Intrigues Shaping Ogun Governorship Race

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As contenders for the Ogun State governorship seat realign forces, Femi Ogbonnikan digs deeper to unravel the issues behind the realignment

The race for the 2019 Okemosan government house, Abeokuta, is becoming interesting, if not more intriguing, considering the level of the ongoing alignment and re-alignment of forces between and among the strong contenders to the governorship seat. ‎

Barring last minute ditches, the strong contenders, are Prince Gboyega Isiaka (aka GNI), Sen Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (aka Yayi), Otunba Rotimi Paseda, Hon Oladipupo Adebutu, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, Adekunle Akinlade, Tolu Odebiyi, Kola Lawal, Rt Hon. Suraj Adekunbi and Sen Gbenga Kaka. They are hoping to actualise their dream on the platforms of any of the following parties- the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), the Labour Party (LP).‎

‎As at now, it is difficulty to predict where the pendulum will swing as some of the parties are enmeshed in internal wrangling. The seemingly intractable crisis rocking the party has left aggrieved governorship aspirants, with forlorn hope of clinching their respective party tickets. They have now begun moves to adopt a plan b to actualise their ambition.
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The governor, Ibikunle Amosun has also continued to raise the stakes by insisting that the next state governor would come from Ogun West. Recently, he told journalists at a press conference: “I am telling you and I am still saying it, my successor will come from Yewaland. The person may or may not be a card-carrying APC member but of Yewa stock. The person may be a man or woman but will be a young person to pilot the affairs of the state where I would stop from on May 29, 2019. But I won’t tell you the person until an appropriate time”, said Amosun.

Particularly, for allowing Ashiru, the Ogun East APC consensus governorship candidate to criss-cross and continue to embark on consultations across every nook and cranny of the state, the journalists chorused and prodded him further to allow for a level-playing field among all the contestants from both the Ogun West and Ogun East districts respectively laying equal claims to the coveted seat and choose his successor based on merit, the governor retorted and said (in the presence of Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, the Ogun East APC governorship consensus candidate) in a lighter mood; “let us wait and see. Don’t let them deceive you”, apparently referring to Ashiru.‎

All Progressives Congress
Beginning with the ruling party, APC, at both the federal and state levels, there are ominous signs of bickering among the leadership in deciding who will clinch the governorship ticket and where the baton of the governance will go in 2019 between the two senatorial districts-Ogun West and Ogun East-that are staking equal claims to the contest.

On one hand, Amosun, who has the party structure in his pocket, has for the umpteenth time pledged his commitment to cede the governorship baton to Ogun West, a district that has never produced a governor for the state since its creation in February 1976.
In a recent interview on ARISE TELEVISION, Amosun reiterated his commitment to handing over to someone from Ogun West.

On the question of why he needs to zone the position such as this and what if the best candidate is not from Ogun West, the governor responded thus, “Why are you asking this type of question? Even God himself wants resources to go round. Nobody from Ogun West can be governor without support from the people even outside your senatorial zone. We need to be fair to our self. Let me allow someone from Ogun West senatorial district for the next election. After that, we can base it solely on merit”.

However, if anybody is to be considered his greatest headache in Ogun State politics, it is Sen Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (aka Yayi), the Senator representing Lagos West district. Amosun has never for once concealed his disdain for the governorship aspiration of Adeola.

Aside that, the five-man Ogun West APC elders council led by Chief Bashiru Fadairo to screen all the governorship aspirants of Ogun West extraction, excluding Adeola has come under scathing attacks. There has been doubts over the integrity of the composition of the members of the committee to produce a consensus candidate, like Ogun East had done about four months ago when they chose the current Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Ashiru as their candidate.

Peoples Democratic Party
The once self-proclaimed largest political party in Africa, PDP, could now be likened to a house divided against itself. It is enmeshed in leadership crises at the state level. Two factions are laying claim to the leadership of the party in Ogun, with neither side attempting to shift stance and embrace peace, despite overtures to mend fences among the power brokers controlling the party. The factionalisation is a backlash of the struggle for the control of the soul of the party in the state, shortly after the defeat of the party at both the federal and state levels in 2015. One faction, led by Alhaji Sikirulai Ogundele and loyal to a former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel while the other group is led by Engineer Bayo Dayo, and owes allegiance to the incumbent Senator representing Ogun East district, Sen Buruji Kashamu. Thus, the party has become inchoate with the inability of the centre to hold. On account of the irreconcilable differences, events in the last couple of weeks within the state leadership of the party have suggested a mass exodus of the party stalwarts, in droves, to either the APC or the Obasanjo’s new movement. First to stage a walkout, is a former Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Chief Sarafa Adetunji Isola. Isola, an erstwhile Secretary of State of Government (SSG) of Ogun, had, on friday, March 2, 2018, in a press statement issued in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital, dumped the PDP and defected to the ruling APC. According to him, his exit from the PDP was as a result of the leadership dispute rocking the party. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka and Hon Oladipupo Olatunde Adebutu (aka Lado)-have signified interest in the race on the platform of the party.

