As Dimeji Bankole Enters Ogun Race

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SATURDAY POLITY 

The emergence of a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole as the governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party in Ogun State has changed the political calculation in the state, writes Tobi Soniyi

In Ogun State, this is an interesting time. The two leading majority parties in the state: the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress are weighed down by divisions.

The PDP Crisis

In the PDP, there are two state executives with each claiming legitimacy. The Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Buruji Kashamu says his faction is the legitimate excutive. He cited a couple of court judgments which he said legitimized his claim.

The PDP at the national level appears to favour another faction and submitted the name of Ladi Adebutu as its governorship candidate. Adebutu is presently a member of the House of Representatives.

However, the Independent National Electoral Commission has declared that based on courts’ judgments, it is the Kashamu’s faction that has the right to nominate candidates for election.

It is not clear yet if the INEC’s position is in tandem with the party’s constitution. What is clear is that the PDP does not have any plan to win the governorship race in Ogun State. Without the national headquarters of PDP supporting the party’s candidate in Ogun State, the PDP is out of the race in Ogun State. It is also unlikely that the party can win in Ogun State without the support of Kashamu. Head or tail, the PDP is not a party to reckon with in Ogun.

Like PDP Like APC

The APC does not appear to be in a better position either. Since the state governor and leader of the party in the state, Ibikunle Amosun was outmaneuvered in the governorship primary election, he has vowed to work against his party. His candidate, a member of the House of Representatives representing Egbado South and Ipokia Federal Constitueny, Adekunle Akinlade lost to Dapo Abiodun. Amosun would not go down without a fight. There are reports that many of his followers are working for a candidate of another party. This can’t not be verified. But in politics, permutations can change within 48 hours. Some of his followers have reportedly secured the tickets of the Democratic People’s Party to vie for election into the National Assembly. While Amosun he repeatedly promised to work for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari, he had not made any such pledge to support the party’s governorship candidate in Ogun State. Since the presidential election will hold first, Amosun should not have any problems carrying out his threat.

Unless, the APC is able to rein in Amosun, APC may be in for a crushing defeat in 2019 in Ogun.

ADP Emerges

However, the situation in Ogun State is not as hopeless as it appears.

While other parties are busy seeking candidates based on primordial sentiments such as where the candidate comes from, Dimeji Bankole, the youngest man to preside at the House of Representatives has positioned himself as the most competent person to run the affairs of the state.

According to him, what the people of Ogun State crave most is competence and not where the governor comes from.

“They want someone who will create jobs. They want someone who will return the state to its glorious past in academic excellence. But politicians have ignored the voters and are busy seeking to impose their favorite candidates on the people”, ADP. National Chairman, Chief Wale Egunleti told Thisday on the telephone.

According to him, what the ADP has done is to talk to the people of Ogun State and to ask them what they want and who they want as governor.

The answer, he said, was overwhelmingly unanimous: “They want a competent person as governor. They don’t care where the person comes from. They want their children to be gainfully employed. They complained that after spending so much to educate their children, these children could not get work to do.

“Our response to the people’s demand is Dimeji Bankole.”

The battle for the soul of Ogun State will not be restricted to the three political parties mentioned above. There are others such as the African Democratic Congress on which platform, Gboyega Isiaka is running. This will be his third attempt. There is also the Social Democratic Party featuring Rotimi Paseda as its governorship candidate in Ogun State. In 2015, he was the candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria for the governorship race.

In the past, Ogun State governorship race was quite predictable. At present, that is proving not to be the case.