By Charles Kumolu,
Deputy Features Editor
President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential election victory in Ogun State is not just about him, it is very symbolic for Governor Ibikunle Amosun.Gov Amosun
The triumph may have not been a sweeping one for the President in the race but it is boundless for Amosun’s political trajectory.
It indeed came as a reassuring development for the struggles of the governor, whose political interests are in conflict with many imposed vested interests.
The significance of Buhari’s 281,762 votes to the power play between Amosun and his opponents is simply understood by imagining the kind of effect a defeat could have had for the governor.
Truly, it would have been more of an upset for him than the President, who also badly needed the victory in such a key Southwest state.
If the outcome of the presidential poll in Ogun was a product of political sophistry or display of love for Buhari on the part of Amosun, then, he indirectly did more good to himself.
Afterall in the final analysis of all that transpired in Ogun in this dispensation, the buck will stop at his table as the chief executive.ALSO READ: Challenge your defeat in a peaceful manner, UK tells Atiku
The first indication of that, emerged from the general perception about the violent presidential rally in the state which Sunday Vanguard learned was even instigated by a former governor of one of the South West states..
The state had emerged a flashpoint in the buildup to the election not because of its 2,336, 887 voting strength but as a result of pre-election tension occasioned by political rivalry, especially the substitution of names of candidates at the All Progressives Congress, APC, national headquarters.
For example the fiasco that the presidential campaign rally in Abeokuta turned out to be, gave the impression that the election in itself, could either make or destroy the contending forces.
After the incident which saw aggrieved persons throwing objects towards Buhari’s direction, many had thought it was the end of Amosun.
There were also fears that the situation could rub off on Buhari’s chances in Ogun.
That was in addition to the reality that the goodwill of someone like former President Olusegun Obasanjo which had ensured that Buhari won with a margin of 100,000 votes in 2015, had been lost.
The fact that the APC is not only opposed to Amosun’s preferred choice of successor, Mr. Adekunle Akinlade, but some of his preferences for House of Representatives and House of Assembly seats, made the anxiety more genuine.
But the governor, who is backing Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, since the party emerged the vehicle to realise his dreams, Sunday Vanguard, learned, sacrificed for the President.ALSO READ: Guber Poll: Sanwo-Olu woos civil servants, distributes 30,000 bags of Lake rice
Sacrifice to save Buhari
Sources close to Amosun revealed that when it became obvious that the President’s prospects were threatened in Ogun as a result of many factors, Amosun had to make a last minute sacrifice to save him.
He was said to have consequently mobilised for the APC presidential candidate leading to the outcome of the poll.
Indeed, knowing how instrumental state governors are to whoever wins presidential elections in their state, not many would doubt that Amosun had a hand in Buhari’s victory.
However, what now appears as Amosun’s goodwill, was at the expense of his preferred candidates for National Assembly seats.
“Many had said Buhari would lose in Ogun State. But Amosun’s last minute sacrifice, at great lose to some of his loyalists, just to ensure Buhari won, did the magic for APC. Not minding that his own candidates would lose, he mobilised fully for APC at last Saturday’s election,” a source knowledgeable in what transpired, told Sunday Vanguard.
The scenario, it was further learned, was such that some APC House Representatives candidates who had slim chances of emergence, benefitted from Amosun’s mobilisation for the President.
Results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, showed that out of nine federal constituencies in the state, APC won five.
The winners include Olumide Osoba ,APC, Abeokuta North/ Odeda/Obafemi Owode; Lanre Edun ,APC, Abeokuta South; Korede Osunsanya, APC,;IIjebu-Ode/Ijebu-North/Odogbolu Federal Constituency; while Jimoh Ojugbele ,APC, was re-elected in Ota Federal Constituency
Egbado South/Ipokia and Egbado North/Imeko Afon federal constituencies, were won by APM and African Democratic Congress, ADC, candidates, respectively.
However, what some regard as Amosun’s influence on the results is also being disputed by some stakeholders like the ADC and the state chapter of the APC.
Nevertheless, majority believe the President’s victory couldn’t have come easy in an uncertain political environment without Amosun.
Even the governor at a fora, shed light on the issue thus:”I am happy for the result of the election, people have benefited from it, that is the way life is.
“People know who they were voting for in APC, clearly when the result was out, check Mr President’s results and check mine you will see there are little differences. Don’t think that everybody will love you, no matter how perfect you may be, we are humans. There are some people that won’t like you, and even if they don’t hate you, they will just not like you.
“I don’t hate anybody. Truly, I wasn’t taking them seriously that they wanted to gang-up against me, but if you see the result of the election you will know that truly they ganged up against me but that God in me is far greater than God that is in all of them.”
Apparently referring to the voting pattern, in some wards where the governor, on his strength, scored 10,000 votes, President Buhari garnered about 12,000, menaing the difference in votes represented the total suspected gang-up votes by other APC interests. There were also areas where the margin of votes were in their tens. In the final analysis, there were even some over 25,000 votes lost to the APM because of some dogged supporters of the governor who believe that the new vehicle was APM, By the time you add that to Buhari’s over 85,000 vote margin, Mr. President could as well have won by well over 100,000 votes. It is this momentum that Governor Amosun is taking into next Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections for his preferred APM candidates.
What is regarded as Amosun’s influence on the outcome of the election is also being disputed by some stakeholders like the ADC and APC.
Knowing how influential state governors are in their states, could it have been possible for the President to win in Ogun amidst crisis without an Amosun?
The response could be found in the voting pattern in all the Southwest states.
A state by state analysis of how southwest voted, showed that only Ekiti and Ogun convincingly delivered for the APC.
Apart from the two states, APC had also won in Lagos, and Osun.
In Ekiti, the President polled 219,231 votes, while Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, got 154,032 votes.
Total valid votes were 381,132, rejected votes 12,577, while total votes were 393 709.
Till date it is argued that it took the burning of INEC office in Osun for the APC to win with about 10,000 votes.
Buhari, polled 347, 634 votes to defeat Atiku, who had 337, 377.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi’s Oyo was a disaster as Atiku defeated Buhari having scored 366,720 votes.
Atiku won in 19 Local Government Areas, LGAs, while Buhari won in 14 with 365,230 votes.
Expectation that Lagos as a swing state with 5.4 million registered voters would deliver handsomely for the President was dashed.
Buhari had an overall vote of 580,825, while Atiku got 448,015.
The total valid votes stood at 1,089,567.
In most areas where Sunday Vanguard monitored the election, there were cases of ballot box snatching and intimidation of voters into voting for the ruling party by suspected APC thugs.
The incident mainly happened in PDP strongholds.
In Ondo State, the APC was found to have lost as a result of intra-party crisis.
Atiku scored 275,901 votes to defeat Buhari, who had 241,769 votes.
Total accredited voters were 598,586, total votes cast was 586,827, while rejected votes were 30,833.