Political leaders from Ikorodu and Epe divisions in Lagos State have flagged off campaigns to produce the candidate who will fill the Lagos East Senatorial seat, made vacant by Senator Bayo Osinowo’s demise, reports ‘DARE ODUFOWOKAN, Assistant Editor
Political leaders and other stakeholders in Ikorodu division in the eastern part of Lagos State are making a bold play for the senate seat left vacant by the death of Senator Bayo Osinowo.
Lagos East, made up of Ikorodu, Epe, Somolu, Kosofe and Ibeju-Leki areas, is a stronghold of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and an indigene of Ikorodu hasn’t been elected to the senate seat in almost two decades.
Today, the people of the division are hoping to produce the next senator of the district following Senator Osinowo’s death. The late Senator, according to party sources, got massive votes from Ikorodu during the last senatorial election.
The race is shaping up to be a strong contest between Ikorodu and Epe divisions as political leaders from both areas are determined to convince the party and its leaders to look their way. Epe, which produced Osinowo’s predecessor, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, has a number of their sons being touted as interested in the race.
But party faithful in Ikorodu are not deterred as they believe they have what it takes to get the nod of the party and its leaders in the race for the APC ticket. Findings by The Nation revealed that the division is also not lacking in willing aspirants for the plum job. As at the last count, not less than three notable chieftains of the party have openly signified interest in contesting for the senate ticket.
With the death of Senator Osinowo, who is a well-respected party leader in the state and a reliable enforcer of the party’s interest in the National Assembly, a vacuum has been created and party sources told The Nation that the leadership is interested in the replacement of the late Pepperito, as Osinowo was fondly called while alive.
According to a state official of the party, “the Lagos East senate is of great interest to all of us in Lagos. The party will ensure that only a devoted party man and a committed, schooled democrat replaces Senator Osinowo who worked tirelessly in the interest of the party and the people while alive.
Their hats in the ring
From Ikorodu division, chieftains of the ruling party said to be eyeing the senate seat vacated by the late Senator Osinowo include Asipa Kaoli Olusanya, a former two-term Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Otunba Ganiu Olusegun Abiru, former Clerk of the Lagos State House of Assembly and Hon. Sunmi Odesanya, a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Aside these three, there are also others whose names are being mentioned but are yet to openly declare their interests in the race. They include Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Hon. Jimi Benson and Primate Charles Odugbesi.
It is not only within the ruling APC that Ikorodu boasts of capable hands as the race for the senatorial seat hots up. The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the division too is not left out of the clamour for the division to produce Senator Osinowo’s replacement.
Femi Adinlewa, a chieftain of the PDP in Ikorodu, said his party is prepared to defeat the candidate of the ruling party at the bye election. According to him, “the people of Lagos East are now ready to give PDP a chance following the disappointment they suffered in the hands of APC.”
While Dabiri-Erewa and Odugbesi had, at some points, denied interest in the senatorial contest, citing personal reasons, Benson had neither denied nor confirmed his desire to slug it out with others for the APC ticket ahead of the senatorial bye-election to fill the vacant seat occasioned by the death of Senator Osinowo.
His silence is being interpreted in some quarters as sign that he is probably still consulting on the matter. Surprisingly, not even the denials of Dabiri-Erewa and Odugbesi had doused the agitation for their candidature by their supporters across the division.
The former Commissioner for Agriculture, Lagos State and founder, Kith and Kin Educational College, Ibeshe, Ikorodu, Asipa Kaoli Olusanya, is currently the Vice Chairman of the ruling APC in Lagos State.
A reputable educationist and respected politician, he served for eight years as commissioner in the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu between 1999 and 2007.
His supporters say his stint in the agriculture ministry remains one of the best in the history of the state. Kaoli aspired for the governorship of Lagos State in 2007.
Within and outside Ikorodu, his Kith and Kin Foundation is reputed for offering helping hands to indigent, especially orphans, widows and other vulnerable people.
For those rooting for his candidature, Asipa Kaoli is one man with wide spread political network across the senatorial district and as such, it will not be difficult for him to garner the much needed support outside his Ikorodu base.
“As someone who once contested for the governorship ticket of the party with all seriousness but had to step down for the eventual winner, you will agree with me he has the much needed network beyond Ikorodu,” Abiodun Balogun, an ardent supporter, said.
Reports have it that Kaoli enjoys the support of Senator Osinowo’s political family as well as that of the majority of elected and appointed political office holders in the senatorial district.
This should not come as a surprise given his closeness to the late Osinowo and his position as the Vice Chairman of the party representing the same senatorial district in question.
Born abroad to Ikorodu parents, Babatunde returned to Nigeria in 2007. Same year, he joined the PDP in Lagos State and joined others to work for the candidacy of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro who was then the party’s flag-bearer for the governorship of Lagos State. He contested for the party’s nomination to run as candidate for Governor of Lagos State in 2011 and again in 2015.
He joined the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in 2017, and won the party’s primary election in October 2018. He was the ADP candidate in the 2019 Lagos State gubernatorial election. His supporters say he is politically experienced enough to lead the PDP to victory if given the party’s ticket.
Ganiyu Olusegun Abiru was the Clerk of the Lagos State House of Assembly until his retirement on 6th August after about 34 years in service.
He is reputed to have brought a lot of innovations to the administrative machinery of the Organisation which till date makes it the cynosure of other legislative Assemblies in Nigeria.
His supporters say he has proved himself to be a pragmatic and astute administrator of note. It is for this they want him to be given the chance to go to the senate and represent Lagos East District.
Youthful Sunmi Odesanya is a legal practitioner who served as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly between 2003 and 2007.
He lost his bid for a return to the Assembly during the 2007 general elections. He went on to serve as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly Commission.
Not much has been heard of him politically since his exit from the House in 2007 but his supporters describe him as a grassroots politician with widespread appeal among the younger generations. (The Nation)