Ogun West as a Child of Necessity

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As the journey to 2019 governorship contest intensifies in Ogun State, the people of Yewa/Awori are leaving nothing to chance in realising their 40 years old dream, writes Femi Ogbonnikan

When leaders of different political leanings converged at Daktad Hotel and Suites, Quarry Road, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital on Thursday, May 12, 2016, for the launch of a book: “Ogun West: The Dawn of A New Political Era”, little did those who failed to honour the invitation know the original idea behind the event because they thought it was an all-APC affair.

But those who graciously turned up realised that the event was meant to drum up support for the emergence of a Yewa/Awori candidate. It beat their imagination and later turned out to be a rallying point for scholars, academia, technocrats, members of the political class, serving top government functionaries in the Ogun State cabinet, business moguls, students, members of the diplomatic community and others to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm on how to address the issue of marginalisation of the people of Ogun West in the political calculus of the state.

The book was authored by Chief Daniel Adejobi, a former Commissioner for Housing, who served in the administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, between 2011 and 2015. Ogun West Senatorial district, made of five local governments (Yewa South, Imeko-Afon, Yewa North, Ipokia and Ado-Odo/Ota) is endowed with prominent sons and daughters, who can stand the test of time, both locally and internationally.

It is therefore absurd to lay claims to lack of competence and capacity on the parts of the candidates jostling for the number one seat from the axis, or the assumption that the factor working against the interest of the zone is self-inflicted. But rather, the political structure already bequeathed on the district by early political fathers, who deliberately out of nothing other than the interest of their own clans, relegated Ogun West to the role of second fiddle.

Chief Dapo Oke, the leader, Ogun West Rebirth, in a recent interview, situated the problems, thus: “The first problem is that the political structure was created in such a way that the Yewa/Awori people were put in a disadvantaged position. In the Electoral College in 1979, where we had 50 delegates, the Ijebu had 20, the Egba had 20 and the Egbado (now Yewa) had 10. So, how do you think 10 delegates can defeat 20 delegates from a zone in a free and fair contest? And all the delegates voted along ethnic lines.

“The second problem is that with the present political structure in Ogun State, Ogun West has 59 wards; Ogun East has 108 wards, meaning Ogun West is 50 per cent of Ogun East, while Ogun Central has 67 wards. Now, tell me, if they are going to contest primaries, since the delegates are going to vote, the candidate from Ogun West is already contesting from a disadvantaged position. That is that,” he explained.

To demonstrate the simple clear case of marginalisation, historically, when Ogun State was created in February 1976, by the military, it had ten local governments and five senatorial districts (Egbado South and Egbado North, Ifo Ota/Abeokuta, Odeda and Obafemi, Ijebu North and Ogun Waterside, and Remo and Ijebu Ode).

And when the military administration of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo lifted ban on partisan politics and democracy was ushered in 1979, Senator Jonathan Odebiyi was elected to represent what was known then as Egbado district, while Egba with Senators Oyero and Sogbehin and Ijebu districts with Senators Abraham Adesanya and Dipo Odujirin had two senators each, who represented them at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly in Lagos, then.

With the clamour to produce the next governor in the 2019 general election heightened, prominent sons and daughters of Yewa/Awori stock and non-indigenes have continued to lend their voices at various fora to ensure the actualisation of the project. Among them, Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, a chieftain of the APC and an Egba indigene, admonished the people of Ogun West to bury their differences and work together, if they truly want the 2019 governorship election to work in their favour.

Also, Chief Bode Mustapha, an APC chieftain and close ally of Obasanjo, empathises with the people of Yewa/Aworiland.

In a recent interview, he said, “I support the people of Yewa/Aworiland 150 per cent in their agitation to produce the next governor of Ogun State. As an Egba man, I will never have accepted if since the creation of this state 40 years ago, an Egba person hasn’t been governor. From 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 from Egbaland too.

From Ogun East, because I don’t believe in anything called RIYE (Remo, Ijebu, Yewa and Egba). There is nothing called RIYE, to me, it is a scam. The constitution recommends three senatorial districts. Ogun East district has produced Chief Bisi Onabanjo of blessed memory, and it has produced Otunba Gbenga Daniel. But Ogun West has never produced a governor of this state. Why should they not produce the next governor? I am a believer in the Ogun West getting the governorship slot. And God sparing our lives, whatever it takes me to give them support, whatever little support, I can give them, I will give them.

“During a telephone conversation with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, recently he has endorsed that Ogun West too should govern the state, come 2019. In the same vein, he (Tinubu) eulogised the rare virtue of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is a father of democracy in Nigeria, and holds him in high esteem for his unalloyed support for the people of Ogun West district to produce the next governor in the state.

