As the march towards the 2019 general elections gathers momentum, the Yewa-Awori people in Ogun West senatorial district are set to break the over 40-year jinx of not producing a governor of the Gateway State. Now, they are united in their support for one of their own, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, popularly known as GNI, the governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Congress (ADC), writes FEMI OYEWESO
Since the affirmation of the candidature of Prince Dapo Abiodun as Ogun State gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) and the subsequent submission of his name to the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), one particular topic that has dominated public discourse in the state is wether the Yewa-Awori governorship agenda will ever come to fruition.
Be it in marketplaces, religious worship centers, public drinking and relaxation centers, garages or even newspapers stands, arguments have always centered around the alleged political injustice done to the Yewa – Awori people over their age long agitation to govern the state.
Again, the ripples generated by the failure of Hon Abdul-Kabir Adekunle Akinlade to clinch the governorship ticket of the APC has also not gone unnoticed, moreso that candidates produced at the parallel primaries conducted by the other leading political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Ladi Adebutu and Leke Shittu are still not sure of their fates, as the intractable crisis within that party is threatening their ambitions.
But since the Yewa-Awori governorship agenda earlier championed by the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, in the candidature of Hon. Akinlade has hit the rocks in the rulling APC, all other known agitation champions from Ogun West senatorial zone however, appeared to have queued behind the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, popularly called GNI.
This is notwithstanding the botched attempt at compensating the Yewa-Awori people with deputy governorship seat, hitherto given to a three-term member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Isiaq Abiodun Akinlade, which would have ordinarily assuaged these people.
But only last Thursday, Hon. Akintade’s hope of becoming a deputy governor to Abiodun of the APC seemed to have been dashed as latest reports emanating from the APC state secretariat indicated that his name has been substituted with that of another Egba politician from Ogun Central senatorial district, Chief Bode Mustapha.
But prior to his being substituted, the Yewa-Awori people had accused the highly respected politician of mortgaging his principles and the political fortunes of his people in Yewaland to pick the crumbs by his earlier acceptance to deputise Abiodun in the APC.
These Yewa-Awori people were also of the conviction that Jon. Akinlade was aligning with “enemies” of the zone for his own personal aggrandizement.
But stripping him of that deputyship position now however, appeared to have cleared the coast for the only surviving son of Yewaland in the Ogun governorship race, Isiaka.
Following this development, Isiaka however, appeared to be on the verge of keeping a date with destiny, following a hitch free gubernatorial primary election conducted by the Ogun State ADC, which produced him as the party’s sole candidate for the position.
Yewa – Awori Age-Long Agitation To Govern Ogun
Dating back to the administration of late Chief Bisi Onabanjo in 1979, the age-long agitation for governorship of the Gateway State by the Yewa-Awori people of Ogun West senatorial district has been futile.
In 2002, there was an attempt by the then Chief Tayo Sowunmi faction of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, to field an Ilaro-born Engineer Femi Tetede, which also failed.
But in the twilight of the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel in 2011, another attempt was also made to install a Yewa-Awori man as the governor of the state.
The then ruling PDP had all it takes to redress what has over the years been labelled injustice against the zone. That was the first time Isiaka’s name became a household name within Ogun political juggernauts as well as the electorates.
But that was also not to be as the internal wrangling within the then ruling PDP pitched the then incumbent Governor Daniel, who was rooting for Isiaka as his successor against the preferred candidate of the then outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo, who queued behind Gen. Adetunji Idowu Olurin as his own candidate.
The disagreement within the PDP then eventually robbed the Yewa – Awori people of the their best opportunity to realise their ambition.
Observers and analysts of events in Ogun State politics have always cited internal conflicts among contenders, disunity among communities, inability to speak with one voice as well as disruptive influences of external political powers, particularly between Obasanjo and Daniel as some of the factors which have over the years, robbed the Yewa – Awori people of their near successes.
and even now, as another attempt is being made as the state moves towards the 2019 general elections, the same factors also came to play, when multiple contenders threw their hats into the ring to take a shot at the plum seat. These included Isiaka and other plethora of aspirants on the platform of the APC: Amosun’s favourite, Hon. Akinlade, the senator representing Lagos West at the Senate, Olamilekan Adeola, also known as Yayi (before rerurning to Lagos) as well as Abayomi Hunye, all of are from the Yewa -Awori stock.
The disqualification of Amosun’s candidate, Akinlade, as well as the withdrawal of Senator Adeola however, seemed to have drummed senses unto the elders and leaders of the zone, who now agreed to settle for Isiaka.
Why Isiaka Is Favoured
One of the major factors in Isiaka’s favour is the unabated crisis rocking the two major parties in the state: the APC and the PDP. This is just as he is gradually emerging as the potential candidate to reap from the parties’ civil wars.
He has come into the political space in Ogun with virtually more brand popularity and electioneering experience.
Having aspired without success to be governor of the Gateway State on two consecutive occasions in 2011 and 2015, Isiaka’s candidature appeared to have garnered momentum over the years and that has further endeared him to the hearts of the Ogun electorate.
Isiaka is viewed by many as an experienced politician, who have undergone some tutelage under the Otunba Daniel-led administration.
