By Eric Elezuo
With the public declaration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State of his preference for a candidate from Ogun West, an area that has not produced an occupant of the seat since the creation of the state in 1976, notable personalities have risen in contest for the throne that will be vacated come May 29, 2019.
Amosun was quoted to have publicly said that for “fairness and equity,” he would support a Yewa candidate but with a condition that “I won’t be against an Ijebu candidate (from Ogun East) but I won’t campaign for him.”
Bookmakers believe that the governor’s dilemma stem from the fact that he would not want to do anything to offend the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, who on his part is said to prefer an Ijebu indigene as the governor. With the two most powerful men in the state, one on the side of government, and the other on the side of tradition, the stage is set for an intriguing tango.
However, the presence and intentions of the two heavyweights has not dissuaded politicians from Ogun Central chiefly among them is Bimbo Ashiru, whose declaration has put fear into most contestants, to throw their hats into the ring. Consequently, while Amosun will be struggling to transmit power for the Yewa, the Awujale and the likes of Ashiru will be struggling to wrestle power for their immediate consumption.
Amosun’s further challenge is reflected in a former legislator Johnson Fatoki’s utterance that, “All that the people need is a governor that can perform. What the people need is result and it doesn’t matter who achieves that result. So if the majority of the people believe that the candidate they trust hails from Ogun Central, there is nothing wrong with that.”
As a result, at the moment, over 18 aspirants have declared their intention to vie for the governorship seat with the possibility of the figure increasing as events gather momentum.
Form all indication however, out of the 45 registered political parties, only the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are so far visible in terms of capacity to win elections, others merely exist in names with no significant followership, except maybe for APDA, which has admitted quite a few number of defectors.
Drawn from all the senatorial districts, the aspirants have begun scheming and positioning themselves by highlighting factors in their favour, not only to win the hearts of the electorate but also to present their areas as the best to wear the crown.
Some of these aspirants are Senator Solomon Adeola, Tolu Odebiyi, Suraj Adekunbi, Senator Iyabo Anisulowo, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, Kola Lawal, Rotimi Ramon, Senator Gbolahon Dada, Ayo Olubori and Abiodun Isiaq Akinlade, Jimi Lawal, all from Ogun West, occupied by mainly the Yewa,
From Ogun East are Bimbo Ashiru, Dapo Abiodun, Olajide Awosedo, Rotimi Paseda, Oladipupo Adebutu, Senators Lekan Mustapha and Olorunnimbe Mamora while Dimeji Bankole, former Speaker of the House of Representatives is, so far, the only aspirant from Ogun Central.
“Let me state clearly that all the indigenes of the state, no matter where you come from, are entitled to contest elections. The Constitution states clearly that you can vote and be voted for. It is not written anywhere in the Constitution that governorship or any political position, should be zoned to a particular area.
The popular opinion among keen political analysts in the state is that the governorship seat has eluded the Yewas because they were not united in their resolve to occupy it.
The closest opportunity the Yewas had of clinching the seat was in 2011 when they had a chance to present one candidate to contest against Amosun, but they presented two of their indigenes, Isiaka contested on the platform of Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) while Tunji Olurin, a retired general, flew the flag of the PDP. They both lost.
With 11 aspirants from among them insisting on contesting, it is not in doubt that they have learnt no lesson from their past mistakes and history may repeat itself.
Out of the crowd of aspirants however, seven of them are leading the pack with four from Yewa, Odebiyi, Adekunbi, Adeola and Isiaka, two from Ijebu, Paseda and Adebutu while one, Bankole is from Egba. They are reputed to have strong political base, appeal, pedigree, financial muscle, educational qualifications, influence and acceptability among the electorate. They are believed to have brighter chances of clinching the seat, according to political watchers and pundits.
Below is a brief of the men who will unseat Senator Ibikunle Amosun in 2019:
Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola
Popularly known as Yayi, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, who is a 47-year-old Chartered Accountant, is presently representing Lagos West Senatorial District at the Senate.
Adeola is known to have developed an elaborate campaign organisation and enjoys a favourable disposition among the people though he faces a major challenge of originality as not a few assumes he is not a citizen of Ogun state. 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 shon of the shoil.
Another of his major challenge is the belief that if he eventually becomes governor, there is the probability that members of his cabinet would be drawn from Alimosho Local Government, Lagos state, to the disadvantage of the Ogun West people who have, for long, cried foul of marginalisation and negligence.
