To supporters of Dapo Abiodun, the 2023 governorship election might be an easy ride for the Governor if the courts continue to ‘hold his major contenders to ransom’.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), 13 persons were earlier in the contest for the Ogun State governorship seat currently being occupied by Abiodun.
However, with the pronouncements of the Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, it appears two candidates are no more in the race, pending the decision of the appellate courts.
Saga Gist recalls that the candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Prof David Bamgbose died a few days after he was unveiled as the party’s flagbearer. Surprisingly, his name still appears on the INEC list as the candidate of the PRP.
With this, it will be safe to say that as at today, only nine contestants are dragging the governorship seat with Gov Abiodun in Ogun.
Political observers in the Gateway State ‘lost their permutations’ when an Abeokuta Federal High Court nullified all the primary elections conducted by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The judgement affected Ladi Adebutu, who many saw as a major threat to Abiodun.
Adebutu became a threat to Abiodun’s reelection bid when Adekunle Akinlade joined forces with the PDP candidate to be his running mate.
Akinlade was Abiodun’s closest rival in the 2019 governorship election.
He contested under the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), being the anointed candidate of the immediate past governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Akinlade’s movement to the PDP surged the strength and popularity of the party, making it a better alternative for those who do not want Abiodun to return. The former lawmaker defected to the PDP with many foot soldiers and loyalists of Amosun.
Our correspondent learnt that their defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP followed a direction by Amosun that his followers who felt cheated about the primary conducted by the APC could go to any party where they can actualize their ambitions, with the proviso that they should not mention his name in the negotiations.
But, when the PDP and its supporters were still basking in the euphoria of their renewed ‘vigour’, the enemy came, like in the bible, and “planted weeds among their wheat.”
On September 27, the Abeokuta court sacked Adebutu, Akinlade and the remaining 38 candidates of the PDP. Since then, the PDP candidates could not flag-off their campaigns. Though the court ordered the conduct of fresh primaries within 14 days, the National Working Committee of the party had appealed the judgement.
Amosun and Otegbeye
While the PDP and its candidates were seeking ways out of their ordeals, Amosun opened up in an interview with BBC News Yoruba that he would not support Abiodun and his party, saying he is fully behind Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
When the electoral umpire released its final list of candidates for the 2023 governorship election in Ogun, Otegbeye’s name made the list.
With this, the Ilaro-born legal practitioner swung into action and started consultations, building structures across the 236 wards of the State.
In Ogun, our correspondent reports that some voters have started considering the ADC as the next option in case the PDP could not settle its court cases in record time.
However, the court struck again on Friday, sacking Otegbeye and all the ADC Assembly candidates.
The Labour Party in Ogun State had dragged Otegbeye to court on the allegations that the ADC did not conduct a valid primary. The Labour Party said the ADC primary, if any, did not conform to the electoral act as it was not monitored by the INEC.
In his ruling, Justice Akintayo Aluko agreed with the plaintiff that the ADC primaries were not monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying this negates the dictates of the Electoral Act.
The court, therefore, ordered INEC to delete the names of Otegbeye and the 26 Assembly hopefuls from its list.
The judgement has since thrown a spanner in the works of the ADC, creating cold feet and tension among its members and supporters.
“The bane of the case is that the court did not order a rerun of primaries, it asked the INEC to expunge ADC candidates from the list. That is a big problem. I only hope the appellate courts would reverse that judgement,” an ADC member said anonymously.
Many are yet to find answers to how Otegbeye’s name got into the INEC portal if truly the ADC primaries were not witnessed by the electoral body.
Meanwhile, the PDP and the ADC have repeatedly accused Abiodun and his party, the APC, of being the brains behind their cases.
Our correspondent reports that the wild jubilations among members of the APC when the judgments were delivered lent credence to the suspicion that, “the voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
Saga Gist reports that the appeal court would deliver judgement on the PDP case on Monday, November 28, while the ADC has also threatened to appeal the judgement of the High Court.
The outcome of the appeals would determine whether or not Gov Abiodun would return ‘unopposed’ in March 2023.