OGUN 2011: WILL THE LIONS DEVOUR DANIEL'S ANOINTED?

By NBF News
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The battle for who occupies the Oke-Igbein Government House in Ogun State will surely be grim and fierce. The election itself has taken ethnic coloration as the cry for justice and fair-play promises to play key role in the election.

However, before the general election, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) needs to attain peace with itself, or there might be an implosion before the real contest. There is a parting of ways in the PDP, which threatens the supremacy of the party in the state. Those knowledgeable in the politics of the state are not shocked that the strange bedfellows in the PDP are deciding to part ways, perhaps what many might find odd is why they stayed together for this long.

Ogun PDP crisis
The struggle for who decides the successor to Governor Gbenga Daniel in 2011 has factionalized the state PDP along three lines. While the main faction is led by state chairman, Joju Fadairo, the other factions are those of Alhaji Sule Onabiyi and Senator Jubril Martin-Kuye , which seems to be ebbing due to the latter's recent ministerial appointment.

Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo also has his own agenda.

The Fadairo faction consists of many members of the state Exco that is said to be loyal to the governor. Unfortunately, the governor's case is not helped by incessant face-off with prominent party members in the state, a section of the state House of Assembly and Senators Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, Lekan Mustapha, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole.

But suddenly, all the 'rebels' appear to have found a common ground to launch a final onslaught against their common enemy. They picked on the choice of Daniel's successor as cause for the battle. While Daniel canvasses the need for his successor to come from Ogun West senatorial district, many party leaders, particularly those from Ogun Central, found such stance insulting. They feared that allowing the governorship to elude Ogun Central for another eight years would be too much a bitter pill for them to swallow.

But Senator Tunde Osholake, chairman of Ogun Central PDP, denied that they were up against the Joju Fadairo exco because of its slant towards Yewa-Awori. He revealed that the group supports a Yewa governor, adding that 'as far back as 2003, we attempted to lure Kola Bajomo from the then AD, it was after he refused that we settled for Daniel. Even now we have two people from our group who are Yewas that are interested in the governorship.

We have Hon.Biodun Akinlade, and we have Lekan Ojo. Daniel is just using this Yewa thing to deceive the people. Two people from Egba said they want to be governor. Hon. Kayode Amusan and Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, they are both from the Daniel group; why is he not stopping them if he is sincere with his claims? Have you seen anyone from Egba within our own group join the race? We are not against a Yewa governor but people should not be playing politics with it.'

The Osholake group drew huge following from Egbaland, and happily, they found in the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, and onetime minister of state for Finance, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye good battleaxes to face Daniel. Interestingly, the ascension of Dimeji as Speaker of the House of Representatives triggered a new political phase in the state as the development invoked a major power contest between him and Daniel.

A political analyst and lecturer at the Olabisi Onabajo University, Dr. Tunji Akomolafe painted the scenario this way: 'Just as Bankole became more powerful, the state House of Assembly staged a revolt against the governor, which raised suspicions that the Tunji Egbetokun-led House was being sponsored by the some National Assembly members to break the political stranglehold of Daniel in the state'.

At the peak of the crisis, members of the state legislature abandoned their legislative duties, citing alleged insecurity from loyalists of the governor as reason. The Bankole-led House of Representatives threatened to take over the state House of Assembly, because, according to them, the Ogun House was running out of the stipulated time it could abstain from sittings.

It was, therefore, not surprising when on January 23, 2010, at a meeting with party leaders in the state, Governor Daniel boiled over, describing Bankole as a curse to Ogun State. He said: 'I have to confess to you that Speaker Dimeji Bankole may have been a blessing to his own personal interest and pocket, but he has been a curse to Ogun State. He may have benefited his family and his pocket, but he has added more troubles to this state with his speakership.'

Although many thought the governor's outburst was as a result of a statement credited to Bankole at the Ago-Iwoye country home of Martins-Kuye that the leadership of the PDP in the state was undemocratic and must be reconstituted, those in the know swore that Bankole drew the ire of the governor over his (speaker's) refusal to back moves by the governor to secure a N40bn bond from the capital market.

