Sikiru Obarayese: Ogun 2023, the west and intensified agitation for fairness, equity

Since the creation of Ogun State on the 3rd of February, 1976, from the defunct Western State, by the Military junta led by the late Murtala Mohammed, power distribution and sharing among the three socio-cultural components in the state have been imbalanced against the people of the West, comprising majorly the Yewa, Awori, Egun and other clusters.

The chronicle of political epochs in the Gateway State, specifically democratic administrations indicates power-sharing arithmetic continually domiciled between the East and the Central and perpetually putting the West at bay in the status of second fiddle.

While genuine concerns and efforts of critical political stakeholders in the state and beyond have resulted in various moves towards changing the narrative on the grounds of fairness and equity, several factors within the zone and from outside has prevented it from coming to fruition.

Despite the quality and quantity of human resources from Ogun West and the strategic location of the zone, absence of clarity of purpose and cohesion among the people have been identified by critical stakeholders as militating factors against an array of efforts to balance the political equation in the state to the advantage of the West.

There are indications that leading political players, traditional rulers and thought leaders in the State, especially from the other two Senatorial Districts are being disturbed by the seeming political inequality and injustice against Ogun West.

For instance, the Awujale of Ijebu land, Oba Sikiru Adetona, in the count down to the first dispensation of the fourth republic in 1999 vociferously canvassed for a consensus candidate from Ogun West as governorship candidate, to balance the political equation in the State, after Chief Olabisi Onabanjo from the East in the second republic and Aremo Olusegun Osoba from the Central in the aborted third republic.

However, no matter the degree of political sympathy and solidarity Ogun West enjoys from other zones and individuals with political influence across the state, there is still an urgent need for internal resolve among the people of the zone to have a common front towards achieving their goal.

Since politics is all about negotiation through constant consultation and pragmatic engagement, what should be the necessary and urgent next line of action for political gladiators in the Senatorial District now is to commence genuine negotiation and robust consultation within the zone for formidable consensus and further engagement across the state.

Strictly speaking, comprehensive analysis and empirical investigation of events have shown a downward trend in the political debacle in the zone, with the last gubernatorial election of 2019, which indeed signalled hope of imminent accomplishment for Ogun West.

For instance, in 2011, two candidates from Ogun West, namely: Gboyega Nasir Isiaka and General Olurin contested for the governorship seat in the state, in which Olurin came second, losing the election to Ibikunle Amosun with a margin of 188,000 votes.

Again in 2015, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka and Senator Odunsi, both from the West vied to become governor, eventually, Isiaka lost to Ibikunle Amosun with 100,000 votes.

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The 2019 election, where Gboyega Isiaka contested again alongside Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, also from Ogun West was a watershed in the political history of the zone, Akinlade, running on a relatively new political party lost the election by a whisker with a tiny margin of 19,000 votes to the incumbent governor, Dapo Abiodun.

The above chronological index of the election cycle in the state clearly indicates a downward trend in the degree of loss against candidates from Ogun West, as a result of increased political engagement across the state and the strength of personalities involved. Regrettably, the vicious circle of electoral loss continued due to a lack of internal strategy of negotiation and consultation to reach a formidable consensus.

Going forward, therefore, the recent political reality in the state has necessitated a conscious rethink and renewed strategy among political gladiators in Ogun West.

So, from all indications and in line with the present political permutation in the state, all eyes and attention are in the direction of the last man from the West, Hon. Adekunle Akilande, who sprang a surprise in the political space and enjoyed the blessings of a leading political juggernaut in the state.

Recall that the former Governor of the State and the Senator representing Ogun Central Senatorial District, Ibikunle Amosun, threw his weight behind the candidacy of Hon. Adekunle Akilande, who eventually contested on the platform of Allied People Movement, APM, after alleging gross malpractices in the primary election that produced the incumbent, Governor Dapo Abiodun.

Akinlade, surprisingly, despite the newness of the party on which platform he contested lost to Abiodun with just 19,000 votes.

He later left APM to rejoin the All Progressives Congress, APC, after the election alongside all his supporters.

Interestingly, the controversy about the faction in the hold of the jugular of APC in the state is now at the front burner of political discourse in the Gateway State.

A list recently trending on different social media platforms, said to have been leaked from the National Headquarters of the APC, carries the name from Amosun’s camp, Chief Derin Adebiyi, as the recognised State Chairman of APC in the State, the claim Dapo Abiodun’s camp has since dismissed as false and fallacious.

While the newly set up Reconciliation Committee of the party, headed by the former Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Adamu, was in the state recently to ameliorate the tense situation, nothing has been seen so far as a sign of genuine reconciliation and peace.

As the 2023 gubernatorial election draws near with two factions of APC locking horns in the State and one standing with the incumbent, Prince Dapo Abiodun from the East and another with Adekunle Akilande from the West, the salient question running in the minds of many pundits in the state is,” Would fairness and equity ever be considered in power-sharing in Ogun State.

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