2019 polls: Changing face of Southwest politics

The just concluded 2019 general elections saw candidates from diverse backgrounds stepping forward for their political parties. The electioneering processes also saw numerous godfathers and other gladiators putting their political weights at stake as they lined up behind their preferred candidates.
In this piece, Assistant Editor, ‘Dare Odufowokan, reports that a lot have changed in the politics of the Southwest zone following the outcome of the general elections in the three states of the region where gubernatorial elections were held.

THE 2019 General Elections introduced the nation to some electrifying moments, as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) traded tackles across the length and breadth of the Southwest geo-political zone. Babajide Sanwoolu, undoubtedly APC’s newest kid on the bloc, charmed voters in Lagos, while Dapo Abiodun in Ogun State and Seyi Makinde in Oyo State had the chance to make history.

At the close of tackles in the gubernatorial, National Assembly and State Assembly contests, many candidates hitherto regarded as political heavyweights could not win elections. Instead, some less flashy sleeper candidates racked up big victories. You may not have heard their names before and even during the campaign, but you’ll definitely be hearing a lot about them now.

In spite of their determination and efforts, the desire of a couple of outgoing governors to ensure the emergence of their preferred candidates as their successors, did not see the light of the day. Similarly, the hope of some outgoing governors to retire into the upper chamber of the National Assembly as senators also received some bashing. A couple of incumbent Senators also got stopped from returning to the red chamber.

While many political heavyweights across the region may have been retired by the outcome of the last general elections following the loss of the candidates they supported in their various states, there were also opportunities for a number of embattled political gladiators to bounce back to reckoning with the victories of candidates they threw their weights behind.

Although the opposition PDP tried hard to give the ruling APC some good fights in many parts of the zone, the latter no doubt emerged the overall winner of the political contests in the Southwest. While the PDP managed to snatch Oyo State from the grips of the APC, the opposition party lost all its strongholds in Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti states to the ruling party. “In Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti, PDP lost whatever it gained in Oyo during the last general elections. Of course, in spite of all, the APC remains the party to beat in the region,” an analyst said.

OGUN

Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s dalliance with the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), earned him suspension from the APC, yet, Adekunle Akinlade, his preferred choice as successor, was trounced by the candidate of the ruling APC. Although he emerged a Senator-elect on the platform of the ruling APC, Amosun’s political future is highly uncertain as it is. Most of his aides and associates lost in their bid to get elected into one office or the other. Thus, his political camp is grossly bruised by the mainstream APC in the state under the leadership of former governor Segun Osoba.

The face of politics in the Gateway state is indeed changing with the reversal of roles by Amosun and Osoba. While Amosun appears to be sliding into political oblivion, especially with his running battle with the national leadership of his party, Osoba is returning to political limelight after being sidelined by the Amosun camp for many years since he joined the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to make Amosun governor in 2011. Both Tinubu and Osoba supported Abiodun to emerge the Ogun governor-elect during the last gubernatorial election.

According to Hon. Gbade Lawal, former state official of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and a chieftain of the APC in the state, “while the Matagbamole group of the APC group in Ogun State, led by Baba Osoba is back to take charge of the ruling party with the victory of Dapo Abiodun, Amosun’s SIA group, which has been in charge of the politics of the state since 2011 will have to take the back seat. Already, many of the leaders of the SIA group, including commissioners and party leaders, are daily pledging loyalty to the emerging Osoba group.”

Of course, Dapo Abiodun, an erstwhile ally of Amosun’s who faced stiff opposition from the governor in his bid to succeed him, is one of the new power brokers in the Southwest. As governor of Ogun State, he will no doubt, wield immense political power. Party sources claim the country home of the Iperu Remo-born business mogul cum politician has been playing host to numerous dignitaries since his victory at the governorship election last month.

And while Abiodun and Osoba are savouring their return to political reckoning, the Senator representing Ogun East and leader of the PDP in the state, Buruji Kashamu must be rueing his loss at the general elections. Not only did Kashamu fail in his surprise bid to become the next governor of the state, he also lost the firm grip he had on the politics of Ogun East. He will not be returning as a Senator and his preferred successor for the Ogun East senate seat also failed to clinch the post.

And with the above development within the Kashamu political camp, analysts say the end may have finally come for the PDP in Ogun State. The 2019 general election dealt hard blows on the troubled opposition party from day one. First, the party was sharply divided into two as the Kashamu faction engaged another faction led by Hon. Ladi Adebutu in a fierce legal war over who controls the party. Several conflicting court verdicts left party members confused.

The national leadership insisted till Election Day that Adebutu remained the PDP governorship candidate in the state, but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), claiming it was relying on some court judgements, pitched tent with Kashamu as candidate. Eventually, Adebutu joined governor Amosun in endorsing APM’s Akinlade’s ambition. He directed his supporters to vote for the APM candidate, contrary to widespread expectations that he was going to support Abiodun, his fellow Iperu indigene.

While it remains unclear if Adebutu will return to his faction of the PDP now that elections are over and Kashamu has been defeated, the party again lost another of its pillars, former Governor Gbenga Daniel. OGD, as he is fondly called, had also dumped PDP’s Kashamu and openly canvassed votes for APC’s Abiodun days to the last election. He announced his retirement from both the PDP and active politics few days after the governorship results were announced. With his exit, and the movement of many of his associates into the APC, PDP may never be the same again in the state.

