13 political parties are in the race for the Ogun governorship seat.
Twelve candidates are challenging Governor Dapo Abiodun as voters in Ogun State join their counterparts in 27 other states to elect their governors for the next four years.
Mr Abiodun is seeking a second term as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). His challengers are Ladi Adebutu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Ojeshina Anthony of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Adelanwa Kayemilola of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Also in the race are Harrison Adeyemi of African Action Congress (AAC), Falana Olifemi of All Peoples Party (APP), Shokunbi Kazeem of Action Democratic Party (ADP) and Ogunrombi Tofunmi of National Resistance Movement (NRM).
The others are Accord Party’s Adebisi Oyewale; Allied Peoples Movement’s (APM), Jolaoluwa Olutosin; New Nigeria Peoples Party’s (NNPP), Kassim Jakie; Action Alliance’s (AA), Iskil-Ogunyomi Safiat and Peoples Redemption Party’s (PRP) Cyrus Johnson who replaced deceased Okusanya Adedeji.
Adebutu, Akinlade’s merger
After winning the ticket of the APC, Governor Abiodun appeared to be the only one in the race to the Oke-Mosan Government House.
Many followers of the governor and political observers in the state said he and the APC did not have any serious opponent in the election.
To them, Mr Adebutu did not look like a serious contender, especially with the internal wrangling tearing the PDP apart and litigations which at a time handicapped the party.
However, the narrative changed on July 8 when the candidate supported by former Governor Ibikunle Mosun in 2019, Adekunle Akinlade, defected from the APC to the PDP and was named the party’s deputy governorship candidate.
Mr Akinlade left the ruling party alleging injustice to him and reunited with his old colleague at the House of Representatives between 2015 and 2019.
In 2019, Mr Akinlade had earlier dumped APC to run for governor under the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) after the then incumbent, Mr Amosun, failed to make him the APC candidate. But he lost the election to Mr Abiodun.
In the poll, Mr Akinlade lost by a 19,517 votes margin.
Mr Abiodun of the APC polled 241,670 votBes; Mr Akinlade got 222,153, Gboyega Isiaka of the African Democratic Congress, (ADC), polled 110,422; while the PDP candidate garnered 70,290 votes.
But while Mr Isiaka has been elected to the House of Representatives under the APC, Mr Akinlade has joined forces with the PDP and Mr Amosun has transferred his own support to Mr Otegbeye of the ADC.
Brief about Otegbeye
Mr Otegbeye is a lawyer and the Group Managing Director of Regency Alliance Plc.
He had his early education at Christ Church School, Ijebu Ode, Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro and CMS Grammar School, Bariga. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Insurance from the University of Lagos in 1984, a Master’s degree (MBA) in Financial Management and Accounting in 1987 and qualified as an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute, London (ACII) in 1988.
He also obtained a Law degree from the Lagos State University in 2001 and was enrolled as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2003.
Mr Otegbeye began his working career at the United Nigeria Insurance Company Limited (UNIC) in 1986. Between 1990 and 1991, he was the General Manager, Capital Asset Insurance Brokers and in 1991, he became CEO of Excel Insurance Brokers. In 1993, he founded Regency Alliance Insurance Company Limited which became publicly quoted in 2007.
In 2012, Mr. Otegbeye was appointed a member of the Fact-Finding Panel of Gateway Industrial and Petroleum Institute by the state governor.
He was later appointed as Chairman of the Governing Board of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital in April 2013 by the then President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2019, the governorship race was a straight battle between the APC and APM.
At that election, the PDP did not really campaign as it was rumoured that the then candidate of the party, late Buruji Kashamu, was not really interested in the election, but only wanted to show his superiority over Mr Adebutu, who was wrestling over the party’s ticket with him.
Their fight over the party’s ticket culminated into a legal tussle that went on for a long time.But the late Mr Kashamu held the aces because the tenure of the then Bayo Dayo led executives of the party, who were loyal to Mr Kashamu, did not end until after the election.
Although Mr Kashmu’s led faction won the legal battle in court, Mr Adebutu had the backing of the national leadership of the party.
Thus, the PDP machine was not put to work for him as party leaders were divided and obviously confused as to the next line of action till after Election Day in 2019.
A party member, Adeniran Raufu, said the 70,000 votes declared for the party were from die-hard PDP supporters who would not vote for any other party.
“It was obvious that any vote for the PDP during the last election was a waste.”
The internal wrangling caused Mr Adebutu to join strength with Mr Akinlade in the APM.
But Mr Adebutu’s father, Keshington Adebutu, also went public, telling the people, especially in Ogun East region, to support Mr Abiodun who hailed from the region as against Mr Akinlade who hailed from the western part of the state.
The 2023 fight
The current political alignments in the state indicate that Saturday’s will be a straight battle among the trio of APC, PDP and ADC.