Since Akinlade had lost out, several members of the political camp of the incumbent Governor Amosun are already feeling at home working for Isiaka’s success, especially against the backdrop of the body language of their principal, who has allegedly instructed his followers to defect to the ADC sometimes ago.
For example on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, Amosun at a meeting, told leaders from across the five local government areas that make up the Yewa-Awori zone that he would not mind handing over to Isiaka.
That was at a time Senator Adeola’s political consultation across the state was gathering momentum.
Amosun had then described Adeola as a “foreigner” who has no blood affiliation with the state. Speaking at the meeting, Amosun emphatically declared that he would not mind supporting Isiaka to succeed him in office.
Reacting to the endorsement of Adeola then by Ogun West Consultative Forum, Amosun said he will not handover to ‘Atohunrinwa’ in 2019.
He said, “I am not God, we are human. Where we are today, its God’s doing. When you see GNI, do you see him going round to take pictures with traditional rulers anyhow? One of your sons or daughters will be governor.”
Also, on Saturday August 4, during the funeral ceremony of a former Secretary to the State Government, Elder Poju Adeyemi, in Aiyetoro, Yewa North Local Government Area, former President Obasanjo charged Amosun on the Yewa-Awori governorship agenda.
Onabanjo had told Amosun, “I am going to support a credible governorship candidate from Ogun West senatorial district. So I want to appeal to you to look inward and produce a credible candidate, who is tested and trusted and will deliver for the betterment of the state.”
And having exposed his mindset on the candidature of Isiaka earlier, observers are of the views that Amosun’s supporters may cast their votes for the ADC governorship candidate in 2019.
Meanwhile, Isiaka continues to receive accolades from the nickname cranny of the state, with the latest being an open endorsement by the Yewa-Awori Traditional Council, which declared him as the “perfect candidate” to actualise the age-long aspiration of Ogun West senatorial district at producing an Ogun governor after 42 years of the creation of Ogun State in 1976.
Many have argued that Isiaka’s endorsement by the Yewa monarchs was as a result of his perseverance after two failed attempts. They are of also of the view that he could have drawn inspiration from President Muhammadu Buhari’s historic political struggles, which paid off the fourth time he contested presidential election in the country. Again, the prevailing political situation in Ogun may also have accounted for why his candidature is soaring higher, not minding the fact that ADC is completely a new platform.
LEADERSHIP however, gathered that Obasanjo’s endorsement of a Yewa-Awori candidate, coupled with the failure of Amosun’s candidate to emerge may have been what propelled the Yewa monarchs to declare their supports for Isiaka.
At the even where the Yewa monarchs endorsed Isiaka, the Yewa Obas, for over five hours (in a manner never done before), all took their turn to bless the ADC guber candidate, proclaiming him “Ogun West consensus candidate by divine providence.”
Speaking, the Olu of Ilaro and paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, was quick to add that the Yewa Traditional Council was not attempting to bestow a sectional government on the state, buth rather presenting the state with a credible governorship candidate, who would ensure equitable distribution of resources.
Pronouncing royal blessings on Isiaka, Oba Olugbenle said, “Ogun State belongs to everybody. I believe strongly that if Taye deserves something, definitely Kehinde must also get the same. Let your judgement be the people’s judgement. Let the people reckon with you.
“When the history of Yewa and Awori land will be written, the names of Chief Obasanjo and Senator Amosun would not be forgotten. Both of them have played crucial roles in the emergence of an Ogun West governor.
“Definitely, the hand of God is present in this political move. I believe that one day, one of my sons will emerge governor of Ogun State. I also strongly believe that that day is today.
“GNI, you are the consensus Yewa-Awori candidate by divine providence, because it is God that made this happen. My prayer is that by the time you are finishing your term, Ogun people will be saying, why have Ogun West not given us this type of son for long.”
LEADERSHIP however, observed that Isiaka’s candidature cut across the three senatorial districts of the state.
For example, from Ogun Central senatorial district were political bigwigs such as the former military administrator of the state, who also doubles as the chairman of Ogun Central Gen. Ekundayo Opaleye (rtd.), actor, media personality, Yemi Sodimu, Asiwaju Anthony Ojesina as well as Bashorun Nuru Olaleye, among others, who have pitched their tents with Isiaka.
Gen. Opaleye in his comment emphasised that “we have huge confidence in GNI’s candidacy and we, the Egbas, are solidly behind him. I therefore implore Ogun West to rally round Isiaka.”
Also from the East senatorial district was an industrialist, Chief Femi Adebanjo, who noted that “they will beg GNI to go for a second term, because his level of good governance would be unprecedented.”
He added, “When Ogun becomes an oil producing state, we would become wealthy. GNI initiated this project under the Otunba Daniel administration, but it didn’t see the light of the day after that administration ended.”
Meanwhile, sources within the Ogun State chapter of the PDP confided in LEADERSHIP that all members of the political structure of the former governor of the state, Otunba Daniel are favourably disposed towards working for Isiaka, who originally was a product and member of the OGD political family.
Analysts and observers of events in the Gateway State have however, maintained that wether the Yewa – Awori people of Ogun West senatorial district would speak in one voice and realise their ambitions this time around, only time will tell.