Ogun West ready to take over from Amosun in 2019 – Salako

Dr. Kunle Salako is a former Commissioner for Health in Ogun State. In this interview, he speaks on the need and readiness of the Ogun West senatorial district to produce the next governor of the state in 2019. 

Ogun State is 42 years and the governorship of the state has only rotated between the East and Central. What effect has this development had on the Ogun West zone, which has not produced a governor?
The effect of Ogun West not to have been at the helms of affairs in Ogun State is visible in virtually all sectors of the development aspects of the senatorial district. For example, whereas Ogun West is the cash-cow of Ogun State producing the highest internally generated revenue for the state, our infrastructure is the worst. If you look at our roads, there is no good road out of the state capital going to Ogun West, none. If you look at our education, apart from the recently established Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia, which has not fully take-off, we are seriously being shortchanged in terms of higher institution.
For example, if you look at Ogun East, they have the Ogun State University; Tai Solarin College of Education; Tai Solarin University of Education; the Petro-Chemical Institute; the Teaching Hospital, among others. In the Central, they have the Ogun State Polytechnic which has now been upgraded to the University of Technology; the Federal University of Agriculture; Federal College of Education; the Neuro Psychiatrist Hospital and also coming up is the University of Education. If you look at our schools, both primary and secondary schools, we have been shortchanged as well when you look at the state and structure compare to the two other senatorial districts, we are much poorer. Generally speaking, it reflects in every aspect of our socio-economic life in the Ogun West senatorial district.

What are the factors inhibiting the realisation of an Ogun West governor in the past 42 years?
There are many issues; some of them are internal while others are external. For example, because of our inability to have assumed positions, you will see that the way the political calculations of Ogun state has been structured, we are relegated into a disadvantaged position. For instance, whereas we have five local governments in Ogun West, there are six local governments in Ogun Central and nine local governments in Ogun East. We have 59 wards in Ogun West, they have about 70 to 80 in the Central, while the East has over 100 wards. So, when it comes to political calculations and delegate votes, it affects us considerably. Except that there is a consensus across the state, you will found out that we have been structurally disadvantaged. 

That is one key issue.
Another issue is that because our neighbours have been in the helms of affair much earlier when decisions have to be taken, sometimes, our people from Ogun West may not be there. For example, if they are saying we want a meeting of all former governor of Ogun State to take a decision, we won’t have anybody there to stand in for Ogun West as a former governor. So, all those issues sometimes creep in to deny us some of these things. Internally, of course, we don’t sometimes agree easily with ourselves and multiplicity of aspiration also denies us some of those things. But if you compare, you know in Physics we talk about centripetal and centrifugal forces. The forces that are pulling us apart from outside appear to be stronger than the forces within that are pulling us together. That is the real crux of the matter.

Are you worried about the interest of Ogun East in the 2019 governorship and the claims by some people in the zone that Ogun State only has two provinces?
I think those who are talking about provinces in the Nigeria of 2018 are only playing the ostrich and trying to pretend as if Nigeria has not moved forward. It is like saying that Ogun State should not be interested in anything that comes to Oyo State since both of them came from South-West region. Of course, that doesn’t make sense. Nigeria has moved away from the issues of provinces and the only thing that is constitutionally recognized today are the senatorial districts, states, and local governments. Anything that you are going to do in Nigeria and Ogun State today has to be along these entities. So, provinces no longer exist.

What is the relationship between Ogun West and Ogun East?
I know that a lot of interactions and engagements are ongoing. Our leaders are meeting with leaders of the other senatorial districts regularly and continuously. We have gone around to meet with all the paramount rulers in both Ogun East and Central; and the same with elder councils. We have been meeting with our younger level; we’ve been meeting with our peers. We are engaging and talking to ourselves that it is in the best interest of Ogun State for us to have even development and equal opportunities. I think that those who are receptive are listening to us.
We should also recognize the fact that the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, has zoned the governorship slot for 2019 to Ogun West. This has also been sanctioned by the incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. We also know that former President Olusegun Obasanjo who is like the father of Ogun State, has also said several times that he thinks that the next governor of the state will come from Ogun West. I think all these factors when put together will enhance the chances of Ogun State.

How ready, coordinated and united is Ogun West for the 2019 governorship race?
First, we have to realize that when it comes to politics and party activities, it is not possible to put everybody in the same political party. However, on the issue of the senatorial district to produce the next governor, whereas we don’t have 100 per cent consensus, I can tell you that we have 90 per cent consensus as a zone. I can tell you that gatekeepers at all levels of traditional rulers from Ogun West are agreeable that the zone should produce the next governor. 

To that extent, I think we are organised. At the level of socio-politico pressure groups, there is also high activity and engagement going on. We are also engaging at the level of parties, level of the governor, level of chairmen of parties and even level of the aspirants. We are engaging everybody and having good results.

I think Ogun West is ready to take over from Amosun and we have been ready for many years. Interestingly, everybody recognizes that Ogun West has a lot of things to offer. We have a lot of potentials. All former leaders of Ogun State from the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, have always been talking about handing over to Ogun West because they recognized the inbuilt potential of an average Ogun West person. We have the capacity and we have demonstrated that severally in all fields of endeavour.

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