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2015: Agitation For Gov In Ikorodu

By The Rainbow

The race for the 2015 governorship election in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, is beginning to gather momentum with several prominent politicians indicating interest to vie for the position to replace Governor Babatunde Fashola after the expiration of his tenure. With a population of over 20 million and five administrative divisions, Lagos is dubbed a mini-Nigeria.

Out of the five administrative divisions of the state-Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos Island and Epe, only Ikorodu and Badagry have not produced a governor in Lagos State since its creation. Ikeja Division produced the state's civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande between 1979 and 1983 as well as its third civilian governor, Sen. Bola Tinubu between 1999 and 2007. Also,  Epe Division  produced the state's second civilian governor, Sir Michael Otedola, who ruled between January 1992 and November 1993.

In 2007, Fashola emerged as governor under the ticket of Lagos Island Division. By this permutation of the five administrative divisions in the state, only indigenes of Ikorodu and Badagry have not democratically governed Lagos State since the Second Republic in 1979, thereby necessitating Ikorodu's agitation for governorship candidacy. party chieftains, elders and traditional rulers in Ikorodu Division are now lobbying the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other parties to produce the successor of Fashola.

The agitation by the Ikorodu Division to produce Fashola's successor has been gaining support statewide and at the grassroots. Already, a number of community-based pressure groups from the division have started networking with the APC and other political parties to pick a credible candidate for the position.

The major groups that are championing Ikorodu's agitation for governorship candidacy in 2015 include Ikorodu Division Solution Alliance (IDSA), Eminent Persons of Ikorodu Division (EPID) as well as Ikorodu Division Resource Group (IDRG), among others. Each of the groups has been working at different levels to actualise the division's dream to produce the next governor of the state.

On 12 June, 2014, the IDSA held  a rally in Ikorodu to drum support for an Ikorodu indigene to become governor next year.  An IDSA leader, Said Ibikunle lamented that the Ikorodu division had been excluded from producing the governor of Lagos for too long.

For the 2015 contest, APC, the ruling party in the state has already zoned the governorship slot to the Lagos East senatorial district. But the Ikorodu groups opposed the zoning of the position to Epe division, which they said, had once produced Sir Otedola under the Third Republic, which was botched due to military intervention. The groups, however, recognised the fact that Sir Otedola only spent 23 months before the military took over.

Chairman, IDSA, Japheth Odesanya said: 'by this argument, we are all Lagos residents deserving equal access to all offices. The governorship position should be zoned to Lagos East. The Ikorodu Division, being the most populous and the only standing division in Lagos, comprising Imota, Isiu, Ijede, Igbogbo, Bayeku, Egbin, Owutu and Ishawo among others should produce the next governor.'

He argued that the agitation of the people of Ikorodu Division for the position of the Governor of Lagos State 'is legitimate, timely and rooted in due principle of equity, justice and fair play. This is a clarion call to all well-meaning people of Ikorodu Division and lovers of democracy and justice to stand up and be counted globally.'

Already, the quest has gained the support of party chieftains, elders and traditional rulers from all communities that make up the Ikorodu Division. The Ikorodu monarchs are now looking inwards for a credible indigene from the division to contest the 2015 race irrespective of their political affiliations.

According to the Odofin of Ikorodu, Chief Kabiru Sotobi, eminent sons of Ikorodu should join the governorship contest, saying that traditional rulers and elders would support the candidacy of any Ikorodu indigene irrespective of his political affiliation.

Sotobi said that it was the turn of Ikorodu 'to produce the next governor of Lagos State. I am not bothered about the zoning arrangement; the groups coming out now are not politicians. Ikorodu people should ensure that they do not lose their voting rights.

'We want the Ikorodu Division to produce the next governor. The eminent personalities in Ikorodu are not doing this alone. Our mission is to produce a governor who comes from Ikorodu in 2015. If the PDP decides to have its candidate from Ikorodu, we will support him. If the APC decides to have candidate from Ikorodu, we will support him. If it is Labour Party, we will support him.'

Also, other leaders of the Ikorodu Division under the aegis of Ikorodu Division Resource Group (IDRG) and Eminent Persons in Ikorodu Division (EPID) lamented that Ikorodu had suffered outright neglect and marginalization under different political dispensation since the country's return to civil rule in May 29, 1999. Consequently, the group issued a communiqué after a meeting last month.

The communiqué, which was signed by the group's Chairman, Chief Babatunde Benson (SAN) and Secretariat Coordinator, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, said after a meeting with obas, chiefs, elders and prominent indigenes in the state, it resolved that the group should request for letters of intent from persons interested in the 2015 governorship race from all political parties.

The communiqué  directed for the total mobilization of all indigenes and residents of Ikorodu Division 'to rally support for all the aspirants from all political parties in the state so that an indigene of Ikorodu Division would be selected, not only to contest the gubernatorial race in the state, but also will emerge the governor of the State come 2015.'

The groups explained that the effort 'is directed towards all registered political parties in the state to ensure that an indigene of Ikorodu Division is presented as a gubernatorial candidate for 2015 governorship election. It is observed that for too long Ikorodu Division has been at the tail end of the dividends of democracy.'

According to the group, 'indigenes and residents of Ikorodu Division should shine their eyes to ensure that the Division wins this race this time around.'

The group urged all governorship aspirants from all registered political parties who are Ikorodu Division indigenes to heed this clarion call and mobilize support from the grassroots by supporting the activities of the Liaison Group. The aspirants were directed to submit their credentials for screening.

The IDSA Women Leader, Mrs. Folashade Oba explained the agitation of the people of Ikorodu Division for the position of the Governor of Lagos State was rooted in the principle of equity, justice and fair play, adding that the IDSA's specific objectives 'are basically to serve as a vanguard for galvanizing and championing the collective interest and aspirations of our people.'

She said other objectives of the body were designed to promote fair and equitable, political and economic development in the division; elevate the division to its pride of place among the  divisions in the state; and serve as a platform for breeding leadership with integrity.

The women leader, therefore, said it was a clarion call 'to all well-meaning people of Ikorodu division and lovers of democracy and justice to stand up and be counted globally.'

Some aspirants from the divisions have started indicating interest in the race. Such people include Chairman of Senate Committee on Capital Market, Senator Ganiyu Solomon; former Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe; the Democratic People's Alliance (DPA) Candidate in the 2007 governorship, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, the Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs,  Abike Dabiri-Erewa, among others.

According to Sotobi, five people have indicated interest to vie for the governorship seat under Ikorodu division, saying that three of them had been screened and cleared. He said those who have indicated interest to contest the governorship race include Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon, former Lagos Head of Service, Segun Ogunlewe and Taiwo Kara among others.

He said former governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi 'have indicated interest, but have not been screened yet as they were waiting for the parties' conventions before coming forward.

'The screening we are doing is to ascertain who and who is from Ikorodu. We do not want people that will come now to claim Ikorodu and later move to claim they are from Somolu. Others who want to indicate interest said they are still waiting for due process. They will not declare their intentions now until their parties' conventions,' he stated.