Sources had it that Adebutu is already considering the Labour Party as an alternative in case the PDP shuts him out. His name recently featured in the intra-crisis rocking the Labour Party (LP) in the state. It was alleged that the legislator was planning to hijack and join the party through the backdoor, a development swiftly dispelled by one of his media aides.

Labour Party
The Party in the state has been enmeshed in leadership crisis, following the emergence of two factional executives at parallel congresses held on January 28, 2018 in Abeokuta.

A faction led by Biodun Owolabi which held its congress at the party secretariat, in Adatan, Abeokuta, had approached the court, asking it to restrain the other faction and its supporters from interferring or parading themselves as leaders of the party in the state.

The plaintiffs, in the suit number FHC/A3/CS/10/18, claimed that their executives were duly formed by the authentic delegates of the party across the 20 local governments of the state.

 

Re-alignment of Forces

Unfolding political events among major political parties across the country in the last one year have called for serious concerns.
Gearing up and in a bid to pave ways for their safe landings, major players, especially governorship aspirants and their supporters have begun moves of re-aligning with one another in an attempt to actualise their dreams.
Fearing that the governor will not allow him to run on the platform of the APC, is said to be considering actualising his dream on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Not left out, Isiaka, an illustrious son of Imeko, in Imeko-Afon Local Government Area of Ogun State is believed to be making overtures to the 2015 Ogun State governorship candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Otunba Rotimi Paseda, who hails from Omu-Ijebu, in Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun State. On February 21, 2018, the duo of Isiaka and Paseda held a joint rally in Sagamu to address thousands of their supporters on the need to vote out the APC-led government in the state, come 2019.

Isiaka, who was the Ogun State PDP governorship candidate in 2011 and 2015 respectively, was recently sighted behind former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the formal membership registration of the Coalition of Nigeria Movement (CNM) at Iwe Irohin Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

His romance with the CNM, it was learnt, is not unconnected with the intractable crisis rocking the PDP leadership in the state.

Paseda, a shrewd international industrial mogul in hospitality, construction and civil engineering business, was alleged to have politely shunned every entreaty to convince him, to dump his UPN for one of the two mega parties, APC or PDP. The 53-year-old politician is said to have insisted that it was through the legacies and welfarist programmes of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, that sundry socio-economic, cultural and political challenges bedevilling the state could be addressed, if given the chance to govern.

Fear of a Backlash
One factor that simply matters is to be in a firm grip of the political machinery, while other things follow. Conversely, the much-touted power-shift to Ogun West, it is feared, might be a grand plot being designed by the power-that-be at the state government level to make the district a theatre of confusion for the 2019 governorship election.

Five local governments-Yewa South, Yewa North, Imeko-Afon, Ipokia and Ado-Odo/Ota constitute Ogun West senatorial district. Political pundits have predicted that three candidates-Isiaka, Adeola and whoever the governor, in collaboration with the APC leadership will present are likely to emerge on three different political platforms.
Adeola is a force to reckon with, in Yewa South and Ipokia Local Governments respectively, with his larger than frame popularity, while Isiaka also controls a handful of home support base, especially his Imeko-Afon Local Government Area homestead and by extension, Yewa North. Consequently, the situation is tense and dicey that nobody can predict who will carry the day.

When the chips are down, there are perceived palpable fears that the incumbent governor might decide to play on a safer side, by jettisoning his earlier commitment to support Ogun West and look inward to Ogun East where his party could win enblock votes, as his successor.

The votes from Ogun West will be shared among the three contenders whereas, Ogun East with only one candidate may carry the day with a block vote.

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The votes from Ogun West will be shared among the three contenders whereas, Ogun East with only one candidate may carry the day with a block vote.