By Sola Ogunnaike
KEEN observers of Ogun politics would not have been surprised by the Ogun Central senator, Ibikunle Amosun’s latest revival in Abeokuta. Like in all of his campaigns, this one was also about self-worship. Hear the evangelist: “In this Ogun State, since 1999–I am on camera, except for Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, I am not talking of pre-1999– no human being, dead or alive, has served Ogun State the way I have served. I have done 8 years as your governor, by next year it will be my 8th year in the Senate. Just between 1999 and now, I have served Ogun State with 15 years of my lifetime.”
According to those who know him, the former governor, like the character Benjamin Benjamin alias Benja Benja in T.M Aluko’s One man, One matchet, has quite an exaggerated notion of his own importance. And he validated that assumption this week with his poetry of pomposity: “Since 1999, Ibikunle Amosun has paid his dues in Ogun State and I am still paying it. Put your mind at rest, we are APC, APC is ours.” Here was Ibikunle Amosun speaking about Ibikunle Amosun in glowing terms. Psychologists call this character trait narcissism. Amosun’s audience was of course rented crowd lured to the venue with N10, 000 mostly from some local governments close to the State capital. Coordinators were reportedly asked to hire 10 busses conveying “delegates” to the Abeokuta crusade. In effect, Amosun organised his own welcome, saying that his people were welcoming him back to Ogun State after his failed presidential bid in Abuja. Please don’t laugh.
As if the idea of a rented crowd ostensibly welcoming a failed presidential candidate back home was not bad enough, the Ogun Central senator found time to subtly cast aspersions on President Muhammadu Buhari by talking of the tottering economy. He assured the people that Tinubu, whom he never supported until defeat stared him in the face at the Eagle Square, was coming to alleviate their pains. There and then, he anointed certain impostors as “senatorial leaders’, never mind that none of them is an exco of the party whose authentic senatorial leaders are of course known to everyone within the party in the state. In case you have not got the gist, Amosun’s real aim is to create relevance for himself where there is none.
Amosun who till the day before the presidential primaries was running around campaigning that anyone but Asiwaju emerges , Amosun who had been advised by the SW leaders at their meeting to prune down the aspirants to step down Saturday preceeding the primary, as he wasn’t considered a contender.
His atrocities in the party in the build up to the last election when, unable to foist a successor on the people are of course public knowledge.
President Buhari, the man Amosun claims to love, was pelted with stones by hoodlums when he came to Abeokuta for campaign in 2019, and following that infamy he (Amosun) was justly suspended from the party. It took the intervention of Adams Oshiomhole, then the party chairman, to reinstate him after much pressure even though evidence of contrition was lacking. Throughout his APM misadventure, the Ogun Central senator routinely dropped President Buhari’s name, saying he was closest to the Daura-born General in the South-West and could do whatever he wished without challenge. Needless to say, APM died a natural death, and with it, whatever influence Amosun hitherto wielded in the authentic Ogun APC.
Amosun’s Ake drama is not without purpose, of course. His objective is positioning. He wants to carve a new sphere of influence for himself using rebel forces after the Eagle Square gamble. Amosun, who made a show of stepping down for Asiwaju Tinubu, had not a single delegate at that convention. This is an open challenge: if he had any delegate, let him name such a person. Of course he cannot. How could he when he had since lost out in the power play? With Buhari’s government set to wind down next year, Amosun has to ingratiate himself to Asiwaju and claim that he is his eyes and ears in Ogun. His inflammatory statements about being the primus inter pares of Ogun politics has to be understood in this context.
Amosun’s macabre dance is of no moment. He led many astray, but many of them, people like Senator Lekan Mustapha and some of his own commissioners, have since retraced their steps and made their way back into the NWC-recognised Ogun APC fold. When the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, ran for governor, his campaign posters were pulled down, and the story of how suborned thugs tried to take him down when he stood with President Buhari and Asiwaju on the campaign podium needs no repetition here. During Amosun’s eight years in office, his predecessors, Segun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, were treated like Pariahs, and dared not “show face” anywhere near Oke Mosan. Thankfully, all of that changed when the Omoluabi Governor came in, and Chief Osoba’s gratitude at being able to return to the place where he held court years earlier was widely reported in the newspapers. Indeed, a Press Centre was even named after the widely celebrated media mogul.
As the Yoruba say, character is smoke. It cannot be hidden. It is both seen and felt. If you have never closely interacted with some individuals, you would think, going by their sweet words, that they are the very apogee of humanity. But get close to them and you become shell-shocked as they do the most detestable things. Osoba, on the day here recalled, did not speak too many words, but the few he spoke showed deep appreciation for the Omoluabi Governor that currently occupies Oke Mosan, and a repudiation of the macabre dancers desecrating the Ake Palace Grounds and taking the genial nature of His Royal Majesty, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, for granted. If Amosun also wants to take Prince Abiodun’s genial nature for granted, it can be no surprise. That is his stock in trade: dishing out to others what he himself cannot take. Certainly, a former governor mounting the campaign podium to run down his successor and undermining him at every turn is no hallmark of an Omoluabi, but who will tell the megalomaniac senator the truth among his retinue of praise singers? Sycophants earn their daily bread through fawning and flattery: they grovel at the feet of magalomaniacs for a bottle of beer. Tinubu should be wary of “friends” such as Amosun. They do what William Shakespeare calls the “unkindest cut.”
As a sitting governor, Amosun nearly lost his senatorial election, and his anointed governorship candidate did not win. Yet he arrogates so much power to himself in his grating, infuriating self-worship. Now that he realizes, as the Yoruba say, that there is no water in which his fish can swim anymore, he is desperately trying to bring down his successor at all costs, even if it means putting the APC platform on which he continues to enjoy the perks of office in peril. He will fail, just like he did last time.
Ogunnaike contributes this piece from 6, Asolo Road, Abeokuta, Ogun State