Senator Ibikunle Amosun : Return of the ‘Superman’ By Olawale Olaleye

imageWithin the security setup in Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun is codenamed “Superman” ostensibly for ease of operations. But with the benefit of hindsight, the appellation seems to typify his leadership, writes Olawale Olaleye

Peradventure you found yourself in a gathering of VIPs and suddenly, you saw some security personnel (running helter-skelter) with the following transmission, using the walkie-talkie: “Over, Superman is set to leave, copy me,” do not reckon the mythical superman every child grew up to admire is within your vicinity; the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun is that superman, whose security details prepare for exit at the very function.

Whatever your pretext, you may choose not to like his politics; it is your personal stand based on your conviction, supposedly. His style, you may also dismiss as abrasive, it is still your personal opinion but pray it does not land you in trouble if not sufficiently informed. But certainly, you cannot fault him on the grounds of one thing – the fact that Governor Amosun is both an administrator and actualiser of dreams.

Excusably one of the few All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors, who sometimes speak to themselves by reflecting on their actions and inactions, at least, in their solitary moments, Amosun, in the lead up to the April 11 governorship election did not tell anyone expressly that the election would be a walkover.

With his team, he had been able to analysis the risk as well as the chances and had in his reports, the analyses of the many possibilities that could play out ultimately.

Particularly instructive for Amosun and his team was the inauspicious exit of his estranged godfather, Chief Olusegun Osoba, a former governor of the state and prominent political actor in the state from the APC. That, naturally, slowed down the governor’s campaigns and nearly messed up some of the analyses preceding that development, putting the governor in a position of discomfort.

But Amsoun, being who he is, was not going to give up, more so not on the basis of such a ‘mild threat’. After all, whatever was not going to kill him would only make him stronger. And so, he immediately rejigged his strategy team and began to look in different directions, churning out different analyses that fitted into the bill of the new situation.

To the undiscerning, some of the postings on the evaluation of the political climate at the time were not as promising. But none had dismissed Amosun as vulnerable. The worst case scenario was that the campaign would cost more that should have on a good day. But that he might lose the state was never on the card.

It was therefore strategically apt the analysis by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, who had objectively situated all the likely scenarios and confidently postulated that the election was his principal’s to lose. Nothing, he reiterated, had shown that Amosun’s re-election was threatened.

A further breakdown of the piece, which many then tagged “A Timely Situation Report” showed that some of the unsavoury political developments could only deplete a few of Amosun’s votes but not to the extent of forfeiting his re-election. Of course, opposition too dismissed the confidence of the incumbent and his party, saying he was smarting from the imminent defeat that stared him in the face.

But a majority of these threats, Olaniyonu had factored into his analysis to the extent that any objective mind could only look forward to Amosun’s inauguration. But what really were his facts? Here are a few excerpts from the article titled: ‘Ogun’s Three Horse Race’, even though it eventually turned out a two-horse race.

“The fact is that while there are 14 political parties fielding candidates for the gubernatorial elections in the state, there are only three that are seriously contending. They are the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is the ruling party with incumbent Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the standard bearer; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose candidate is Mr. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) with Senator Akin Odunsi as its candidate.

“Barring the problem of collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) which is acute in the state, the number of votes that would have been available for the three candidates to struggle for should be about 1,920,708. The Ogun Central Senatorial District with six local government areas has 811,571 or 42.25 per cent of the votes. There are 597, 663 votes or 31.12 per cent in the nine LGAs in Ogun East Senatorial District while Ogun West Senatorial District with five LGAs has 511,474 votes or 26.63 per cent.

“As it is typical of political contests in our country, the deciding factors usually are the origin of the candidates, the incumbency factor, strengths of their key supporters, popularity of the candidates and their political platforms and, perhaps, other geo-political considerations.”

Olaniyonu, a former Sunday Editor of THISDAY had posited that since 1999, this year would make it the first time that there would be a genuine general election in the country.

“However, I feel compelled to at least share my thoughts on what may be the electoral calculations for Ogun State in the coming polls. Perhaps, because I had just participated in one of the most rigorous and extensive campaign tours ever to be undertaken in the state since its creation 38 years ago. It was a campaign train which stopped in each of the 236 wards as well as other communities with huge population.”

