Amosun Holds The Aces In Federal Appointments
No doubt, the immediate past Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, is a man who could not be pushed aside when it comes to wielding influence in his home state and even at the federal level.
His open support for a candidate in another party, in obvious violation of the constitution of his party, showed that he could pull some weight in the state, given the overall performance of his preferred candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, of the Allied Peoples Movement in the governorship election.
And in his party, the All Progressives Congress, Amosun, who is now a senator, is no small fry, in the common parlance, despite his suspension from the party.
According to party men and residents of the state, the former governor is gaining an upper hand over his successor, Governor Dapo Abiodun, in the scheme of things at the federal level. The persons who have clinched federal appointments in the state give a clearer perspective.
Even a former governor and chieftain of the party in the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba, who stood firm with the party when Amosun kept campaigning for a candidate of the opposition party, seem not to have the kind of influence Amosun has at the federal level.
Since the inception of the current (fifth) dispensation, all federal appointments due to Ogun State, whether done discreetly or openly, have gone the way of people loyal to Amosun, and as expected, this development has boosted his support base, especially by the beneficiaries and those still eyeing federal appointments.
This development was said to have shocked Abiodun, who belongs to the camp of the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, and Osoba. This is understandably a matter of concern to people in this camp.
For instance, Amosun’s childhood friend and his Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure during his eight-year term, Olamilekan Adegbite, was a few weeks ago appointed the Minister of Mine and Steel Development by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In drawing from his goodwill with the President, Amosun also succeeded in pushing his ally, Adeleke Adewolu, to be appointed as the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Engagement, at the Nigerian Communications Commission. He replaced Sunday Dare, who is now the Minister of Youths and Sports Development. Dare’s appointment to NCC and now as a minister could safely be traced to the National Leader of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Meanwhile, Adewolu had contested but lost the House of Representatives seat in Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency on the platform of APM, a party openly supported by Amosun. Some stakeholders in the state argue that his appointment is a compensation for his loss.
In addition, Amosun was able to push for his former Commissioner for Agric and Urban and Physical Planning, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, to be appointed as the chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Amosun displayed his closeness to the President in getting his loyalist to get the job, given that a nominee, Chief Bode Mustapha, had been screened by the National Assembly for the position.
According to some party men in the state, Amosun reversed Mustapha’s fate in retaliation for his open declaration of support for Abiodun as the APC governorship candidate.
Not done, Amosun was also instrumental to the appointment of the serving Postmaster-General/ Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Postal Services, Bisi Adegbuyi.
However, this is believed to be part of the calculations ahead of the 2023 general elections in the state.
These imply that Amosun remains highly influential in the scheme of things within the APC, particularly anything that has to do with the involvement of the President, in spite of his failure to field his preferred governorship candidate on the platform of the party.
This seems to have led to disagreements within the ruling APC in the state, which created factions in the party.
A flashback to the pre-electioneering period showed that Amosun was in charge, despite the status of Osinbajo and Osoba as leaders of the party in the state.
Amosun had ensured that no stone was left unturned at the level of the party structure and expectedly, during the pre-election period, he held sway and directed the affairs of the party.
But, he got a rude shock when his preferred candidates for the party in the state were denied the party tickets by the national leadership led by its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Findings have shown that the last election period was tough for the party in the state. Many people had insinuated that APC might lose the seats to the opposition parties in the state. But, the situation was well managed and the party won the election.
Few weeks to the general elections, Amosun was reported to have embarked on no fewer than 28 trips to Abuja and the Aso Rock Villa with a view to changing the situation of things, but, all to no avail.
It was learnt that Amosun believed that his cordial relationship with the President would afford him success in his fight for his candidates to be the party’s choice. But, he failed woefully.
He lost all the tickets except his only senatorial ticket. And despite that he held parallel party primaries for his group and all his candidates won including the governorship candidate, they were all shoved aside and denied the tickets.
Irked by the development, Amosun openly declared for another party, the Allied People’s Movement and encouraged his supporters to ditch the broom party for the APM while he stayed put and contested as a senatorial candidate from Ogun Central on the platform of APC.
The Osinbajo/Osoba/Abiodun group won and took over the party structure from Amosun.
But, it did not take much time before it dawns on them that it is yet not Uhuru for them as the federal appointments continue to go the way of Amosun.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was the ministerial appointment which also went to Amosun’s group, despite that he is a suspended party member.
He was suspended by the party for alleged anti-party activities when he openly declared for APM and worked against the APC during the governorship election, even though he supported the ambition of President Buhari, who was the candidate of the ruling APC.
Fortunately, Abiodun got the backing of Osinbajo; former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; and Chief Osoba during the primaries and the general election, all of which helped him to defeat Amosun’s preferred candidate by 19,000 votes.
But, in spite of the support of these political heavyweights for Abiodun, Amosun has continued to latch on his cordial relationship with Buhari.
Reports have it that Amosun enjoys the relationship as one of the henchmen of Buhari following his cordial relationship with the President long before the latter became President.
