Towards 2015: Ogun is home

The governorship contest in Ogun State come 2015 is not going to be an easy one for incumbent Governor Ibikunle Amosun of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, now APC. The Yewa/ Awori Agenda is so potent enough that it can change the tide of the game. The battle will be fought between the Labour Party, PDP and APC candidates. KUNLE IDOWU reports

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With barely 20 months to the 2015 governorship election in Ogun State, the political game in the state is getting more interesting as political parties, among which is the newly registered All Progressives Congress, APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the Labour Party are putting machinery in motion to tackle one another at the polls.
One major factor that is likely going to determine who occupies the exalted position come 2015, is who the parties’ candidates are; their credentials, what they have achieved politically and their financial capacity.
The APC, the PDP and the Labour Party seem to be the prominent parties in the state for now. The parties are likely to feature prominently in the next polls, particularly as some of their members have continued to show interest either silently or publicly in the state’s number one position.
Although members of the newly registered APC seem to be taking their time to study the goings on in the new party, indications have emerged that the state Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, is likely to be tipped as the party’s governorship candidate. However, it is generally believed that the incumbent Governor might not have an easy ride in picking the party’s ticket, not to talk of winning the main election.
In all, no fewer than seven aspirants are known for now, to be eyeing the governorship seat of the state come 2015.
A breakdown of the figure shows that four of them, who are believed to be, at
one time or the other, the political sons of the former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, are showing interest on the platform of Labour Party. They include, Gbenga Nasir Isiaka, GNI, Hon Abiodun Akinlade, Alhaji Tunji Ishola Sarafa, and Mr Sina Kawonise.
Findings showed that two will come from the crisis ridden PDP. They are Hon. Sikirullahi Ogundele and Hon Kayode Amusan. The biggest of the aspirants is likely to contest under the platform of the newly registered APC, and that is the incumbent governor of the state, Senator Amosun. Hallmark examines the aspirants and their chances.

SIKIRULAI OGUNDELE
He is a public affairs critic turned politician. He came into active politics in 1991, when he contested for the governorship of Ogun State alongside, the father of former Speaker of the House of Representative, Chief Alani Bankole, Chief Femi Coker, the Late Chief Olalekan Ojo and Engr. Yomi Ademefun, under the platform of the National Republican Convention, NRC. He was a member of the state House of Assembly in 2003 and later the chairman of Ifo Local Government area of Ogun State.
STRENGHTS:
He is a humanist of repute. He has touched the lives of many, across the state, through bursary awards and empowerment programmes that endeared him to the hearts of many. If well managed, Ogundele is likely to use that to garner votes from the people of the state. He has chains of business ventures, meaning that he has the financial muscle to execute his governorship project, which is said to have received the blessings of many.
“The very cordial relationship between Ogundele and leaders of the crisis ridden PDP is another plus for me” he said. His governorship ambition is currently receiving positive reactions from leaders of his party who see him as a person who could be worked for, to ensure victory for his party in the 2015.
Hon Sikirulahi Ogundele is a member of many Islamic organizations among which are Feodat Tijaniyat, Onibudo, Central Mosque. If well harnessed, his relationship with the Islamic organisations could work in his favour as he is likely to get votes from Islamic brothers and sisters whose population is on the high side in Ogun State.
Ogundele has a powerful political structure in every nook and cranny of the state. He believes the structure will give him the PDP’s ticket and finally see him through his journey to the governor’s office in 2015.
His performance as the executive chairman of Ifo Local Government is another plus for him because Ifo Local Government has over ¼ of the total votes in the state.
WEAKNESS
People believe that Ogundele is a politician who cannot stoop to conquer. It is believed that he might be difficult to control, hence the fear by PDP leaders on whether or not to wholeheartedly support his ambition. He is also seen as a politician who looks at the marks on the Naira, meaning, he is not a spend thrift and for him to make it, he has to be a heavy spender.

KAYODE AMUSAN
Kayode Amusan, was a two term member of the federal House of Representatives where he represented Odeda Obafemi-Owode and Abeokuta North Local Government areas. Amusan is believed to be nursing the ambition of becoming the Ogun State governor in 2015. His dream to go back to the House of representatives was punctured when he was defeated at the primaries of the PDP by the daughter of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,

Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, Mrs Lola Edewor.
Although, Hon Amusan claimed to be from Ogun State, his claim to Odeda Local government area of Ogun State has for long, been a subject of controversy.
STRENGHTS
There is no doubting the fact that Amusan, has the financial muscles to execute his project. He is believed to own two vessel aside from the fact that he has other business ventures that earn him money on a steady basis.
WEAKNESSES
Amusan, according to politicians in the state did not use his position to bring the needed dividends of democracy to the people of the local governments he represented in the House of Representatives. His alleged non-responsiveness to the plight of his people will work against him as an aspirant because majority of supporters would not support him to realize his ambition.
Also, leaders of the PDP are not likely to support his candidature because they believe he had tasted elective office at a higher level for good eight years and should step down for others. For a politician to achieve success at any level, he must not be a tight fisted person. To many, Amusan did not use his money to better the lots of majority of his supporters, who have vowed to dump him whenever he comes to them again for votes.