To that extent and looking at the factor of origin, Olaniyonu argued that “Senator Amosun is the only candidate from Ogun Central which incidentally has a good majority of the votes while both Odunsi and Isiaka are from Ogun West. Ogun East has no serious candidate in the race. The implication is that the indigene factor is in favour of the incumbent Governor as he is the only one from the Central. Again, since his entry into politics in 2001, he has always enjoyed fanatical support across the district which he represented between 2003 and 2007 in the Senate.

“In the West, while Odunsi is from Ado-Odo/Ota LGA, Isiaka is from Imeko Afon LGA. Incidentally, Ado-Odo/Ota LGA is the most populous in Ogun West. In fact, its voting strength (270,327 or 14.07 of the state’s total votes) is more than that of the four other LGAs combined. Isiaka’s Imeko Afon LGA has the smallest number of votes in the zone (29,009 or 1.51 of the total state’s figure).

“On the face value, one may think the indigene factor favours Odunsi but the contrary is the case. In his local government, the indigenes constitute just about 20 per cent while the non-indigenes are the majority. It is therefore a metropolitan LGA where other issues like performance and popularity of the candidate will determine who gets the votes. Also, in this LGA, there are many Egba people who are indigenes and vote alongside the people from Ogun Central.”

Against this backdrop, Olaniyonu pointed out that “What this translates to is that the largest voting bloc in Ogun West may be up for grabs by the candidates favoured by factors other than the indigene variable and this is where the incumbent Governor equally has an edge.

“In any case, while the people of Ogun Central are eager and have achieved a near consensus that their son, Amosun, should serve for two terms as permitted by the constitution, the refrain in Ogun West is that the people should support Amosun now in his second term bid and then prevail on him to support them in producing the next governor in 2019. It should be noted that Ogun West has never produced an elected governor since the state was created in 1976.”

Further down, he described Ogun East as the beautiful bride. Why? This, according to him, is because “Apart from being a district without any of the serious candidates, it also has nine LGAS and since a candidate can only be declared winner after securing most of the votes as well as securing one-third of the votes cast in at least 14 LGAs, the district is important for both its votes and purpose of achieving constitutionally prescribed spread.

“In this District, the mega LGAs are Sagamu, Ijebu North and Odogbolu. The PDP and SDP are strong in Ijebu North and Ijebu Ode while APC is the strongest in Sagamu and Odogbolu. Also, the ruling party will clearly control Ikenne. The rest of the LGAs will be real battle grounds, where the votes will be shared but it is believed that each of the candidates will be seeking to take the mandatory one-third of the total votes.

“In terms of the incumbency factor, popularity of the candidates and their key supporters and acceptance of their party by the people, the APC, whose standard bearer is the incumbent still stands shoulder high above the others. While the top-rate performance of Governor Amosun gives him the opportunity to assure the people that he can do more, his opponents are using this strength to also campaign against him.

“It should also be mentioned that among the three candidates who are all professionals, the only one who equally has a state-wide political machine of his own is the incumbent Governor. Isiaka is a creation of both former Governor Gbenga Daniel and controversial politician, Buruji Kashamu… In the same vein, Odunsi is a protégé of Chief Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State.

“Also, in most cases, when you have a three-horse race, the incumbent is favoured to win. That is why it has been difficult for the opposition to make any appreciable impact in federal elections before now. Today, APC is sending jitters down the spines of the ruling PDP because the race is now between two parties. With opposition forces spread so thin, the incumbent has the chances to consolidate. With all these calculations, it is obvious that the incumbent Governor in Ogun State, Amosun, is still well placed to win the coming elections and is coasting home to a landslide victory.”

And true to Olaniyonu’s prediction, everything he postulated played out as if he were clairvoyant. Not only did it turn out a race between PDP’s Isiaka and Amosun, the weight of incumbency, thrusting through his performance record did it for Amosun, who posted a convincing victory at the poll.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Amosun, in his first four years, has taught what governance should be in terms of delivering on promises. The beauty of Amosun’s development plan is that it is contemporaneous across the major towns in the state.

People who knew what Ogun State looked like some eight or 12 years ago often get lost whenever they visit now. This is not in any way hyping Amosun; it is alluding to the fact and reality on the ground as typified by concrete evidence of development.

Ogun State, certainly, does not rank with other states of supposed intellectuals, who would rather vote stomach infrastructure at the expense of development and institution-building. As the state that produced many firsts in different fields of professional callings, Ogun, perhaps has again lived up to its billings by choosing to vote rationality as against sentiment. The people have made a wise choice and sure stand to gain a lot by choosing to move forward and in collective interest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *