While it is expected that the incumbent Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun would contest for second term in 2023, the people of Ogun West, who are known as Yewa and Awori have been told to wait for 2027 before they would contest for the post of the Governor of the state.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, who spoke with the crew of Ogun News Express (ONE) on the issue also urged the people of Yewa and Awori to search for a credible candidate for the coveted office in 2027 regardless of where the person is based.
Ogun State is celebrating her 45th year of creation, will you say that the state has achieved much as expected so far?
I would not say the state has achieved much as expected of a 45 year old. Nevertheless the state has been able to achieve some things in terms of infrastructure, but we still expect more to be done. I expect that we should have gone beyond where we are. The state can still do more in terms of infrastructure development. Compared with the period of western region, when the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the Premier, we would see that the state needs to do more. I don’t think the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo spent much time then and he did much across the areas in the region. The governments that have come and gone tried, but if you compare it with the standard of the western region, you will understand what I am saying.
What do you think the successive government ought to have done that they did not do?
They have tried their best, but a lot still needed to be done. All of them have been making attempts in terms of infrastructure development. In the days of the old Western Region, you would not see any road that is not tarred. We expect that by now, all the parts of the state would have been tarred. In terms of education, most of our schools are not where they ought to be. In Igamode Grammar School in Ota, for example, they have about 180 students in a classroom, which was not the case then. The school used to be one of the frontline secondary schools in those days. There could have been an improvement in the area of infrastructure, and most of the buildings are dilapidated. In the health sector, there has been increase in the number of general hospitals in the state. But, the buildings are still the same old buildings apart from a few of them. There are some of them with facilities based on private initiatives. On the agriculture level, we have farm settlements in the days of western region and they had everything there. They had houses, electricity and other things in the farms then. But I don’t know if we still have anyone like that now. They even had rice mills in the farm settlement in those days, so we are not where we ought to be.
In the 45 years of Ogun State, who amongst the Governors would you say has done something better for the people?
It is difficult to determine this, different governors had different priorities. A governor could come and face education, another could face road, and another would face healthcare. But in the total analysis, and you want to talk about the Governor that did not limit himself to any sector, then Otunba Gbenga Daniel has done much. The incumbent Governor Dapo Abiodun is still there, so we cannot score him yet. Talking about Otunba Gbenga Daniel, he achieved much even in sports. It was during his time that we hosted the National Sports Festival for the first time. On education, he established the first University of Education in Nigeria if not in Africa. We have the ICT Polytechnics in the state. Also, more primary and secondary schools were established. On agriculture, he camped some youths in Odeda Farm settlement and they were given some grants to start farming. On the health sector, he established hospitals in Ifo, Itori, and in some other places. In terms of roads, though he didn’t build fly overs, but was able to do some roads across the state. Talk of everything, he touched everywhere and he is the only one that has done well amongst those who have completed their tenure.
What is your take on tourism in Ogun State, do you think the state has anything to showcase on this?
I am not an expert in that area, but I know that we have a lot of tourist sites in the state. Take for example, we have ‘Egungun” Festival in Ota. We are a Mecca of sort for all “Egungun” in the world. During the festival, they have something to showcase with the masquerades wearing different colourful costumes. This should be well packaged and sold out so that the people can come and see them. We have “Bilikisu Sugbo” there. But we have not done much to promote this.
Ota is like the headquarters of industries in Nigeria, what does this portend for the state?
I am proud that we are the headquarters of industries in Nigeria and this is where the state generates its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). Ota is near to Lagos. Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government has more industries in Nigeria than any other place in the country.
As the Chairman of the Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission, what do you want to do better?
The Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission has done a lot on the issue of staffing, promotion and discipline. Incidentally, what we met on ground was that some of the staffers were seconded from the ministries and we employed some. We have been having several meetings with the Chairman of the State Civil Service Commission, and Secretary to the State Government (SSG). We want to take full responsibilities of the staff, we want them to indicate if they want to remain with the commission or move to the ministries. We are still on that, we want to work on the promotion of the people that were seconded to us. We also want talk of employing some casual workers and employ more staff. The problem the state has now is funding. You know the minimum wage is there and the Governor is yet to stabilize on that. The assembly has submitted their request and we are working on that. We are also mindful of the financial position of the state government. The minimum wage has taken a lot and we still need to look at that.
