The revolutionary declaration by the Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun to support Ogun West Senatorial District to produce the next governor of the state has thrown the state’s political landscape into confusion, writes Femi Ogboonikan
The announcement by the governor of Ogun State Ibikunle Amosun, to support Ogun West Senatorial District to produce the next governor of the state against the people of Ogun East who are equally laying claims to the seat, appears to have unsettled members of the All Progressives Congress in the state.
The Ijebu/Remo people of Ogun East viewed the governor’s stance as an affront. Besides, the declaration also threaten the zoning arrangement in the state, with leaders canvassing divergent views on the issue.
While leaders in Ogun West, regardless of their political leanings, see the development as a soothing balm meant to address long years of neglect and marginalisation of their people, the people of Ogun East view it as a plot to deny them their right to produce the governor.
But a former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba disagreed. According to him, the two contending forces are using different languages to propagate their zoning philosophy.
He said: “The Yewa/Awori/Egun in Ogun West says it is the turn of Yewa.. The Ijebu says rotation should be on a provincial basis. If you are going to use fairness, justice, equity; any language you want to use, the Yewa/Awori/Egun people of Ogun West Senatorial District deserve after 40 years to be given an opportunity.”
He however said that zoning must not be a basis to sacrifice merit.
Osoba rejected the Ijebuâ€™s argument that the whole Egba Province made up of Egba, Awori, Egun, Yewa and the whole Ijebu Province made up of Ijebu and Remo should be the basis for rotating the governorship.
He said: “They are wrong because there is nothing like a provincial system in our constitution. The constitution recognizes the federal level, state level, senatorial district, federal constituency, state constituency and local government.”
Those in Ijebu however, countered him with the argument that the constitution he referred to did not say that governorship should ne rotated on senatorial district, federal constituency or local government basis.
Going by the evolution of power dynamics in the state, Ogun East has been very active since the creation of the state in February 1976.
According to the 2006 National Population Census (NPC) headcount, Ogun East Senatorial District has a population of 1,250,435 and it is made up of nine local governments (Ikenne, Remo North, Ijebu North, Ijebu North East, Ijebu Ode, Ogun Waterside, Sagamu, Odogbolu and Ijebu East) out of 20 in the state.
Recently, in a bid to get the state leadership of the party have a rethink over the exclusion of the zone, Ogun East APC leaders met with Amosun and gave reasons why aspirants from the district should not be exempted from the contest.
Also, Dr Gbolade Oshinowo, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Senior Special Adviser on Political Matters and an Ogun East APC leader, in a recent interview with THISDAY said the ban on governorship aspirants from the zone would give an unnecessary advantage to the PDP.
“The governor has said though he would not support Ogun East aspirants but that they are free to run. There are certain misconceptions which are prevalent, largely around the view that it is the turn of the Yewa people to produce the governor. That in the last 42 years of existence of Ogun state they have never been governor. And therefore, they should be given first consideration. But, the ban has created a lot of anxiety in the minds of the ranks and file of the APC leadership in Ogun East.
“If you look at the results of the 2015 general elections in Ogun East, PDP has an upper hand. They won the senatorial ticket. They won more of the House of Representatives offices and more of the state’s House of Assembly seats. So, we are at a disadvantage. If two years away to the next general elections, you are saying that, Ijebus can’t aspire to be governor and the PDP said they have zoned it to the Ogun East and we, as leaders of the APC our position are untenable. You can’t play politics like that because it would put us at a disadvantage. And therefore, we want to find a way of asking the state leadership to moderate its position”, said Oshinowo.
He went back memory lane on the evolution of power shift in the state and noted that power has always been rotated along four (Egba, Egbado, Ijebu and Remo) divisions.
“What we did here in Ijebu was to say, let the core Ijebu have their shot between 1979 and 1983. And also, let the Remo have it between 2003 and 2011 and Otunba Gbenga Daniel became the governor. We had expected that when the thing went back to Abeokuta then, they would sit down and say, look, this was the former governor, Osoba, from Abeokuta, and won, it was the turn of the Egbas. And that was what we attempted to do in 2011 when the ruling party, PDP, zoned the ticket to Yewa and the PDP came up with Adetunji Idowu Olurin and GNI came through PPN. Unfortunately, the arrangement was not respected and Amosun came and offset the balance of power.
“To now say, yes, our governor, in an act of contrition, that these people have been disadvantaged and I want to make a redress to compensate them, but would it be at an expense of the other people?
“Ogun East is already a stronghold of the PDP. Most of us in APC are in a battle ground situation here. And now, to alienate the Ijebus further, by zoning the governorship out of their area, by not allowing them to participate makes the position of the leaders of the APC in Ogun East very difficult, virtually untenable.”
Alhaji Sikirulai Ogundele, factional chairman, Ogun State PDP loyal to Chief Gbenga Daniel-led faction, in a recent interview with THISDAY said his group had zoned the governorship ticket to Ogun East citing two failed bids byYewa candidates to become governor.
“I am a man of justice. I believe in fair play. If we are to go by fairness, it supposes to be the turn of (Yewa) Ogun West. But we have, at two separate times, in 2011 and 2015, fought for Ogun West but there are so many things that we have noticed that can’t allow us to gamble Ogun West in the coming 2019 governorship election. There is disunity in Ogun West and I pray Almighty God to give them strength, wisdom and understanding that will make them to be unified.
So, we canâ€™t gamble the 2019 governorship. But if we have decided to look at the population and voting strength. And I am just telling you this,that the Ijebus have nine local governments, out of 20 local governments. In Ogun West, it is obvious, that there is still disunity. I am a very factual person. The APC can do it but we want enblock votes from Ijebu to come to our own candidate and we will support it from Egba, and Yewa/Awori votes too, we need them”, Ogundele said.