A Murky Governorship Race

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As the Ogun State governorship race remains shrouded in uncertainty, Femi Ogbonnikan attempts to navigate through the murky waters of politics in the state

Clearly, strong indications have finally emerged that the people of Ogun East Senatorial District made up of the old Ijebu Province are not leaving any stone unturned in their bid to clinch the coming 2019 Ogun State governorship seat.

Thus, the declaration “Ijebu for 2019 governor” mantra by the Senator representing the district at the National Assembly, Buruji Kashamu, during his “thank you” tour of all the nine local governments making Ogun East last month.

The determination of members of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress from Ogun East to make sure they produce the next governor has further threatened the chance of the Ogun West, the district favoured by the State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun.

Initially, the Gbenga Daniel-led faction of the PDP took the first plunge when its state chairman, Alhaji Sikirulai Ogundele, made it abundantly clear that his group has zoned the governorship ticket to Ogun East. He went on to say that a member of the House of Representatives representing Ikenne/Remo North/Sagamu Federal Constituency, Hon Ladi Adebutu, had been chosen as governorship candidate. Soon afterwards, the Ogun East APC joined the fray and picked the current Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Chief Bimbo Ashiru, as its consensus candidate.
Just as the drum beat intensifies, it should be clearer to the people of Ogun West that the governorship ticket is not going to be served alacarte.

Earlier, the erstwhile Acting Chief of Staff to late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Dr Gbolade Oshinowo (chairman, Ijebu Agenda), in an interview with THISDAY had sounded a note of warning to the governor, Ibikunle Amosun, asking him to reconsider his position that he would support only aspirant from Ogun West or risk losing to the opposition PDP candidate.

“What I am saying is that, 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 APC in Ogun East very difficult, virtually untenable”, he noted.

Echoing the same sentiment, Kashamu, a strong force to reckon with, in the political equation of Ogun State, declared that his party, PDP, under the state chairmanship of Mr Bayo Samuel Adedayo, has zoned the 2019 Ogun State governorship ticket to Ogun East and therefore sought the support and cooperation of the people of the district to come together and forge a common front, preparatory to the general election.

He said: “Our party, PDP, has zoned the coming 2019 Ogun State Governorship ticket to Ijebuland (ie, Ogun East). So, it has become the turn of Ijebu zone to produce the next governor of the state.

“If you go to Ogun Central and you marvel at the level of transformation that has berthed in Abeokuta. Who among you don’t like what Amosun is doing in Abeokuta? Gov Amosun has transformed Ogun Central to Paris. As a result, we want an Ijebu man to get to the number one position of Ogun state, come May 29, 2019, so that Ijebuland too will witness rapid development and become transformed, like Ogun Central.

“Regardless of the political lineage the Ogun East candidate comes from, whether APC or SDP or Labour or PDP, we, the people of Ogun East should be ready to rally round behind him so that one of us (ie, an Ijebu man) can get to the number one seat of the state.

Aspirants for elections into the state’s house of assembly in the coming 2019 general elections were presented at the event where Kashamu spoke. They included Sylvester Niyi Abiodun, Segun Kaka, Oluyemi Adesegun and Sunday Sobowale.

Already Kashamu’s posters adorned all the streets in major towns in his senatorial district.
Also, Ogundele, who is the Ogun State PDP Chairman of the group loyal to Daniel, in a recent interview with THISDAY said his party could no longer afford to trade off its votes this time around in the coming governorship race, like it did during the 2011 and 2015 general elections when it supported a candidate from Ogun East.

“This time around we want to support a candidate that can win enblock votes for our party and that is why the leadership of our party in the state has decided to zone the governorship ticket to Ogun East where we can win enblock votes, while other votes cast from Ogun West will just be added to what we have got already. So, our decision not to support an Ogun West governorship candidate this time around is as a result of disunity among the Yewa/Awori people. They are not united. We don’t want a repeat of the two previous past elections we had both in 2011 and 2015 in Ogun state when we threw our weight behind an Ogun West candidate and he didn’t win.”

