It was a fight long expected. However, no one expected the clash of egos between the Governor Ibikunle Amosun and Aremo Segun Osoba led factions of the party to manifest so early in the life of the newly registered All Progressives Congress, APC.
The absence of Osoba, all three senators and majority of the members of the House of Representatives on the APC ticket at the formal inauguration of the new party recently in Abeokuta, was a major blow to the unity of the newly emerged party.
While Amosun and many of his supporters sang and danced away at the Alake Palace ground on that day, Osoba and many of his followers including all three senators it was learnt watched the proceedings on television. They were definitely not bemused.
They couldn’t have. Just three years ago they were the ones that invited Governor Amosun into the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, the party that is the mainstay of the APC in Ogun State. Amosun before then was in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and was the main tree and he like Osoba and others knew that a tree could not make the forest they needed to crowd out the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Amosun’s entry into the ACN was, however, laced with crisis as he was accepted almost alone and all other prominent associates who had political ambitions for the Senate and the House of Representatives were dropped.
While he was easily crowned as the ACN gubernatorial candidate, his associates were dropped. Even his deputy, was imposed on him. It was the humble pie that Amosun took, but those who know him, knew that he was bound to take his pound of flesh.
Genesis of the squabble
The internal wrangling rocking the party began shortly after it was clear that Amosun, who was a member of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, was going to be hand-picked as Ogun ACN governorship ahead of the 2011 election.
In fact, his choice as the party’s standard bearer was greeted with violence as the party secretariat located along Abiola Way in Abeokuta was destroyed. Some leaders of the party had to run for a cover as supporters of other aspirants felt cheated by the arrangement.
The trouble became bigger when the governor, reportedly, arm-twisted the party leaders in the nomination of his commissioners when he jettisoned the party’s list.
Over time, the crisis seemed to have been bottled until the issue of nomination of local government chairmen, which also went in favour of the governor and thus polarised the party the more.
Then, the party was sharply divided into two: the ACN and Senator Ibikunle Amosun, SIA.
For the council polls, the party’s nominees were jettisoned for SIA’s candidate by the State Independent Electoral Commission, which led to defection of many aggrieved members to other parties including the Preoples Democratic Party, PDP and Labour Party.
It was further gathered that, what angered SIA camp against the other party believed to be loyal to Osoba was that his camp was stripped almost naked in the nomination of lawmakers especially at the Federal level.
The Osoba camp produced all the nine Federal lawmakers but one was defeated at the election by PPN candidate from Imeko.
Also, SIA was said to have felt cheated and humiliated with the paltry slots offered him at the state House of Assembly as his camp was given 10 out of the 26 seats and Osoba camp also got the speaker’s seat. The Assembly has six opposition members leaving 20 seats for the ACN.
Apparently irked by the arrangement, the SIA camp hit back at the Osoba camp. He swapped the position of deputy speaker which had been given to a female lawmaker from Ifo 11, Khadihat Adele Oladipo, to his loyalist, Tola Banjo from Ijebu-Ode constituency.
Ever since, relations between SIA and other federal lawmakers can be likened to that of cat and mouse.
Effects and threats
To show their grievances, all the Federal lawmakers stayed away from the launch of APC in Ogun State.
Dramatically, all of them reportedly gathered in the Lagos home of their leader where they watched the programme on the state-owned television.
Interestingly, 24 hours after the launch of the party, the posters of another governorship aspirant, believed to have been sponsored by the Osoba camp, flooded major places in the state capital.
The speculation that Amosun might have been dumped by the party played itself out as the posters of Fola Adeola, former running mate of ACN Presidential candidate in the 2011 election; Nuhu Ribadu, was sighted at strategic places in the state capital.
But, dramatically, some people believed to be loyalists of Amosun swiftly removed all the posters, which they considered as an affront against the sitting governor.
With this development, a seed of destruction seems to have been sowed right from the birth of the new party in Ogun State following the several endorsements of Governor Amosun for second term in office.
Although, it is at the stage of silent war but political observers liken the situation to keeping a keg of gun powder within the house which only needs a little spark to explode.
They also maintained that “the only lesson that has been learnt from history is that man does not learn from history”. One would have expected that APC would have learnt from the bitter lesson of the PDP in the state whose demise started as an internal wrangling before it blossomed into a deadly canker worm that spelt doom for the then ruling party in the state.
According to some political watchers in the state, Amosun has demonstrated amiable virtues such as gentility and understanding before he later became power drunk.
They further said that no matter the amount of power he possessed he could not afford to dismantle the structure that brought him to power. “It is interesting to have powers like a lion but it is tyrannical to use it like a lion”, they concluded.
The other camp is said to be suffering from ego which, according to political watchers has made it difficult for them to respect their governor who is also their leader.
Amosun, according to them, boosted their chances in the last general election as some of them were little known in the state.
They take the issue of the candidates that defeated ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Iyabo, as part of a case study.
However, the crisis is taking toll on the party’s chances ahead of the 2015 general election. It may suffer incalculable losses at the polls if it did resolve the matter.
Reacting to Amosun’s style of governance by Amosun, Senator Gbenga Kaka who represents Ogun East said the party was under threat.
He explained the nature of the threat as “threat of none inclusiveness. In fact, some members of ACN are already warming up to leave for the Labour Party (LP). They are planning to abandon the party because the administration in the state is running a non-inclusive administration and they are disenchanted with it.”
Also speaking on the crisis, a member of House of Representatives, representing Ifo-Ewekoro Federal Constituency, Adekunle Adeyemi has condemned the purported endorsement of Governor Amosun by a faction of the party, describing it as a nullity.
He insisted that the endorsement by former local government chairmen of the defunct ACN in the state must be repeated with the approval of Chief Osoba, whom he described as a national leader of the party.
He said: “Now that we are in APC, I think the endorsement has to be done again and any endorsement done without the approval of our leader, Chief Segue Osoba is not an endorsement.
Though the issue of endorsement is not in our constitution, it is no crime for anybody to be ambitious. There is freedom of ambition and freedom of speech”.