LAGOS

In fulfillment of promises by the National Leader of the party after the 2015 general elections, the APC in Lagos State came out stronger and better after the last general elections. Not only did the party retain the governorship and three senatorial seats in its kitty, in addition, it also recovered all the elective positions it lost to the opposition PDP in 2015 both in the National Assembly election and the State Assembly contests.

In 2015, the PDP candidate in Ojo Local Government, Tajudeen Obasa, won the House of Reps seat for the area while Tunji Soyinka, also of PDP, won the House of Reps seat for Surulere Federal Constituency 2. Also, three Igbo candidates had won elections into the House of Representatives in Lagos State in 2015. They contested on the platform of the PDP. They are Oghene Egboh in Amuwo Odofin, Rita Orji in Ajeromi-Ifelodun and Tony Nwoolu in Oshodi/Isolo.

All the Igbo winners won in areas heavily populated by the Igbo in Lagos State. They defeated candidates of the APC, the ruling party in the state. In Mushin Federal Constituency 2, Dauda Kako Are, then of the Accord Party, also defeated the APC candidate, Yemi Alli, to clinch a ticket to the House of Representatives. The development created anxiety over the future of the party in the state and by extension, the Southwest region. But Asiwaju Tinubu, while promising radical re-engineering of the party structures, assured that the future was bright.

True to his words, the APC won back most of the seats in the 2019 general elections. Similarly, the party recorded a clean sweep of the state assembly positions contrary to the situation in 2015 when the PDP won eight of the forty legislative seats. “The PDP in Lagos cannot recover from the injuries we have inflicted on them this time. I don’t think there will be PDP in Lagos after this year’s general elections. The party is dead in Lagos, Remi Adiukwu, a chieftain of the ruling party, said.

Coming to replace outgoing governor Akinwunmi Ambode, his fellow party man, Sanwoolu, the governor-elect of Lagos State, is one of the new faces of the politics of the region. Already, many analysts are of the opinion that a lot of things will lie on his shoulders as regards the politics of integration currently being played in the zone under the able leadership of Asiwaju Tinubu. “Sanwoolu is not a new comer to the politics of the region. He has always been a member of the Tinubu political family. So he understands what is expected of him,” a party leader said.

Also of great importance is the emergence of Dr. Obafemi Hamzat as the Deputy-Governor-elect of the state. To many analysts, his presence on the APC ticket with Sanwoolu signified a new found unity within the ruling party in the state. “Yes, the governor-elect and his deputy represent a more united and refocused APC in the state. It is one of the results of the re-engineering you talked about. Lagos is now in safer hands and Lagosians should expect the very best,” Adiukwu added.

OYO

The politics of Oyo State received a huge jolt on March 9, 2019 when the ruling party, the APC was declared to have lost the governorship election in the state to the main opposition party, the PDP. While the two leading parties remained at loggerhead from the onset of the campaigns, and events leading to the gubernatorial poll may have been fraught with uncertainties and anxiety, not many pundits can boast of seeing the PDP winning the contest with the margin they did.

The governorship candidate of the PDP, Seyi Makinde, was declared the winner of the gubernatorial election with 515, 621 votes. The APC candidate, Adebayo Adelabu, polled 357, 982 to come a distant second. Makinde won in 28 Local Government Areas while Adelabu won in five councils. The councils won by Makinde include Ibadan North West, Ibarapa East, Atiba,  Kajola, Ido, Lagelu, Iwajowa, Ogbomoso South, Afijio and Oorelope,

Others are Ibadan North East, Ibadan South East, Ibarapa North, Atisbo and Ibarapa Central, Ibadan North, Egbeda, Itesiwaju, Saki West, Saki East, Oyo West, Oyo East, Oluyole, Olorunsogo, Ona Ara, Akinyele, Iseyin and Ibadan South West. However, the local government areas won by Adelabu are Orire, Ogo Oluwa, Surulere, Ogbomoso North and Irepo. Not a few pundits were shocked by the margin with which the PDP displaced the ruling party and returned to reckoning in the state during the last general elections.

To further rub it in for the APC, Governor Abiola Ajimobi lost his bid to represent Oyo South Senatorial District in the National Assembly. The two-term outgoing governor was roundly defeated by the less known candidate of the PDP, Dr. Kola Balogun, who won with 105,720 votes, while Ajimobi polled 92,218 votes. Oyo South Senatorial District comprises Ibarapa East, Ibarapa North, Ibarapa Central, Ido, Ibadan North West, Ibadan North East, Ibadan North, Ibadan South West and Ibadan South East.

Aside Makinde, one major beneficiary of PDP’s victory in Oyo State is Senator Rasheed Ladoja, a former governor and erstwhile leader of the PDP in the state. Ladoja it was who led the coalition that backed Makinde and the PDP in the run up to the guber election. If he plays his cards well and manages his relationship with the incoming governor well, he may return to political reckoning, something he lost following his exit from Government House over a decade ago.

Alongside Ajimobi, another former governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, may have fallen into political quagmire as a result of PDP’s victory in the state. Alao-Akala, who was a chieftain of the ruling APC until he lost the ticket to Adelabu, was set to contest the governorship election on the platform of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) before he stepped down and endorsed the APC candidate barely a week to the gubernatorial election, following a deal facilitated by some prominent chieftains.

Even before APC lost the election, Alao-Akala ran into political troubled waters as his disciples who were candidates of the ADP for the House of Assembly elections refused to be part of his deal with the ruling party.

 

https://thenationonlineng.net/2019-polls-changing-face-of-southwest-politics/


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