Amosun had been with Buhari since the years of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party and Congress for Progressive Change. They left the parties together and joined the APC. Reports even have it that their friendship was so cordial that Buhari usually passed the night in Amosun’s house whenever he was in Lagos.
Sources hinted our correspondent that Buhari is not on the same page with Oshiomhole, Osinbajo and Tinubu for Amosun to be disciplined over his alleged anti-party activities.
In fact, his anti-party went overboard when Buhari’s visit on February 11, 2019, for his presidential campaign almost became a tragedy following the violence that erupted at the MKO Abiola Stadium, the venue for the APC presidential campaign.
The President was almost hit by the stones hauled at the direction of Oshiomhole by the aggrieved members of the APC who were Amosun’s supporters.
However, Buhari’s body language has shown that the President would never sacrifice Amosun for political friendship with either Osinbajo or former Governor of Lagos State.
Political pundits believe that Amosun should have been queried for his roles during the presidential campaign on February 11 but he was spared due to his closeness to the President, especially since everybody wanted to be in the good books of the Commander-in-Chief.
It was even surprising for the like of Osinbajo and Osoba when the President refused to declare support for the ambition of Abiodun during the rally. Rather, he urged the people of the state to vote according to their conscience but that they should vote for him as the President.
Our correspondent learnt that the statement shocked the national leaders of the APC who were at the campaign, but the swift intervention of Osinbajo who whispered into the President’s ears to raise the hand of the governorship candidate of the party and hand over the party flag to him, which saved the day.
Investigations revealed that most politicians in the state prefer to patronise Amosun because of the recent happenings, which have favoured him.
Abiodun seems to have lost sleep over the recurrent decimal in the sharing of federal appointments. The governor was further said to have been more worried following the assurance of Amosun to his loyalists that his list for board appointments had been approved by the Presidency.
Many members of the party were said to have protested the recent development where the suspended Chairman of the APC in the state, Chief Derin Adebiyi, signed an invite that allowed select members to enter Aso Rock for the swearing-in of the new ministers.
This development is believed to have angered the Osinbajo/Abiodun/Osoba group which encouraged the chairman of the caretaker committee set up by the National Working Committee of the party, Chief Yemi Sanusi, to issue a disclaimer against him.
Adebiyi had been suspended since December 18, 2018, by the party.
As of the time of writing this report, Abiodun’s group has taken over the party secretariat while it continues the horse race with Amosun to get the remaining slots and appointments meant for the state from the Presidency.
Attempts to get reactions from the two factions in the party failed.
The Publicity Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the party in the state, Tunde Oladunjoye did not reply to the message sent to his phone.
He also did not answer the phone calls made to him.
Adebiyi could, however, not be reached as of the time of filing this report.
However, a chieftain of the party in the state who belongs to the Osinbajo/Osoba/Abiodun camp berated the development, describing it as worrisome.
According to him, members of the APC are worried that members of the Allied Peoples Movement who pelted the party leaders with stones before the elections are being rewarded with political appointments.
He said “It is worrisome that it is only the APM members that are getting the appointments. We are pained and didn’t want to talk at all.
“The truth is when you sample the people’s opinion, they are bitter, seriously bitter that those who pelted party leaders with stones are getting benefits. By so doing that is anti-party activity.”
Another APC stalwart from Remo North, Abiola Ogundeko, said federal appointments allegedly cornered by Amosun and his loyalists angered party leaders and members.
According to Ogundeko, there many members of the APC who are qualified the jobs, wondering why the appointments were given to non-APC members.
He said, “As an APC faithful in Ogun State, the recent development in terms of federal appointments has not been so fair to the entire members of the party in the state-I mean the Ogun State ministerial slot that was given to Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, a non-APC man; the Executive Director/Commissioner, Stakeholder Engagement of the Nigerian Communications Commission that was given to Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, another non-APC man; and lastly the choice of Mrs. Ronke Shokefun for position of the Chairman of NDIC. All these federal appointments that were supposed to be given to qualified and competent members of the APC were given to non-APC persons.
“This is not fair enough to the good people of Ogun State and the APC members in particular that worked assiduously both at the state and federal levels.
“But, I am sure that the party National Executive Council must have been looking into it to guide against future similar appointments for the APC Ogun State.”
However, a loyalist of Amosun and former member of the state House of Assembly, Yinka Mafe, claimed that the ex-governor’s faction was in the majority in the APC in the state.
According to him, the membership strength of Amosun’s faction controls 80 per cent of the APC in the state.
He added, “How can you say a faction is greedy when there is a group of 100 people where 80 people are in one side and 20 people are on the other side? The faction of 80 people are getting federal appointments, is that greediness?
“I believe the President himself knows what has happened in Ogun State and has security reports, we are the major APC in Ogun State. We are the 80 per cent if not for the governorship they claimed to have won or that has been awarded to them, they won’t get 20 per cent.”
However, the coming months will show the faction that will have controlling influence in Buhari’s government.