He said that the Ijebus should not be made to suffer for the decision of the Egbas of the Ogun Central to deny the people of the Ogun West the opportunity to be governor.
He said: “Okay, let us examine the facts. Four divisions, three have had it. On the fourth occasion, where the fourth would have had it, what happened? The Ijebus were not the main beneficiaries of the deprivation of the Yewas, And when we examined the minutes, the details of what happened, how did the two Yewa candidates emerge in 2011? Did it tally? Did it bear scrutiny? If you look at it closely, you could draw your inferences”.

Meanwhile, the governor who is on the last lap of his administration in office and shopping for a successor from Ogun West axis, seems to be at a crossroads over his earlier hasty public proclamation to hand over the governorship baton to Ogun West.

Unconfirmed reports have it that the governor plans to dump all aspirants from Ogun West extraction that have so far signified their interest in the governorship contest for his Canadian-based friend, Mrs Titi Odunfa-Adeoye, an Ilaro-born woman, from Yewa South Local Government Area, to succeed him in office.

To perfect his strategy and curry the support of prominent sons and daughters of Ogun West to lend their weight for his preferred successor, it was gathered, Amosun has begun moves to woo supporters of Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (aka Yayi) a front line aspirant for the goernorship seat.

The governor has reportedly approached Chief Olusegun Osoba, a former governor and a leader of the party in the state, to persuade him to support his Canadian-based choice for the state governorship race.

A couple of weeks ago, shortly after the recently concluded Ogun State 2018 Investors’ Forum between March 20 and 21, 2018, it was further learnt that the governor had taken Odunfa-Adeoye, the Founder and CEO, Sankore Investment, who was one of the discussants at the forum, to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo for his support and blessing.
Following the objection raised against a female successor by the leadership of the APC, a development confirmed by the governor himself at a world press conference to herald the Ogun State 2018 African Drum Festival on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Abeokuta, the governor retorted; “if you say you don’t want a woman as your next governor then, I will give you a wizkid”.

After failing to get the leadership of APC to support his prefer candidate, the governor is said to be considering one Olalekan Olude, a native of Imasai, in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State to succeed him. Olude who will turn 35 years in September is the Group Chief Operating Officer of Jobberman, a company he co-founded. The firm, Jobberman which is the biggest job site in Sub-saharan Africa, currently delivers services across consulting, testing, advertising and outsourcing. He is based in Lagos.

But political pundits and watchers have begun to express pessimism in the governor’s insistence to shop for his successor from Ogun West, a development they described as a mistake.

Many think that it was not a wise decision for the governor to box himself into a corner by insisting that only the people of Ogun West are eligible to produce the next governor for the state. They want him to shift his earlier stance and settle for a strong aspirant that enjoys the support of all the leaders and elders of the party in the state and other stakeholders who will emerge through on a level-playing ground.

While reflecting on the governor’s earlier decision to place a blanket ban on governorship aspirants from Ogun East in the coming 2019 general elections, Oshinowo, counselled the governor to rescind his position on that and allow aspirants from Ogun East to also join the governorship race.

He said: “What we are talking about is politics. Politics has to do with core values of the people. The 1999 Constitution is terribly flawed and that is why everybody is up in hands now, saying it has to be amended. It has to be restructured. Now, a constitution is an arrangement by people that would guide them. It is not written in stone. It is something, that is a work-in-progress, and that is why we have constitutional amendments. What I am saying is that, at least, we, the Ijebus, have been in existence before Nigeria. We have been in existence before any of the constitutions.

“Secondly, when I looked at the history of Ogun State and the evolution of the power dynamics in Ogun State, I found out, on a vantage position, that we have been very active participants since 1976, when the state was created. And the burden of history is staring all of us in the face. Ogun State is a creation of modern governance apparatus.”

It is not too late for a rethink.

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This time around we want to support a candidate that can win enblock votes for our party and that is why the leadership of our party in the state has decided to zone the governorship ticket to Ogun East