Daniel's justification of the verbal fusillade exposed the real reason for the outburst. He said, 'Why are ministers telling me that all the programmes they want to bring to this state, it is people from Ogun State that are not allowing them to come? Why are ministers telling me that it is people from Ogun State who say they should not do our bond?'

One house, many voices
Sources close to those battling Daniel say it was a desperate move to wrest the PDP in the state out of the hands of the governor that necessitated the establishment of a parallel executive.

The secretariat for the parallel PDP is located in Onikolobo area of Abeokuta, and has Alhaji Sule Onabiyi as its arrowhead, while other big names in the party are said to be operating in the background.

Four people signed the letter signifying the birth of a parallel exco in Ogun PDP. They are the Chairman, Semiu Sodipo, the Vice-Chairman, Dele Odulaja; the state Secretary, Dayo Adebayo, and the Publicity Secretary, Babatunde Fadun.

Beside the brazen attempt to hijack the state PDP from the governor, it was learnt that the move was to test the political waters on what could happen should they engage the governor in an all- out fight.

The Fadairo-led executive felt stung by the development and saw the need to apply the stick on the wayward members.It announced the sacking of the Chairman, State Elders Council, Alhaji Sule Onabiyi, and handed an indefinite suspension on Sodipo and his group for fanning the embers of disunity.

The South-West PDP felt the need to douse rising tension by declaring the parallel executive illegal, but in the same breath reversed the sacking of Onabiyi. Though the Joju Fadairo- led executives hailed the declaration as constitutionally recognized, it kept mute on the reinstatement of Onabiyi because it had already appointed Chief Okanlawon Soboyede as the new Chairman of the Elders Council.

However, an insider in the crisis said the face- off is a direct offshoot of the February 2008 state congress that produced the Fadairo-led executive. The chairman of the splinter group, Sodipo, claimed that the congress did not fulfill the constitutional requirements or the guidelines of the party. According to him, the congress can only evolve from the ward level to the state level, saying no congress was held at the ward level for the congress. 'There is a party constitution and there is a guideline for the conduct of the state congress; it must start from the wards. The 2008 congress did not start from the wards and we know that there was no election,' Sodipo said.

But the Director of Organisation of the state PDP, Deji Kalejaiye, disagreed, arguing that the congress was conducted in the spirit and the tenets of the party constitution. 'What they are trying to say does not hold water. They cannot get anything with what they are saying: a congress was held and officers were elected, so, what is the problem?'

Investigation, however, revealed that the secret weapon of those calling for the sacking of the Joju Fadairo executive is a report submitted to the PDP national office by the monitoring committee to the 2008 congress, headed by the former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu. Mantu, who had initially commended the congress, later planted a time bomb when he allegedly wrote that elections did not hold at the wards and the local government level as stipulated by the constitution of the party, implying that the exercise was fraught with errors.

But Kalejaiye contended that the argument is full of holes. He contended that the executives were elected at a properly conducted congress, adding that they can only be removed at another of such congress. He was quick to call attention to a letter sent in by the national chairman of the party at the wake of the sacking of the Ogun central senatorial chairman, that the man was appointed at a congress and that only a congress can remove him. He disclosed that Osholake was immediately reinstated, and wondered why the same condition cannot apply to the Fadairo exco.

Uproar over Ministerial nomination
The recent reconstituting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) by President Goodluck Jonathan, only further widened the crack. Of the two ministers from the state, none came from the Governor's stable. While Obasanjo nominated onetime minister of state for finance, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, Bankole nominated Nurudeen Alao, leaving the governor in the lurch.

Daniel didn't find that funny, and made a heavy weather of it. Several protest letters were fired to the Presidency on the need to consider the ethno-political balancing of the state in the appointments. Pockets of protest rallies were also organized by some Yewa-Awori politicians, who complained that the appointment has further marginalized their area.

They particularly were unhappy over the appointment of Martins-Kuye who hails from Ago-Iwoye, in Ijebu-North local council. They claimed that politicians from the local council are having it easy in appointments to the detriment of other local councils. They contended that the town accounted for two commissioners in the present Ogun State cabinet, while Ambassador Folake Marcus-Bello, is also from the local government.

