Otegbeye Drops A Grenade In Ogun Guber Race

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By AbdulRasheed Alamutu.

Monday 23th January will remain a watershed in the race towards who occupies the Oke Mosan Governor’s office after the 2023 gubernatorial polls.

That day,the political calculation towards the gubernatorial polls was significantly altered. An urbane and shrewd businessman politician, Barrister Olubiyi Otegbeye (BOT) was allowed into the gubernatorial race of Ogun state. The Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, had upheld the petition of Otegbeye, the candidate of African Democratic Congress, ADC,along with all the 23 House of Assembly candidates of the party in Saturdays elections.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) in Ogun State had dragged the ADC to court ,alleging that Otegbeye and the 23 assembly candidates of the ADC were not validly nominated in line with the 2022 Electoral Act.

It would be recalled that Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta had on November 26 ruled in favour of LP and APC directing the INEC to delist Otegbeye and all the 23 OGHA candidates from the list of those to contest the March election.

Dissatisfied, Otegbeye and the ADC Assembly candidates headed for the court of Appeal. And the appellate court okayed their demand. Justice M.A.A. Adumen JCA in his judgement set aside the Judgment of the lower Court. The court, in a unanimous verdict, held that the lower court has no Jurisdiction to adjudicate on the suits filed by APC and LP challenging the primaries conducted by ADC in the first place.

The Court set aside the decision and all the orders made by the trial court for want of Jurisdiction and dismissed the suit. The judge said that the appeal succeeds because the issue of who becomes the candidate of a political party remains the prerogative of the political parties.

That epochal judgement set the scene for the titanic battle set to unfurl this Saturday in Ogun state.

Observers believe that the Otegbeye challenge is poignant and pointed and could upend the political status quo in the state. Unlike Triple A in 2019, Otegbeye is not an unknown politician. The insurance mogul hails from the popular Otegbeye family line in Ilaro. He is a time tested politician with a massive pedigree in Ogun west politics.

Ilaro where he hails from is the headquarter of Ogun West- a senatorial district that has been clamouring that one of its sons be allowed to fill the apex seat in Ogun state. None dead or living from Ogun west had ever ruled the state since its creation in 1976.

Interestingly, Since the clamor began in 2011, Ogun westerners had always voted for their sons in every election. Besides, in previous elections,Ogun west often presented multiple candidates which tended to divide their votes. It is not so this time. Otegbeye is the only candidate from that axis.

His opponents are not so blessed. Incumbent governor, Dapo Abiodun of the APC will share Ogun East votes with Ladi Adebutu of the PDP. Ladi adebutu, the scion of the betting magnate ,is not a novice in politics or the race. He was in the lower chamber of the national assembly before and he had a track record of performance and philanthropy. Lado, as he is popularly called, is well loved by his people. Sadly, Abiodun has baggages to contend with. He is unpopular with the civil servilants who are angry that most of the promises he made to them were unfulfilled three and a half years down the line.
Abiodun is also having issues with retirees and politicians who see his brand of politics as too narrow and parochial. He Is also accused by the generality of Ogun people of favouring his Remo axis by citing key developmental projects in his homestead.

Otegbeye doesn’t have such baggage. He is poised to win handsomely in Ogun west because Ogun westerners are not in the habit of abandoning their sons who are bold enough to throw their hats in the gubernatorial ring. The records are there to confirm it. In 2011,2015 and 2019 when multiple candidates emerged from Ogun west. The two of them were robustly supported with many arguing that the aggregate of the votes garnered by the Ogun West sons would have made them governors if it wasn’t split.

In Ogun Central, Abiodun’s popularity rating is very poor. He is accused of abandoning the state capital in preference for his Ogun East. Several projects initiated by his predecessor were abandoned. The recent commissioning of the agro-cargo airport in Illishan doesn’t glamorise him either. Should former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun work assiduously in Ogun central, ADC might have a good showing. Intriguingly, Amosun had publicly backed Otegbeye and had even joined him in campaigning in Ota, Ifo, Sagamu, and Abeokuta South and North Local Government governments.

Another twist that favours Otegbeyes is his deputy, Alhaji Awonuga, who is from Ogun Waterside. The people of that Local Government had never had that type of opportunity. They will want to vote for their son.Otegbeye also has Ijebu blood in his veins. His mother is an Ijebu Princess from Odopotu in Ijebu North East Local Government.

Certain unforeseen angles are also working in the favour of Otegbeye. Inside information has it that Otunba Gbenga Daniel. Yes, OGD is casting his lot with the ADC man. It is tough to believe but it is true. The reason OGD is not supporting Abiodun is because Dapo doesn’t want OGD to pick Ogun east APC senate ticket for his selfish ambition. And when OGD eventually did, Dapo Abiodun reportedly asked OGD for a written undertaking to serve just a term as Senator. Of course OGD didn’t agree. The die was cast, OGD ran his campaign alone and on Election Day, APC lost in all the wards around Abiodun. When OGD eventually won the contest, the governor who was quick to rush to Ilaro to congratulate Olamilekan Adeola who equally won the Senate seat of Ogun west but refused to congratulate OGD.

There is also the possibility that Hon. Abiodun Akinlade the baba Adinni of Yewaland, might work for Otegbeye as well. Why? Some politicians close to Dapo Abiodun almost denied him the House of Representatives ticket. After he was cajoled into leaving the Ogun West senate ticket for Yayi. He won the Rep ticket for Yewa South. But some Dapo Abiodun guys went to court to nullify his nomination on the ground that he didn’t obtain REP form. It was at the Appeal court that his nomination was restored. The man saw the hands of Dapo and Yayi in it and was also waiting for his pound of flesh.

And I heard GNI too is not happy with Dapo for arm-twisting him to surrender the senate ticket to Yayi. He was said to have told his people in Imeko that “ ibo alajobi la ma di ni ti governor”( we are going to vote our brother in the governorship election.`) Like the presidential election, Saturday’s polls promises to throw up several upsets especially in Ogun state.

*Alamutu writes from Ado-Odo town.

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