By Abdullahi Adeleke
For Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan aka Yayi, the stage is set for mother of all battles as he moves from Lagos West, which he has been representing since 2015, to Ogun West as an indigene of Yewa area of Ogun State, in 2023.
Arrangements are said to be in top gear for the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that would come up soon after the party’s convention, which held on Saturday March 26, 2022 in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Those in the know revealed that Yayi has put machineries in motion for the polls and that subtle campaign has started in earnest and he is said to be prepared to face anyone who might show interest in the coveted office.
Of course, sources revealed that the contest has become interesting as some leading politicians in the gateway state have indicated interest in the office.
Some of those said to have indicated interest in the Ogun West Senatorial District in 2023 under the APC are a former member of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Abiodun Akinlade and a former governorship aspirant in the state, Mr. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka aka GNI.
But those who spoke about these two aspirants and juxtaposed their profiles with that of Yayi insisted that they have little or nothing to show that they are up to the task of “tackling Yayi during the primaries of the party.”
They started with GNI, whose they said dated back to 2011, when he was fielded by former governor Gbenga Daniel, who was then in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but asked GNI to contest under the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) as the then president Olusegun Obasanjo ensured that the late Tunji Olurin, a retired military officer, emerged as the candidate of the PDP.
Olurin and GNI were both from Ogun West and they lost to former governor Ibikunle Amosun from Ogun Central under the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Sources traced the preference by Gbenga Daniel of GNI to the events leading to his emergence as Governor in 2003.
According to them, OGD had met with the people of Ogun West during the campaign and they were said to have told him that he should promise them that he would hand over to someone from Ogun West after he must have served for two terms in office.
However, GNI, who hails from Imeko-Afon in Ogun West, reportedly got into the limelight, when he was appointed as the Managing Director of Gateway Holdings Limited (GHL) by former governor Gbenga Daniel in 2004.
GNI was said to have lost the 2011 election because his area was the least populated in Ogun West and we were told that he has no solid political structure, and that he relied solely on OGD.
“We all know what happened in 2011 as former president Olusegun Obasanjo supported the faction of the late Senator Kashamu Buruji in the PDP then and they produced Mr. Tunji Olurin, who was also from Ilaro in Yewa area.
“OGD then moved his political structure to PPN and fielded GNI, another Yewa indigene. So, with this the votes of Ogun West were divided.
“GNI still contested against former governor Ibikunle Amosun in 2015 and he did not move well. People know that he is brilliant, but he is weak politically.
“He was defeated in his local government in all the elections that he contested for positions. He is a weakling, he has no political structure and financial backing,” said a source.
Recall that GNI contested under the African Democratic Congress (ADC) as governor in 2019 and he reportedly wasted resources on the election, which we were told seriously affected till date.
GNI later pitched his tent with the ruling APC and he was made the Managing Director of Guangdong Free Trade Zone by Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.
With all these, sources said that GNI is no match for Senator Yayi.
On his part, Hon. Abiodun Akinalde, who was a three-term member of the Federal House of Representatives from Egbado South and Ipokia federal constituency between 2003 and 2015, is said to be a light weight politician compared to Senator Yayi.
Akinlade, who is currently representing Ogun State at the Federal Character Commission (FCC) is said to have helped a lot of people from his local government area to secure jobs in federal agencies.
He was accused of limiting this to the people from his local government and that “now that he needs people from other local government areas in Yewa, people feel he doesn’t deserve their support, especially those from Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government that has the highest votes.”
Sources added that Akinlade lacks the political muscle and financial wherewithal to contest a senatorial election, especially against the likes of Senator Yayi.
For Yayi, he is renowend as a politician in a class of his own, who has been in public office for 19 uninterrupted years.
“Yayi started from the Lagos State House of Assembly in 2023 as a lawmaker, he went back in 2007 and by 2011, he moved to the Federal House of Representatives, where he was made the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, even when the his party, the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was opposition.