State commissioner for Information and Strategy, Sina Kawonise, who regretted the appointment, said the choice of Kuye was not in the interest of harmony in the state as Kuye 'has no political value even in his Ago-Iwoye constituency.' That appointment, it was learnt, was a massive blow to Daniel's ego as the rejection of the list of his nominees was a bad omen.

Effort by the governor to seek an explanation from the Presidency for the snub yielded little in terms of succour. Daniel was reportedly told by Presidency officials that while Ogun State cannot be accorded three ministerial slots, he is junior in order of protocol as both Obasanjo and Bankole are far ahead of him in the PDP hierarchy. Sources claim the import of the snub was not lost on the governor on the shade of things ahead in 2011.

The Buruji Kashamu puzzle
Business mogul, Prince Buruji Kasham, presents another jigsaw in the Ogun PDP puzzle. The bulky politician has for over three years been involved in philanthropic gestures like distributing cars, motorcycles and food items to members of the party. He runs a group called the 'Omo-Ilu foundation' within the PDP, and the group has loyal members from ward, local to state levels, to the extent that it is feared that he might actually be the one in control of the PDP at the grassroots level.

Although, he claims that he is not interested in elective office, political watchers insist if the is man is not interested in 2011, he definitely would be in 2015 by which time he might be the de facto leader of the party. Curiously, he presently provides many of those estranged with Otunba Daniel shelter, and might actually be the arrowhead of their onslaught on the governor ahead of the 2011 election.

Opposition's onslaught
Ironically, while PDP members are busy trying hard to self-destruct, the main opposition, the Action Congress, (AC) is involved in self-rediscovery and fresh membership drive. It first re-launched the party with a lot of pomp and then empanelled an elders committee to ensure that it has a penetrating impact in the impending polls.

Besides, the AC was also buoyed by the arrival of Senator Ibikunle Amosun from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) into its fold. Amosun, after failing to unseat Daniel in one of the longest legal battles in the history of the nation's jurisprudence, decided to quit the crisis-prone ANPP and found immediate accommodation in the AC.

Political analysts believe Amosun's entry into AC has several implications for Ogun State. They held that should his rumoured interest in the 2011 guber race be true, the agitation for a Yewa governor in 2011 might be in immediate danger. According to Dr. Tunde Oladitan, a political scientist from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, should Amosun join the race for Ogun 2011; the PDP, with its divided house, might be in trouble. 'We all know Amosun has a large following across the state and with leaders of the PDP not in total agreement that the next governor should come from Yewa, then those unhappy with the choice of the PDP guber candidate might just support Amosun.

'Besides, Amosun is an Egba man and it is an open secret that the Egbas are still desirous of ruling after Daniel. If Amosun should come out from AC, then you can be sure he will sweep the Ogun Central votes because the Egbas might just decide to vote for their son', he says.

Indeed, Ogun PDP members have reasons to worry on what becomes of it in the 2011 polls. One of the things it needs to worry about is the vow by former governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to wade into the politics of Ogun next year.Tinubu, at the burial of slain AC gubernatorial candidate in 2007, Dipo Dina, had bemoaned the manner lives were being lost in Ogun through assassinations and various acts of violence, drew a comparison with the relative peace in Lagos and concluded that the progressive forces that have so far made Lagos a 'no-go area' for PDP need to come to Ogun on special assignment.

Surely, Tinubu is not a man to be taken lightly. He has the time, the political savvy and the financial muscle to oil such adventure should he decide to make good his threat.

Ethnic politics
The political equation in Ogun State is dynamic. Many believe that the next governor of the state should ideally come from Ogun West senatorial district. This is because no politician from the area had ever ruled the state in its 33 years of existence, while the two other districts had produced chief executives of the state at various times. Ogun East had the late Bisi Onabanjo and incumbent Daniel, while Ogun Central had Olusegun Osoba.

The highest any politician from Ogun West senatorial ever attained is the current deputy governor position held by Alhaja Salmot Badru. Dr Ademola Ogunleye from Erinja-Orile in Yewa-South was the SSG to Onabanjo while Elder Poju Adeyemi from Ayetoro was the SSG to Osoba during his two terms in office.

