Aesop’s, the legendary Greek man of Fables fame must have had the 2023 Ogun State Gubernatorial election in mind when he penned “The Milkmaid and Her Pail.” According to the didactic literato, a milkmaid had been out to milk the cows and was returning from the field with the magnificent milk pail balanced nicely on her head. As she walked along, her pretty head was busy with plans for the days to come.
“This good, rich milk,” she mused, “will give me plenty of cream to churn. The butter I make I will take to market, and with the money I get for it I will buy a lot of eggs for hatching. How nice it will be when they are all hatched and the yard is full of fine young chicks. Then when May Day comes, I will sell them and with the money, I’ll buy a lovely new dress to wear to the fair. All the young men will look at me. They will come and try to make love to me, but I shall very quickly send them about their business!”
As she thought of how she would settle that matter, she tossed her head scornfully, and down fell the pail of milk to the ground. And all the milk spilled out, and with the butter and eggs and chicks and new dress and all the milkmaid’s pride!
So, it happened when Justice O. O. Oguntoyibo nullified all the primaries conducted by the People’s Democratic Party in Ogun State because they were not in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and with the clincher that the Independent National Electoral Commission should cease from recognising Ladi Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.
Before now, like the milkmaid in Aesop tale, the supposed flagbearer, his running mates and their promoters have been counting their chickens before they are hatched – sharing portfolios and spoils of office even before the contest for office, from where the spoils would emanate, began.
It is no longer news that last week, a document had surfaced in the Nigerian media space, which revealed a power-sharing agreement between the now disqualified Ogun State governorship candidate of the PDP, Oladipupo Adebutu, and his running mate, Abdul Kabir Akinlade. The seven-page agreement, titled, “Alliance Agreement between Hon. Oladipupo Olatunde Adebutu and Hon. Adekunle AbdulKabir Akinlade in respect of the 2023 Election into the Offices of Governor, Deputy Governor, Related Elective Positions and Appointment in Ogun State”, was dated September 16, 2022.
The document was signed by both Adebutu and Akinlade, and confirmed by an oath at the High Court of Ogun State, Abeokuta, while Sikirulai Ogundele, the state PDP chairman and one Hon. Tola Banjo signed as witnesses to the parties respectively.
While power-sharing agreements among political groups, individuals and interests are not unheard of in a democracy, some experts argue that this particular one signed between the Ogun State PDP and the APC/APM group backed by Sen Amosun reeks desperation to stave off self-inflicted immolation and preservation of the political self-interest of a few.
Fair enough, Amosun has denied any knowledge of the leaked document signed by Adebutu and his loyalist, Akinlade, saying that the report was false and was only aimed at tarnishing his reputation.
In a statement issued by his media aide, Bola Adeyemi, on September 25, Amosun advised the public to dismiss the report. “This story is nothing more than a mischief to mislead the public and discredit the hard-earned reputation of the former governor of Ogun State. We have stated before and wish to state once again, categorically, without any fear of contradiction that Senator Ibikunle Amosun has nothing to do with the PDP in Ogun State. And he is not a party to any alliance formed with anyone or group of persons in the party,” the statement read.
However, Amosun’s reputation for anti-party activities continues to fuel suspicion about his connection with both the APC/APM group and the agreement between Adebutu and Akinlade. Recall that in March 2019, the national working committee (NWC) of APC suspended Amosun, the then governor of Ogun over anti-party activities. The NWC of the party further recommended the expulsion of Amosun from the APC for “brazen anti-party activities” and for supporting a different candidate for the governorship election in Ogun, despite the APC fielding the incumbent governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, as its candidate.
Amosun publicly mobilised support for Akinlade, as governorship candidate as a member of APM.
Amosun was also heavily criticised in February 2019, when he flooded an APC presidential rally in Abeokuta with APM supporters. The incident almost turned violent, as the APM mob threw stones and other dangerous objects at President Muhammadu Buhari.
What’s more, at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Abeokuta Club in August, Amosun told journalists that he was not in support of Abiodun’s administration, saying that the governor must vacate his seat at the expiration of his first four-year term.
“Just wait, very soon, you will hear where we are going next. Clearly, you know my stand, and my stand is my stand. I am not supporting this administration that is there now. He must be removed,” he said.
He also assured his supporters that his next line of action would soon be made public. Could this leaked agreement between the PDP and his loyalist be Amosun’s next line of action?
When Gov. Abiodun defeated Akinlade to emerge governor in 2019, Amosun instructed his supporters not to engage in a war of words with the government until after three years. However, he continues to discredit Abiodun and runs a parallel APC machinery in the state, along with the support of his APM surrogates.
In October 2021, he spearheaded a parallel state congress at the Ake palace ground, where Chief Derin Adebiyi emerged as state chairman. However, the mainstream of the party in the state, which had the governor of the state as leader, had its congress at the M.K.O. Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta. The election, which was conducted under the supervision of a 7-man state congress committee led by Chief Wale Ohu, produced Chief Yemi Sanusi as the state chairman of the party.
As expected, the national leadership of the party recognised Prince Abiodun’s bloc. As the political arena witnesses bustling activities, there are bound to be alignments and realignments by individuals and groups. The worry, however, is the extent to which political actors could undermine collective interests in pursuit of selfish interests. Whether connected with Amosun or not, that is what the Ogun leaked agreement has shown and what the court judgment has put paid to.
Somorin writes from Abeokuta