Abudu Balogun represented Ijebu North/Ijebu East/Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency at the Green Chamber between 2011 and 2015, on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which later merged with other parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks on the crisis rocking the Ogun State chapter of APC.
What is responsible for the current crisis in the APC in Ogun State?
Well, crisis is a very large word to use. I will say that there is a disagreement within the party. In politics we disagree to agree. What led to this disagreement? For me, I will not blame any other person than my governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and what he did is also universal with most governors presently serving in the country. Until we are able to take the hands of the governors off party administration in the country, we will continue to have these problems. I think it is an aberration that the governors are called the leaders of the party in their states. I believe that governors, just like other office holders, should face their duties, rather than getting involved in party administration.
Party administration, should be left with the party administrators as it was done in the days of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The disagreement was caused by the high-handedness of some of our governors, particularly my own governor. A lot of people are looking at it from the last primaries, but I will take it from the congresses.
How do you mean?
Don’t forget that we had crisis in the party in 2014 which made some of us to leave
the party with our leader, Chief Olusegun Osoba. By 2015, our leaders in Yoruba land, Senator Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande
and all the governors in the South West reconciled all that were aggrieved and urged us to move on. It was based on the reconciliation that everybody returned to the party and as a follow up to that, we also held a meeting with Amosun. When we say we, I meant members of the 7th Assembly caucus, all the Senators and members of the House of Representatives. We met with him to tell him that there was no crisis and that we don’t want any more crisis in Ogun State.
At the reconciliation meeting which was widely reported in the media, the governor reminded us that we have had crisis and that he does not want us to have further crisis again in the forthcoming primaries and elections. He said he was interested in the governorship slot and that he was looking at the Yewa-Awori zone of the state to produce the person that will succeed him and solicited our cooperation in this regards.
We were 12 or 15 at the meeting and he insisted that the governorship slot is his only interest. He told us that he would not get involved in other political offices, saying it was our local arrangements. The governor said he knew that some people from Ogun East are eyeing the governorship seat, that he would appeal to them to see reason why they should support Yewa Agenda. But on the day of the congresses, he came with a prepared list for party positions and we were just told to vote and affirm and since we had made up our minds that we don’t want crisis again within the party in the state, we just allowed the sleeping dog to lie.
For the party primaries, Mr. Governor wrote 40 names for all the 40 offices in a state that is as sophisticated as Ogun State, and called it consensus arrangement. Who reached the consensus? Where was it reached? I don’t know because I was an aspirant for House of Representatives for Ijebu North, Ijebu East and Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency. Nobody reached any consensus with me. We are about three or four in my constituency and what I heard next was that the governor has picked somebody. I rejected the move and said all aspirants should be allowed to go to the field and contest for the position.
The governor, as far as I’m concerned is the cause of the crisis arising from the primaries. He wrote 40 names and did not carry anybody along and failed to consult anyone, even the leader of the party in the state, at least the national leader, Chief Olusegun Osoba, was not consulted. If Mr. Governor is the leader of the party in the state, by APC arrangement we have a national leader in the state. How would my governor be promoting candidates’ names without the courtesy of going to meet Osoba, to reconcile with him as regards the primaries? He never did that. He was all alone nominating people for 40 elective positions.
Where is that done in a political party? All other aspirants feel that the governor was trying to short-change them, more so that we have agreed at our stakeholders meeting as directed by the national leadership of the party that we should go for direct primaries.
We are all prepared based on the resolu ion that we are going to have direct primaries and on that basis aspirants purchased their forms from Abuja to participate in the primaries. The next thing the governor did was to announce that he had adopted 40 names for elective positions that was the genesis of the crisis.
The governor has insisted that there was no primary election, except the one which produced Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade, saying the primary which produced Dapo Abiodun was a sham; what do you have to say to this?
There were two sets of primaries don’t forget; there were governorship and legislative primaries. The governorship is the main thing the governor is fighting about, saying that he conducted a primary and it was going to be upheld, but we all know that is not correct. One, the governor’s camp or group resorted to what the national chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, called ‘self-help.’