Although Daniel appears to be leading the agitation for the clamour for power shift to Yewa, those knowledgeable in the politics of the state insist that it was Obasanjo who actually started the agitation as far back as 2003. It was said that in the run up to that year's elections, the former President rooted for the late Dele Arojo as the candidate of PDP, as a way of addressing the marginalization. Arojo, an accountant, was in pole position for the PDP ticket and would have dislodged the then incumbent Osoba at the polls. He was, however, silenced by yet to be identified gunmen at Akowonjo area of Lagos. Interestingly, Yewa's loss became Daniel's gain as he easily brushed aside other opponents to pick the PDP ticket.

Again in 2007, Obasanjo, it was also said, had soft spot for former state chairman of the party, Olalekan Ojo, and it was speculated that Daniel might be denied a second term ticket by the PDP due to some allegations, and that Ojo, a retired police chief, might be handed the ticket. Daniel, however, secured the PDP ticket and went on to win a second term in office before he too became an apostle of the 'Yewa for governor' campaign.

A leader in the zone, Senator Ayo Otegbola, however, vowed that any party that fails to field a Yewa/Awori candidate for the election in 2011,should forget about occupying the Oke-Mosan Government House. His views, political observers said, signpost how serious the Yewa-Aworis are in clinching the top post.

Political permutations
Amosun's interest and 2011 voting pattern
The decision by Amosun to join the race on the side of the AC is seen by many as a masterstroke that might alter the political history of the state. According to Oladitan, 'Amosun is expected to have over 80 percent of the votes of the Egbas and then battle hard to make an appreciable showing in Yewa. But I think it will be hard for an Egba man to get a sizeable amount of vote in Yewa land if a Yewa man is contesting. I think the real battle will be in Ijebu area. I want to say the person that wins the largest number of votes in Ijebu might be the overall winner of the governorship.'

Another political analyst,however, called attention to the manner the two ministerial slots were shared to Obasanjo and Bankole without any regard for the position of the governor. He claimed that could be the way political positions might follow in PDP in 2011.He predicted, 'Obasanjo will have a large say in who picks the governorship ticket, and should that happen, Daniel might want to make a statement that he is in control of the politics of this state. With all due respect, I doubt if Bankole and Obasanjo can claim to be on the ground than a sitting governor who dispenses patronage. It's going to be tough for PDP in the days ahead because I sincerely don't see how Obasanjo will accept the candidate that Daniel will present and vice versa. I see a major clash and a rival party might be the direct beneficiary of the crisis.'

It is, indeed, feared in some quarters that, depending on how the party primaries go, some members might deliberately sabotage the PDP candidate to spite their party leaders.

The aspirants
Expectedly, several politicians from the two main political parties, the PDP and the Action Congress (AC), are already warming up to assume power at the Oke-Igbein Government House after the expiration of Daniel's constitutionally allowed two-terms of four years each.

From the fold of PDP came several Yewa-Awori politicians like Mr. Kola Lawal, Hon. Biodun Akinlade, Sen. Kola Bajomo,Mr. Gboyega Isiaka, Dr. Olalekan Ojo, Mr. Kayode Oladele and Brigadier-General Idowu Olurin. While from Egba are Dr.Femi Majekodunmi and Hon. Kayode Amusan.

From the stable of the AC comes Kayode Soyebi from Yewa-Awori, while Ibikunle Amosun is from Egba.

Kola Bajomo, a former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) would have been the governor of Ogun as far back as 2003 had he agreed with Obasanjo to decamp from the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) and contest against the then incumbent governor, Olusegun Osoba. Unfortunately, he declined on the ground that he was preoccupied with his ICAN duties, but unofficially he may have reasoned that Osoba could never be beaten at the polls in Ogun.

Kola Bajomo, who now presently represents Ogun West at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, may have to battle the criticisms that trailed his exit from the Oodua conglomerate, as well as the role he allegedly played in scuttling the late Wale Bajomo, his younger brother's gubernatorial ambition in 2007.

Also from PDP is Gboyega Isiaka. He is the Managing Director of the Gateway Holdings, the outfit responsible for managing the state investment portfolio. He is from Imeko town and is seen in several circles as the heir apparent to the throne because he is said to know the inner workings of the state government, which puts him at a vantage position of becoming the Fashola of Ogun State in terms of accelerated development.

