Save for the embarrassment it is causing the party, stakeholders in Ogun State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), believe that the ongoing feud between Governor Dapo Abiodun and former governor of the state, Senator Gbenga Daniel, who represents Ogun East, will fizzle out with time.
Their assertion is based on the premise that Governor Abiodun has nothing at stake since he will no longer seek re-election in 2027 while Senator Daniel, whom the party offered the Ogun East Senatorial ticket as a form of compensation, poses no threat to the fortune of the party in the state.
However, Senator Daniel may have Governor Abiodun to contend with over the Ogun East Senatorial ticket in 2027, when the incumbent will complete his second term in office and may want to move to Senate, so the war is a battle that must be fought and won ahead of the 2027 election.
Recall that Governor Abiodun, Senator Daniel and the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, were once friends until political interests tore them apart.
Each of them had nursed the aspiration of ruling Ogun state and fortunately their ambitions have been realised. Daniel happened to be the first among them to become governor under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) between 2003 and 2011. After completing his second term, Amosun was elected as governor in 2011 regardless of Daniel, who, rather than support the aspiration of his friend, preferred and supported Gboyega Isiaka under the platform of Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN).
Amosun got the gubernatorial ticket of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which later transformed into APC to become the governor. And as soon as Amosun assumed office, he tactically declared Daniel, a Persona non grata in the state such that most of Daniel’s businesses and property were nearly wrecked. It was Abiodun who resuscitated the senator after he became governor in 2019.
In the twilight of Amosun’s tenure in 2019, he too, instead of helping Governor Abiodun to realise his governorship ambition, preferred another candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, whom he sponsored under the platform of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM). This is in spite of the fact that the duo were members of the ruling APC in Ogun.
It took the intervention of President Bola Tinubu, former Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, erstwhile National Chairman of APC, Senator Adams Oshiomhole and particularly efforts of former governor of Ogun, Segun Osoba, who took the governor to all the traditional rulers of repute across the state in the buildup to the 2019 governorship election, for Abiodun to become governor.
While it is difficult to ascertain the role played by Daniel in Abiodun’s victory in 2019, it is certain that the incumbent Ogun East senator had some challenges in the PDP, especially when he was unceremoniously dropped as the Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council and was replaced by the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The second issue that forced Senator Daniel out of the PDP was the late Senator Buruji Kashamu’s saga, who, through many court processes, secured the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP against the party’s preference, Ladi Adebutu, in 2019. Daniel was irked by the late Buruji’s emergence as PDP candidate. As such, he said he would rather support Governor Abiodun in the larger interest of the state than political affiliation.
Interestingly, Abiodun, Daniel, Adebutu and the late Buruji are all from Ogun East while Amosun is from Ogun Central.
Following Daniel’s eventual defection to APC, the party’s leadership conceded the Ogun East Senatorial district ticket to him as a form of compensation but not without the alleged intervention of some traditional rulers, who had to appeal to Senator Lekan Mustapha for understanding. It was learnt that Daniel also had to beg Osoba. Recall that Senator Daniel was at loggerheads with Osoba, his immediate predecessor in office from 2003 to 2011, to the extent that the former Managing Director of Daily Times could not enter Ogun for seven and half years.
THE rift between Governor Abiodun and Senator Daniel seems to have started long before the 2023 election when it was glaring that the senator will get the Ogun East Senatorial ticket, which the governor may have planned to reserve for himself in 2027.
Governor Abiodun is allegedly unfavourably disposed to Daniel’s senatorial ambition. The governor is said to prefer a weaker candidate from the zone, someone he could easily compel to step down in 2027. In that regard, supporters of Senator Daniel alleged that the party did not campaign for him in the Senatorial poll. Daniel won the election because the presidential election, which Tinubu won massively in the state, was held on the same day with the National Assembly polls.
The duo also had the problem of whom to support between President Tinubu and the immediate past Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo during the APC presidential primary held last year.
First, Daniel and Abiodun, being Christians, were said to have preferred Osinbajo to succeed former President Muhammadu Buhari against Tinubu, who is a Muslim. They were also said to have had a soft spot for Osinbajo, who is also from Ogun East. But as fate would have it, Tinubu defeated Osinbajo in the APC presidential primary election.
Recall that Tinubu, during one of his pre-primary election campaigns in Abeokuta, openly vilified Governor Abiodun, when he said the incumbent governor wouldn’t have won the APC governorship ticket in 2019 if not for God and him (Tinubu). But immediately after President Tinubu won the presidential primary, Abiodun deployed all the state machinery into the Tinubu Presidential Campaign team while at the same time, a deal was brokered that the incumbent governor should support Senator Olamilekan Solomon Adeola, who had already moved his senatorial ambition from Lagos West to Ogun West.
While Governor Abiodun conscientiously worked for Tinubu, there is doubt as to where Senator Daniel placed his interest. The former governor is accused to have played a double game by working for Adebutu, the Ogun State gubernatorial candidate of PDP on one hand to spite Abiodun and at the same time fraternising underneath with Atiku, who is the PDP presidential candidate, against the aspiration of Tinubu. This was particularly so because not many politicians believed initially that Tinubu will win the presidential poll because of the intrigues that played out, at the time, in APC.
NOW, with Tinubu having won the Presidency, and in what many consider as a desperate effort to align himself with the government at the centre, Senator Daniel, in a recent interview, said the governor was at war with him for his unflinching support for President Tinubu in the APC 2023 presidential primaries. He reiterated the fact that APC in Ogun State, which is under the control of the governor, did not campaign for him in the senatorial election.
