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Ogun West’s quest for power shift

Ogun West’s quest for power shift %Post Title

Different shades of opinion have been expressed by various stakeholders about the imperative of power shift to Ogun West Senatorial District after the successful completion of the second tenure of Governor Dapo Abiodun.

For crying out loud, the clamour is not a misplaced demand. Every section of the state is an equal stakeholder in our development project either politically or economically. So, no part is superior or subservient to the other. As Yoruba elders will say, “Aro meta kii da obe nu”. It’s like a tripod, no one single part can stand alone without the support of the other. And in any way, it is not by accident that we are made to be together as a people. It’s by divine providence that we have co-existed together as a united family for over four decades. Yes, there may be a few nuances in our dialects owing to the accident of geography, differences in our historical antecedents affecting the way and manner we pursue our different goals in life. By and large, we are one and the same people.  Our goals and aspiration are the same which is to make the state an envy of others.

In the process of that realization, one or two sections might have been fortunate enough to be in the front lead. But that does not make others less significant in their place as stakeholders.  Therefore, it is on this premise that one will expect every concerned individual in the power game to see the ongoing agitation as a legitimate quest by the people of Yewa/Awori to have a taste of power 43 years after the creation of the state. The agitation is a rightful way of showing that things are not working in favour of a section of the state. So, the hues and cries about power shift are only meant to call the attention of the state establishment to the fact that there is no fairness in the existing power sharing arrangement and there is a need but for some concessions.

The time for all and sundry to key into that concession in pursuit of our ultimate goal of building a prosperous state under a new threshold of good governance already established by Governor Abiodun is now. There is nothing to lose if everybody embraces the power shift agitation and supports it. Instead, we have everything to gain because Yewa/Awori people have more than enough supply of competent persons who can build on the achievements of the present administration. In all fields of human endeavours, there are countless number of successful men and women who have made their mark in their chosen careers in politics, in business, in academics, and other numerous professional callings. Putting forth any aspiring individuals among this array of stars will enhance our sense of collective responsibility and douse the present perceived sense of alienation which some past leaders have foisted on us by concentrating power in some particular sections of the state at the expense of other zones. What is fair is good but not all that is good is fair.

All Yewa/Awori people are asking for in their quest for power shift is fairness, equity and justice. And by so doing, they are not taking it for granted that power will fall on their laps or that other zones do not have the right to aspire when the time comes. In a democracy, the freedom to vote and be voted for is an inalienable right of every citizen. However, we must all agree that Ogun West has been unjustly shortchanged in the scheme of things and fairness and justice demand that a compromise is reached to allay the perceived fear of domination.

We can no longer pretend that all is well with the present power sharing arrangement that puts a section of the state in a permanent disadvantage. The peace-loving people of Ogun West are not happy that they are holding the short end of the stick. And they deserve a better deal to heal the wound of the past. The right time to effect a change of the unjust system that skewed every opportunity in favour of some particular sections of the state is now. Throughout human history, the external principle that sustains the foundation of peaceful co-existence is justice and fairness.

Unfortunately, some of the past leaders who had ruled the state have been so selfish in their quest for power, manipulating the sharing formula in favour of their own side alone while others have been kept in perpetual waiting game for a promise of change that may never come unless we alter the existing unfair arrangement.

The bitter truth is that the intrigue that has sustained the present arrangement is not sustainable.  A lot of sentiments have been running in recent times over political debate on power rotation in the state. First, we need to go back to the basis. To start with, the 1999 Constitution recognises the three senatorial districts as equal. And interestingly, each of the sub-ethnic groups that formed the tripod upon which the state is built occupies a contiguous territory delineated as senatorial districts.  These are Abeokuta (Ogun Central), Ijebu/Remo (East) and Yewa/Awori (West). So, power should be rotated among them for equity.

But there is this weird prejudice that since each of these blocs was created from Abeokuta and Ijebu provinces and not from divisions that recognise Egbado Province, as Yewa people are being called, power should be rotated between the two provinces. Largely, that has been the sentiment that rightly or wrongly confers the right to produce the governor on some people as their exclusive prerogative.

It is, indeed, a sad irony that since 1979 when the state was created, power has been rotating between Ogun East and Ogun Central based on this perceived prejudice that has no basis in our constitution. For the record, in 1979, Chief Olabisi Onabanjo from Ijebu province governed the state. In 1993 and 1999, Olusegun Osoba from Egba province came to the scene as governor. It didn’t end there.  At the advent of the present political dispensation in 1999, again power returned to Ijebu province in 2003 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with Otunba Gbenga Daniel from Remo emerging as the governor.

