Yes, the pundits are at work already on the 2019 gubernatorial race for Gov. Amosun’s successor in Ogun State. The list currently making the rounds and featuring in most discussions expose the lack of a political juggernaut and a predominance of political midgets.
Making the list for the APC are: Suraj Adekunbi, present Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly; Chief Tolu Odebiyi, presently Chief of Staff to the Governor; Senator Solomon Adeola, popularly known as “Yayi;” Kola Lawal, presently Commissioner for Forestry; and Rotimi Rahmon currently Chairman of the Local Government Service Commission; former Senator Iyabo Anisulowo; and Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, presently Commissioner for Commerce and Industry. With the exception of Otunba Ashiru who comes from the Ogun East Senatorial district, all the others are from the Ogun West Senatorial district.
No one from the Ogun Central Senatorial district has received mention; a development that can be interpreted as a decision by the party that next governor must emanate from Ogun West in a display of fairness and equity to the district since it is yet to have an indigene of the district become the governor since the state was created in 1976.
For the PDP, Ladi Adebutu, who presently represents Remo North, Sagamu and Ikenne in the Federal House of Representatives and two time contender Prince Gboyega Isiaka are being touted. As a matter of fact, handbags and t-shirts featuring Adebutu’s picture are being freely distributed as I write.
Other political parties, known and yet unknown are expected to present aspirants as matters unfold. So, this preliminary evaluation of “potential” aspirants should be taken with a few grains of salt.
Personally, of these midgets, the only aspirant that stands out is Chief Tolu Odebiyi, a son of Iboro. And he does so by virtue of his pedigree!
He is the son of the late Chief J. A. O. Odebiyi, one of the foremost politicians of the defunct but memorable Western Region of Nigeria. He was a “principal of Principals” [Egbado College]; a Minister for Education when the region introduced free primary education [a feat that is still relished today by many in Nigeria]; and later, Minister of Finance for the region. Later, he became a Senator in the Senate of Nigeria’s first Republic.
With such a progenitor, one hopes, that Tolu would have imbibed a few of the sterling qualities of his father who would have proven to be an ideal candidate for governor of Ogun State.
Hopefully, Tolu is a politician like his accomplished father with a well disciplined personality who embarked on selfless service to make life better for his people. Iboro, his hometown will provide testimony for this, in all ramifications, as this was the community where sojourned. Discipline is necessary for an orderly society and political life. Without it, life becomes miserable. And, selfless service is putting the welfare of the people you represent before your own. His dad was exemplary in this regard.
Late Senator Odebiyi was a good politician with integrity and technical skills with which he handled all those challenging assignments, fiscal matters, policies, plans, projects, ideas and initiatives that provided solutions to problems. Integrity, as used here, is consistency of actions, methods, measures, values, principles, expectations and outcomes. It is doing what is right, both legally and morally at all times.
As good sense of responsibility and party loyalty is another quality of a good politician that Chief J. A. O. Odebiyi displayed by supporting the Action Group party and its leader Chief Obafemi Awolowo at the height of the crisis that rocked the party in the early 60’s. As a very transparent politician, he was always very close to his people; meeting them to understand their problems and reflecting such concerns in the public forum. He was no fake politician; rarely seen by voters except when an election is very near! Neither did he change parties like footballers change clubs and jerseys these days.
Finally, late Senator Odebiyi was a great politician and statesman who used all of his talents, skills, experiences, honesty, integrity, challenges and constraints with the positive effect that he had in touching the lives of his fellow human beings. He left his constituency better than before he was elected. Greatness abounds in the future of a politician who consistently applies himself to things that are worth doing.
If Chief Tolu Odebiyi has learnt a few things from his father, Ogun State would be a better state than when becomes governor. It will go to show that an orange doesn’t fall too far from the tree that bore it.