Ogun 2015: The Betrayed, The Deceived And The Third Force
By Adekoya Boladale
Since the past few months, pages of tabloids and media have been dominated with reports of decamping, intra party maneuvering, party structure reshuffling and tales of backbiting between godfather and godson in Ogun State. Even though the electoral commission is yet to lift the ban on major political activities for 2015 election, the gateway state seems to have kicked started political engagement much before any other state in the country.
From the clash between the former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and his now former godson and Governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun both of the All Progressive Congress(APC) which resulted into a death race where tens of party faithful were either hacked or shot at on various occasions, down to the inauguration of a new executive for the Labour Party in the state and the unending faction and counter faction of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), it is crystal clear that the race to 2015 has begun.
It has therefore become pertinent for individuals like us, as political commentator and political scientist to begin a surgical analysis of the political tent either as a means of public enlightenment or to create political discuss.
Beyond the propaganda and mischievous political gimmicks devised by politicians, the following factors will play significant roles as to who takes over the mantle of leadership come 2015.
As many may have been aware of, the incumbent Governor of the State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun will be seeking for reelection under the All Progressive Congress (APC) platform and with the recently concluded convention of the party all roads seems clear for the Governor to contest for the party's ticket unopposed. However, getting the party's ticket is one and having a political structure made up of dedicated and unalloyed party members who usually does most of the ground work is another. During the 2011 election, the now governor wasn't the choice of many party faithful in the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), rumors has it that Amosun was forced down the throat of the party members by a powerful cabal located somewhere around Bourdillon in Lagos. These party members obediently obeyed the order from above and worked diligently for the emergence of the Governor, from campaign arenas to door to door persuasion, they stood firm hoping the emergence of the party's candidate will open doors of employment, engagement and appointments to them. On the day of elections while other political parties where doling out tens of thousands of naira to party agents to mount polling units, agents of the ACN were only paid five hundred naira in spite of the risk associated with monitoring election.
Unfortunately their hopes were dashed when the Governor got into office and decided for reason best known to him to bring in only family, friends and anointed individuals from Lagos to work with and for him.
As a political scientist I find it had to understand the calculation of the Governor especially when he is very much aware he will be seeking a return ticket. It is nothing short of suicide to cut off the major source of ones oxygen. Winning election requires grassroots presence, a chain to bridge the class difference from the top to the last man. Sadly, the Governor has cut himself off this sector of the political realm and with his sour relationship with Osoba who seems to have the ears and eyes of these party members, winning an election becomes more difficult.
For a while, analyzing the mode of governance under Amosun to the man on the street and the educated-illiterate who unfortunately constitute a larger percentage of the population was a herculean task as these set of individuals forgivably finds it hard to decipher the difference between economic driven governments founded on the template of social and human capital development with eyes set on institutionalizing welfare and fiscal growth against an effigy sculptured with the ointment of urban rebasement and road expansion. Most have argued, though without using developed societies as yardstick, that government is best assessed by the numbers of bridges and expanded roads it commission as these projects are more of physical than strategic, however, the dance steps of 'these' individuals started changing when the effect of a neglected health sector, dilapidated schools and astronomic tuition fees coupled with striking unemployment, traumatic serial human decapitation as a result of desperation to end abject poverty became neighbours in their lives.
To add salt to injury, Mr. Amosun while contesting for the top seat in the state made some remarkable promises to the people but in a show of deception most if not all of these promises remain unfulfilled. An example of this is the promise to reduce tuition fee by 50%, create 10,000 jobs every hundred days in office, reshape health care delivery in a model that will see that health services are available free of charge to children within ages of 0-10 years and expectant mothers among others.
While the Governor reduced the tuition fees of the state tertiary institutions by 10% and distributed free textbooks to the primary and secondary schools in the first 6months, SIA as fondly called, ordered the increment of the same tuition fees by over 300% afterward. Not only that, the much praised textbooks to students stopped coming and a new tuition fee regime for secondary and primary schools from the initial 350 naira to 1,400 naira was initiated.
Individuals who paid visits to the state owned hospitals hoping for free health services got disappointed as those who were lucky enough to be attended too had to make usual statutory payments while the unlucky ones who were denied admission due to lack of adequate equipment were at the mercy of private hospitals whose price beats the salary of an average worker.
With electorates already once bitten, selling another dummy especially one coming from the same party that betrayed their trust will be an impossible mission.
The Third Force
Beyond the electorates, political parties are major players during election. In Ogun state the race is between the All Progressive Congress which is currently in power, the Peoples Democratic Party with a federal connection and the Labour Party, the new bride.
Without underestimating the federal might but being realistic, it is worth saying that the PDP is dead and buried in the state. The reason for this conclusion is not far fetched. During the period of power tussle within the party which unfortunately still exist till date, the National body of the party decided for reason known only to them, to hand over the party to an alleged fugitive and billionaire drug baron, Buruji Kashamu. Unfortunately for the party, while Buruji poses enough financial might to run the party's affairs in the state, the United States wanted businessman is less concern about winning election. But why would he be? Buruji is wanted by the United States for trial and the only thing saving him from extradition is his relevance in the party, having a PDP Governor in the state will not only limit his relevance but divert the federal attention he enjoys to such Governor hence an invitation to rancour.
The All Progressive Congress on the other hand looks more like a well clothed statue with foams within. As a result of the unending tussle between Amosun and Osoba most party members especially in the grassroots are migrating in multitudes to the opposition parties. Failure of the National body of the APC to reconcile these two stakeholders, the party's officials may soon wake up one day and realise they are all alone.
The Labour Party though relatively unknown before has continued to enjoy a wide range of public acceptability and embrace. Apart from the fact that the party has less internal division, the formation of its members which cut across various walks of life with a structure similar to the United Kingdom sister party which centers more on social and human development with people policies has made it a succour to aggrieved members of other political parties and the people of Ogun state who continue to see the present government as being too elitist and inhumane. The party seems to have positioned itself more as a safe haven for artisans, traders and even students in search of a platform which not only look like theirs but sounds and feels like home.
Finally, Ogun state is the bedrock of politics in Nigeria with people of sound social and political minds, if the abject poverty currently rocking their homes does not reduce the value of their votes to cooked and uncooked rice then their decision in 2015 will take the state to greater height.
Adekoya Boladale is a political scientist and scholar on good governance, a social commentator and consultant on political and intra governmental affairs. He is the Convener, Advocacy for Better Leadership (ABEL), Nigeria. Engage him on Twitter @adekoyabee