“His profile grew higher and by 2015, he moved to the Senate under the APC and today he is a ranking member and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance.
“There is no doubt that for Yayi it is time to serve his people in Ogun West as a true son of the soil. He is coming with a wealth of experience as he represented Alimosho Constituency, which has the highest population in the country, in the Lagos State House of Assembly. He then moved to the Federal House of Representatives from the same Alimosho and then to the Senate from Lagos West with 10 out of the 20 local government areas in the state and several Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
“Senator Yayi is a man to beat. Talk of structure, he has it, he has the political acumen, he has the resources and he is amiable, he is a man of the people that is loved by all and sundry,” said a source.
Several people who spoke to us on his candidature, testified to his ability to move the district forward in 2023.
They maintained that whoever tried to “contest with Yayi should be ready for a serious battle. Yayi is our man, he is the one we know and we cannot allow any alternative.”
According to them, as a trained chartered accountant, Yayi is part of the success story of Lagos State and the Federal Government has also had his feel as a member of the two Chambers of the National Assembly, saying that “we need him in his home state of Ogun as our Senator from 2023 based on his wealth of experience.”
On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, thousands of residents of the entire 16 wards in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government area of Ogun State, comprising politicians, youths, traders had gathered to drum support for second term for Governor Dapo Abiodun of the State and used the opportunity to call on Yayi to move to Ogun West in 2023.
They sang different solidarity songs and displayed several banners to further show their preference for the two leading politicians.
According to the conveners of the rally, both Governor Dapo Abiodun and Senator Yayi have what it takes to move the state and the senatorial district forward respectively.
A former commissioner for works in Ogun State, Hon. Waliu Olayiwola Taiwo, who was at the event said that he heard about the declaration accidentally and that he decided to be part of it to give support to Prince Dapo Abiodun, who he said has served his people well in the last three years.
Taiwo, who is currently the Chairman of Ogun State House of Assembly Service Commission, stressed that Governor Dapo Abiodun has done well and that the people of Ogun West have adopted him for second term.
He added that he was aware that the organisers of the rally were campaigning for second term for Dapo Abiodun and that they also want Senator Yayi as the Senator from Ogun West in 2023.
One of the conveners of the rally, Hon. Segun Ojolowo-Ojuko, Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor on Housing stated that one good turn deserves another, adding that if somebody had done well for the first term there is nothing wrong if that person is supported for a second term.
“Prince Dapo Abiodun’s second term ambition is very paramount to us. He has done what is expected of him as Governor. We are also agitating and appealing to the Governor to allow Senator Adeola Olamilekan to contest as Senator from Ogun West in 2023.
“We have seen what Yayi has been doing in Lagos West and we believe that what the person in Ogun West is doing now is not okay. There is nothing wrong in calling on Yayi so that we can enjoy what he is doing in Lagos State,” he said.
Ojolowo-Ojuko noted that Yayi has the capacity to win an election and represent the people of Ogun West Senatorial District very well.
He emphasized that Alimosho and the Lagos West that he is representing now are big areas in Nigeria.
He said: “We are appealing to Governor Abiodun to allow Yayi to come to Ogun West as senator, so we call it “West to West,” from Lagos West to Ogun West.
“The essence is that we gathered ourselves because we are the voters and politicians, we know what we want. We want Governor Dapo Abiodun for second term and Yayi in Ogun West.”
Also speaking, one of the politicians at the event, Alhaja Fausat Oyedele said that time had come for the people to express themselves, saying that Governor Dapo Abiodun had done well and that Senator Yayi is a man of the people in Ogun West.
Alhaj Oyedele recalled that despite the fact that Yayi is currently representing Lagos West at the senate, he has been reaching out to the people of Ogun West in whatever way he can.
Sources close to Senator Yayi revealed that his plan is to take more development to Yewa area of the state and “further place Ogun State and Ogun West in the map of Nigeria as a vocal politician, who knows how to get things done for the people through his wide range of connections.”