Again, it is alleged that the current governor, Sen Ibikunle Amosun, harbours unhidden disdain for his 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 Adeola is not a push over in matters of politics, and added to his political arsenal is the support of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, as well as Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Wasiu Kolawole Lawal
Presently the Commissioner for Forestry, Lawal is a thorough-bred professional born on September 24, 1962 at Eyo Quarters, Oke-Odan, in Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State. A true born of Yewa.
In 2011, he narrowly lost the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate ticket to Gen. Adetunji Olurin.
Among the Ogun West Governorship aspirants that have joined the governorship fray, KLM as he is popularly called, is said to be standing seems to have a clear cut advantage as he is enjoying the support of his co-cabinet members.
KLM 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 cut his career tooth at Associated Breweries and Company Limited, Agbara, Ogun State where he worked for five years and rose through the rank to become an Acting Distribution Manager. He also worked with ExxonMobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited for 20 years as an accountant and rose to various leadership positions, including regional head of accounts.
In giving back to the society, KLM has dedicated his life to the service of humanity through community activities, which has culminated in the setting up of a philanthropic organisation, “Aseele Labowaba”, noted for saving lives and transforming projects across the three senatorial districts in the state.
Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka
Better known as 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. He will be contesting on the platform of PDP once again.
A 1986 first class graduate in Accounting from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), the 55-year-old politician served in the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel between 2003 and 2011, and was Group Managing Director (GMD), Gateway Holdings Plc, an investment portfolio of Ogun State. He is a seasoned stock broker, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant, and has a stronghold in Yewa/Aworiland politics. He is arguably the most popular candidate, but needs to mend fence with his political mentor, Gbenga Daniel if he must go far, especially in raising campaign funds.
Presently occupying the revered position of Chief of Staff to the Ogun State Government, the 54-year-old chieftain of the ruling party, is the son of a second republic senator, late Sen Jonathan Odebiyi, and hails from Iboro, in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State. He will be banking on his closeness to the governor as a trump card in addition to the governor’s preference for a Yewa as his successor.
It was further learnt that Amosun has neither adopted, nor anointed any candidate that would succeed him. But it is expected that, on January 25, 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 jeopardized.
“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.
Shakiru Olajimi Adebisi Lawal
One time a popular whiz kid banker, who set up and ran one of the hottest banks in that era called Alpha Merchant Bank, Jimi Lawal, whose real name is Shakiru Olajimi Adebisi Lawal, has become as aspirant to watch in the race to clinch the Ogun State governorship seat come 2019.
Jimi has been working underground to upstage the other well established aspirants like Bimbo Ashiru and Senator Lekan Mustapha, who are said to be close to Gov. Amosun and the Awujale of Ijebu-land. Ashiru in his own case is like Awujale’s son and the Governor is his political godfather.
Known as the ‘best friend of the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Jimi is presently the only non-Hausa Special Adviser on Investment promotion to Gov. el-Rufai. He is from Ijebu-Ode in Ogun State.
Having a lot of advantages, Jimi has begun serious consultations, visiting the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, to strengthen his bid. It is reported that he has the support of both the Kaduna and Ogun State governors and has also received the blessing of President Muhammed Buhari.
In 1999, Jimi was made Technical Adviser of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) under El-Rufai. Later in 2003, following el-Rufai’s redeployment to the FCT Ministry as Minister, Lawal again moved and was appointed a Special Adviser. Expectedly, following the election of el-Rufai as Kaduna State governor, Lawal was appointed his Special Adviser on Investment.
Otumba Bimbo Ashiru entered the Ogun State governorship race in spite of Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s declaration that the seat should go the Yewa people of Ogun West in compensation for not ruling the state since creation.
Presently the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Ashiru made this official declaration after emerging the winner among other eight contenders for the race from Ogun East Senatorial District comprising of Ijebu and Remo zones of the state.
Ashiru was selected through a consensus process after a meeting called by a four member selection committee of the Ijebu/Remo governorship Agenda forum.
Bimbo Ashiru was born in Ijebu-Ode, Headquarters of Ijebuland and has worked, all his life, as an investment banker. He became Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in 2011, having served as Group Head, Public Sector, Stanbic IBTC bank and was re-appointed in 2015 when Governor Amosun was re-elected.
Under his stewardship in Ogun State, the business environment of the state developed beyond imagination with over 1,279.84 percent increase in internally generated revenue of the state. More than 120 companies established their presence in Ogun state with a cumulative investment profile of about N691.77 billion in 2014 compared to N377 billion in 2013. This placed Ogun state in first position in Nigeria, according to Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). During his time, approximately 75percent of Foreign Direct Investments into the country between 2011 and 2016 came to Ogun state.