For the first time in many years, it seems the people of the 10 local government areas of Oke-ogun are prepared to slug it out with their Ibadan counterpart over who governs Oyo State from 2019.
Unlike before when aspirants from Ibadan take centre stage, leaving the number two slot to others, the people of the region, which is referred to as the food basket of the nation want power to shift from Ibadan, the state capital, to Oke-ogun.
At every political discussion, the issue dominate talks. In fact, it is giving leadership of many political parties sleepless night.
With Ajimobi deep into his second term as the state governor, the people of Oke-Ogun are clamouring for a change of baton from Ibadan, with some of their illustrious sons coming up to declare their intentions to contest the governorship seat in 2019.
1. Adeolu Akande, 52, from Otu in the Itesiwaju council area of the state. He was Governor Ajimobi ‘s Chief of Staff and a rising politician in the state. He has begun a quiet campaign recently, starting from his constituency in Oke-Ogun. Many are of the view that political permutations in Oke-Ogun could favour him especially if the area produces the next governor of the state.
Being the Chief Executive Officer of ImageEdge Communications Ltd, a political firm that manages the accounts of many high- profile politicians and state governments nationwide, Akande is close to many top politicians in Nigeria.
The former journalist was the Special Assistant, Research and Communications Strategy, to former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, during the former president Olusegun Obasanjo administration. He is also currently a member of the Atiku Policy Group, which lends credence to the rumour that his ambition has the backing of the former vice president.
2. Mr Debo Adesina – the Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian newspapers and renowned columnist, has not publicly announced that he is gunning for the Oyo State top seat, but he has indeed begun making consultations with top politicians in the state to drum up support for his ambition.
An associate of the journalist who prefers anonymity told our correspondent that he was approached by some politicians in the state who believe that he has the ability to lead the state.
“He did not trigger the ambition actually. Some politicians visited him in Lagos and proposed to him to consider becoming the next governor of the state. They are of the view that the state needs a politically neutral individual to be its next governor instead of those whose decisions will be politically motivated.
“After several meetings with the elders, he accepted their offers and he has since been consulting with those that matter in the politics of Oyo State. A the appropriate time, he will announce his decision to run for the seat,” said the associate.
Adesina who is from the Oke-Ogun area, hails from Okaka in the Itesiwaju Local Government Area of the sate. At a recent event in Lagos, where Adesina presented a paper on the Buhari administration, the economy and national polity, he displayed his understanding of good governance and what a state like Oyo needs to prosper and maintain its pacesetter status. It was a perfect platform for him to convince people that he truly understands what it takes to lead a state.
Adesina said that a state like Oyo that depends so much on allocation from the Federal Government will always struggle to pay workers’ salaries except it explores other areas of generating revenues. He identified agriculture as potential veritable source of revenue for the state.
He said, “Oyo can prosper if the people and the governments, at the state and local levels, do not go to sleep. There must be a strategic but massive investment by both the local and the state governments, not only in input but also in high-yielding products. If Thailand’s agriculture could enable it have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, about one per cent, there is hope for the people of states like Oyo.”
Adesina said Oyo had not taken advantage of its vast natural resources, making reference to the Ikere Gorge Dam in Iseyin that had been abandoned for many years.
Having distinguished himself as an efficient manager in the media industry, Adesina was appointed a Federal Commissioner in the Fiscal Responsibility Commission in 2008 by the late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, an appointment he soon gave up to return to his familiar terrain.
3. Raufu Olaniyan – among new entrants into the race is also a former chieftain of the Accord Party, who recently joined the APC. Olaniyan is alleged to be a major financier of the AP before defecting to the APC. He was received into the party by the state deputy governor, Moses Alake in his hometown of Igboho in the Oke-Ogun area of the state. Many people said the move was the first step in Olaniyan’s ambition to be the state governor.
4. Barr. Adebayo Shittu – a candidate that may trigger a major political tremor in the state is the current Minister of Communication. Shittu is an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari since their days at Congress for Progressive Change, and there is the allusion that the President might influence his emergence as the APC candidate in the state in 2019.
Shittu is not hiding his ambition to become the next governor of the state. The relationship between him and Governor Ajimobi is cold since the run-in to the party’s governorship primary in the state in 2015. He recently attacked the governor for not conducting council poll and for choosing only his ‘people’ as council chairmen in the state. It will be recalled that Ajimobi did not support or nominate Shittu to become a minister. In fact, Buhari ignored names sent to him by Ajimobi to pick Shittu as minister.
Shittu was a former governorship candidate in the state, running on the ticket of CPC. He lost the election with a wide margin. The manner with which he lost the election casts doubt on his candidacy, with some APC members saying that he would be a wrong candidate for the party in 2019.
“If APC remains a party by then, Shittu cannot be the party candidate. He won around 2000 votes when he last contested governorship election as CPC candidate in 2011. He is from Shaki but his people did not vote for him. What has changed between then and now? If Buhari uses his position to impose him on the party, the party will lose. There are stronger candidates around that are being chased by other political parties,” said one of the APC prominent members in the state,” an analyst who asked not be named, said.
Their Ibadan counterparts:
Among the biggest names in the governorship race is billionaire businessman, Seyi Makinde. The Ibadan indigene dumped the Peoples Democratic Party at the eve of the 2015 governorship election in the state and became the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party.
Although he lost the election, scoring just above 50,000 votes, he has refused to dump his ambition. Since the loss, he has established a political structure in all areas of the state, taking advantage of the fact that Ajimobi, Ladoja and Adebayo Alao-Akala will be retiring from the centre of Oyo State politics by 2019. He also has enough time and wealth to establish himself as a prominent candidate for the race.
A source from the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP in Ibadan claimed that Makinde had been chosen as the party candidate for the next governorship election in the state. He also claimed that major Ibadan socio-cultural organisations have endorsed him as the next governor of the state.
“The month of May will be a deciding factor for PDP because of the looming Supreme Court judgment. If Makarfi loses to Ali Modu Sheriff, there is the possibility that PDP will die because its governors and prominent members will form another party. Either Makarfi wins or loses, Makinde is favoured as the party flag bearer in the next governorship election.
“The political template being built centres around him in the state and that is why many of the PDP members in the state are now working hard to ensure he wins the election. They are using their political might to establish him in the minds of the people, and with what he is doing on his own, the chances are bright in his favour,” said the PDP source.
A deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Adebayo Adelabu, is touted to be favoured by Ajimobi to succeed him in 2019. But the major hindrance is that Adelabu has no political experience at any level. Apart from being a brilliant banker, Adelabu is a philanthropist and a grandson of the former leader of the opposition in the old Western Region House of Assembly, Adegoke Adelabu (penkelemesi), who was loved by his Ibadan people.
Culled From Punch: ‘Oke-Ogun people in Oyo stake claim for gov seat’