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Rumblings as Lagos senator moves to run in Ogun

The senator representing Lagos West, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, better known as Yayi, has declared his intention to run for the Ogun West Senatorial district seat…

The senator representing Lagos West, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, better known as Yayi, has declared his intention to run for the Ogun West Senatorial district seat of Ogun State, in 2023, a move that has been branded a ‘West-To-West’ Agenda. 

Daily Trust reports that the move has led to confusion within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

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Ogun West, a region otherwise known as Yewa-Awori in Ogun State, has been under intense rumblings, intrigues, power play and confusion over who occupies its senatorial seat, come 2023.  

For keen watchers, the development is contrary to the usual agitation for power shift that the region has been known for, in every election year. 

Since the creation of Ogun State in 1976, Yewa-Awori has not produced a governor. Ogun Central and Ogun East have had their shares at different times.

But the build-up to 2023 has revealed that the vast majority of the key players from the zone, especially within the ruling APC have jettisoned the idea of running for governorship and rather embraced the senatorial race. 

Also, there is no notable politician from the zone in the opposition party who has shown interest in the gubernatorial race.

The reason is not far-fetched. The APC top shots have “suspended” their ambition to allow Governor Dapo Abiodun to run for a second term. 

But the battle for the ruling party’s Senate ticket for Ogun West is currently tearing stakeholders and APC leaders apart in the region.

During the week, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi) of Lagos West, after many years of groundwork and sweeping recruitment of politicians, officially declared for the Senate. 

He would be battling the present occupant of the seat, Senator Tolu Odebiyi, Gboyega Nasiru Isiaka, a three-time governorship candidate and a three-time House of Representatives member, Abiodun Akinlade, in what promises to be a fierce battle.

Adeola’s final move to switch his political base from Lagos to Ogun has been a subject of controversy, most especially that his indigeneship has been called to question, severally. 

He had made a failed attempt to run for governorship in 2019, before he was later re-elected as Lagos West Senator.

By 2023, the accountant-turned-politician would have completed 20 years as a lawmaker representing Lagos at the State House of Assembly, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. 

He spent eight years as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Alimosho State Constituency 2, from 2003 to 2011. From 2011 to 2015, he was a member of the House of Representatives, representing Alimosho Federal Constituency.

He contested and became the senator of Lagos West from 2015 to 2019. He contested again in 2019 and returned to the Senate. In 2015, his aspiration to become the senator of Ogun West was unsuccessful, making him relocate to Lagos West for the senatorial ticket.

He returned before the 2019 elections for a governorship ambition in Ogun State, but met stiff resistance from then Governor Ibikunle Amosun who branded him a “foreigner.”

Controversy over Yayi’s indigeneship

As of today, Adeola’s indigeneship remains a subject of controversy: many are yet to be convinced he is from Pahayi in Ilaro as they are being made to believe.

In October last year, plans to confer a pan-Yewa chieftaincy title on Adeola, sparked outrage and protest in the state.

The Olu of Ilaro and paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle had reportedly conferred ‘Aremo of Yewaland’ on Adeola, a move believed to be part of the politics to concretise his indigeneship of the area.

A group, Ogun West Liberation Forum, kicked against the plan by the Olu of Ilaro to confer the title on Adeola, describing it as “attempt to sabotage collective unity by politicising chieftaincy process without following due procedures.”

The forum, particularly questioned the senator’s indigeneship, saying a “background check carried out on Senator Adeola has given a conflicting revelation with respect to his precise origin or source in Yewaland.”

Speaking on behalf of the group, the vice-chairman, Wale Akinwande, noted that the origin of ‘Yayi’ has been a source of concern to the relevant stakeholders of Yewaland.

He maintained that the “Aremo Oba of Yewaland” “is a highly coveted traditional chieftaincy title that must be conferred on an indigene of Yewaland whose lineage is known and can be confirmed with proofs that cannot be controverted.”

But another group, Ogun West Frontliners, described the rejection of Adeola’s chieftaincy title as “mischievous and frivolous.”

The group alleged that “a close scrutiny of the petitioners shows that they are known aides and political surrogates of a former governor of Ogun State who has never hidden his disdain for the person of Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (YAYI).”

His strategy 

Apart from his sweeping recruitment of political followers, Adeola has been making inroads into Ogun West by facilitating projects and donations.

He had sponsored a bill for the upgrade of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro to a university of science and technology. The bill had a third reading and final passage last year. 

He also facilitated a library for the institution. He was recently conferred with the fellowship award of the institution.

Aside from people whose bills he takes care of monthly, Adeola was said to have recently presented a transformer and the sum N10 million for the laying of cables to electrify the College of Agricultural Science, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Aiyetoro Campus.

The governor’s man?

When it dawned on him that he would no longer run for governorship in 2019, Adeola backed Abiodun who had secured the party’s ticket. It is believed that Adeola’s political structure played a “huge role” in enthroning Abiodun’s government.

Insiders said his political followers constitute not less than 40 per cent of the state cabinet, thereby making him relevant and a top player in Ogun politics, despite representing Lagos West.

To Governor Abiodun, Adeola “is more of an Ogun senator than Lagos” as he has lost support of all the three senators from Ogun State.

However, comments from supporters of Adeola and Isiaka, are heightening the battle for the senatorial race.

Bolaji Adeniji, a supporter of Isiaka, popularly called GNI, described Adeola’s ambition as an “aberration and unthinkable.”

 “Yes, people can be running around in his name. You know the weaponization of poverty, ignorance and inducement by the core politicians in some parts of Yewaland have made people lose their senses…”

But Wale Junaid, a Yayi’s supporter, described the position as uncharitable, saying “If many of the politicians supporting Senator Yayi were not bought when they were in other camp, not even GNI’s camp… it is not a function of any dollar or any naira.”

A statement issued by Yayi’s Media Adviser, Kayode Odunaro, confirming his official declaration to run for Ogun Senate seat, said his boss “was heeding the clarion call of his people to return home to contribute to the development of his people as he has done for Lagos West as their senator in the last six years and counting.”