Intrigues that Hobbled Yewa (Ogun West) on March 9
The outcome of the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State may have, for now, put to rest the political debate on power rotation among the major ethnic groups – Abeokuta, Ijebu/Remo and Yewa/Awori – that constituted the tripod upon which the state was founded.
A school of thought feels since each of these blocs occupies a senatorial district, that is, Abeokuta (Ogun Central), Ijebu/Remo (East) and Yewa/Awori (West), power should be rotated among them for equity. The people in this group often cite the 1999 Constitution that recognises the three senatorial districts as equal. However, another school of thought, which won the last election, disagreed with the tripod theory.
To this category, Ogun State was created from Abeokuta and Ijebu provinces and not from divisions that recognise Egbado, as Yewa was being called and Remo. This faction, therefore, argues that power should be rotated between the two provinces, and that each province has the right to decide the division to produce governor.
People in this group argued that in 1979, Chief Bisi Onabanjo from Ijebu province governed the state. In 1993 and 1999, Chief Olusegun Osoba from Egba province emerged governor. But then, power returned to Ijebu province in 2003, and it was the province’s internal arrangement that ceded it to Remo division, which produced Otunba Gbenga Daniel.They argued that in 2011, when it was Abeokuta province’s turn to concede power to Yewa/Awori, it reneged and fielded outgoing governor, Ibikunle Amosun who is from Owu in Abeokuta.
To the proponents of this theory, Egba division thereby shortchanged and marginalised Yewa/Awori by voting for Amosun, instead of governorship candidates from Yewa/Awori. And the Ijebus are not ready to trade their chance for another zone.Indeed, one of the governorship candidates from Ogun East, at a debate organised by BBC Yoruba Service, put it thus: “If Yewa/Awori people allowed Abeokuta to grab their dinner, and they slept in hunger, they should not ask for the breakfast meant for the Ijebus on the ground that they are hungry. It is not possible.”
This line of argument has, however, been severally dismissed as fraught with historical fallacies, which tend to submerge Yewa/Awori people within the Egbas. However, it was on this basis, convenient for Ogun East politicians that the Ijebu Agenda was formed by Dr. Gbolabo Osinnowo. And the group took its argument to all parts of the state. So, it was not surprising that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and many politicians from Ogun East, irrespective of party affiliation, bought into the Ijebu Agenda and worked to ensure victory for the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who was adopted by the traditional rulers and political elites from that zone.
It was also in support of the Ijebu Agenda that former Ogun State governor and Director General of Abubakar Atiku Campaign Organisation, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, jettisoned his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and joined his Ijebu kinsmen to endorse Abiodun.
Daniel, who made his decision public two days to election in a press statement, said: “You would have noticed my studied silence in our local politics in recent times. I have busied myself with national politics, having served the state for eight years.“I have also been very busy supporting the ambition of the son of our great philanthropist in Remoland to become the next governor of our dear state. You, however, would have become aware of the court decision, which did not favour him.
”Going forward, I have directed all our structures statewide to cast their vote for Prince Dapo Abiodun, another bona fide Remo son, despite current party differences…”Daniel’s dramatic move was a surprise to many that were aware of his various meetings with the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, who he has been supporting since 2011.
The former governor was said to have asked his supporters to work for ADC, as he was also doing under the arrangement of CUPP, to which both PDP and ADC belong.
Sources said Daniel did not just cave in to the Ijebu Agenda, but may have won some bargain in the process. Ogun West also tried to foster unity, which was not strong enough to break the jinx of not producing governor for 43 years. The problem with the zone started with the incumbent governor’s choice of candidate, which was different from the people’s choice.
While Amosun insisted on supporting Abiodun Akinlade, who lost in APC primaries and later joined APM to achieve his ambition, Ogun West traditional rulers and elites pitched tents with Isiaka. Speaking on why Isiaka was adopted by Yewa/Awori leaders, Emeritus Professor Anthony Asiwaju said: “Isiaka’s endorsement as the region’s consensus candidate, vis a vis the other four gubernatorial candidates, including Akinlade, was predicated on comparative assessment of several criteria, including though not limited to: cerebral capacity, political experience and level of exposure, demonstrated moral probity, perseverance, emotional maturity and leadership qualities, including accessibility and ability for independence of thought and action.
The endorsement, based on the Summit’s determination to present the best and most credible candidate in the region to wider Ogun State electorate, was done deliberately in the absence of all the candidates, including Isiaka himself.”But to some leaders of Ogun West, foisting Akinlade on them was unacceptable and every move to convince Amosun did not produce the desired result.
Interestingly, if Isiaka and Akinlade had worked as a team, going by the result declared by the Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Idowu Olayinka, the zone would have produced the governor. Abiodun polled 241,670 votes, followed by Akinlade, who polled 222,153, while Isiaka came third with 110,422 votes. Kashamu scored 70, 290. The Governor-elect won with a margin of 19,517 votes.If Akinlade and Isiaka had joined forces, they would have polled 332, 575 votes and defeated Abiodun by 90,905. But that was not to be!
Just as Ogun East presented two strong governorship candidates in Abiodun and Senator Buruji Kashamu, so also Ogun West presented Isiaka and Abiodun. But while Kashamu was not taken too seriously because of allegations that he was surreptitiously working for APC in order not to be extradited to the United States to answer alleged criminal charges, the two candidates from Ogun West fiercely fought each other to lose the election.
Observers had predicted that Ogun Central would be the battle zone for the political parties, thinking Kashamu would also divide Ogun East votes, but that was not the case, as he won just a council out of the nine in Ogun East.
While congratulating the governor-elect, Buruji attributed his dismal performance to inter-party crises that saw him in and out of court. This, he said, did not allow him to have a robust campaign for the election.
Another strong factor that determined outcome of the election was the heavy war chest deployed by APC national leadership, led by Osinbajo, Tinubu and Senator Olamilekan Adeola, who literally led campaign for Abiodun and saw the election as a must win for APC.
For APC leaders in the Southwest, Amosun’s ambition for 2023 had to be checked. This was the cause of the crisis that made Amosun engage in anti-party activities, which led to his suspension.
While politicians became “commodities to be purchased,” APC leaders had enough baits to lure many into their net. Many candidates of other parties, who lost National Assembly election, were thereby caught. The ADC Senatorial candidate and former Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly, Titi Oseni-Gomez was a big catch at the central, just as all the nine ADC council chairmen in Ogun East, who dumped their party for APC on the eve of the election.
Some Ogun West political leaders could also not resist the inducement, as they sold their conscience for a pot of porridge. While the political leaders exchanged values for cash, voters also had a field day through “see and buy” that characterised the election. Some voters went home with as much as N10, 000 after selling their conscience to the highest bidder.While federal might, as represented by APC goons and state power by APM, engaged in an unprecedented inducement, ADC’s Isiaka that based his campaign on delayed gratification and value orientation, has to wait for another day.
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