Osoba returns to APC: Implications for Ogun, southwest
The recent return trip by former Ogun State Governor, Aremo Segun Osoba, to the All Progressives Congress (APC), has thrown up a crowd of issues in the polity. Osoba was one of those who hurriedly turned their backs on the fledgling political platform prior to the 2015 general elections. His return, however came as a big surprise to political watchers. But the move is also indicative of new thinking on the fall out of the 2015 election, as well as, a sign of the political rivalry between him and the incumbent, Governor Ibikunle Amosun. All in all, in Segun Osoba’s political outing, the schemes for 2019 general elections find immediate depiction.
Osoba, a former chairman, APC’s Constitution Drafting Committee, who left the party he helped to found in 2014, due to differences between him and the incumbent governor, Amosun, registered the Social Democratic Party (SDP), alongside his followers. They however lost woefully to the APC during the elections.
What was also of interest at the reconciliation meeting, held at the Bourdilon Ikoyi – Lagos home of Osoba, which had leaders of the party in the region, such as the former acting national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as well as, governors of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, Oyo, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, among others, was the absence of Amosun, alongside party leaders from the state.
What was also of interest at the reconciliation meeting, held at the Bourdilon Ikoyi – Lagos home of Osoba, which had leaders of the party in the region, such as the former acting national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as well as, governors of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, Oyo, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, among others, was the absence of Amosun, alongside party leaders from the state. The response of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, when probed on Amosun’s absence; “Nobody is left out. No one.
The response of the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, when probed on Amosun’s absence; “Nobody is left out. No one. No matter your insinuation. Amosun is with us. We can excuse people. He was elected on the APC platform. He is for the APC”, which seemed an indication that there is more that meets the eye.
According to sources, Amosun allegedly shunned the meeting intentionally to avoid reconciling with Osoba now, because his previous efforts to reconcile with the ex-governor before the 2015 election were rebuffed. It was equally gathered that Amosun was unlikely to have attended the meeting because terms of the reconciliatory meeting might not have favoured him.
He was also said to have come to a conclusion that he doesn’t need to carry the burden of regarding Osoba as his leader, after he had singlehandedly defeated him and others that went to the SDP during the 2015 governorship election.
This however, gave credence to rumours about the cold war between Amosun and Tinubu. Sources disclosed that Amosun and Tinubu parted ways, due to the governors’ refusal to respect Tinubu’s choice on the list of ministerial nominees when APC was putting together the national government.
Tinubu and the party had allegedly nominated Bode Adeaga, who served as the returning officer of the party during the general elections, as compensation for his efforts, but Amosun opted for his crony, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who was the former commissioner of finance in the state.
Surprisingly, Amosun did not only submit her name as part of the ministerial nominees list, he also ensured that her name featured in the state’s commissioners list. To Tinubu and others, it seemed an affront by a man who was brought to the party. Based on feelers, the reconciliation move might be a pay back time, to loosen the grip of the governor on the party, of which he has assumed the position of party leader in the state.
At a book launch last Tuesday, the former Ogun State governor threw some light on the development. He said that two prominent monarchs from the state, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo and the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, played a major role in his return to the party, stressing that the whole narrative was misconstrued, especially by the press.
But The Guardian scooped from sources in the party that the reconciliation moves and Osoba’s return to APC, represent a game plan towards the 2019 gubernatorial election in Ogun state.
It was learnt that Tinubu, having anointed the Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, also known as Yayi, to succeed Amosun, knows that such a feat cannot be achieved without the cooperation and influence of Osoba.
According to feelers, Adeola, who hails from Yewa area of Ogun State, is being touted to break the jinx of Yewa land not having anybody to rule Ogun State, since it was created in 1976. Sources disclosed that campaign coordinators have been planted in all the local government areas in the state.
Sources said the plan has been cemented with Osoba’s group already, but it may not be fully realised if Osoba, who is one of the major players in this move, remains in SDP, which prompted his sudden return. Though Amosun’s structure within the APC seems intact, but the grumblings persisting among the top echelons and people at the grassroots over his system of administration, might work against any candidate he presents, which might lose to the Tinubu/Osoba camp.
Another source close to the governor said the rumour, forms part of the reason why Amosun shunned the meeting, because he may not wish to bow to Osoba and Tinubu in choosing his successor come 2019. “So, he tactically avoided a meeting where the party leadership might appeal to him to regard Osoba as his leader.”
All efforts to get aides of the governor to comment on the development were not successful, but the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Sola Lawal said the governor is in the best position to say why he didn’t attend the meeting, adding that as far as the return of Osoba is concerned, the APC in state has no problem about it.
While commenting on the arrangement ahead of 2019, he said; “In politics, as well as, in government, power is vested in the people not in the leadership. The only entity that can remove anybody from power or undermine the authority of anybody in power are the people, not any leader anywhere. I don’t know any post that is being contested now, the last election had been conducted and it was won and lost, so until we get to the bridge of the next election, we would not know how to cross it.”