SINA KAWONISE
Mr Sina Kawonise, is from Ikenne Local Government area of Ogun State.
He was the Commissioner for Information and Strategy during the tenure of Otunba Gbenga Daniel and now the Managing Director of Compass Newspapers. Before his political appointment, he lectured at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. He moved to PPN before the last election because of the political stance of his mentor, OGD and now he is with the Labour Party.
WEAKNESSES
Except one wants to deceive oneself, observers do not see Kawonise as an aspirant who can make serious incursions into the political landscape of Labour Party. Kawonise is not known to many as a vibrant politician because he does not have enough supporters, across the three geo- political zones of the state that would make him win election.
For now, one does not see him, having any impact in Ogun Central and Ogun West Senatorial districts of the state, which will determine his fate.
Kawonise, though, a vibrant master strategist and spokesman, who has carved a niche for himself in the communication industry, he is not seen to have any structure that will make him win election in the state, except probably at either his ward or local government level.
STRENGHTS
His weaknesses, not withstanding, Kawonise is likely to have friends and political associates that will bankroll his political campaign. Also there is the likelihood that the former Governor of the state will support his political ambition if he finally picks the Labour Party governorship ticket. Daniel, who is still a force to be reckoned with politically, will support Kawonise, to compensate him for his unequalled loyalty to him in the course of his travails with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.
TUNJI ISHOLA SAFAFA
He is a grassroots politician, who started his political voyage from his ward in the then Abeokuta Local Government of Ogun State before it was split into Abeokuta North and South.
He was a one time councillor, council Chairman, Secretary to the Ogun State Government, SSG, and finally a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has used all these positions to achieve political recognition.
STRENGHTS
His ministerial position brought him to lime light at the national level and this, more than any other factor, has endeared him to the hearts of politicians in the state.
He is equally a strong and devout Muslim who spends in the way of Allah. Muslim faithful across the state are likely to have sympathy on him and this too, could give him an edge over some other aspirants in the coming election. Sarafa‘s romance with Dr Jubril Martins Kuye, is another factor that could put him in a vantage position, that is if he still has a very cordial relationship with the Ago-Iwoye political guru.
WEAKNESSES
Sarafa Tunji Ishola, is no doubt a fine politician, but political observers believe that his dumping Otunba Gbenga, when he moved his supporters to PPN will certainly affect his governorship ambition in the Labour Party.
He is still, not seen as a serious aspirant because he is yet to unfold his plans as regards what he intends to go for, while other aspirants in the same party with him have been blowing their trumpets to let people know they are serious.
Many see Sarafa as a regional aspirant, whose grip of the political party he belongs did not go beyond Ogun Central Senatorial District of the state, meaning that he cannot perform any feat out of the district, that would earn him the governorship of the state.
IBIKUNLE AMOSUN
He is by the special grace of God, the incumbent Governor of the state. He was with the PDP where he won election to become a Senator in 2007 representing Ogun Central Senatorial District. He left the party for the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and later joined ACN under which platform he won in 2011.
STRENGHTS
Ibikunle Amosun is one of the best performing governors in the country, without sounding immodest. His transformation Agenda in Ogun State, particularly in the area of road construction has endeared him to the hearts of the people of the state.
Amosun is currently using his Mission to Rebuild Ogun State, to blaze the trail in some sectors namely education, health and security. The slogan now is “Amosun for Second Term” based on his myriad of achievements.
The governor has a political structure on ground, even as he also uses some associations such as NURTW, NRTEAN, ACOMORA and AMORA which are Transport Associations, to garner more support and political relevance.
WEAKNESSES
Senator Ibikunle Amosun is seen as an autocrat. His imposition of local government chairmen from his group “SIA” on the people of the state, is one major factor that will affect his dream of occupying the governorship seat, for a second term. He has used his power, as the governor of the state, to wrest party control from the likes of Chief Segun Osoba, Senator Gbenga Kaka, Senator Biyi Durojaiye, who are confounders of the ACN. As a matter of fact, many of the leaders, have adopted the wait and see posture waiting for the governor’s tenure to expire, after which they would gang-up against him, to puncture his future political ambition.
Change they say, come with pains. The unequalled move by the governor to construct modern roads across the three senatorial districts of the state, has caused pains to some people, whose houses or shops were demolished by the Amosun government, to pave way for the construction of modern roads. Some of those affected seem aggrieved and have also vowed to work against the interest of the governor in 2015.
