JOHN AMEH and SUNDAY ABORISADE
The crisis in the All Progressives Congress over its primaries may worsen in a matter of days as there are strong indications that the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, is set to defect to the Democratic Peoples Party.
Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH revealed that Amosun had already positioned his close allies and top government officials in the state in the DPP to contest against the candidates of the ruling party.
Findings by our correspondents indicated that the officials and aides would be eventually unveiled as the candidates of the DPP in the guise of “consensus on or before December.”
A reliable APC source, who claimed to be fully involved in the governor’s plans, informed SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday that the officials would move ahead of him before Amosun would eventually join them.
The source added, “The plan is that he may not leave now, but he (Amosun) will leave.
“He already has candidates for the three senatorial zones and nine House of Representatives seats in the DPP.”
According to findings by SUNDAY PUNCH, the candidate for the Ogun East Senatorial District is Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, who is the current state’s Commissioner for Health.
In Ogun Central, the candidate is Alhaji Bolanle Adeyemi, a serving Senior Special Assistant to the governor.
For the Ogun West Senatorial District, the governor’s candidate is the current Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Energy, Chief Taiwo Fagbemi.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that “they (officials and aides) are to be substituted with the consensus candidates on or before the December 1 deadline for withdrawal/final substitution of candidates.”
For the House of Representatives seats, Amosun’s candidates in the DPP are Odebiyi Safiu-Abiodun, a former Chairman, Yewa South Local Government Area, as the candidate for the Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituency; and Adekunbi Fatai-Aremu for the Yewa North/Imeko-Afon Federal Constituency.
Fatai-Aremu is a younger brother to the Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly, Suraj Adekunbi.
The candidate for the Abeokuta North/Obafemi Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency is Olabode Taofeek-Babatunde, a former local government chairman. The Special Adviser and General Manager, Ogun Housing Corporation, Olajumoke Akinwunmi, is the candidate for the Abeokuta South Federal Constituency.
Other Amosun allies are Odumosu Olugbenga for the Ikenne/Sagamu/Remo North Federal Constituency; Mojeed Ekelojumati, a Commissioner in the Civil Service Commission, for the Ijebu North/Ijebu East/Ogun Waterside Federal Constituency seat; and the current Ifo Local Government Chairman, Ariori Saheed, for the Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency.
The seat for the Ado Odo/Ota Federal Constituency has Lamidi Rasheed, while Shittu Olawale, the Odogbolu Local Government Area chairman, is for Ijebu Ode/Odogbolu/Ijebu East Federal Constituency.
SUNDAY PUNCH sighted some of the nomination forms of a few of the candidates marked ‘Rep’ and ‘Senate’, written with a red marker.
Some of the identified candidates, who, however, spoke on condition of anonymity to one of our correspondents on Friday, confirmed that they were on their way to the DPP on the instruction of the embattled governor.
“Yes, it is true, the governor has said we should move to the DPP, but I cannot make any official comment now. Oga will join us later,” one of them in the National Assembly said.
Amosun has alleged that the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, colluded with some persons he described as members of the ‘Lagos cabal’ to manipulate the primaries, especially that of the governorship, in the state.
The APC has submitted the name of an oil magnate, Dapo Abiodun, as its governorship candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission to the surprise of Amosun, who had consistently maintained that a member of the House of Representatives, Adekunle Akinlade, would succeed him as the state governor.
A top source in the state APC, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Saturday, alleged that the National Working Committee of the party “changed the names of the winners of the primaries” in the state when the list got to Abuja.
“It wasn’t that the primaries were not held as being widely reported. The NWC said the primaries would hold on Monday, but the officials did not even show up in Abeokuta that day. It later changed it to Tuesday and the state government declared Tuesday as a public holiday,” said the source while lamenting the current state of the crisis.
“On Tuesday, eight officials came from Abuja. Of course, you know it was impossible for the eight to cover the 236 wards in the state. Winners were announced after the primaries, but when the names of the candidates were announced in Abuja, they were different from the names that emerged from the primaries, including that of Abiodun.
“Don’t forget what happened also in Lagos; when the NWC delegation to the state, initially, said election did not hold in the state governorship primary. Abuja made a U-turn later that day to say election held and that (Jide) Sanwo-olu has won the election. I believe the same set of people is behind the Ogun crisis.”
He however refused to comment on the rumoured defection of the governor and some of his lieutenants to the DPP, but argued that any candidate fielded by Amosun “on any platform” would win election.
“In Abeokuta, it will be difficult for any candidate to defeat Amosun’s candidate because of what he has done in transforming the state capital. You are aware that that is where the votes are.
“One just hopes they can resolve this impasse quickly. Otherwise, APC may eventually lose Ogun State to another party,” he said.