By Eric Elezuo
While incumbent administrators are counting the cost of administration as well as harnessing their achievements if any, the would-bes are busy scheming and plotting to take their places as the race for 2019 gathers momentum.
In Ogun State, caucuses have intensified the hot race to replace Governor Ibikunle Amosun, whose two-term tenure of eight years is fast running to a close.
During the week, as the build-up reached boiling point, the Ijebu Elders from Ogun East Senatorial District did the unexpected or rather expected, depending on the side of the divide one looks at as they rose with one voice, endorsing the candidature of the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru in Amosun’s administration. Ashiru, an investment banker, was appointed as commissioner in 2011.
He was adopted by the Ijebu/Remo Governorship Agenda Elders Forum as the consensus candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and was immediately presented to party stakeholders by the state Vice Chairman of APC, Alhaji Elias Folorunsho.
Political watchers have come to see the position as going against Amosun’s determination to ensure that a Yewa candidate from Ogun West Senatorial District succeeds him.
But the selection of the seasoned commissioner through a ‘transparent’ four man panel of seasoned administrators and incorruptible personalities led by Chief Olu Okuboyejo, did not go down well with some of the interested aspirants as they staged a walkout. Some of them were Senator Adegbenga Kaka, Prince Segun Adesegun, Senator Olorunnibe Mamora, Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Chief Muyiwa Oladipo; Otunba Abayomi Ogunowo, Dr T. Kazeem, Chief Owodunni Opayemi and Mr. Jimi Lawal.
The Chairman of the Forum, Dr. Gbolade Osinowo, a former Senior Special Assistant on Political Affairs to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, while announcing the results of the screening described as transparent, disclosed that Ashiru scored 89 points to defeat others.
Other results are Mamora, 88.25 points; Kaka, 80.25; Oladipo, 87.5; Adesegun, 54; Kazeem, 58.5; Lawal, 77; Owodunni, 42 and Ogunowo, 82.
Explaining further, Osinowo, said that the exercise was organised to avoid multiplicity of candidates “which may scuttle the chances of producing an Ijebuman as governor in 2019”.
“This is only the first step. There are still many steps to victory and we are going to take those steps. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this candidate wins the heart, the minds of everybody in Ogun State.
“After this, we are going to launch a massive campaign. We are going to go round the state to ensure our candidate carries the day for 2019”, he said.
Releashing in the euphoria of his emergence, Ashiru described the process as “victory for all” and promised not to betray the confidence reposed in him when he emerges as governor.
“I feel humbled. I feel honoured and I believe this is a service to mankind. We will want to continue the mission to rebuild Ogun State. The need to continue the rebuilding mission is very key, and we need somebody who has passion, vision and the kind of zeal like that of His Excellency. He is somebody I have fine relationship with. He is my friend, my boss and mentor. And it is easy for me to combine all of these and work tirelessly and be able to support what he has done.”
The emergence of Ashiru, an Ijebu man came in spite of cries and pleadings by Ogun West Senatorial District to other two senatorial districts not to field candidates.
Ogun West, which has not produced a governor since the creation of the state, 41 years ago had urged leaders in Ogun Central and Ogun East districts not to field aspirants to enable them occupy the position in 2019 for the first time.
Ashiru, who is serving the All Progressive Congress (APC) administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun, emerged the preferred governorship hopeful among the aspirants screened by the forum to ensure only one person represents the senatorial district in the election.
In his remarks, Chairman of the four-man committee, Okuboyejo informed that the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, gave his approval on the screening exercise as well as the outcome.
Lending credence to the transparency of the committee, Osinowo said, “I have absolute confidence and trust in them.”
He further said: “If I didn’t have trust in them, if there was an iota of doubt in my mind, we would not have continued.
“We would not have accepted their report. For those four men, they are integrity personified. I have known them; they are people that have important positions. So, they have seen it all.”
Osinowo also said: “They are people that money cannot buy. They are absolutely incorruptible and we have absolute confidence in them.”
An elated Ashiru, who obviously is a product of an impartial group of assessors said he would not betray the confidence reposed in him when he becomes governor, while assuring the continuation of the “mission to rebuild” agenda of Amosun government.
The Ogun West and Central constituencies are yet to come out with a position, and it is still yet unknown how they, especially the West (Yewa) will take the development. But for now, it is congratulations to Bimbo Ashiru on his emergence.