On the issue of the legislature, we all know that when the government of a state is running well, there must have been some co-operation between the legislature and the executive. Where they have issues, then there would be problem. The members of the service commission have a good relationship with the assembly members and when we see that anything is going wrong with the legislature and the executive we try to bring them together. I was a member of the house of assembly and a member of the executive and we know the workings. The executive used to say ‘who are those boys,’but when I became a member of the executive, I made them to understand that it is not like that. They are not just boys, but matured people. That has always been the problem between the two arms of government. The current Speaker of the House ensures that everything goes well with them and the executive and the Governor too has a listening ear.
You had a meeting with some political leaders in Ogun West, where you were quoted to have said that no aspirant should come out against Prince Dapo Abiodun from the zone in 2023 and some people are saying that aspirants have a right to come out. What is the bone of contention here and what do you have to say to this?
It is true that I said that and it is my personal opinion based on antecedents. We are not saying that nobody should come out from Ogun West for the office of the Governor, but we are just telling them the truth. When you continue to do the same thing the same way you don’t expect different results. I made it very clear that since the inception of Ogun State and since the time of the late Chief Bisi Onabanjo, is there any time Ogun West did not contest?. We have had Chief Olusegun Osoba, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and now Prince Dapo Abiodun. Why have we not been able to make it. You don’t use force in politics, it is about understanding. You sit them down, and work things out with your party. There are some factors that are militating against us. It is partly our fault, and partly not our fault. We don’t get our priorities right and when we get the right time in Ogun West, we have to be careful. It is not our fault that Ogun State has 20 local governments; nine from Ogun East; Remo and Ijebu, six from Egba, which is central and five from the west, which is an amalgamation of these small ethnic groups. When election is approaching and we want to do primaries, which is for purely politicians, obas and others would not be there. But people, who don’t know anything would be writing all sorts of things, which is where we quarrel. When I am talking, it is not about history, it is what I have been part of. For somebody from Ogun West to contest primary against somebody from Ogun East, you know it would be difficult. When it is indirect, you have delegates that have to do with wards and local governments. It would be equal number of delegates par ward and local government. With this, we are disadvantaged. So, our people don’t even know the right time to come out. You cannot come out to contest from Ogun West, when somebody from the Ogun East is contesting it is going to be a failure. If you say anybody that votes for someone from another senatorial district is a bastard, then the people from Ijebu has the right to say that to their people too. Ijebu for Ijebu, Ijebu Remo for Ijebu Remo, Yewa for Yewa, where will that lead us to? The best time for Ogun West to contest is when someone from Ogun East is not contesting. On Central, they have six local governments, not much difference between us that has five local governments. We should not just sit down on theories that will not work. In the last election that brought Prince Dapo Abiodun to power, majority of our people did not know that Abiodun did not win a single local government in Ogun West, and he became the Governor. When we say there is no unity in Ogun West, this may not be the problem. In the last election, the votes from Ogun West were shared between the two candidates from Ogun West. So, why are you now saying that there is no unity in Ogun West? It is not the fault of our people, but the fault of the politicians. Out of seven house of assembly members, we managed to win one from Ota State Constituency. Of course, on that day, I had to use motorcycle (okada) to move from one polling booth to another, so it is not about unity. So, the next election is how we can improve our relationship with Ogun East, not coming out to contest against them because we will not win. I am saying that openly, if anybody has anything let them bring it out on the table. It is not about God, the same God you are calling, they are also calling. So, God is laughing, when you are trying to see who will manipulate one, or who will get the best out of it. Stop relying on God for this, there is no God in politics, stop looking for miracle, no. let us sit down and work it out. I am not saying that I am the best or that I have the monopoly of wisdom, I am just telling you why it cannot fly. You want to contest, you have to look for platform, and the two major parties we have are the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I told the people that in APC, the National Working Committee will not want a repeat of what happened in Edo State, where they took the incumbent for granted. I told people that the party at the national level will not leave Prince Dapo Abiodun for another candidate. Five days later, they were in Abuja to select caretaker committees the states. Former governor Ibikunle Amosun and Governor Dapo Abiodun were there with their people. But they agreed to give the structure back to Dapo Abiodun. So where do we go, which means Governor Abiodun has the APC structure with him, so who would want to contest against him? Some people will say we are cowards, so because you are brave, will you stand before a moving train? Even, when they pointed a gun to you, will you say the gun will refuse to fire? This is the thinking of analysts, but we are practical people. Let us see who would contest against Prince Dapo Abiodun in 2023 and win, when he is from Ogun East and he is the incumbent Governor. When you talk of indirect primary, there are some delegates that the incumbent governor has naturally such as the commissioners, special advisers, assembly members, local government chairmen, councilors, ward chairmen and others. All these ones are with him, then you will be talking about delegates.
