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Isiaka: Last man standing for Ogun West agenda

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Isiaka: Last man standing  for Ogun West agenda

The African Democratic Congress (ADC) governorship candidate in Ogun State, Prince Gboyega Isiaka, could easily pass off as the last man standing in the struggle by Yewa-Awori people to produce governor in 2019 for the first time in the history of the state. KUNLE OLAYENI reports

 

After two consecutive failed attempts, Prince Gboyega Isiaka, popularly called GNI, is leaving no stone unturned in realising his gubernatorial ambition. Having anchored his time tested campaign on the slogan “believe,” the investment banker turned politician believes he will eventually achieve his goal the third time and succeed the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

He may have drawn inspiration from President Muhammadu Buhari’s historic political struggles, which paid off the fourth time he contested presidential election in the country. But this time round, Isiaka has come into the political space in his home state with virtually more brand popularity and electioneering experience.
Due to the crises rocking the two major parties in the state, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Isiaka is gradually emerging as the potential candidate to reap bountifully from the prevailing political situation.
Last week, Isiaka’s aspiration received a major boost as traditional rulers from the Yewa-Awori extraction in the state endorsed his candidacy. The monarchs declared that Isiaka remained the “perfect candidate” to actualise the age-long aspiration of Ogun West senatorial district to produce governor for the first time since creation of the state.

 

His profile had began to soar again ever since Yewa-born Lagos lawmaker, Senator Solomon Adeola, popularly known as Yayi, quit his quest for governorship in Ogun State on the platform of APC.
At a meeting of the Yewa Traditional Council held on Wednesday in Ilaro, where the ADC governorship candidate was formally presented, the royal fathers gave a resounding endorsement. The meeting, which was presided over by the Olu of Ilaro and Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, was attended by traditional rulers from the five local government areas constituting Ogun West.

Isiaka was accompanied to the well attended congress of Yewa-Awori stakeholders by the ADC state chairman, Dr Gbolade Osinowo, Director-General of his governorship campaign, Engr Tony Ojeshina, renowned historian, Prof Anthony Asiwaju, and several party chieftains from the three senatorial districts of the state.

At the meeting, virtually all the traditional rulers present took turns to pray for Isiaka and bless his aspiration. According to them, Isiaka emerged as the consensus candidate of the senatorial district by divine intervention.
The monarchs said the people of Ogun West are now wiser and determined to speak with their votes in 2019. They also expressed optimism that a governor of Yewa-Awori extraction will address the marginalisation and neglect of the area in terms of development over the years.
Speaking on behalf of the monarchs, Oba Olugbenle said the people were ready to entrust their future in the hands of a competent and capable candidate. He noted that Isiaka’s political journey in the state had been divinely arranged, adding that God was involved in his current efforts.
“Your journey is one that God has blessed. God has done His own to ensure your acceptability; the people must also do their part. The people of Yewa-Awori will be happy to have their own as the next governor,” the paramount ruler said.
Addressing the monarchs earlier, Isiaka said he was at the meeting to formally notify them of his desire to contest the governorship for the third time and also solicit their cooperation and support.
He noted that having emerged third and second in previous gubernatorial elections in the state, he was confident of victory in the next governorship in 2019.

He said, “As governor of Ogun State, I will make you proud. We believe that Ogun State has a lot of potential and we are determined to bring all of this together and harness them. We shall run a good government.
“When we started this process, we heard what some people were saying about our decision. Some people would even say where will I get the money to contest? But I want to assure you that this time around, it is God’s project and He will put us there. Therefore, I need your prayers and support.”
Isiaka promised to focus on education, health, human capital and infrastructural development if elected as governor next year.
The outing, for the ADC standard bearer, appeared to be a huge masterstroke and political capital in the run-up to the governorship election. It also invariably showed that of all the gubernatorial candidates from Ogun West extraction, Isiaka remained the best product in the governorship market in the state.

Since the state was created in 1976, only the Ogun West Senatorial District, comprising the Yewa-Awori people, had yet to produce governor. The Egba and Ijebu that constitute Central and East zones respectively have taken turns at the governorship, hence the agitation in certain quarters that the position should be conceded to the Yewa bloc in next elections.

Apart from the recurring sentiment for Ogun West governorship agenda, Isiaka’s candidacy may have also gained traction because of his sound professional and academic background, private sector experience and public sector achievements.
He was the Group Managing Director of Gateway Holdings Limited, an investment arm of the state government under the Otunba Gbenga Daniel-led administration. His deep knowledge of the socio-economic landscape of the state further endeared him to many.
Moreover, the internal conflicts sweeping through the APC and PDP in the state has arguably positioned Isiaka’s platform as the formidable alternative to bring governance and political leadership back on a clean slate.
At present, the ruling APC is beleaguered by the outcome of its recent primaries. The national leadership of the party declared Prince Dapo Abiodun as the 2019 governorship candidate as against Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, whom Amosun and his loyalists insist won the gubernatorial primary election.

Several efforts by the governor to reverse the situation had failed. Consequently, the aggrieved members of APC have threatened to defect and have indeed initiated move to contest the next elections on the platform of Democratic People’s Party (DPP).
Ahead of the elections, some aides and associates of the governor have been registered as DPP candidates for National Assembly elections. This has heightened speculation that the aggrieved members of APC could switch camp to allow Akinlade contest the governorship.
Like the APC, the opposition PDP is also battling factionalisation as a result of the supremacy tussle and litigation between two National Assembly members, Senator Buruji Kashamu and Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu.
Both Kashamu, representing Ogun East Senatorial District, and Adebutu, who represents Remo Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, have their eyes at the governorship and this has inevitably fuelled the fierce struggle within the party.
While Kashamu is backing a faction led by Chief Adebayo Dayo, Adebutu is in support of another faction headed by Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele. As it stands, the groups have produced two governorship candidates – Adeleke Shittu and Adebutu – who are desperately seeking legitimacy for the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has recognised the list of candidates sent by the Kashamu-backed faction as against the wish of the PDP national leadership, which is in support of the group loyal to Adebutu. How this will pan out remains to be seen.
But unfazed by previous defeat, Isiaka has commenced mobilization for his next electoral expedition. He believes that in the gubernatorial race, majority of the electorate will identify with him not by financial inducement but by their conviction of hope.
He said, “I remain committed to the ideals that made me contest in 2011 and 2015. Nothing has changed in our society. Therefore, my desire to make life more abundant for our people is still intact and I believe that the time has come for me to get the first position having come third and second in the last two elections.

“The people of Ogun State are again yearning for another change but this time around, they have specified the change they want and they need a man with the capacity and more importantly, the integrity needed to be faithful to electoral promises.
“I am already assuring the people of my intention to keep all the promises I have made since 2011 and I think they are ready to cast their votes for me and also defend it.”

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