In view of the agitation for power shift to the Ogun West senatorial district in 2019, Femi Ogbonnikan examines the possibility of an aspirant of the Yewa/Awori stock realising this age-long ambition, especially with the interference of the Lagos power brokers
The quest for power shift to the Ogun West senatorial district, come 2019 elections, has continued to gain momentum, and has reaffirmed the sanctity and determination of its proponents towards actualising the dream. Evidently, the strident agitation for the governorship baton knows no bound as notable individuals and organisations have equally sprung up and have been in the vanguard of the current clamour for Ogun West to produce the next governor of the state in 2019, when the tenure of the incumbent governor will lapse.
Indigenes and non-indigenes of Yewa/Aworiland extractions that are sympathetic to the cause have continued to lend their voices, citing the history of the state and democratic tenets of equity, fairness and justice as the basis for their agitation.
The seriousness, commitment and determination attached to the clamour, no doubt, is a fallback and living testimony to the glaring marginalisation and denial of Ogun West to equitable distribution of developmental amenities and infrastructure by successive administrations in the state and the seemingly backwardness of the district, to which some political commentators have argued are consequences of the incongruous political structure bequeathed on the district since the creation of the state some 40 years ago.
Historically, Ogun West (made up of Yewa/Awori people), with a land mass of 6,297.64 km per square, representing 37 per cent of the total land mass, the area with the largest expanse of land in the state. It has five local governments (Ado-Odo/Ota, Imeko-Afon, Ipokia, Yewa South and Yewa North) with estimated Population of 1,109,884 people, which represents 31 per cent of the State population and almost equal percentage ratio with the other two Senatorial districts of Ogun Central and Ogun East with 33 and 36 per cent ratios respectively.
Despite these insignificant differences in the population statistics of the state, Ogun West is being erroneously regarded as a minority in the state by those, who use such mischief for their personal political benefits to deny the people of Ogun West their rightful placement in the political structure of the State.
Over the years, it has become the usual thing in the political circle of various interest groups and politicians from the two other senatorial districts (Ogun Central and Ogun East) to resort to blame game on a mere excuse of lack of unity among the people of the West while some even mentioned that there are no capable and competent persons from the area for governorship. They often remark that the inability of the zone to win the contest in 2011 and 2015 were clear evidence that the there was no serious and well-focused person to occupy the seat.
But Chief Dapo Oke, one of the leading voices of power shift to Ogun West maintained that the entire political leadership in the state should take responsibility for the failure of Ogun West to produce a governor since 1978. He said the antecedents of the emergence of Ogun State Governors in historical perspectives show that they were all products of party structures through a well-managed conspiracy of powerful Oligarchies and leadership caucuses across the senatorial divides rather than being the exclusive efforts of a particular district.
“Many of you talk of lack of Unity of Ogun West derogatorily as if it is a problem that is restricted to the district only. Tell me, how true it is that it was the Egba unity that produced Osoba and Amosun or was it the unity of Ijebu and Remo that produced Bisi Onabanjo and Otunba Gbenga Daniel, we knew how it happened at leadership caucus at Ikenne, Ijebu Igbo, Ayepe, Aso Rock Villa and Bourdillon at the different times.”
In the same vein, Chief Bode Mustapha, a chieftain of the APC in Ogun State advised aspirants from the two other districts (Ogun Central and Ogun East) to perish their thought of vying for the number one seat in the state.
“I support them (Yewa/Awori people) 150 per cent. If you want to go into equity, you go with clean hands. As an Egba man, I will never have accepted, if since the creation of Ogun State, 40 years ago, an Egba man hasn’t been governor. For Egba, we have had elected governors. We have had Chief Olusegun Osoba, who is from Egba. We now have the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who is also from Egba. From Ogun East, because I don’t believe in anything called, RIYE (Remo, Ijebu, Yewa and Egba).
