Two geo-political blocs in Ogun state in the All Progressives Congress today unveiled their consensus aspirants for the governorship position.
While Ogun-West Senatorial District picked Abdulkabir Akinlade, a member of the House of Representatives, Ogun East, comprising nine local governments of Ijebu and Remo divisions announced it was settling for long-serving commissioner in the state, Bimbo Ashiru.
Both blocs are claiming the right to produce a successor to Governor Ibikunle Amosun, going by the principle of power rotation in the state.
Amosun who governed the state from 2011 comes from Ogun central, while his predecessor, Gbenga Daniel, is from Remo division of Ogun East. Chief Olusegun Osoba, who was governor between 1999 and 2003, is also from Ogun Central and the first civilian governor, Olabisi Onabanjo, was from Ogun East, Ijebu division.
Governor Amosun had declared on Wednesday that he would announce his candidate for the governorship post today. But he was away in Osogbo for the governorship campaign for the APC candidate, Gboyega Oyetola, when the Chairman of the Ogun-West Elders’ Council, Alhaji Ajibola Olagbayi, presented Akinlade to the state chairman, Chief Derin Adebiyi and other party members in Abeokuta.
It was not clear whether Akinlade is also Amosun’s candidate.
Olagbayi told APC members that Akinlade who is representing the Yewa-South/Ipokia Federal Constituency at the House of representatives, emerged among other nine aspirants from the region at a meeting on Wednesday.
Adebiyi who received Akinlade on behalf of the APC recalled that the party had zoned the governorship seat to the Ogun-West in order to compensate the zone which had never produced a governor since the creation of the state in 1976.
He assured members of the region that the party would work assiduously to ensure that Akinlade eventually emerged as the state governor.
Responding Akinlade commended the elders from Ogun West for the wisdom displayed during the meeting, in which he emerged as the consensus candidate.
He also commended other aspirants for their maturity and acceptance of his candidature.
Akinlade who promised to operate an inclusive government if elected as the governor, solicited the support of all party members.
He said the support had become necessary for the success of the party at the 2019 polls and sustenance of the great development that the Ibikunle Amosun -led administration had brought on the state.
Akinlade pledged to be loyal to the party leadership if elected as governor and to continue the ongoing transformation agenda of the present administration in the state.
He called on party members to ensure that they collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards and mobilise people from the grassroots to vote and sustain APC in power in Ogun.
Meanwhile, elders from the Ogun-East Senatorial District under the aegis of the Ijebu/Remo Governorship Agenda have described the development as “good for democracy”.
The group in a statement issued and signed by its Media Head, Mr Tayo Mabeweje in Ijebu-Ode on Thursday said, “ the stage is set for a contest between the region’s consensus candidate, Mr Bimbo Ashiru and Akinlade”.
Mabeweje said Ashiru, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry was picked as the consensus candidate of the Ijebu/Remo Ogun East Senatorial District in November, 2017.
It said: “The decision of our brothers from the Ogun West Senatorial District is long awaited and will further boost internal democracy in the ruling party, APC, as it goes into primary election in September to determine who becomes the party’s standard bearer.
“Since its creation in February 1976, the bipolar nature of Ogun geo-politics was well established in the Egba/Egbado and Ijebu/Remo dichotomy reflecting in historical as well as political institutions and practices.
“It is only fair and equitable that the Ijebu/Remo zone produce the next governor as by 2019, the old Egba Province would have been in the governorship saddle of the state for eight unbroken years due to Senator Ibikunle Amosun’s rule.
“We believe that, in keeping with the principles of rotation and fairness, the governorship should revert to Ijebu Province.
“Our position is not in any way an affront to His Excellency Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
“If anything, we acknowledge the giant strides of his administration in the last seven years in setting standard for infrastructure development and fully identify with his Mission to Rebuild Ogun.
“We appeal to the good people of Ijebu/Remo that make up Ogun East Senatorial District to be calm in the belief that a level playing ground would be made available for all aspirants, including those of Ijebu extraction, to contest the governorship ticket of the state.
“Our people should not be in any way be disturbed by the development but rather be more united and unwavering in their support of Otunba Bimbo Ashiru in the gubernatorial primaries.
“This is the beauty of democracy when we have people from different zones aspiring to be governor of which only one will emerge as candidate.”
The party at a stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday resolved to use consensus mode of selecting its governorship candidate for the 2019 polls with a caveat to resort to direct primaries if consensus candidate could not emerge.