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Monday, September 18, 2017

OGUN 2019: HOW FAR CAN ADEOLA GO??



How far can Adeola go?     Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU examines the preparations for the governorship election in Ogun State and the chances of Senator Olamilekan Adeola, an aspirant from Ogun West Senatorial District at the primary.   Lagos West Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola is eyeing the Oke Mosan Government House, Abeokuta, which will be vacated by Governor Ibikunle Amosun in 2019. His supporters believe that he is among the top contenders. But, can the young politician overcome the hurdles and realise his ambition?  Adeola is pursuing his aspiration with an uncanny aggression. He is on the field mobilising support, ahead of the primary. He has concentrated efforts in his native  Egbado Division, which is expected to benefit from unofficial zoning and the push for power shift. His mobilisation slogan is captivating. Anywhere he visits, shouts of Yayi, his appellation, will fill the air.  The road to power is laced with thorns. Already, it appears Amosun has an axe to grind with the senator. The governor has told stakeholders that he will not want to hand over to a T’Ekobo, a veiled reference to a Lagos-based son of the soil aspiring to leadership. No doubt, the governor has an aspirant he will later anoint. His disposition to Adeola’s bid is the first hurdle to cross. The primary may provide an opportunity for a show of strength.    The governor’s position on succession is infuriating to elder statesman Aremo Olusegun Osoba, veteran journalist and former governor of the state, who has chided him for attempting to play the role of a bully. The former governor took exception to emasculating the political space, ahead of the selection process. Osoba, who obviously have scores to settle with Amosun, said residency outside the Ogun could not translate to a forfeiture of indigeneship and ultimate political right. He explained that governors of Ogun, including himself, Gbenga Daniel and Amosun, lived in Lagos before they were elected.  In fact, many Southwest politicians lived in Lagos before returning home to play leadership role. For example, Chief Clement Awoyelu was a member of House of Assembly in Lagos before returning to Ekiti to become a senator. Chief Rauf Aegbesola was Works and Infrastructure Commissioner in Lagos before vying for governorship in Osun State. Senator Jide Omoworare from Osun State was the Majority Leader of Lagos State House of Assembly.  However, apart from the T’Ekobo challenge, Osoba raised another salient point. Although Adeola may have been motivated by the agitation for power shift to Yewa, which Amosun has endorsed, Osoba said it is subject to further negotiation. In his view, no single political leader can unilaterally zone the slot to a particular district without wide consultations with stakeholders across the three districts. The people of Ogun East, especially the Ijebu, may have tacitly rejected zoning to West as prominent traditional rulers, politicians, businessmen and other community leaders have welcomed prominent banker Jimi Lawal into the governorship race.  Having placed his hand on the plough, Adeola may not look back. Already, some All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains in Lagos West are struggling to replace him in the Senate. A source said they have not publicly unfolded their ambition, following rumours that Aregbesola, whose tenure as governor expires next year, may be interested in the slot. The governor of Osun has neither confirmed nor denied the speculation. During the last ‘Aregbe Till Date Break’ in Osogbo, the state capital, Aregbesola evaded the question. Yet, his response was loaded. He said: “I am large in Osun as I am large in Lagos.”  Adeola is not a baby politician. He has garnered experience since he joined the fray in 2003. From an obscure private life as an accountant with The Guardian newspaper, fate catapulted him to the House of Assembly, where he learned the ropes. He was not a bench warmer. Apart from his analytical skills and professional expertise, what isolated him from the pack was his commitment to party ideals and loyalty to the leadership. For eight years, he endowed his Alimoso seat in the House with visibility and honour.   He is a believer in party discipline and party supremacy. Adeola’s legislative attitude gave expression to the concept of separation of powers. He could not suffer fools gladly. Whenever the executive was about to derail, he was ready and willing to apply the hammer of checks and balances. When speculations were rife that signatures of lawmakers were being collated for the impeachment of Governor Babatunde Fashola, many party chieftains believe that Adeola was central to the enterprise.  As a member of the House, he was perceived as a man of the future. After spending eight years in the House, Adeola was asked to vie for the House of Representatives by the party leadership. He became a star legislator in the Lower Chamber, serving as the Chairman of Public Accounts Committee. He was an asset in the parliament. His knowledge of accounting and finance were deployed during interrogative sessions and oversight functions.   