“To me, it is a scam. The 1999 constitution recommends three senatorial districts. Ogun East district has produced Chief Bisi Onabanjo, of blessed memory, and it has also produced Otunba Gbenga Daniel, but Ogun West has never produced a governor of this state. Why should they not produce the next governor? I believe in the Ogun West getting the governorship slot. God sparing our lives, whatever it takes me to give them support, whatever little support, I can give them, I will give them because the Yoruba say, “A joje o dun ti enikan ko ba ni” (A friendship is not fun and cordial, if one of the group members is deprived). Let them govern this state. They should be given a chance”, said the 66-year-old politician.
On the vexed issue of capable and competent persons from the West, the Bobagunwa of Egbaland threw jabs at those concocting falsehood about the quality of governorship materials the zone has produced in the recent past general election in the state.
“An area, that has produced the late Chief Jonathan Odebiyi, the late Dr. Tunji Otegbeye, the late Prof Afolabi Olabimtan, Dr Samuel Ayinde Ibikunle, Senator Iyabo Anisulowo, Chief (Mrs) Ebun Oyagbola, Senator Felix Bajomo, Chief Adetunji Fadairo (SAN), Professor Anthony Asiwaju and many, many more. Do you want to say, they don’t have people? Please, nobody should claim monopoly of knowledge. Our senatorial district, Ogun Central and Ogun East should, please not play a monopoly of knowledge. They should, as of right, let the Ogun West people take over the mantle of leadership of this state and see what they can do,” he admonished.
Oke, on his part, also picked holes in the argument that Yewa people have no competent and capable persons to govern the state, when he said “It is very insulting, derogatory and slanderous, and I want to ask: are they talking of colouration, whether there are blue people or green people in Yewa, and it is only red people that can be governor in the Stste? But let me tell you, if you are talking in terms of candidates, we are primus inter peris in the state.”
He, however, identified two factors that have worked against the chances of Ogun West, since the creation of the state 40 years ago, which are the imbalance political structure which puts the Yewa/Awori people in a disadvantaged position in a free and fair primary delegate elections and the political crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 2009, which affected the chances of the party’s candidates at the 2011 and 2015 polls.
“History is there to prove that the two times we were in the saddle, political leadership of the party and in the state went on holidays hence it was lack of unity and absence of party cohesion that really caused us the total victory at those two occasions. If the party was strong and cohesive as we had in UPN in 1979 and 1983, SDP in 1993, AD in 1999, PDP in 2003 and 2007, ACN in 2011 and APC in 2015, we would have been governor in 2011 and 2015.”
While canvassing for support from the people of the two other senatorial districts, Oke said “If democracy itself is about equity, it is about equal opportunity, and if democracy is all we are talking about everybody being the same, then it means, the people of Yewa/Awori must definitely be allowed to actually have a taste from the pot of power in Ogun State”.
Oke premised his argument on the fact that “Presently, if you look at what has happened in Ogun State, you will see that the political table is still standing on three legs. The fourth leg, which is the people of Yewa/Awori, has not been provided and unless that leg is provided, there cannot be equilibrium in the State,” he said, appealing to the cognition of those who decide political matters in the state to favour power rotational arrangement among the three districts.
“The assumption here is that Ogun State should be a mature understanding of the history that created it, from the two provinces of Abeokuta and Ijebu, to the Four Divisions of Yewa, Egba, Remo and Ijebu and now the three Senatorial districts of Ogun Central, East and West.”
But the question remains: who takes over the reign of power from the incumbent governor, among the many aspirants of Yewa/Awori extraction, who have signified their intention and also, going by the pronouncement of the governor to hand over to an Ogun West person on May 29, 2019?
An inside source within the Ogun State APC leadership, who craves anonymity, hinted of an undercurrent bickering over who will take over the reign of power from the incumbent governor and as well, drew a wedge between two prominent leaders of the party, Aremo Olusegun Osoba and Governor Amosun.
Already, the return of Osoba to the APC, it was learnt, did not go down well with the governor, not because he does not want him in the party but because he thought he should have been part of the reconciliation process.
Thus, while the governor is believed to have his own Yewa/Awori person, still being kept close to his chest, it is suspected, that the return of Osoba to the APC fold is unsettling such a ploy and regarded as a grand design to impose an anointed candidate of Ogun West stock from Bourdillion, where the incumbent is also believed to have derived his power.
