*10 Yewa citizens on the race too
Not less than 18 potential gubernatorial aspirants have shown keen and public-knowledge interest in the next governorship election in Ogun State with the possibility of the figure most likely going to up as the countdown to the D-day nears.
Presently, there 45 registered political parties, but as it is only the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seems to be visible.
But there is a possibility of a change in their fortunes as investigations by www.gongnews.net revealed that the smaller parties, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP) and the newly formed Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance (APDA), among others, are exploring the possibility of either merging or forming alliances with other parties.
Drawn from all the senatorial districts, the aspirants have began 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 placed to have the crown.
The candidates: From Ogun West, occupied by mainly the Yewa, 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.
Aspirants 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.
Incumbent governor Ibikunle Amosun who, like Bankole, is from the central district, has however declared his support 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.
The Amosun factor: 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.”
The governor’s dilemma, it was learnt, was that he didn’t want to offend the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, who allegedly prefers an Ijebu indigene as the governor.
Amosun may however be wary of the fact of history as his immediate predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) is from Ogun East. He succeeded Olusegun Osoba from Ogun Central while the state’s first civilian governor; Olabisi Onabanjo also came from Ogun East.
But a former legislator, Johnson Fatoki, disagreed with Amosun on the governor’s preference for a Yewa candidate saying, “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 believes that the candidate they trust hails from Ogun Central, there is nothing wrong with that.
No zoning in the Constitution: “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 party can decide to make in-house arrangement, it is allowed. But that is an unwritten constitution. It is an agreement that is not written. For example, in 2011 the PDP under the watch of Olusegun Obasanjo, decided that the candidate of PDP must come from Yewa and Yewa presented a candidate while people from Ijebu in the East and Egba in the Central also presented their candidates. Eventually the man from Egba won.”
The Yewa factor in the future of Ogun governance: Two weeks after Amosun’s declaration, prominent monarchs in Yewa, led by the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, called on the governor to pledge their unflinching support for any preferred Yewa candidate of his. 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.
A politician, Rafiu Odeleye, had told the media recently that “The Yewas are the worst enemies of themselves. It has been the same old story since 1979 for the Yewas. At any election time, they allow themselves to be used against themselves.” He said the Yewas always present more than two or three candidates to contest the seat and thereby dividing their votes.
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 10 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.
Defection to other parties on the bill: Another interesting thing about the coming contest is the insistence of Bankole that the Egba should still retain the seat after Amosun. But apparently due to warning signs in his (Bankole’s) party, he is said to have initiated moves to defect to the newly formed APDA for the ticket. Although he is yet to officially announce his defection, his supporters, at a public gathering few weeks ago, announced their defection to the new platform.
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.Odebiyi, 54, is son of late Senator Jonathan Odebiyi of the Second Republic and real estate consultant who is believed to be close to Amosun.
Like Odebiyi, Adekunbi is also close to the governor with whom he has been working for the past six years gathering valuable experience in governance.
Adeola is the incumbent Senator representing Lagos West and he is believed to have immense means and supports of the APC leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He may however be boxed to a corner in the party by Amosun. He is also said to be contemplating moving to APDA.
Isiaka, who contested the 2011 and 2015 elections, is believed to be the most experienced gubernatorial aspirant of the lot and there are speculations that the governor is trying to convince him to decamp to the APC from PDP to pick the ticket.
The nation is waiting on the edge to see how the inter play of forces will play out in the scheme to see who emerges as the next governor of the state.