Little did he guess that he will climb the next legislative rank. When Senator Ganiyu Solomon opted for the governorship race, the coast was clear for Adeola. Lagos West stakeholders embraced his candidature, although a section of the party was rooting for out-going Deputy Governor Tawakalitu Orelope-Adefulire. The rest, as it is said, is history.    In the Senate, he became the Vice Chairman of Committee on Communictions.  He is also a member of Senate Commitees on Interior, Finance, Science and Technology, Marine and FERMA. In his report to his constituency, the largest senatorial district in the country, Adeola said he had kept his campaign promise to offer credible representation, adding that the journey continues and could only get better.  Adeola has 15 bills to his credit, which he sponsored and co-sponsored. The bills relate to constitution amendment, special status for Lagos and curtailment of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions. His motions relate to blockage of revenue leakages, management of public funds for agricultural development, particularly cassava export, and prevention of fuel tanker fire accidents.  But, many constituents also hailed his contributions to stomach infrastructure. His constituency offices at Ikeja and Idimu-Ikotun are beehives of activities. He often receive complaints and petitions of constituents for immediate action by the appropriate authorities. To his credit, a policeman who was verbally suspended 21 years ago is now in the process of claiming his retirement entitlements, following his intervention.  Adeola has empowered the less privileged, who are many in the society. He has given JAMB forms to 500 indigent, but brilliant students, 500 GCE forms for students, N50,000 bursary to tertiary students and entrepreneurship training for 250 youths . The senator has donated 500 life jackets to riverine transporters, 500 KVA transformers to communities in Ijanikin, Ifako-Ijaye, Mushin, Ajeromi/Ifelodun, Agege, Badagry, Idimu, Ejigbo, Amuwo and Ikeja. He has also donated empowerment materials to constituents.   They included grinding machines, sewing machines, helmets, wielding machines, tricycles, block molding machines; buses to schools and religious bodies. The chartered accountant has also endowed a prize for the best graduating student of accounting in Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo.  Whether he has extended the same gestures to Yewa District before he entered the race is in the realm of conjecture. But, since he started his consultation and mobilisation for governorship, the senator has sponsored empowerment programmes in the Egbado area. Some of them are targeted at youths and women.  To Adeola’s supporters, he is eminently qualified to succeed Amosun. But, the primary will not be a walk over for any aspirant; not even for the aspirant that may me anointed by the governor. Also warming up for the primary are Gboyega Nosiru, Hon. Abiodun Akinlade and Adebutu of the House of Representatives, House of Assembly Speaker Suraj Adekunbi, Forestry Commissioner Kola Lawal,, Ronke Sokefun, Chief of Staff Tolu Odebiyi, Chairman of Local Government Service Commission Rotimi Rahmon Jimi Lawal, and Senator Iyabo Anisulowo.  So far, Amosun has not publicly thrown his weight behind any aspirant, although there are speculations that Odebiyi is his choice. Since the Third Republic, governors have been powerful. They dictate the tunes. Apart from having statutory delegates on their side, a combination of incumbency power and financial muscle cannot be ignored.   The governor also have influence on the party machinery and the entire selection process. In particular, Amosun, who enjoys former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s support, has emerged as a warrior of sorts, having fought some political battles and triumphed. In 2015, during the dispute between him and the Osoba camp, he survived the threat to depose him and since then, he has continued to wax stronger.  The governor has said that he will convince the monarchs and leaders of other zones to endorse his push for power shift to Yewa. If there is zoning to the neglected and politically marginalised district, the primary may be narrowed to indigenes of the area. There may be alignments and re-alignments.  Adeola’s kinsmen in Yewa do not see him as a stranger. They have hailed his home-coming. He is perceived as a brand. In Lagos, he is the toast of the party leaders. In Ogun, he is becoming the darling of Yewa masses.  But, there are puzzles: how influential is the Lagos power base on the Ogun APC governorship selection process?   Can Adeola withstand Amosun’s arsenal? Can he pull the rug off the governor’s feat?   Can he convince the governor to support his bid and rally the majority of party delegates behind him? Can he overcome the predictable hurdles during the shadow poll? Time will tell.

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