By Sufuyan Ojeifo
The most distasteful theatre of the absurd yet in the electioneering drives of the two leading political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – played out during the presidential campaign rally of the APC in Abeokuta, on Monday (February 11). Nothing close to the oddity of the self-inflicted embarrassment had ever happened at the level of intra-party setting to such calibre of officials of government and party.
Perceived from whatever prism(s), what happened at the MKO Abiola Stadium, the rally venue, while President Muhammadu Buhari was on the podium to raise the hand of the party’s governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun, was tantamount to a serious security breach. The assault on the president was the height of madness demonstrated by ragtag partisans with a single-minded mandate to embarrass APC’s topmost echelon.
The person and office of President Buhari were unconscionably violated and disrespected by persons with binary membership of the APC in Ogun State, but who had moved to the Allied People’s Movement (APM) at the behest of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, due to his failed bid to impose his preferred governorship candidate on the party. The APM members were procured to prosecute a proxy agenda.
It was unimaginable that these elements would hurl objects, first at the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and a national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; then, at President Buhari who had Abiodun by his side. The rally turned awry and became unruly, forcing the President in his speech, after he had raised the hand of Abiodun, to urge the uncontrollable crowd of rude party members to vote for candidates of their choice across the party lines.
All the assaulted leaders of the APC at the rally demonstrated some unparalleled equanimity. Although, Tinubu was apparently miffed where he sat when the president asked the crowd to vote for candidates of their choice across party lines, he could only show his anger by throwing away the flag (it was not clear whether it was APC’s or APM’s as both flags proliferated the rally venue) that was beside a vacant seat by his right hand side.
It was very significant to notice the prudence exhibited by the President’s security men. They had quickly formed a wall of defence in front of the president and the APC governorship candidate to stave off the objects, which were being hurled at them. Some over-zealous presidential guard could have, in that circumstance, taken precipitate actions and the story would have been different.
There was no doubt the president was put in harm’s way as a result of the political indiscretion of an exasperated emperor. Buhari’s security and safety were under real threat. The desperation of a neo-political godfather must be indicted for the salacious action. Amosun had tried in vain to install his crony as his successor in the governance of Ogun State. He had wanted to do that without recourse to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who is from Ogun and other APC leaders, including former Governor Olusegun Osoba.
Before Amosun’s danse macabre on Monday, he had expended all the tricks in the books to outplay the leadership of the party in Abuja after having pocketed the structure of the party in the State. Reports had it that he had, single-handed, as headmasters would do, drawn a list of candidates that would contest for all the elective positions in the state and had pushed it for ratification at his own primary election supervised by his administration officials and officers of the compromised State Executive Committee of the APC.
While Amosun’s primary election had produced Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, the one supervised by a validly-nominated committee appointed by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC had produced Abiodun as the governorship candidate. Amosun had visited Buhari about three times in a bid to sway presidential support for himself and his candidate but Buhari had allowed the Oshiomhole-led NWC to take the final decisions.
Hopeless and unable to subordinate his ego to the diktat and principle of party supremacy, his “imperial majesty”, as his compatriot, Rochas Okorocha did in Imo State by hijacking the Action Alliance (AA) platform for the governorship aspiration of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, resorted to self-help by directing his anointed governorship candidate to move to the APM on which platform he is contesting for the governorship position.
There is no doubt that Amosun had taken his reputed closeness to Buhari for granted. His actions have so far demonstrated lack of respect for the party leadership and the presidency. It baffles how Amosun could become so conceited to ignore some critical stakeholders of the party in Ogun State, take on the entire leadership of the APC in the Southwest zone and even extend the aggravation to the national leadership.
What was it if not an outright anti-party act for Amosun to encourage APC members to move to APM and to openly take the governorship candidate, Akinlade, round the State, canvassing votes? He had even taken Akinlade to the presidential villa to present him to Buhari as the man who would take over from him in Ogun. Imagine the level of obsession with the privatization of the commonwealth and governance of Ogun State!
Even at the APC presidential rally in Abeokuta, Amosun lost his sense of politesse as he spoke agitatedly about the fact that Ogun State would vote for Buhari on February 16, as if he controls the entire voter population in the state. He was emphasizing the presidential election in the light of Buhari’s candidature and apparently passing across the message that March 2 governorship election would assume a different voting pattern.
Former governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, would not suffer the imprudence of Amosun gladly. He mounted the podium to address the issue pointedly. According to him, the APC is the party that should be voted for, adding that those who were parading the identity of any other political party were hypocrites. Amosun’s hirelings that had been chanting “ole (thief)” at the background even before Aregbesola presented his unequivocal speech, were at this point, unmistakably agitated.
Their subsequent resort to pelting the leaders of the party with objects marked a reprehensible descent to the gutter of political rascality and leadership indiscretion promoted by Amosun. The battle for the soul of Ogun State would appear to be going on within the APC itself. That internal division has the potential of causing collateral damage to the APC and even the APM that Amosun is projecting.
Amosun’s gambit fittingly, possibly approximates a Yoruba axiom, which says “kaka ki Eku ki o je sese a fi se awa da nu” transliterated thus: “Instead of the bush rat to eat a certain Yoruba species of beans, it would rather scatter it.” It is in this context that the governor’s theatrics on the day of the rally, calling on and begging the people who were throwing stones at the party leaders not to disgrace him in the presence of his “father”, President Buhari, when, in actual fact, he was the propelling force behind the entire political rascality, could be situated.
As it is, Amosun has put himself on the spot, taking on many battles at once, and hoping to win them. How will he achieve that feat? With what happened at the Abeokuta APC presidential rally, Amosun had gone to the edge in a danse macabre and going completely overboard into the ocean of political self-destruction. If he does not know it, then he would be very naïve. But if he survives the backlashes of his action, then his survival must have something divine to it.
- Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja via firstname.lastname@example.org