Daniel also traced the roots of his feud with Abiodun to the different choices both of them made in the presidential primaries. The former governor claimed that he was victimised for standing with Tinubu when the governor led the state chapter of the APC to support Osinbajo.
Daniel said the governor struggled to win his re-election with a margin of 19,000 votes compared to how Tinubu won massively in Ogun in the presidential election. This, he said, was far behind his own record of victory in 2003, when he dusted Chief Osoba with over 200, 000 votes. But Daniel’s explanation may not be valid because of the massive rigging and militarization that characterised the 2003 elections, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the slogan “Operation Capture Southwest.”
The senator also blamed Abiodun’s difficulty in getting re-elected on several other factors like Buhari’s poor rating that affected the ruling party in Ogun, just as he added that Adebutu of PDP is as popular in Ogun East as the incumbent, among others.
In a strongly worded reply, Assistant Publicity Secretary, Ogun APC, Olusola Ogunsanya, berated Daniel, describing his comment in the interview as “drama of absurdity and cocktail of lies.” The party said that Daniel’s interview was an embodiment of falsehood and blatant lies.
The party said, “At no time did Senator Daniel make a definite position to support Tinubu. The former governor of Ogun State is rather playing a double standard.”
The party also accused the Ogun East Senator of supporting the PDP and its candidates during the last general elections in the state.
“Daniel fraternised all through the electioneering period with PDP’s gubernatorial candidate, Adebutu, at the expense of APC,” the party alleged.
The party also added that there is no record of Daniel’s role in Tinubu’s emergence as President.
Perhaps the immediate cause of Daniel’s outburst must have been due to the rumour that President Tinubu snubbed him while he frantically made efforts to have an audience with Mr. President recently. And also that the former governor must have been seriously perturbed with the persistent appearance of Governor Abiodun in the company of Mr. President ever since Tinubu won the party’s ticket, became President-elect and since he was sworn-in on May 29.
THE feud is perhaps creating division within the ranks of the apex body of Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, which has since the media war began, issued conflicting statements.
In an unauthorised statement, embattled National Organising Secretary of Afenifere, Abagun Kole Omololu, disagreed with the way Ogun APC tongue lashed Daniel over the interview.
Omololu’s statement reads: “We read with utter dismay a press statement issued by the Assistant Publicity Secretary, Ogun State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Olusola Ogunsanya, in reaction to an interview recently granted by Senator representing Ogun East, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
“In this statement, Ogun APC through its assistant publicity secretary scathingly used unprintable and untoward adjectives to describe Otunba Gbenga Daniel, a former governor, who served Ogun State for eight consecutive years. On the other hand, the party ardently defended Prince Dapo Abiodun, the state’s incumbent governor, who recently secured re-election to serve his people and the state.
“We take grave exception to the divisive language Ogun APC, a chapter of the ruling party, used in its press statement. Even though the two illustrious sons of Ogun State may disagree on some issues, the approach of Ogun APC, as shown in its statement, is grossly unethical and utterly unacceptable, especially in this era when our socio-cultural leaders are working behind the scene to foster harmony and unity among all our elected officials at state and federal levels.”
Omololu went further to accuse the party of escalating the disagreement between the two leaders, if there is any, saying, “The press statement simply suggests that Ogun APC has already taken side, rather than deploying the party’s conflict resolution mechanism and goodwill to make peace between the governor and one of his illustrious predecessors.”
Omololu also vilified the party, saying Afenifere, in absolute terms, condemn the uncivilised conduct of the party chapter, especially when it pertains to leaders of the society. “We also frown at a situation where party officers, who are supposed to promote harmony and peace among members and leaders, will denigrate one political leader and praise another leader to score some political goals.”
But irked by Omololu’s statement, the party protested to Afenifere headquarter through a letter addressed to the Secretary General, Barrister Olusola Ebiseeni, titled: ‘Re-Purported Statement by Afenifere Socio Cultural Group.’
The letter reads: “We read with utmost concern, a story published in the newspaper, based on a statement purportedly issued by the revered Afenifere organisation and signed by one Dare Omololu, taking on Ogun APC on behalf of Senator Daniel. Given what we know Afenifere to stand for, we want to clarify and confirm that: the statement was authorised to be issued by Dare Omololu, and the the purported statement and assertions are true reflections of the position of Afenifere as a group. Your reply will guide us on how to respond to enquiries and reactions of our party members and the teeming public.”
In response, Afenifere, through Ebiseeni, denied issuing any statement to support Daniel. Afenifere also said the position of the Organising Secretary was vacant and such letter couldn’t have emanated from the office.
The statement added that even if the office was occupied and functional, it is not part of the functions of the office to speak for the organisation, saying Afenifere by its principle neither takes side nor plays to the gallery.
Afenifere also said it is not aware of any such misunderstanding between Abiodun and Daniel.
MEANWHILE, a South West geopolitical group, Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, said Governor Abiodun and Senator Daniel should comport themselves and stop causing unnecessary embarrassment for the people of Ogun State.
The group also appealed to Chief Osoba, being the most senior member of Ogun APC, to use his wisdom to mediate in the matter.
President of the Forum, Akin Malaolu, an indigene of Ogun, appealed to Osoba and other leaders of the party to wade in, just as he said Afenifere couldn’t have taken side with any of the fighting gladiators.