But those close to Osoba as a very independent and politically savvy person have dismissed the extrapolation because one of the reasons Osoba was believed to have left the APC in the first place was not because of Amosun but the seeming extension of the Bourdillon influence to Ogun State. Osoba was said to have warned that since he does not meddle in Lagos politics, he would not take kindly to Bourdillon meddling in the affairs of Ogun State, a statement he exemplified by calling the bluff of the APC when it mattered most in the countdown to the 2015 elections.
Against this backdrop, it is believed, therefore, that any candidate from Bourdillon would be a no debate for Osoba because he would never buy into it the same way he allegedly initially opposed Amosun before the intervention of other stakeholders, both within and outside the state. And now that Bourdillon and Amosun are seemingly not on the same page, it makes it easier for Osoba to call the bluff of the choice of Bourdillon as far as 2019 is concerned. In fact, the belief is that it is easier for him to run with Amosun than Bourdillon.
Among the APC aspirants of Yewa/Awori stock, who have expressed interest in the governorship bid is Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi). Yayi, who is currently representing Lagos West Senatorial District at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, is though in a good standing because he is said to enjoy the strong support of a national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, which unfortunately may be his greatest undoing.
The clog in the wheel of his governorship bid starts with his origin. He is said to hail from Ishaga and Pahayi, from the popular agboile onibata in Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State. Born on August 10, 1969 at Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos, to Mr Ayoade Adeola Ogunleye and Madam Abeeni Olasunbo Ogunleye (nee Akinola), Yayi grew up in Alimosho, where he began his education at the State Primary School, in Alimosho, Lagos.
He subsequently proceeded to Community Grammar School, Akowonjo, Lagos, for his secondary education. His quest for knowledge took him to the Ondo State Polytechnic, Owo, now Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo State, where he bagged Higher National Diploma (HND) in Accounting. He became a Chartered Accountant at a very young age, and an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Subsequently, he ventured into partisan-politics, contested in 2003 and won the seat of Alimosho State of Assembly 1. He was on the seat twice at the Lagos State House of Assembly, till 2011, when he had a higher call to go to the lower Chamber of the National Assembly, and won the Alimosho Federal Constituency. While at the lower chamber, he was the House Chairman on Public Accounts and moved on to become an elected senator, representing Lagos West district in 2015.
But Oke wondered why there is so much fuss over the lineage of the Senator. “I was among those who initially raised the issue of Yayi’s place of origin but satisfactorily, we have a family in Ilaro who had openly consented to the fact that Yayi is their son, according to the family source, Yayi is a native of Pahayi, in Ilaro whose great grandfathers hailed from Ishaga, of course, he is not the only person with such a background, there are many families in Ilaro with Ishaga origin and there is even Ago Isaga in Ilaro and Oke Odan just to mention few Yewa towns with Ishaga ascendancy,” he said.
But the snag in his candidacy is that he has not only played his politics all along in Lagos, he presently represents Lagos at a bigger capacity and not Ogun. The implication of his candidacy would confirm the fears of the other districts, which is that the people of Ogun West still do not have capable and competent people to represent them as governor if they have to go as far as Lagos to import a material that will be their face.
Whilst this is not in any way undermining Yayi’s right to vote and be voted for, having originally come from the area, it also speaks to the inability of the people of the West to present one of their own for the state’s top job, and given the dynamics of his candidacy with the Bourdillon baggage, observers believe it might be a further slap on the face of the people of Ogun West for having to travel all the way to the state of aquatic splendor to shop for a governorship candidate. But how these extrapolations turn out remain in the sands of time.
It is believed, therefore, that any candidate from Bourdillon would be a no debate for Osoba because he would never buy into it the same way he allegedly initially opposed Amosun before the intervention of other stakeholders, both within and outside the state. And now that Bourdillon and Amosun are seemingly not on the same page, it makes it easier for Osoba to call the bluff of the choice of Bourdillon as far as 2019 is concerned. In fact, the belief is that it is easier for him to run with Amosun than Bourdillon