Amosun is also seen to be having problems with the state workforce, through the slow remittance of deductions made from workers’ salaries to the appropriate quarters, like was the case when the PDP held sway in the state. Workers in the state are also thinking of scuttling the governor’s ambition.
ABIODUN AKINLADE
He is from Yewa area of the state. He was a onetime Chairman of Yewa South Local Government and now a member of the House of Representatives. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2003 and has since been there representing his people.
Abiodun Akinlade, is a politician of substance who used his position as the Chairman of Yewa South Local government to better the lots of his people.
A former member of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, Akinlade has found new love in the Labour Party, after sensing that his governorship aspiration could be jeopardized if he still stays in ACN.
STRENGHTS
Hon Akinlade is seen as a very serious governorship candidate who has been nursing governorship dreams many years ago. He has been oiling his political machinery with money, a situation which, currently seems to have placed him above many governorship aspirants in the state.
Akinlade has a very robust relationship with virtually all the 26 members of the state House of Assembly. He is very likely to make impact in all the three geo-political zones of the state. The Yewa-Awori Agenda is also, automatically likely to work in Akinlade’s favour. He is very accessible. The Yewa/ Awori people saw in Akinlade, a very trustworthy person who has the interest of the masses at heart. Akinlade, as a member of the House of Representatives has imparted positively on the people of his area in particular and some other parts of the state in general.
Akinlade’s wife’s empowerment programmes is another factor, likely to work in his favour. Now that it is being rumoured that the Yewa-Awori
might be given the opportunity to produce the next governor of the state, it is believed that Akinlade, stands a chance of picking the ticket.
WEAKNESSES
Akinlade is seen as a political prostitute by observers. He was with the PDP , later with the ACN and now with the Labour Party. His vertical political movement could spell down for his aspiration because as he moves from one political party to another, he loses many supporters. In the Labour Party where he is now, members may not relate with him deeply because of the fear that he might dump them half way to join another party and this will definitely have a negative consequence on his political ambition.
Although a good man to the core, he may have to contend with strict opposition from leaders of his party, Labour Party, who may see him as too hot to handle, if given the Party’s ticket.
GBENGA NASIR ISIAKA
He is from Imeko-Afon local government area of Ogun State and read accounting at the then University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University. He is a household name in Ogun politics, having come into political limelight during the tenure of Otunba Daniel. He was then a member of PDP. Not much was known or heard about him politically until he was made the Managing Director and later Group Managing Director, of Gateway Holdings. With his position, he was directly in charge of the investment portfolio of Ogun State.
He moved to PPN and contested the state governorship seat in the party, with the full support of his political mentor, Otunba Daniel, who was still operating from the PDP. Nasir is now in Labour Party, following the crises that has torn the party apart.
STRENGHTS
He has all the experience required to govern Ogun State successfully.
His wealth of experience as the former Group Managing Director of Gateway Holding is a plus for him. He knows the button to press to make things work well for the state, financially.
GNI as he is fondly called, has a solid political structure that he has continued to service. This is likely to be a plus for him, in his quest to rule Ogun State come 2015. His relationship with his mentor, Daniel, if still sustained, will help him tremendously.
Daniel’s eight years rule in the state and his connections will be a threat to whoever is contesting against Gbenga Nasir Isiaka. The Imeko born politician also has the financial muscle to execute his project.
Political observers believe Isiaka, did very well in the area of empowerment while in office, and will therefore have no problems, getting the votes of the people of the state, particularly in Ogun West and Central Senatorial District of the state.
WEAKNESSES
Any politician who wants to succeed in his political calling must be a free mixer. This attribute GNI does not have, to the level expected.
As a book-worm, based on his educational background, GNI is still lagging behind in this aspect and this will definitely give him some problems. However, it is not too late for him to adjust by mixing freely with the people. He has to ensure that when he speaks, everybody becomes carried away, as done by a member of the Labour Party, Hon
Segun Adewale, during the launch of a N100m fund raising for the women in Labour Party in Abeokuta recently.
Another area that is likely to affect the governorship ambition of GNI is, his tight fisted nature. There is no doubting the fact that he is a philanthropist. However, he has not done much for the people to allay their fear that he would not be tight fisted, like the current governor of the state, Senator Amosun, an accountant who believes that government money should always be in the purse of the government and not in the pockets of individuals.
Political observers believe that accountants do not make good politicians and as such should not be allowed to occupy positions where they would have to spend for people.

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