By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
The prelude to the 2015 governorship contest in Lagos State is getting interesting by the day, especially in the rank of All Progressives Congress (APC). Apart from the party’s decision to zone the governorship position to Lagos East senatorial district and its preference for a Christian candidate, different issues have been shaping the contest in the state with less than eight months to the 2015 elections.
Of the major divisions in Lagos East, the most dominant area canvassing for grassroots mobilization to produce Governor Fashola’s successor is the Ikorodu Division.
Already, a number of community-based pressure groups from the division have started networking with the APC and other political parties to pick a credible candidate for the position, which they said, had not been occupied by an Ikorodu indigene before.
The major groups that are championing Ikorodu’s agitation for governorship candidacy in 2015 include Ikorodu Division Solution Alliance (IDSA), Eminent Persons of Ikorodu Division (EPID) as well as Ikorodu Division Resource Group (IDGR) among others. Each of the groups has been working at different levels to realise the division’s dream to produce the next governor of Lagos.
This agitation came to the fore recently when the IDSA staged a rally from one end of Ikorodu to the other. The rationale behind Ikorodu’s quest for governorship slot had to do with what an IDSA leader, Hon. Said Ibikunle, described as the outright exclusion of the division from the state’s politics of governorship candidacy, particularly since the transition to civil rule in 1999.
The group’s political calculation, actually, goes beyond the 1999 democratic transition. The state has five administrative divisions, which are Badagry, Epe, Ikeja, Ikorodu and Lagos Island. Of the five divisions, the group said only Ikorodu and Badagry have been technically excluded from contesting the governorship office from the Second Republic to the Fourth Republic.
Ibikunle argued that the Ikeja Division had produced the state’s civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande between 1979 and 1983 as well as its third civilian governor, Sen. Bola Tinubu between 1999 and 2007. Also, it cited the case of Epe Division, which it said, produced the state’s second civilian governor, Sir Michael Otedola, who ruled between January 1992 and November 1993. Likewise, the group pointed out the emergence of Fashola in 2007, who it said, came from the Lagos Island Division.
For the 2015 contest, though the state’s ruling party has already zoned the governorship slot to the Lagos East senatorial district, the Ikorodu groups are agitating against perceived scheming to favour candidates from Epe division, which had once produced Sir Otedola.
The group’s chairman, Mr. Japheth Odesanya, said: “By this argument, we are all Lagos residents deserving equal access to all offices, the governorship position should be zoned to Lagos East. The Ikorodu Division, being the most populous and the standing division in Lagos, comprising Imota, Isiu, Ijede, Igbogbo, Bayeku, Egbin, Owutu and Ishawo among others should produce the next governor.
“The agitation of the people of Ikorodu Division is legitimate, timely and rooted in due principle of equity, justice and fair play. This is a clarion call to all well-meaning people of Ikorodu Division and lovers of democracy and justice to stand up and be counted globally.”
Already, the quest has gained the support of chieftains, elders and traditional rulers from all communities that make up the Ikorodu Division. The monarchs from the division have subtly dissociated themselves from the standpoint of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu that all the traditional rulers in the state are in support of the ambition of former Lagos State Accountant-General, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
Rather than supporting Ambode’s governorship ambition, the Ikorodu monarchs are now looking inwards for a credible indigene from the division to contest the 2015 race irrespective of their political affiliations. This is following the Odofin of Ikorodu, Chief Kabiru Sotobi’s recent declaration calling on all eminent indigenes of Ikorodu to join the governorship contest.
Sotobi made it known that the traditional rulers and elders would support the candidacy of any Ikorodu indigene irrespective of his political affiliations. “We want the Ikorodu Division to produce the next governor. The eminent personalities in Ikorodu are not doing this alone. If the PDP decides to have its candidate from Ikorodu, we will support him. If the APC decides to have candidate from Ikorodu, we will support him. If it is Labour Party, we will support him.”
As a result, some aspirants from the divisions have started indicating interest in the race. They include Senator Ganiyu Solomon; former Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe; Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA) candidate in the 2007 governorship election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje; and Abike Dabiri-Erewa, among others.
Another pressure group, Ikorodu Division Resource Group (IDGR) lamented that Ikorodu had suffered outright neglect and marginalization under different political dispensation since the country’s return to civil rule in May 29, 1999.
In a communiqué issued by the group and signed by its chairman, Chief Babatunde Benson (SAN) and Secretariat Coordinator, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe, it resolved that the group should request for letters of intent from persons interested in the 2015 governorship race from all political parties.
The communiqué explained that the effort “is directed towards all registered political parties in the state to ensure that an indigene of Ikorodu Division is presented as a gubernatorial candidate for 2015 governorship election by his political party.”
Disturbed by what the group described as the politics of exclusion, the communiqué emphasised the groups’ observation that for too long, Ikorodu Division has been at the tail end of political benefits of dividend of democracy.