His political naivety and over reliance on Daniel might, however, be a problem when push becomes shove. Kola Lawal, an indigene of Oke-Odan in Yewa South Local Government. He is a former assistant General Manager with oil giant, Mobil Producing. He is a technocrat that is already creating waves for his philanthropic gestures. For instance, he has handed out over 20,000 scholarships since he set up the Kola Lawal Foundation a couple of years ago. His political group, the Kola Lawal Movement (KLM), has also empowered several artisans and individuals, and he was recently conferred with a chieftaincy title by the Oke-Odan monarch to appreciate his effort

His entrance into the race might be the decider as he is young and is bringing the experience of the corporate world into the race. His major drawback, however, could be political inexperience, which many feared could cost him dear at vital moments. He is making up for that low point through widespread consultations.

Also from the PDP is retired Brigadier- General Olatunji Idowu Olurin. Nothing was heard of this retired military officer after he left Oyo State government house where he served as military governor until he was picked as the sole administrator of Ekiti State following the declaration of emergency rule.

Although the two experiences in Oyo and Ekiti had equipped him for the task, he is said to be a very reluctant candidate but joined the fray on the insistence of some military powerbrokers. It was alleged that he joined after Obasanjo and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Aremu Gbadebo, persuaded him to lead the state after the exit of Daniel.

The Alake is also a retired military chief like Obasanjo and Olurin.

Watchers of events claim that Olurin remains the most acceptable of all the aspirants in the PDP as all the groups accept him. He is also said to command a lot of respect among the Egbas.

Hon. Abiodun Akinlade is the current chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology. Akinlade, who represents Yewa South/Ipokia Federal constituency, is perhaps one of the most effective representatives the Yewas have ever sent to Abuja in recent times.

He was reported to have facilitated the appointment of over 120 indigenes of the state into federal jobs since he got to the National Assembly in 2007.He has also dished out over 2000 scholarships to students. A political analyst said, 'if all of them have been doing like Akinlade, I can assure you that this state will have no reason to complain of marginalization in federal appointments because the best way to empower a man is to get him a job and if someone is at the national level pulling the strings for his people, I think such a person should be hailed.'

Olalekan Ojo is a former chairman of the PDP in the state. He attempted to upstage Daniel in 2007 but failed as the powers that supported him then failed to click at the vital moment. He is back in the race as he was quoted as telling some people that he will give it his best shot.

But the greatest drawback of the ex-police chief could be his feeble financial muscle. He, however, compensates for that by his association with billionaire politician, Prince Buruji Kasham, who is believed to be prepared to bankroll his aspiration.

However, some members of the PDP from Egbaland are also known to be interested in the post. They are Dr. Femi Majekodunmi and Hon kayode Amusan. Interestingly the two are from the stable of Governor Daniel, fuelling accusation that he might actually be playing politics with his Yewa-for-Governor stance. Dr Majekodunmi is a medical doctor and is a former aide to President Obasanjo. He was also one of those that aspired for the governorship in 2007.

Hon Kayode Amusan is the deputy chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Housing. He has been in the lower chambers for two terms and those close to him claim he feels he stands a good chance of nicking the governorship of the state from the nose of the uncoordinated Yewa-Aworis.

From the stable of the AC comes Tope Kuyebi from Yewa-Awori. Like Kola Lawal, he is also coming from the private sector. The shipping magnate is said to be a workaholic who possesses great passion for the development of Ogun State. He fame and capabilities have also been spreading like wildfire and he is always quick to tell anyone that cares to listen of his plan to transform the Gateway state.

Senator Ibikunle Amosun is from Egba. His legal challenge of the governorship of Daniel recently ended, and he has since dumped the crisis-prone ANPP for the AC.

His entry into the Ogun 2011 guber field has struck fears into the hearts of many. He has a large following and his exploits against the PDP are still fresh in the minds of the people. His decision to join the race could also endanger PDP's continued overlordship of the Gateway state. Political observers say he stands to benefit immensely should the PDP fail to tidy up its acts in the months to come.

Another Egba man in the race is Kayode Soyinka. Soyinka, an international journalist is regarded in many quarters as a professional guber aspirant, having contested for the ticket on three previous occasions.