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2019: Bankole, Odebiyi, Adebutu, others jostle to replace Amosun

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In a couple of months, the race for the Ogun State Government House will begin. Aspirants from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and the newly registered Action Democratic Party (ADP), are already warming up to take over from Governor Ibikunle Amosun. 

In the APC, no fewer than eight aspirants, drawn from the three zones - Ogun Central, Ogun West and Ogun East have shown interest. They are the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Suraj Ishola Adekunbi; the chief of staff to the governor, Chief Tolu Odebiyi; a Lagos State-based political icon, Sen. Olamilekan Adeola; former governorship candidate of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) and PDP, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka; former House of Reps member, Abiodun Ishaq Akinlade and House of Reps member (Yewa South/Ipokia constituency), Adekunle Abdulkabir Akinlade.

 

The large number of aspirants from one zone may not be unconnected to the commitment and desire of the outgoing governor to hand over to a candidate from Ogun West, come 2019.

The zone is yet to produce a governor since 1976 when the state was created, and Amosun is said to be determined to break the jinx. 

Political analysts have said that popularity and strength would play a significant role in determining who takes over from the incumbent governor. It is believed that whoever emerges victorious at the ruling party’s governorship primary election would consolidate on Amosun’s political structure and achievements. 

For Senator Olamilekan Adeola, a political son of the former governor of Lagos State and leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the disagreement between Tinubu and Governor Amosun’s camps will play a major role. Apart from this, the controversy over his root in Ogun West is still generating dust and may be his albatross.

A party member told our correspondent that Senator Adeola decided to pitch his tent in Ogun State after he was advised to shelve his ambition to govern Lagos.

Adeola is the candidate to beat because, for now, he is the only aspirant from Amosun’s camp who has political clout.  

“From Sagamu to Ota, and particularly in Abeokuta, tell me a staunch member from Amosun’s camp, apart from Yayi (as he is commonly called). We are convinced and satisfied with his root. That is no longer an issue,” a top member of his camp said.

Pundits are of the opinion that the senator may seek to actualise his ambition in another party should the odds work against him in the APC. It is believed that his ambition could be actualised through with massive votes from Ogun Central, West and East.

Chief Tolu Odebiyi, the current chief of staff, is another aspirant that may ruffle feathers with heavyweights in the race. Since he came on board as chief of staff in 2014, the son of the late Senator Jonathan Odebiyi, who hails from Iboro in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state, is relatively unknown. However, he has been moving from one zone to another to canvass support. He is among those expectedly favoured by the governor.

For the incumbent speaker of the State House of Assembly, Suraj Adekunbi, the support he is getting from his colleagues is a factor that cannot be wished away. He believes that as speaker for seven years under the administration Governor Amosun, he understands how to effectively run the affairs of the state.

Although he lacks political structure, pundits say he has not been resting on his oars to get those who matter in the state to buy into his ambition to succeed the governor, who is also seen as his political mentor. Should the governor decide to screen all his boys from Yewa zone, the speaker will emerge because he has been loyal and consistent with the policies of the state government. 

The Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, who hails from Ogun East, is also interested in the governorship position. Late last year, the APC in Ogun East declared their support for him. He is also reported to have the blessing of the paramount ruler Ijebu land, Oba Sikiru Adetona.

“Politics is all about votes. The governorship election should be made open to all. There should be no sentiments. If the people of Ogun–West want to have the governorship slot, they have to fight for it like other zones. The argument that they have not produced the governor of the state should not be accepted because they also fielded candidates during past elections and the candidate with highest votes won,” a member of Ashiru’s camp said.

Observers noted that if he wins the APC ticket, the entire Ijebu votes would be for the APC in the general elections. According to them, votes from Ogun West and Central could be shared, but if Ogun–West could produce a credible and acceptable candidate, Ijebu votes would go for such person.

Also, Gboyega Isiaka has maintained a very solid structure since his adventure into the politics of Ogun State since 2009. The Imeko-born politician was the gubernatorial candidate, both of the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) in 2011 and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015. As at today, the platform to flag off his ambition hovers between the PDP and Labour Party, not ruling out the APC. 

It is believed that his recent romance with the governor is connected with his ambition.

From the main opposition party, the PDP, comes Ladi Adebutu, a member of the House of Representatives and son of Kensington Adebutu, a billionaire. He has not hidden his ambition to govern the state. As at today, Adebutu has the support of former Governor Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The chairman of the House Committee on Rural Development is said not to be controversial. And his financial strength is expected to boost the quest of the PDP to return to power in the state in 2019. But his biggest challenge is the crisis tearing the party apart at the national and state levels.

Outside the ruling party and the PDP, the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) is likely to field its 2015 governorship candidate, Rotimi Paseda, a philanthropist who still holds on to his political structure. He has been mobilising supporters across the state. 

The Ogun–East-born politician may be using a wrong platform, but observers believe that the old UPN and the Awolowo toga would be his joker to win the hearts of the people. 

For the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, his quest to become the governor of Ogun State come 2019 under his new found political party, the Action Democratic Party (ADP), is not hidden. Posters of the former speaker have been spotted across Abeokuta, the state capital. However, it is not clear if the party could make any meaningful impact in the coming elections.

Furthermore, politicians from Ogun–West are determined to work against anything that could scuttle their chances to make history in 2019. To this end, they have vowed to close ranks with other zones when the time comes. The Ogun West Liberation Movement (OWELIM) is mobilising the people to speak with one voice on the choice of who becomes their candidate in 2019. However, the group has no particular aspirant in mind. One of its strategies is to solicit for the support of leaders of thought from other zones ahead of the governorship election.

Recently, they took their case to the Egba Traditional Council of Obas at the palace of the Alake of Egba, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, appealing to them to support an aspirant from  Ogun–West to succeed Amosun.

The chairman of the group, Adebayo Sheriff, who led the delegation, assured the traditional rulers that a governorship candidate from the zone would not disappoint the people of Ogun State.

But the challenge facing all the aspirants is that Governor Amosun is desirous of producing a successor on the ticket of the APC. The governor’s body language in recent times has shown that he is unlikely to support an aspirant who would not fit into his plan.

Ogun–West comprises of five local government areas: Yewa South, Yewa North, Imeko-Afon, Ipokia and Ado-Odo/Ota). It shares boundaries with the Republic of Benin in the west, Lagos State in the south, Oyo State in the north and Ogun Central in the east (Egba land). Ethnic groups found in the area are Eyo, Anago, Awori, Ketu, Ifonyin, Ohori, Sabe and Egun.

 

DailyTrust 

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