Would you say that there is an agreement that Ogun West should support Ogun East now so that they would be supported in 2027?
That is not what I am saying. Unlike during the time of Otunba Gbenga Daniel, when he was introduced to us then, we had a working agreement with him. He was coming from the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and we had the structure. Even this agreement we are talking about, nobody knew about it. Only about four of us knew about it including myself and OGD. Even the people that came with him, we didn’t allow them in, it was only him with us. We didn’t allow the central to know about it. The situation now is different, Dapo Abiodun is coming for a second term, and he doesn’t need to do any agreement with us. I am saying that let us improve our relationship with him because we did not support him, yet he gave us Deputy Governorship slot. We had Abdulkadir Akinlade and Gboyega Nasir Isiaka contesting from Ogun West. Former governor Ibikunle Amosun that brought Akinlade did not deliver Ogun Central for him. So, where do we go from there? It is not about negotiation. Contesting with Prince Dapo Abiodun for the primary election in 2023 will be a failure for such an aspirant. Our two candidates from the west are now in APC, none of them is in the PDP. Some of the candidates in APC from the west will not contest against Prince Dapo Abiodun. I don’t expect Akinlade, GNI, Tolu Odebiyi or even Senator Adeola Olamilekan (YAYI) that is being rumoured to have governorship ambition in 2023 to contest against him.
What of PDP?
PDP still has its problem that started in 2011, though Senator Kashamu Buruji is no more alive. His group is recognized by the court. We have two PDP factions in Ogun State, the one led by Hon. Ladi Adeutu recognized by the National Working Committee and Buruji faction recognized by the court. They will waste time on primaries and the National Chairman and the National Secretary will submit names of candidates and the court would still come in. In 2023, we may have two candidates; Prince Dapo Abiodun and Hon. Ladi Adebutu both from Ogun East. So, do they want to vote for the one that has four years to go or the one that would come and spend eight years. When former Gbenga Daniel had a candidate from PPN, he failed and former governor Ibikunle Amosun brought someone from APM and he failed too. Moreso, Amosun is still in the APC. At the top level, they might say Prince Dapo Abiodun should go for second term, and that former governor Ibikunle Amosun should go back to the senate, what would be the fate of the people following them. I don’t rule out the possibility of somebody sponsoring somebody from Ogun West to further weaken us and they know Ogun West would not win. That was why I started the campaign and I am happy that some responses are coming now and they would still call stakeholders meeting. I am not stopping anybody from contesting, but we will tell the person that he is on his own.
I also suggested that we should wait for 2027 to give us time to prepare ourselves. Anybody that has any candidate anywhere in the world, it is time for them to come home and contest. We will all see somebody that is capable that will contest in 2027. Of course, the Central will contest with us, they could say senatorial district or province. If it is province, Egba Province consists of Egba and Yewa or Egbado and Egba has done it before. In Egba Province, it is now the turn of Egbado, which is Yewa/Awori. Let us look inward and see who can properly represent us. I don’t want to talk about where the person lives whether ‘Tekobo’, “Tokunbo,” or “Toyobo.” Most of the politicians in Ogun State are either from Lagos or Ibadan. It all depends on the person. The late Chief Bisi Onabanjo was in Ibadan, Oyo State, Chief Olusegun Osoba is in Lagos, former governor Gbenga Daniel is in Lagos, Ibikunle Amosun is in Lagos so also Prince Dapo Abiodun. Let us move away from sentiments and come up with a formidable candidate.