He added; “Political parties operate on the strength of ideas and people. For any party, increment in number is always a positive episode, which has multiplier effect on the voting capacity of the party. We are comfortable with the meeting, as a party we don’t see any basis for reconciliation because nobody is fighting anybody. If you must describe what happened in Lagos, it was re-entry into the party by our leader who was on pilgrimage. He was on pilgrimage out of the party to pray for the party. So, Chief Osoba is always welcome.”
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of SDP, declined to make remarks on behalf of Osoba, but enjoined the reporter to call back next Monday, during which time he could have been sufficiently briefed to actually speak on the issue.
Holding Hands, Closing Gaps?
ON a flipside, the return of Osoba to the APC fold further reinforces the perception in some quarters that leaders of the party from the Southwest have learnt some lessons and realised how mistakes were made in the zeal to capture power at the centre.
The other implication of Osoba’s retreat could be that in the forthcoming battle for the soul of APC, a united Southwest would be better able to prove it’s pre-eminence in progressive politics. The rapproachement, apart from curtailing the excesses of Obasanjo, could also be another way of telling the hawks in the Presidency that nobody could be president in 2019 without the Southwest
At one point in the machinations to mobilize popular support for the party in its quest to upstage the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the promoters of APC visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo and invited him to come serve as the navigator of the new movement. Sources recalled that the visit was actually a follow up to discreet consultations with the former president and his acceptance in principle to partner with the group to dethrone former President Goodluck Jonathan, who had lost the endorsement of Obasanjo.
But as the APC leaders threw open its fishing net, it gave scant regard to the local political sensibilities in the state. For instance, some observers recall how the frosty relationship between Obasanjo and former Osoba’s successor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD), led to the PDP’s loss of the gubernatorial poll in 2011.
Perhaps with hindsight and the implications of allowing Obasanjo’s influence into APC, Osoba seemed to have sensed a potent danger that was not immediately discernible to others. Yet, even when Obasanjo consented to consort with APC leaders, he did not lose sight that the leaders of the party in the Southwest are his juniors and arch rivals that accepting to be led by them offends the Yoruba traditional respect for elders.
But as a political fox, the former president was said to be busy hatching his own plans on how to displace the leadership at the centre. Obasanjo was said to be working silently for the emergence of former Kano State Governor, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, who has been his allies for years; and supporting Buhari’s aspiration in the quiet confidence that having served under him as a petroleum minister, Buhari as president would be a lesser evil, than a second term for Jonathan.
And while he enjoyed the inclusion in the progressive bandwagon, Obasanjo took solace in the Amosun’s governorship of Ogun State, which he preferred to OGD’s Isiaka Adeleke. The bubble was to burst in 2014, barely six months to the 2015 general election. Osoba, who had left APC in dejection, told traditional chiefs in Ogun that most of those noising support for Governor Ibikunle Amosun were Obasanjo’s political foot soldiers.
Also during the launch of some developmental projects attracted by the senator representing Ogun East Senatorial district, Senator Gbenga Kaka, Osoba accused Amosun of being a sectional governor, stressing that the governor had concentrated state government’s projects in Abeokuta and its environs at the expense of other towns. Osoba summarised Amosun’s government as the regime of wickedness, saying that by treating his deputy, Adesegun so badly, Amosun has injured the people of Ijebu that the deputy governor represented.
In January 2015, Osoba came out to attack the real enemy. He alleged that Amosun has been a puppet of Obasanjo, even as; he lamented the lack of equitable distribution of amenities and lack of fairness by the state governor.
It is against that background that the scheming for relevance within APC and Osoba’s reconnection should be understood. Obasanjo’s perceived plot to supplant APC leaders from Southwest at the national level may have worked to an extent. But the leaders seem to have come to the realisation that they have to play together, if nothing else, to ensure that 2019 does not catch them napping.
Though Osoba had stated that APC was minded more about the presidency than the governorship, his recent decision to join hands with his former allies in the party suggests that Southwest could fare better by strengthening its traditional political base.
The other implication of Osoba’s retreat could be that in the forthcoming battle for the soul of APC, a united Southwest would be better able to prove it’s pre-eminence in progressive politics. The rapproachement, apart from curtailing the excesses of Obasanjo, could also be another way of telling the hawks in the Presidency that nobody could be president in 2019 without the Southwest.
Governor Amosu, having been a notable figure in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), may enjoy his closeness to the Presidency, but his ideological estrangement from the Southwest progressives coul d damage his calculations for 2019. Amosun’s calculations for his post-governorship days may be contracting, because a similar scenario that played out between OGD and OBJ, seem to be looming.
In the last analysis, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, may have returned to reap his political gratuity and help to wage the looming political battle for 2019 presidential election. By snatching the two term governor of Ogun State away from Chief Olu Falae’s SDP, the strategists of Southwest APC want to be on the driving seat once again to lead the people to their political future. Osoba’s return, as well as, those who engineered the reconciliation and reconnection underscores the truism that he who fails to plan, plans to fail. Osoba has made a political statement, which interpretations would continue for some time.
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