Ogun guber race: Again, a brewing battle of the zones

Ogun guber race: Again, a brewing battle of the zones

IN 2011, the race to the Okemosan Government House in Abeokuta was a very tortuously uncertain one for Governor Ibikunle Amosun. He had joined the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in a last ditch effort to vie for the position, after he failed to win the same on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2007.

In 2011, ACN, a party then spearheaded by the former governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was never given much chance of winning assembly elections in Ogun State, talk less of clinching the governorship seat. This was because, prior to 2011, the entire state was in firm grip of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Nearly all the political heavyweight of the time in the state were chieftains of the PDP. The dominance of the PDP in the state at the time could not be denied by anybody in Ogun State at the time.

But Senator Amosun, backed by Asiwaju Tinubu and the then rampaging ACN political machinery across the South-West, went into the election as an underdog, but succeeded in dislodging the ruling PDP from power.

Though a hard earned victory for both Amosun and his new party, the outcome of the election, which meant that an Egba man from the Central Senatorial District succeeded the then outgoing Governor Gbenga Daniel, was a big defeat to the unwritten zoning formula operating in the state at the time.

All through the electioneering of that era, zoning in general, and the need for a Yewa man from the West Senatorial District of the state, to be given a chance to rule the state, dominated nearly all discourses.

So strong was the passion of the people across the state for this zoning arrangement that Amosun’s Egba extraction became a political campaign item, effectively used by those opposed to his aspiration, to douse his then rising profile.

But notwithstanding the stiff opposition to his aspiration, Amosun emerged governor in 2011 and went ahead to win re-election in 2015, this time again, shutting the door on the desire of the Yewa people to produce a governor for the state.

An undying battle

It is a widely acclaimed fact in the politics of the state that of the three senatorial districts, Ogun West is the only district that is yet to produce a governor for the state, while the other two; Ogun Central and Ogun East, have had the opportunity to govern the state twice each.

The first governor of the state, the late Chief Bisi Onabanjo,  is from Ijebu in Ogun East, while the man who became the next civilian to rule the state after him in 1993 and 1999 respectively, Chief Olusegun Osoba, is an Egba man from the Central District.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel, a Remo man from the East Senatorial District came after Osoba and handed over to the current governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, another Egba man.

Similarly, of the four original divisions in the state, it is only the Yewa division that is yet to produce a governor since the creation of the state. While the late Onabanjo represented the Ijebu division as governor between 1979 and 1983, Daniel was in office as a Remo man between 2003 and 2007.

Of course the duo of Osoba who was governor first in 1992 to 1993 and later 1999 to 2003, and Amosun who has been in office from 2011 till date, took turns to govern as Egbas; leaving out only the Yewa division.

Perhaps, it is for these reasons that the agitation for the governorship slot by the Yewa people has refused to go away. And as permutations for the 2019 contest heightens again, the people of Ogun West in general, and the Yewa people in particular, are once again agitating that the zoning clause be activated in their favour.

Already, several groups and organisations have sprung up to canvass the Yewa agenda once again. A good number of their sons and daughters are planning to run for the governorship position come 2019.

A prominent pro-Yewa for governorship advocate, Omooba Damilare Oloyede, in the several letters he has written to eminent personalities including Governor Amosun, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, argued that it would be most unfair if the people of the western senatorial district are once again denied the chance to rule Ogun state in 2019.

Another open contest

But if the people of Ogun West are hoping to be zoned the governorship on a platter of gold, they may be wrong as indications are rife that they will have the people of other zones, especially in Ogun East, to contend with this time.

While the Egbas of Ogun Central, perhaps in consideration of the fact that their son, Amosun, is the outgoing helmsman, may have graciously decided not to run for the position in 2019, the same cannot be said of the Ijebus and Remos of Ogun East.

Determined to get the position come 2019, Ogun West is already parading an array of aspirants for the top job. One of those is Senator Gbolahan Dada, the man representing the district at the National Assembly.

Dada, a friend and political associate of the incumbent governor of the state, is being rumoured to be one of those being considered as a successor by Governor Amosun.

Aside Dada, another member of the red chamber, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (a.k.a.Yayi), who currently represents Lagos West in the National Assembly, is leaving no one in doubt that he intends to slug it out with others for the position in 2019.

Yayi, who hails from Ishaga, in Yewaland and once aspired to represent the district as a senator, is now a household name in the state, in spite of the fact that he still holds a political position in neighbouring Lagos State.

Also in the race from Yewaland is Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, the governorship candidate of the PDP during the 2015 general election. Although he had contested and lost the governorship twice, GNI is unrelenting in his quest.

And with followership across the length and breadth of the state, and a resume that places him as a man qualified for the job, Isiaka is still considered by many Yewa persons as a man to follow.

But it is not only Ogun West that has lined up strong contenders for the plum job; on the other side of town in Ogun east, aspirants are daily indicating interest in the position.

Already, the likes of Senator Lekan Mustapha, a highly revered grassroots politician from Ijebuland and Honourable Oladipupo Adebutu, the current member of the House of Representatives representing Remo Federal Constituency, have announced their intentions.

The 2015 Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) candidate, Prince Rotimi Paseda, is also interested in the race. There are also talks that the current Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru may also vie for the position in 2019.

With aspirants daily joining the fray from Ogun East, it is not unlikely that once again, the people of Ogun West will have to slug it out with another zone in their quest to have a chance to rule the state.

And if this happens, just like it did in 2011 and 2015, when Isiaka carried the Yewa agenda into fierce political battles but lost, only time will tell if the people of Ogun West will have cause to smile at the end of the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State.

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