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Ogun: Still in the shackles of godfatherism and zoning

In spite of the stand of the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party on zoning, the controversial political arrangement still dominates politics in Ogun State, writes FRANCIS FALO

There have been agitations among the people of the Ogun West Senatorial District to govern Ogun State and succeed the incumbent Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, after the expiration of his two terms in 2011. The agitators have backed up their claims with their assertion that since the creation of Ogun State in 1979, nobody from the Ogun West Senatorial District has governed the state. Several efforts made during past political dispensations by people of the district which comprise Yewa and Awori to clinch the governorship position were abortive due to seemingly lack of unity and cohesiveness among the people in championing the course. The agitation was so rife that it got the backing of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Daniel. The agitation now has a slogan along, Yewa lo kan meaning it is the turn of the Yewa/Awori people.

Some of the key contestants from the area include the former Chief Executive of Gateway Holdings, Alhaji Gboyega Isiaka; the former ECOMOG Commander, Gen. Adetunji Idowu Olurin; Senator Kolawole Bajomo; a former executive accountant with Esson Mobil, Chief Kola Lawal; the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Kunle Salako, and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, Mr. Abiodun Akinlade.

But there are indications that the zone’s hope of producing a governor in 2011 may be dashed, as contestants from the other two senatorial districts have joined the race. Prominent among these contestants are Chief Olajide Awosedo, who is from the Ogun East Area of the state and Femi Majekodumi, from the Ogun Central.

The various court rulings that nullify the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti and Osun states have also sent a signal that only quality and widely acceptable candidate can guarantee the PDP victory in 2011.

There have been divergent views among aspirants. For example, Awosedo, in an interview with journalists said the era of “Baba so pe” meaning “Daddy has decreed this” in determining the political fate of contestants had gone. He faulted the zoning arrangement of the governorship position. He described zoning as an instrument of mediocrity.

According to him, “Zoning is an instrument of mediocrity. It has no merit all over the world. The United States of America was ruled in her first 100 years of independence by the North Americans and the people never complained.

“The PDP at the centre has said it clearly that there is no zoning and that all offices are open to all irrespective of tribes and religions. The same should apply to the region.”

He insisted that the fact that aspirants from other zones in the state have been expressing interest to contest the governorship position seat was an indication that the position had not been zoned to any area.

He described the PDP as a party that was interested in internal democracy, adding that the national chairman of the party had vowed that the party would not impose any candidate on the people.

Awosedo maintained that his love for the people endeared him into the governorship contest, if elected in 2011, he promised to ensure that the Ogun waterside is open up so as to have equal benefit with Lekki axis.

According to him, “Between Lekki axis and Ogun Waterside, you only need about 15 minutes to link up. Ogun waterside is crying for a road to link it up with Lekki axis and it will enjoy everything the Lekki axis is enjoying.”

He promised that the development of agriculture will be one of the major focuses of his administration, adding that developing agriculture will not only lead to industrialization but address the problem of youth unemployment.

The aspirant, while commenting on the nonpayment of allowances and pensions of retirees, described such act as a sin against God and humanity.

He promised to put a stop to such development when elected in 2011, adding that his campaign team had visited the grassroots in getting support towards winning the primaries at the forthcoming convention.

Majekodunmi who has also argued against the zoning arrangement maintained that at no time did the PDP’s leadership in the state take the decision that the governorship position should go to the Yewa/Awori people in 2011. He said the Yewa/Awori’s person had included in the present governorship position in the state.

Political differences among the Yewa/Awori as regards candidate to put forward for the position in 2011 may also be another major factor that can thwart whatever dream of the area producing the governor in 2011. A group of PDP elders in the area, the APEX Committee, had at a screening of about 11 aspirants from the Yewa/Awori extractions came up with Isiaka as a consensus candidate.

The development did not go down well many community leaders and some opinion leaders in the area, who see Olurin as a better candidate in terms of maturity, experience and exposure. The development has polarised the elite from the area.

Akinlade, in an interview with our correspondent, vowed not to subscribe to the decision of the elders which he stated was not in line with the majority of the people of the district. He vowed to pursue his ambition irrespective of whatever position the group had taken. Olurin was not part of those that attended the screening as there were indications that the former military administrator of Oyo and Ekiti states was being supported by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Another contestant, Kola Lawal, faulted the position of the elders. According to him, “It takes an agreement to breach an agreement. An agreement was earlier reached and if there is going to be another, I think the right thing is for us to be duly informed and unanimously agree on such.”

He disclosed that the earlier agreement reached was that three candidates would be selected from the area and presented to the governor out of which one will finally emerge. He expressed surprise at the decision of a section of the elders to come up with a candidate.

According to him, “I am not favourably disposed to the decision of the elders. The PDP elders have gone beyond their brief. What they told us is that they will pick three candidates out of which the governor and the state executive will picked one. I am not against the person pick as he is a friend but I believe the process of his emergence was faulty.”

One of the elders in the state from Ilaro in Yewaland, Dr. Samuel Ibikunle, urged the aspirants on the need to unite and ensure that the district does not lose the opportunity again. He appealed to all stakeholders in the area on the need to pacify all aggrieved aspirants before the election so that the zone can speak with one voice.

According to him, “This is a path we have travelled in the past and we failed as our people always disagreed and fail to reach agreement on a particular candidate. Except we unite and put our house together, I foresee another miss opportunity in the offing. I will like to appeal to our people not to miss this golden opportunity again. We should rally round whoever is chosen in as much as he is one of our sons in the district, in the interest of our people.”

But the national coordinator of the African Centre for Human Rights and Justice, Dr. Adeolu Adegbesan, while speaking on the issue of zoning, described zoning as detrimental to development. He added that zoning can create an avenue for mediocre to assume position of leadership.

He maintained that the position of the PDP leadership at the centre on the issue of zoning had rubbished whatever arrangements in the state on the issue.

But youths under the umbrella of Yewa/Awori People’s Parliament in Ogun State, have insisted on the adoption of Ogun West indigenes as governorship candidates of all parties.

At a meeting in Ilaro, the youths in a resolution signed by the Speaker, Chief Parliamentarian, Femi Dokunmu, appealed that leaders of political parties from the Ogun West Senatorial District to ensure the emergence of governorship flag-bearers amongst them.

– Punch

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Posted by on Jan 2 2011. Filed under Ogun, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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