatively reveal that the former Ogun Governor has paid his dues. He has been in Politics for the past 22 years. In a book he wrote years back to mark his 60th birthday, he revealed why he went into Politics.
“The challenge of Politics is entirely a different kettle of fish,” he revealed. “In the year 2000, I decided to delve into public service, as I realised that while I was able to do things for the under-privileged in my private capacity and had been doing so for many years, the most veritable tool to reach out and touch people across all cadres of society is through active partisan politics. What may be a subject of intense debate would be how to realise this vision, given the challenge of what many would describe as the corrosive and corroding political environment. And that was the crux of the matter-the challenge. To this end, I joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), contested for and won a seat in the Senate, representing Ogun Central Senatorial District in 2003. Perhaps, I have presented my successful contest into the Senate as a piece of the cake-nothing could be far from the reality. Prior to my involvement in politics, my primary calling, my professional practice, has clearly defined rules of engagement. So, you could easily predict what the outcome would be, given the input and the standardised processes and procedures. After all, the principle of double-entry, in accounting, remains the same, every time, everywhere. However, I found that, unlike the accounting profession, the rules of engagement in politics do not largely follow any standard. Indeed, the rules of engagement may as well be defined as the absence of any codified, sacrosanct rules. Those who coined the phrase “political expediency” perhaps had this in mind. For a professional with little or no prior engagement in politics, I found the environment for my new calling, to put it mildly, challenging and intriguing, Accounting is about numbers and inanimate objects. Politics is about people, who have emotions, who could decide to be rational or irrational, who have interests and nurse ambitions all of which may align or be at cross purposes with those of others. Friendship is not permanent in politics. Interests are constantly shifting and the measure of time and space is different.
With this background, let me return to my election into the Senate. The goodwill I had garnered growing up in Abeokuta, the heart of Ogun Central Senatorial District stood to have a relatively easy win of the Senate seat. As in every endeavour, the timing of the contest also helped a great deal in the success. The parliament provides a good platform to make laws, nudges the executive in a particular direction and generally has a feel in the governance of the country. However, the real day-to-day running of government lies with the executive. So, I realised that to power my vision, I needed to work with others to have the mandate of the people to lead our State at the Executive arm of government. So, in 2007, I contested for the position of Governor of Ogun State on the platform of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). By now, old friends had become implacable foes, some foes become impracticable to maintain, while new ones had to be formed. Those who had their hands on the political levers of the state and those who wielded even higher political powers were rallied against my ambition. I kept two things paramount- my faith in God and my ability-cum-focus on the people-the real essence of my being in politics.
We went into the elections and the umpire declared my opponent a winner. Of course, I went to the tribunal to challenge the outcome, which I and a significant number of people believed were at variance with the will of the good people of Ogun State as expressed through the ballot boxes. In all, I traversed all the courts in the land for three years (April 2007 to March 2010)-from the election tribunal, Federal High Court, through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. These efforts were not fueled by the ambition to be Governor at all costs. I was just determined to challenge, on one hand, the impunity that characterised the 2007 general elections, defend the tenets of democracy, and, on the other, justify the confidence the electorate reposed in me. The court endorsed the results as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). As a democrat, I respected the verdict even though I thought otherwise till today. The 2007 experience did not discourage me from taking another shot again in 2011, that time, on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). I did, I won, INEC confirmed and I was so returned as the winner. I guess I am here today speaking to this August audience because of that victory. Again, the unseen hands in the affairs of men prevailed. As they say, winners don’t quit, and quitters don’t win. Faith triumphs.”