Buoyed by the decision of the Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun to hand over power to Ogun West Senatorial District which is yet to produce a governor for the state, many hopefuls from the district are lining up for the 2019 contest. Femi Ogbonnikan examines their chances.
Recent public pronouncement by the Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun to hand over the baton of governance to someone from Ogun West, a district that has not been fortunate enough to get one of its own elected as governor, elective office-seekers from the district, regardless of their political affiliations, are leaving no stone unturned as they have embarked on horse-trading, scheming and as well, intensified their consultations with political leaders, leaders of thought, community leaders, religious leaders, traditional rulers, market women and men, and other critical stakeholders, seeking support for their bids.
Cashing in on the available opportunity provided and jolted by the govenor’s pronouncement and commitment to make good his promise at different fora, no fewer than seven governorship aspirants (Sen Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (aka Yayi), Mr Wasiu Kolawole Lawal (aka KLM), current Ogun State Commissioner for Forestry, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (aka GNI), Chief Tolu Odebiyi (incumbent Chief of Staff to the Ogun State Government), Rt Hon Suraj Adekunbi (the incumbent Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly), Hon Abiodun Ishaq Akinlade (Special Assistant (SA) to the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Yusuf Sulaiman Lasun) and Hon Adekunle Abdulkabir Akinlade (member of the state’s House of Assembly, representing Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituency), of Ogun West extraction, have signified their interest in the coveted number one seat but four (Sen Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, Wasiu Kolawole Lawal, Tolu Odebiyi and Gboyega Nasir Isiaka) among them are reputed to have strong political base, appeal, pedigree, financial muscle, educational qualifications, influence and acceptability among the electorate. These four are believed to have brighter chances of clinching the seat, according to political watchers and pundits.
Since the governor has not made public his preferred candidate, many more still plan join the race.
Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (aka Yayi)
Adeola is presently the Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District at the National Assembly. The 47-year-old senator is a Chartered Accountant. His foray into the Ogun State Governorship contest has raised dust. He has an elaborate campaign organisation and enjoys a favourable disposition among the people. Notwithstanding, he faces major challenges. First, among the challenges is that he seems to have difficulty tracing his root in the senatorial district. While Yayi has claimed to hail from Pahayi, in Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government of Ogun State, his political opponents and rivals have continued to query the authenticity of the claim, alleging falsehood. And this development has reinforced the belief in some quarters, in Ogun West, that the Lagos senator is not a true son of the soil. Some of his opponents have even posited that, if the senator should have his way through, to emerge as the next governor, there is probability, that members of his cabinet would be drawn from Alimosho Local Government, Lagos state, to the disadvantages of the Ogun West people who have, for long, cried foul of marginalisation and negligence. And as a result, they are not ready to trade off the golden opportunity, this time around. Besides, the current governor, Sen Ibikunle Amosun, has not concealed his disdain for Yayi’s emergence as he has repeatedly on severally public functions made bold to label him as one of the “tekobos”, who can’t succeed him in office, come May 29, 2019. But others have warned of the dire consequences of underrating the aspiration of Yayi. It was gathered, that Yayi is enjoying the support of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has no cause for worry. Besides, Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, and Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, are believed to working round the clock, for the emergence of Adeola as the next Ogun State governor. It is feared that, if Yayi can’t get the governorship ticket on the APC platform, he is likely to actualise his bid on a new platform which it is yet to be unveiled.
Wasiu Kolawole Lawal (aka KLM)
Lawal is the current Ogun State Commissioner for Forestry and he is one of the governorship aspirants that have expressed interest in the number one seat of the state. He is a thorough-bred personality born on September 24, 1962 at Eyo Quarters, Oke-Odan, in Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State. Unlike Yayi, no one doubts the fact that his is from Yewa.
In 2011, he claimed close to clinging the Peoples Democratic Party’s ticket for the governorship race when he lost out to Gen. Adetunji Olurin, who was fielded by the PDP.
Among the Ogun West Governorship aspirants that have joined the governorship fray, KLM is said to be standing in head and shoulder taller than the rest. Besides, he is said to be enjoying the support of his co-cabinet members.