 In 2011, when it was expected that the state establishment would concede power to Yewa/Awori, they reneged and fielded Senator Ibikunle Amosun from Owu in Abeokuta to take the slot. Consistently, Egba and Ijebu divisions have shortchanged and marginalised Yewa/Awori by voting for governorship candidates.

So entrenched has the unbalanced power sharing arrangement has become that one particular governorship candidate from Ijebu was one time quoted as saying at a debate organised by BBC Yoruba Service that “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.”

By such an unfair arrangement, the powers that be have technically submerged Yewa/Awori people into the Egba political objective. Therefore, the onus is on the people of Ogun West to rally round a credible candidate in the next dispensation to break the jinx of not producing a governor for 43 years.

In 2019, Ogun West had an unfortunate coincidence of fielding two candidates- Akinlade and Isiaka but the attempt failed because Akinlade was wrongly foisted on the people by former governor Ibikunle Amosun, while a few power elites in the zone threw their weight behind Gboyega Nasir Isiaka against Prince Dapo Abiodun. In the final analysis, Abiodun emerged victorious polling 241,670 votes, followed by Akinlade, who scored 222,153, and Isiaka came third with 110,422 votes.

Amosun’s ambition for 2023 was the primary reason he propped up Akinlade and resorted to some anti-party activities that led to his suspension in the run up to the 2019 general elections. He failed like his immediate predecessor, Daniel, did because he was running a one-man show. He refused to carry along prominent leaders like Aremo Olusegun Osoba. While searching for a successor, he brought intrigues into the process, playing upon the intelligence of the leaders of the party. First, he mulled the idea of handing over to a youngster, Olalekan Olude, from Imasai (Ogun West) but met the resistance of the leaders of thought, elders and traditional rulers who vehemently kicked against the process without their input.

In a desperate bid to get out of the quagmire, he threw the slot open and called for applications from interested candidates of Yewa-Awori extraction. Among those that signified interest included Engr Tope Kuyebi, Chief Tolu Odebiyi (now Senator), Hon Adekunle Abdulkabir Akinlade (aka Triple A) and others. But at the end of the day, after much camaraderie, the lot fell on Hon Adekunle Abdulkabir Akinlade, his favoured candidate.

Amidst the growing discontent within the rank and file of the party, Prince Dapo Abiodun from Ogun East emerged from Ogun East with the strong support of the National leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (now President), Aremo Olusegun Osoba, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), some state governors and others.

Out of the ensuing frustration and widespread disaffection among the APC camp, Amosun took a detour and floated another platform, Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and gave the governorship ticket to his anointed son, Akinlade, while Dapo Abiodun flew the APC flag. Not unexpectedly, Abiodun won the governorship election with a landslide. Yet, he (Amosun) refused to accept the defeat of his anointed son. Instead, he spent a great deal of time shuttling between Abeokuta and Abuja to seek the intervention of former President Muhammadu Buhari for possible reversal of the election of Prince Dapo Abiodun but all to naught. He also deployed legal team for a prolonged litigation up to the apex court (Supreme Court) to upturn the emergence of Abiodun. He equally failed.

All these followed the height of rascality that culminated in the ensuing crisis that led to the hurling of sachets of pure water and other missiles at Mr. President, PMB, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbeni Aregbesola, Adams Oshiomhole,  Ambode and a host of others at the flag-off of the governorship campaign and handing over of the APC governorship flag to Prince Abiodun on February 11, 2019.

In retrospect, that was part of the intrigues that made Yewa-Awori people to lose the opportunity to produce the governor due to the insincerity of purpose of the state gladiators.

Over the years, the people of Yewa/Awori have been complaining of marginalization by the past successive governments but nobody cares to listen to their genuine demand. To assuage their feeling of alienation, therefore, there is a need for collective resolution of the stakeholders to support the aspiration of Yewa/Awori people to produce the next governor after the successful expiration of the tenure of the incumbent Governor Dapo Abiodun.

Secondly, Ogun West has been always been short-changed in the scheme of things. These are not mere coincidence or lack of competent manpower. Ogun West has more than enough supply of finest human resource the state can boast of. In their own way, Yewa/Awori people have sons and daughters who have distinguished themselves in different areas of human endeavours. It will be of immense benefits particularly for the sustenance of mutual trust if power can be conceded to the zone in the next dispensation. (The Nation)

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