In this piece, Folake Aderounmu examines the agitation of Oke Ogun in Oyo State for power shift in 2019.
The politics of the 2019 governorship race in Oyo State began to take shape on July 07 when the people of Oke Ogun addressed a press conference to stake a claim to the governorship of the state come 2019.
It was a colourful event as men and women, regale in traditional outfits, filed into the Dapo Aderogba Hall of the NUJ Press Centre, Ibadan, to address the press. The National President of the Oke Ogun Development Consultative Forum, Dr Segun Ajuwon addressed the press. Although a medical doctor and former Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Abuja, Ajuwon’s working in the company of politicians had obviously rubbed off him given the dexterity with which he presented the case of his people. Ajuwon had worked as Personal physician to former President Olusegun Obasanjo throughout the latter’s tenure as President between 1999 and 2003.Ajuwon was in the news lately when Obasanjo disclosed that he was the medical doctor who saved him from being poisoned by General Sani Abacha while he was incarcerated in Yola Prison. He has worked with personalities at a very high level of government and he knows the facts about the marginalization of the Oke-Ogun people through the years.
Ajuwon, leading the cream of leaders from the Oke Ogun area of the state, explained that the people from the area are staking a claim to the governorship of the state because they have been marginalised in the occupation of the number one position in the state. History bears him witness. Since the creation of Oyo State in 1991, no indigene of Oke Ogun had been governor of the state. This is in contrast to Ibadan which had produced many governors of the state. In 1992, Chief Kolapo Isola was elected the governor of Oyo State on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) though the government was truncated in 1994 when General Sani Abacha sacked democratic institutions at the height of the June 12, 1993 crisis. When the nation returned to democracy in 1999, another son of Ibadan in the person of Alhaji Lam Adesina was elected governor on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD). Yet again, in 2003, another Ibadan son, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, was elected governor of Oyo State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Ladoja’s tenure was crisis- ridden and he was eventually impeached and replaced by Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala. Akala was removed after 11 months when the Supreme Court ruled that Ladoja was wrongfully impeached. Akala, with the support of the Obasanjo Presidency won his way back to power in 2007 on the platform of the PDP. His tenure as governor had been widely attributed to providence because of the minority status of the Ogbomosho area where he comes from. If anyone disagreed, this interpretation of history was confirmed in 2011 when Akala, the incumbent lost his re-election bid to Senator Abiola Ajimobi, an Ibadan indigene, who contested on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN). Ajimobi, like other indigenes of Ibadan, leveraged on the majority votes locked up in Ibadan. Ibadan singularly controls over 50 per cent of the votes in Oyo State. This contrasts with Oke Ogun that has 21 per cent, Ogbomosho 15 per cent, Oyo 8 per cent and Ibarapa 3 per cent. It is for this mathematics of politics that except for Akala, whose ascendancy to the governorship was predicated on the impeachment of Ladoja, no other part of the state except Ibadan has produced the governor of the state. And, according to Ajuwon, political fair-play necessitates that the zone next to Ibadan in electoral strength should be allowed to occupy the governorship position in 2019.
Ajuwon also discussed the implications of the absence of Oke Ogun indigenes at the helm of affairs in the state and the paucity of infrastructural development projects in the zone. This, according to him, includes the absence of state and federal institutions that could hasten the socio-economic development of the state. In his words,” the roads linking us to the state capital are all very bad and have remained so forever, I dare say. We do not have a single federal institution except for the Nigeria Police and a few other uniformed law enforcement agencies whose presence is to collect taxes and other revenues without any compensation in the form of derivation as other sections of the country that are earning resources for government through Oil and Gas. This is despite the equally huge returns from Customs, Duties and taxes daily accruing from Oke Ogun that habours extensive stretch of the nation’s international borders. We are also lacking in federal schools, hospitals or establishments. The absence of government presence has come with great deprivation for us as a people. It is therefore fair and equitable for us to be given the chance to produce the Chief Executive of the state.
He explained that it is for this marginalisation and the consequence that the people of Oke Ogun feel it is time for them to produce the governor. “We believe as the people of Oke Ogun that the time has come to ask for and to get this coveted position of the Executive Governors of our dear state. There are reasons to justify this clamour for power shift to Oke Ogun. We are a people located strategically in 10 out of the 33 Local Government Areas of the State”. Ajuwon exhibited his understanding of politics in a democratic setting when he volunteered that the people of Oke Ogun are going to work for the understanding and support of other parts of the state in their quest to produce the governor of the state. “We, as a people, however duly acknowledge that we certainly cannot win the governorship by ourselves in Oke Ogun as the incumbent Executive Governor of the State, our dear friend and brother, HE Sen. Ishaq Abiola Ajimobi, has counselled. We are therefore soliciting for the understanding and support of our dear compatriots in Ibadan, Oyo, Ogbomosho and Ibarapa. We urge you all to join hands with us in this quest and push. Democracy is a game of numbers. We need as many friends as we can get to accomplish this goal”.
Ajuwon explained that the Oke Ogun agitation is a replay of the Nigerian history wherein the northern part of the country conceded the presidency to the southern part in 1999, despite the superior electoral strength of the north. The argument is that the Ibadans should show understanding to promote equity and fairness in the state. The agitation for a governor of Oke Ogun extraction has received a boost lately when Governor Ajimobi again and again announces his preference for a governor from the area. His position has widely been seen as principled and has won him respect and applause not only in Oke Ogun but across the state.
As Ajuwon and the leaders of Oke- Ogun are clamouring for a shot at the number one seat in Oyo State, some indigenes of Oke Ogun area already in the field mobilising support for their gubernatorial ambitions They include the Minister for Communication, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu, former Chief of Staff to Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Professor Adeolu Akande, the Editor in Chief of Guardian Newspapers, Mr Debo Adesina and a former Permanent Secretary in the state, Engr. Remi Olaniyan. The months ahead will tell whether the Oke Ogun will get the governorship this time around. What is however certain for now is that the elite and people of the zone are fully braced for the challenge of a shot to occupy the Agodi Government House come 2019.