KLM, as he is fondly called, began his formal education at St’ James Anglican School, Oke-Odan, which he completed in 1972 and subsequently, he was at Area Community High School, Owode – Yewa, for his secondary school education. His quest for higher educational qualification saw him through to the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun state and University of Jos, Plateau state where he obtained an HND in Accountancy and a B.Sc in Banking and Finance respectively. He also has to his credit an MBA in Management from the University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Rivers state. KLM’s work experience began at Associated Breweries and Company Limited, Agbara, Ogun state where he had a five – year stint and rose through the rank to become an Acting Distribution Manager. Also, he was at ExxonMobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited for 20 years as an accountant and rose to various leadership positions, including regional head of accounts.
In realising how much providence has been kind enough to him, KLM dedicated his life to service to humanity through community service activities and this translated in the setting up of a philanthropic organisation, “Aseele Labowaba”, which has been involved in life-saving and transforming projects across the three senatorial districts in the state. Observers fear that he may have difficulty raising the needed fund to actualise his ambition.
Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka (aka GNI)
Isiaka, an Imeko-born politician, was a two-time Ogun state gubernatorial candidate, both on Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) in 2011 and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015. GNI, as he is fondly called, is a 1986 first class graduate in acounting from University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). The 55-year-old politician served in the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the immediate past governor of the state, between 2003 and 2011, and was Group Managing Director (GMD), Gateway Holdings Plc, an investment portfolio of Ogun State. A seasoned stock broker and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant, Isiaka has a stronghold in Yewa/Aworiland and he is taking another shot at the governorship seat on the platform of the PDP, come 2019 general elections. But his gubernatorial fate, political observers noted, would be determined by the outcome of the ongoing reconciliation processes between the two feuding parties to the intra-conflicts. GNI, a household name in Ogun politics is arguably the most popular candidate. But with his mentor, Gbenga Daniel turning against him, observers fear that GNI may have difficulty raising the necessary funds to actualise his dream of becoming the state governor.
Chief Tolu Odebiyi
Odebiyi is the current Chief of Staff to the Ogun State Government. The 54-year-old APC chieftain is the son of late Sen Jonathan Odebiyi and hails from Iboro, in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State. He is also jostling for the governorship seat in the coming 2019 general elections.
Ogun West senatorial district comprises of five local governments (Yewa South, Yewa North, Imeko-Afon, Ipokia and Ado-Odo/Ota). Bordered in the west by the Republic of Benin, to the south by Lagos state, to the north by Oyo state and to the east by Ogun Central (Egba division), and with a headcount of 1,109,884, according to the 2006 Nigeria Population Census figure, Ogun West has a land mass of 6.297.64 km2, which is 37 percent of the total land mass in Ogun state. Its sub-ethnic groups are Yoruba, Eyo, Anago, Awori, Ketu, Ifonyin, Ohori, Sabe and Egun.
Insiders confided in THIS DAY that Amosun has kept the card close to his chest, of his preferred candidate and has not discussed with any living soul who his successor would be, that all hearsays, here and there, have been the antics of rumour mongers and mischiefmakers, attempting to stir the hornet’s nest. It was further learnt that Amosun has neither adopted, nor anointed any candidate that would succeed him. But it is expected that, on January 21, 2018, a date when Gov Amosun will turn 60, tension would have been doused and the governor’s successor would be made public.
To make the 2019 Ogun West Governorship bid a reality, political observers have warned that, if the current number of the gubernatorial aspirants from the district increases the more, to the existing long list, there is a tendency that the ambition may be jeorpardised.
“If truly the people of Ogun West are desirous, committed and sincere to themselves, they need to prune down the number of the gubernatorial aspirants. They are too many because everybody wants to be governor. They have been making mockery of the contest, thereby making it an all-comer show for every Tom, Dick and Harry, joining the fray. This time around, they need to get it right otherwise, they would trade it off to the opposition”, admonished an erstwhile Ogun State Commissioner who craved anonymity.