Samson Toromade of pulse.ng Shares his opinion on the show of shame in Ogun during the All Progressive Party’s Presidential Rally. Read Below:
President Muhammadu Buhari’s Ogun campaign rally ended in shambles after he endorsed Dapo Abiodun as the APC’s Ogun governorship candidate, despite the public objection of Governor Ibikunle Amosun [Ayodeji Ogunro]
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Oh no, it’s a projectile flying in the general direction of President Muhammadu Buhari and his band of unamused men.
The president’s campaign train stopped in Ogun State on Monday, February 11, 2019, and it could well have ended on a very tragic note if someone was better at aiming and/or not throwing something as harmless as an almost empty bottle of water in the president’s direction.
There are no kind words to describe Monday’s event as the rally was marked by violence and the unruly crowd of party ‘supporters’ who defied common sense and turned on its own party.
To properly contextualize Monday’s political embarrassment, we’d have to travel down a very short history lane to five months ago when, like everyone else, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) conducted its primary elections to choose flag bearers for the 2019 general elections. I’ll try and keep it short.
With the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) giving state chapters free rein to decide whether flag bearers should be chosen through direct and indirect elections, anarchy became Supreme Leader.
(Quick side notes: A direct election involves all party members electing a flag bearer to represent the party in the general elections, while an indirect one involves elected delegates making that decision for the rest of the party members.)
When Amosun presided over stakeholders meeting in September 2018 to announce the state chapter’s decision, he bizarrely announced that the state was going to adopt a consensus method that was ratified by party ‘elders’.
It’s quite like when the chef shows you a menu that has only fried rice and jollof rice as the only options and you decide to mess around and order for fried yam and noodles, just because.
Amosun’s consensus produced a list of candidates that named him the party’s flag bearer for the Ogun Central senatorial district (his second term as governor ends in May) to replace incumbent, Lanre Tejuoso, and also named a current House of Representatives member, Adekunle Akinlade, as the party’s consensus candidate to contest in the governorship election.
The list also named dozens of others to contest for several elective seats in the state and in the National Assembly, leading to in-fighting in the state chapter about the fairness of the process.
APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, described the governor as an emperor who won’t find a home in the party and the governor, in turn, called the former Edo governor a dictator and the stage was set for some really interesting war of words over the months that followed.
The Ogun chapter split into two factions and each eventually conducted primary elections that produced different sets of winners in almost all the categories. Even though Amosun was recognized as the party’s senatorial candidate in the final list accepted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), his preferred successor lost the governorship ticket to Dapo Abiodun.
Akinlade soon left the APC to pitch his tent with the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) with the full backing of Amosun who has not made his support for him a secret, while engaging in a very public feud with Oshiomhole and the APC leadership.
[TL;DR] Basically, Amosun, a current APC governor, and flagbearer for the Ogun Central senatorial district, is supporting the party to win the presidential election, and (of course) senatorial election, but he’s publicly campaigned against the party in the governorship election that has his preferred candidate contesting from an opposition party against the APC flag bearer. It’s like how, if you stress your brain really hard, two plus two sometimes equal to 22 and not four.
Now that we’re all caught up, let’s talk about the insanity of Monday’s rally that should deeply embarrass the ruling party.
The crowd of APC supporters, torn between loyalty to the party and loyalty to Amosun, became a tool of disgrace, pawns in the game of power played by megalomaniacs.
Long before Buhari’s arrival at the venue, violence had broken out between Abiodun’s supporters and Akinlade’s supporters, for whom it makes no sense to be at an APC rally but let’s roll with it for a minute.
The crowd only got worse as the program progressed. The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was the first to feel its stinging ire after he triggered the crowd’s anger by suggesting that they should only vote for APC candidates in the forthcoming elections.
“This is an APC rally. I belong to APC and I’ll vote APC, and I expect that for all of us who are here, we vote for the APC from beginning to the end,” he said but was drowned out by chants of “APM!” from the crowd.
Former Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, was the next to fall as he came on stage to beg the crowd, like a bunch of obstinate children, to toe the party line and only vote for its candidates.
The biggest jeers of the day were reserved for Oshiomhole who came on the stage to chants of “Ole! Ole! (Yoruba for ‘thief’)”, a situation that only worsened when he mentioned Abiodun’s name as the party’s choice.