Mr Akinlade’s defection to the PDP to contest as the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the election seems to have reorganised political activities in the state.
After Mr Akinlade defected to the PDP, Mr Amosun said he was not part of the move. But Mr Akinlade lef the APC with some longtime political allies of Mr Amosun like Rotimi Rahmon and Tola Banjo, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, among others.
The PDP candidate is a political juggernaut1 who currently holds a firm grip of the party in the state.
Mr Adebutu is the son of a business tycoon cum philanthropist who hails from the same Iperu hometown, in Ikenne Local Government Area as the incumbent governor.
Messer Adebutu and Akinlade’s combination has caused uncertainty in the political calculations.
With Mr Akinlade in from Ogun West, some supporters of Mr Amosun (who are now loyal to PDP) in Ogun Central and Adebutu from the same Ogun East, the party looks far stronger.
Also, the election will not be an easy ride for the incumbent as the new electoral law, the adoption of technology in the electoral system, the outcome of the Osun election and the people’s perception of the performance of Mr Abiodun will play a major role in the outcome of the election.
Mr Adebutu’s family is popular for its philanthropic gestures especially in the Ijebu-Remo area of the state.
Unlike Mr Adebutu, Mr Abiodun has no political structure across the state and will bank on the APC structure. But part of the structure has been removed by those who defected with Mr Akinlade to the PDP.
A party member, Ibrahim Adewale, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, also said some APC members now attend ADC meetings in many parts of the Ogun east and west senatorial districts.
“We all can see what is going on, many of us in the APC will not leave our party and will not also trade Amosun. It is on election day that you will know which party each and every one is sympathetic to.
“You will see party A member appearing as agent for party B, let’s all wait till then,” Mr Adewale said.
Otegbeye, Amosun’s influence, compound Abiodun’s problems
Mr Amosun has renewed his rivalry with his successor, Governor Abiodun, over the 2019 governorship election.
The two old friends went up in arms against each other following the controversial 2019 primary election of the APC in the state.
The then Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of the APC had backed Mr Abiodun, stopping Mr Amosun from installing Mr Akinlade as his successor.
Dissatisfied, Mr Akinlade and other loyalists of Mr Amosun fled to the APM to contest the election.
Mr Abiodun eventually won the keenly contested general election, beating Mr Akinlade to second position.
Recently, Mr Amosun broke his silence on the outcome of the election, which he fully participated in by campaigning for Mr Akinlade.
Speaking at a function in Abeokuta, Mr Amosun said Mr Akinlade won the election, but that it was rigged for Mr Abiodun.
“During the last election, thank God, Chief (Segun) Osoba is here, I have said it, we won convincingly. They rigged, rigged, and ended up with 19,000 (votes). Some of them came to apologise to me. I can be mentioning names. We won that election. But I have moved on,” he said.
Mr Amosun again declared that he has never been in support of Mr Abiodun’s administration, saying the governor must vacate his seat at the expiration of his first four-year term.
In an interview with BBC Yoruba, Mr Amosun endorsed Mr Otegbeye and directed his loyalists to queue behind him.
However, Mr Abiodun, in a swift reaction, said he would not exchange words with his predecessor.
The governor said he would not be distracted by anybody, stressing that “Ogun State is not anybody father’s inheritance.”
Speaking with journalists in Abeokuta, the governor said: “I will not be distracted by any person or persons who have a problem with self-delusion. I will not be distracted by any person who does not appreciate that Ogun State is not anybody’s father’s inheritance. We are all stakeholders in this Commonwealth called Ogun State.
“I am not going to join issues with anyone that wants to play God; I will leave them to God, God can deal with whoever is challenging His authority and wanted to play God.
“How can we on the outside take on an incumbent and then be accused of rigging out an incumbent in the same party? Anyone can explain their failure whichever way they like, anyone can also begin to pant and threaten that they will do whatever. We will not be distracted.”
Governor Abiodun said he would be re-elected because of his ‘stellar performance’ since he assumed office in 2019.
Meanwhile, the governor and the ADC candidate might greatly share the APC sympathisers at the poll, especially in Ogun Central, the most populated senatorial district in the state.
Gbenga Daniel factor
Also there was a rumour in political circles that another former governor, Gbenga Daniel, is not supporting Mr Abiodun.
Mr Daniel is the current senator-elect on the platform of the APC for Ogun East senatorial district.PREMIUM TIMES gathered that it took the interference of national officers in the APC for Mr Daniel to secure the party’s ticket.
Inside sources hinted PREMIUM TIMES that the governor did not back Mr Daniel for the party’s senatorial ticket.
Mr Daniel had planned a big event to launch his senatorial race but the party, less than 24 hours to the event, cancelled all campaign activities. However, Mr Daniel went ahead with the programme as an empowerment programme.
Political analysts are watching whether Mr Daniel will get his loyalists to vote for the governor on Saturday.