They did not participate in the primary ordered and supervised by the NWC’s election panel led by Mohammed Indabawa, a retired Commissioner of Police. In line with APC guidelines, the national headquarters of the party sent electoral panel to all the states, including Ogun. On the day the panel was to meet with the aspirants at MITROS Hall in Abeokuta, you all know what happened that night, when there was a shooting and everybody ran for his life. Now, the primary was fixed for Wednesday, but the governor in his wisdom, went to self conduct his own primary on Tuesday.
And on Wednesday, they announced their own winner as Adekunle Akinlade. And you saw the state chairman of the party raising the hand of Akinlade as the winner of the primary. And the question you would want to ask yourself is this; does that fall within the purview of the state chairman? No! To conduct the primary is the sole responsibility of the national headquarters of all political parties. What was done in Ogun State was an aberration.
Secondly, the state party chairman and his members of exco had been barred by an injunction of the Federal High Court from participating in the conduct of the primary; because of the congress I earlier talked about, which is now a subject of litigation.
So, what the party chairman did that day is even in contempt of the court. The only primary that was genuinely conducted took place on Wednesday and was supervised by the NWC’s election panel. And that was the one that produced Prince Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate of the party.
What about the legislative primaries?
For these, the NWC sent another delegation for the exercises. But again, my governor, in his own wisdom, hijacked the duties of the committee. Because the committee had guidelines to follow – they were supposed to have called a meeting with the aspirants, brief them on the modalities, including asking them the list of their agents to use. For instance, I am an aspirant; nobody invited me to a meeting. I did not know any modality; I did not know what to be done.
I was in my ward with my supporters on the day of the primaries, waiting for the electoral officers to come, only to be told that primaries were being held here and there, without anybody being carried along. It was conducted by the governor and his team. Don’t forget that the governor himself was a senatorial aspirant for Ogun Central. You all saw him on the national television saying he was conducting primaries and had visited 11 wards to monitor the primaries. An aspirant conducting a primary is an aberration! This is not done anywhere.
So, the electoral committee sent to conduct the legislative primaries, either handed over their duties to the governor or Mr. Governor hijacked their duties from them. All these reasons were the reason we petitioned the electoral appeal committee, that there was nothing like legislative primaries. And that whatever must have taken place was done by the governor and his team. And this is not in tandem with the rules and guidelines of the party.
You have accused the governor of causing the crisis in the party but the governor himself alluded to the fact that a Lagos cabal is in concert with Aremo Olusegun Osoba to disrupt peaceful co-existence in Ogun APC. How will you react to that?
You know politicians can make claims a lot. Some politicians will tell you good night whereas it is indeed good morning. They would tell you it is black, whereas it is white. Some people that are making claims know inside them that what they are saying is not correct. What are you saying about Lagos cabal? I have taken you through what transpired in terms of reconciliation, that’s how we have been cooperating with our governor that we don’t want any crisis. But for God sake, the governor went and wrote 40 names without consulting the leader of the party, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and we that are aspirants in the party. So, how does Lagos cabal now come in? Did anybody from Lagos come to conduct primaries for us? Did anybody in Lagos tell our governor not to meet us as aspirants for us to agree?
But the governor is still insisting that on May 29, 2019, he would hand over to Akinlade as the governor. What is your take on this?
Once the governor is able to reconcile himself with the South West leadership of the party; don’t forget the national leadership of the party has empowered the South West leadership of APC to go and settle whatever differences therein. And going forward from there, I can see the governor is still pained; albeit it is a self-inflicted pain to have boycotted the primaries conducted by the national headquarters of APC. I am sure it has dawned on him that he made a mistake boycotting that election. Yes, he wishes to hand over to his anointed successor, unfortunately, the person did not win. And seeing the reality on ground, the governor, I am sure, will reconcile with and eventually work for Dapo Abiodun. There is nothing like I want to hand over to Akinlade; in which party? Dapo Abiodun is the governorship candidate and that is the person my governor is going to hand over to in 2019.