He was soon swarmed by security operatives after a projectile was launched at the stage and his speech had to be brought to an abrupt end.
To save face, Amosun, the resident master puppeteer and Architect-in-Chief, made a return to the stage to appeal to the crowd to behave itself, like little children on a short leash, in the presence of the president.
“I beg you in the name of God. Please, our father (Buhari) is here, please don’t disgrace me here,” he told the unruly crowd.
When Buhari eventually made his way to the stage, he was more cautious about the big elephant in the room and, rather spinelessly, told the crowd to vote for whomever it chooses for the elections.
“I appeal to you to practice your civil rights to come out next Saturday and on the 2nd of March and choose whoever you like across the parties. This is your right and I have no problem about it,” he said as the crowd cheered his tacit approval.
However, the president’s next action, an unavoidable campaign rally ritual, was to raise Abiodun’s hand as endorsement of his candidacy as the party’s flag bearer.
The rest, as they say, is history. The crowd goes wild. A bottle, and then more, is launched in the direction of the stage where the president is standing with Abiodun. Security agents swarm the president to save the country a very sorry sight and the rally comes to an end.
It’ll surely go down as one of the biggest moments of shame in Nigeria’s political history, and there’s such a rich pool to pick from. That the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in danger of being stoned at a rally filled with ‘supporters’ of his own party is an incredible eyesore.
APC’s problem here is an unprecedented phenomenon, a bug that hasn’t caught just one governor but three, at least.
Like Amosun, Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, is also currently on the warpath with the APC leadership for his failure to install his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, as his successor. Nwosu is now contesting for the election on the platform of the Action Alliance (AA) with Okorocha’s very public backing.
Zamfara State governor, Abdul’aziz Yari, also went on the warpath with the party’s leadership for failing to recognise his choice of successor, a conflict that has led to the likelihood that the party might not even feature on the ballot in the state elections.
All three governors are contesting for Senatorial seats on the party’s platform while also sabotaging it in very clear terms in the governorship category.
To a certain degree, Buhari’s campaign rally in Imo State two weeks ago prepared the ground for the tragedy in Ogun State as the crowd also turned against the APC leadership and the party’s governorship candidate.
The dreadful manner in which all the major actors in the party have managed the conflicts bedeviling it since last year has left a very sour taste in the mouth and continues to cast a huge shadow over the strength of internal politics in the country.
These governors have, to varying degrees, engaged in bold-faced anti-party activities that should have gotten them expelled with very little thought put into the decision to do so because they’ve made it so easy.
However, governors are important to winning elections in the country and one suspects the party is only hanging on to them, with their attendant shenanigans, simply because of the electoral value they bring to the table.
This might explain why President Buhari met with Amosun and Akinlade at the Presidential Villa last month because the APM endorsed him for the presidential election.
The presidency was forced to issue a statement announcing that the president will support all APC candidates while also welcoming endorsements from others.
However, it should have been clear to the president and his handlers that meeting Akinlade was sending mixed signals and should have been avoided if smart heads prevailed in the room where that decision was made.
President Buhari has failed to show firm leadership to rein in the excesses of Amosun and Okorocha. Both governors were cunning enough to promise the president that despite the division in their states, he’ll still get maximum support, even from the opposition parties where their stooges have fled to upset the party’s candidates in both states.
And the president, in his quest to not rock the boat as he faces a tight re-election challenge, has accommodated the whims of the governors to serve his own interest over that of the party. This is why he would go to Imo and Ogun and ask party members to vote for anyone of their choice when his mantra at other rallies is “vote APC from top to bottom”.
The president’s unsteady leadership has left party leaders like Oshiomhole and national leader, Bola Tinubu, hanging out to dry as they’ve felt the brunt of the renegade governors and made a bad situation really toxic for the party and for the nation’s politics.
There’s no doubt that the show of shame at the Ogun State rally on Monday was the culmination of terrible decisions that the APC has made in regards to the protracted conflict, a situation that should have never been allowed room to fester.
When all is said and done, the specter of electoral violence has loomed large over Ogun due mostly to Amosun who’s played the divide and conquer tactic to the detriment of the party’s image.
If the president and his men are not spared a fallout of that terrible situation, then the country is in big trouble. Let good leadership prevail, gentlemen.