“Also, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo I spoke with recently, is irrevocably committed to the agitation of the people of Ogun West to assume the mantle of leadership of the state in the 2019 governorship contest. He (Obasanjo) has thrown his weight behind the people of Yewa/Awori to produce the next governor. He too personally extolled the commitment of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in his resolve to ensure that the governorship baton goes to Ogun West in the 2019 election. So, he reciprocated Tinubu’s kindness too and holds him in high esteem,” said Mustapha.

Not left out, Otunba Rotimi Paseda, the gubernatorial candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the 2015 general election and also an Ijebu man, noted that if all political leaders in Ogun State agree to cede the governorship seat to the Ogun West district, that he has no objection to it. “If all political bigwigs in Ogun State agreed upon Yewa, it is well,” said Paseda, in a recent interview.

However, Dapo Oke further noted that the emergence of governors in Ogun State has not been through the efforts of the people, but through the leadership caucus.

“It was the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the national leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), who determined who became the governor of Ogun State in 1979. He was the founder of the party. Let me again say that the incumbent governor of Ogun State, Sen Ibikunle Amosun, we knew how it happened at Bourdillon.

“He was actually the candidate from Bourdillon and that was how he got the seat, because at that time, Tinubu was the de facto national chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). You will see that all the emergence of governors in the state, the leadership is number one factor.”
Perhaps, it was for this reason that some political observers are thinking that the 2019 governorship contest in the state might follow similar pattern of anointing from Bourdillion, on the basis of superior leadership caucus, which dictates the pace of where the ticket ought to go and who the cap fits.

Unfortunately, that argument has been rated as defective in its entirety by other close watchers. Not only is the superior caucus of the party now reside with Governor Amosun in the state, he is also about the most relevant politician from the South-west on the national scene today.

Thus, any attempt to undermine him will certainly backfire, more so that he seems to have the unalloyed backing of Obasanjo, both of whom make up the tact team dictating the pace of political direction in the state. Bourdillon, therefore, is an alien that may have been forced into a retreat because its meddlesomeness is no longer an asset but a huge burden.

What more, the recent outcome of the governorship primary in Ondo State is a pointer to the assertion that Amosun is the issue in Ogun State. He is not only very political with a rising profile of an established structure, he is also a performer, on which strength a successor will eventually rise.

Adejobi, who was once Ogun West senatorial party chairman of the ACN, had noted in his book that with the consensus agreement reached by the ACN under the leadership of Aremo Olusegun Osoba, then, and zoning the governorship ticket to Ogun West, preparatory to the 2015 general election, when four governorship aspirants (Tope Kuyebi, Yomi Elegbede-Odunowo, Hunye Abayomi Zemaco and Olaosebikan Olayide) emerged and signified interest in the number one seat in the state, a screening committee made up of party chairmen from the five local governments, two elders from each Local Government, the chairman of elders council, deputy state chairman and the senatorial chairman, Deacon Poju Adeyemi, the chairman, elders council, as the chairman, was raised.

“On the 1st and 8th of September 2010, interviews were conducted for all the aspirants at Alhaji Roqeeb Olawale Adeniji’s house at Ota. Adeniji was the State Vice Chairman of the ACN, then. On the 15th September 2010, a secret ballot election was conducted and Mr. Tope Kuyebi emerged the winner. A letter was forwarded to Chief Olusegun Osoba, concerning our decision to pick a candidate from among our aspirants to represent Ogun West.

“The senatorial chairman reported that a meeting was held with Chief Olusegun Osoba at Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Lagos, to resolve the disputes arising from choosing one governorship candidate from Ogun West by the leaders, which he said was in order. That is not to say that any aspirant cannot test his popularity by going to primary when the time comes.”

Ogun West as a child of necessity is the goose that lays the golden egg, accounting for well over 70 per cent of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), yet it is being fed with crumbs, while the two other senatorial (Ogun Central and East) districts take the largest portions, when it comes to benefitting from the dividends of democracy like project initiations and execution as well as political appointments among other things.

In some towns and villages which fall within the Ogun West district and share common borders, it appears they have been excised or ceded to parts of the territory belonging to the Republic of Benin, on account of deplorable infrastructure.

It is therefore believed that the actualisation of the covenant with the 2019 governorship project in the state, in favour of Ogun West will address decades of negligence, anomalies and marginalization, which have been inflicted on the district by successive administrations.

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Ogun West as a child of necessity is the goose that lays the golden egg, accounting for well over 70 per cent of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), yet it is being fed with crumbs, while the two other senatorial (Ogun Central and East) districts take the largest portions, when it comes to benefitting from the dividends of democracy like project initiations and execution as well as political appointments among other things