By Wale Adedayo
Interim chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, Alh. Tajudeen Bello, should not be allowed to talk, for now, as his intemperate language could worsen the ongoing crisis in the party. Statements credited to him by some newspapers today are unbecoming of a man of his stature. Bello was quoted as saying thugs who attacked innocent persons in Abeokuta yesterday were imported from Lagos State. Who did? Abi, he meant that BRF assisted with these men, who are known to every journalist in Abeokuta?
The APC leadership needs to rein in its recalcitrant members with the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, ready to display the tenets of quality leadership that embraces internal dissent. Whoever believes yesterday’s recourse to physical attack on some members of the ruling APCin was an accident must be living in a fool’s paradise. Similar incidents have taken place before, and more might still happen if the party leadership refuses to learn from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s administration.
In Owu Ward, Ijebu East Local Government yesterday soldiers from Ilese Barracks attached to the state security outfit, OP MESA, were almost used to chase out officers of the APC from their meeting. I am aware efforts are on to ask Abuja to shield its soldiers from getting involved in partisan politics no matter which side is involved.
Recourse to physical violence in politics presupposes fear of losing out on the part of the sponsors. The beneficiary of a terror-induced-victory knows he/she cannot win in a normal situation, thus a penchant for violence, which in most cases is often preceded by subtle and insidious propaganda against perceived opponents. Outright lies instead of systematic public relations often form the basis of discourse by such persons with violence been added to dissuade the hurt from being able to counter the liars.
Daniel was a ‘stranger’ in the PDP, which produced him as governor in 2003 with Amosun, along with former Minister of State for Finance, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, being the ‘original landlords’ of the PDP. A battle royale between Daniel’s group and those of the ‘landlords’ forced Amosun out of the PDP into the waiting arms of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
But it was the beginning of the end for PDP in Ogun State because the crisis, which the leaders refused to manage at its initial stage, later led to the disgrace, which many of them are yet to recover from till date. It produced internal contradictions as what should have been a give-and-take situation was allowed to become another jankara. External elements moved in to assist as virus to weaken the PDP from inside. The rest, as they say, is history.
The exit of former Deputy Governor, Alh. Rafiu Ogunleye, and his Imole De Group worried Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, no doubt about it. And the man made spirited efforts to stop Ogunleye’s defection to the PDP to no avail. From the little facts available to me, Ogunleye does not hate APC. He was part of the establishment in APC. But the winner-takes-all attitude of Amosun infuriated the former leader of APC in Ogun East Senatorial District. And Ogunleye believes Tinubu did nothing to call Amosun to order.
Daniel began that way too. At a time, it was only JMK, who could call Daniel to order. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not bother himself with the internal affairs of the Ogun State PDP while he was in office. But Daniel soon grew out of JMK’s shadow making it impossible for anyone to challenge his decisions politically, anymore. Maybe, if Obasanjo had shown more interest in local politics at the time, things would have been different.
It is clear in the Ogun State APC scenario that Osoba’s clout means nothing to Amosun. The only visible person who can intervene and restore sanity remains Tinubu, who does not seem perturbed as at today. At least, that is the impression among party members. And, this was what Ogunleye complained bitterly about till he left with those around him. There is a feeling in Lagos that Amosun is on top of his game in Ogun State.
It is not a bad feeling, because President Goodluck Jonathan believed the same thing about his South-West Coordinator shortly before Daniel’s Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) was disgraced from the scene in 2011. Despite Daniel’s unprecedented popularity following a sterling performance during his first term in office, 2011 was proof enough that there is no individual or political party that cannot be disgraced out of office.
Tinubu and the other APC leaders need to act fast to nip this crisis in the bud before it is too late. Amosun does not enjoy absolute majority among his legislators. The party machinery across the state is also not a majority in his hands, if that were so there’ll not be need for using soldiers and policemen against APC members in some local governments as it has been happening since last week.
Osoba has shown enormous restraint, as it is. That is understandable. But a full-blown crisis will reverberate beyond the borders of Ogun State with serious negative consequences for the party in the South-West. And ascendancy of any political party outside of APC in Ogun State will certainly spell doom for Tinubu’s efforts in the South-West. That much I know. A stitch in time, …