Home » National Politics, Ogun, Raw Politics, State News » Three days to go: Ogun still a Tower of Babel

Three days to go: Ogun still a Tower of Babel

 Various crises in Ogun State remain intractable three days to elections. FRANCIS FALOLA examines possible effects of the crises on the polls.

With elections approaching, none of the governorship candidates in Ogun State can confidently say that the battle is over and victory is his. The three leading governorship candidates in the state are Chief Adetunji Olurin (the Peoples Democratic Party); Mr. Gboyega Isiaka (the Peoples Party of Nigeria) and Senator Ibikunle Amosun (the Action Congress of Nigeria).

If Olurin, a former military administrator of Oyo State, emerges as the governor, he will be joining the camp of former military administrators like Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Oyo State and Jonah Jang of Plateau State who have been civilian governors.

Olurin, who is from the Ogun West Area of the state mostly populated by the Yewa/Awori people, also has the task of leading the area on a mission towards accomplishing a dream that had remained elusive in the last 35 years of existence of Ogun State as the area had never produced a governor in the state.

But the army general is facing a battle not only from enemies within but also from outside. The Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, had vowed not to support Olurin’s bid. Daniel, who claimed to remain in the PDP, however, vowed to support members of his faction led by the governorship candidate of the PPN who defected from the PDP.

The state governor at every forum condemned the PDP and dissociated himself from the party. As the South-West coordinator of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign organisation, he, however, promised to ensure the victory of the President. Though the PDP cried foul over Daniel’s action and accused him of anti-party activities, the governor remained unperturbed in his determination and conviction

Besides Daniel, the PDP governorship candidate also has Isiaka, his kinsman from the Ogun West Senatorial District and Amosun to contend with Isiaka, who had earlier challenged the decision of an Abuja High Court to nullify the PDP primaries that produced him and Daniel as governorship candidate and senatorial candidate for Ogun East respectively, lost the battle in court ruling delivered on March 3. His decision to contest the race under PPN had been described in some quarters as capable of splitting the votes of the people of Ogun West and, therefore, dashing the 35 years aspiration of the area to govern.

Since Olurin threw his hat into the ring, he has made it clear that he is poised to run an open, disciplined and purposeful government if elected governor of Ogun State on April 16. He has embarked on campaigns throughout the 20 local government areas in the Gateway State, soliciting votes and intimating the people with the policies and programmes of his administration, if elected. He has listed education, qualitative healthcare, agricultural development, infrastructural development and addressing rural-urban migration among others as the major policy thrust of his administration. Olurin, who described bottom to top approach to development as his policy of administration, maintained that once basic amenities such as good roads, electricity among others are provided for the rural areas, the movement of people from the rural areas to the urban centres will be curbed. Besides, he promised to involve all stakeholders – both the high and lowly placed – in the process of governance so that, together, the state can be taken to higher heights.

But as Olurin intensifies efforts at selling his candidacy to the voters in the state, the people of Ogun West Senatorial District, an area widely believed to be the least developed among the three zones in the state had out of fear of losing the opportunity of succeeding Daniel in May, also waded in and are considering the possibility of presenting a candidate so as not to split the votes of the area.

An association of elders of the community under the aegis of Yewa-Think Tank had last weekend led about eight others associations to a meeting towards ensuring that the area presents a candidate for the poll.

At the meeting, various contributors argued that since the PDP had in line with the agitation of the area picked one of its sons, Olurin as its candidate, and the court had affirmed his ambition, Isiaka should forget his ambition and support Olurin. Seven out of the nine groups supported this position and one was against it.

But Isiaka in his reaction in an interview with our correspondent vowed not to step down for Olurin. Speaking through his Media Assistant, Mr. Bolaji Adeniji, in Abeokuta, he said, “I will never withdraw from the race. I cannot relinquish my mandate for anybody.”

Following Isiaka’s refusal, three different groups from the area, Ogun West Next Level, the Yewa Awori Youth Congress led by Odu Olufemi and Ogun West Democracy Watch, in a statement urged Olurin to withdraw from the race in the interest of the area.

The statement, which was signed by Oginni Sunday, Odu and Adewale Ashipa, condemned the call for the withdrawal of Isiaka, adding that Olurin should forget his ambition.

Olurin, however, vowed not to ewxchange words with the groups which he described as faceless.

He, however, said, ‘We know where those calls are coming from and we are not surprised It is unfortunate that some people because of pecuniary benefits of today are bent on destroying their future and that of their children.”

Olurin, who reacted through his Media Consultant, Mr. Dele Agekameh, vowed never to be distracted by the calls from “the faceless groups”.

Olurin is not only planning to defeat Isiaka in the electoral contest, he has also gone to court to challenge the emergence of Isiaka as the PPN candidate. He added that Isiaka’s claim of withdrawing from the PDP on February 28 to meet INEC deadline for substitution of candidates could not be true since he could only be said to have validly left the PDP in March.

The PDP governorship candidate, described the process of Isiaka’s emergence as PPN candidate as contravening the nation’s Electoral Law. He said that “The PDP is pursuing a legal case, an illegality has been conducted and PDP or any individual or group can point it out. The issue is no one should be deceived that Isiaka or any candidate put forward can contest the next election. They cannot become candidate overnight. Electoral Act No. 6 of August 20, 2010 as amended by the Electoral Act No. 10 of December 29, 2010 is explicit on the issue of nomination or sponsorship of a candidate for an election by any political party. Section 31, sub section 1 of the Electoral Act as amended provides that every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for general elections under the provision of this Act submit to the commission on the prescribed forms, the list of candidates the parties propose to sponsor at the elections provided that the commission shall not reject or disqualify candidate (s) for any reason whatsoever.’’

Olurin argued that the implication was that the name of the candidate must have been submitted by PPN at the time Isiaka was in court challenging the PDP candidacy. He stated further that the rationale behind it was that Isiaka could not have been contesting for the candidacy of PDP while his name was already submitted by the PPN, adding that, it would logically rob him of the locus standi to vie for the PDP’s ticket.

He restated the provision of the Electoral Act (As amended) that a party can substitute its candidate in the event of death or the withdrawal of the candidate earlier submitted. He, however, argued that: “Section 33 provides that ‘a political party cannot be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose names have been submitted pursuant to section 31 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidates’’.

He, therefore, maintained that in this particular instance, the death of the governorship candidate of PPN was never announced nor made public in anyway, adding that up till date INEC has not proclaimed such incident.

The PDP governorship candidate argued that since no death had been announced by INEC, the simple implication is a claim that Isiaka becomes a candidate because of the withdrawal of the other candidate, adding that under this clause, the right of the candidates to withdraw voluntarily is sacrosanct as section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear and unambiguous about it.

“However a caveat to the exercise of this seeming free will was introduced in the Act. Section 35 of the Electoral Act as amended provides: “A candidate can withdraw his candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered by himself to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such to the commission not later than 45 days to the election.”

The PDP governorship candidate recalled that the final verdict on the case was delivered by the Federal High court on March 3, adding that it was at this point that Isiaka could be said to have validly left the PDP. He also maintained that since the governorship election had been slated for April 16, the candidate of the PPN could not have validly withdrawn his candidature on March 3 or any date after as such is less than 45 days before the governorship election.

“Therefore, it is in contravention of Section 35 of the Electoral Act, the simple but incontrovertible point here is that Isiaka cannot be the governorship candidate of the PPN,” Olurin said.

The decision of the court on the matter will determine whether Ogun West will at last achieve its aim of presenting a common candidate for the poll by ensuring that bloc vote is given to their kinsman in ensuring victory at the poll.


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