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2019: Aspirants jittery as Ashiru joins Ogun governorship race

2019_ Aspirants jittery as Ashiru joins Ogun governorship race

Sudden endorsement of Bimbo Ashiru, Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry by almost all and sundry from Ijebu-Remo axis of the state under the aegis of Ijebu-Remo Governorship Agenda Forum on Wednesday has changed political rhythm, as all political parties and aspirants vying for the state governorship seat ahead of 2019 have gone jittery.

Ashiru is coming at a time when Yewa-Awori people seem to have begun a usual political process that has been the trademark of Ogun West Senatorial District since 1979 – a multiplicity of candidates – who always lose governorship seat to other Senatorial districts due to incessant disagreement among its elders and political class.

But, unanimous endorsement of Ashiru as consensus candidate for 2019 Ogun state governorship election by Ijebu-Remo Governorship Agenda Forum who are reportedly backed by both Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona and soon-to-be-crowned Akarigbo of Remoland, Obama Babatunde Ajayi, coupled with unparalleled unity among the people of Ijebu-Remo in Ogun East Senatorial District, have really unsettled political camps within and outside the All Progressives Congress (APC).

READ ALSO: Ashiru advocates a 20% reduction in taxes paid by MSMEs to improve ease of doing business

It will be recalled that Ashiru defeated former Deputy Governor, Segun Adesegun; Senator Gbenga Kaka and Senator Olorunmbe Mamora; Muyiwa Oladipo, a serving Commissioner in the state and four other aspirants who were screened by the Olu Okuboyejo-led four-man Selection and Screening Committee. The Commissioner for Commerce and Industry was elected in Ijebu-ode after tension-filled meetings of All Progressive Congress (APC) leaders in Ogun East Senatorial District led by Elias Folorunsho, Vice Chairman of APC and Gbolade Oshinowo, Chairman of Ijebu-Remo Governorship Agenda Forum.

The Chairman of the Forum, Gbolade Oshinowo later disclosed that Ashiru scored 89 points to defeat other aspirants in the exercise which he described as being transparent, having seasoned administrators and incorruptible members of the panel. Other aspirants were Olumuyiwa Oladipo Commissioner for Culture and Tourism; Abayomi Ogunowo;  T. Kazeem; Owodunni Opeyemi; and Jimi Lawal. While Momora scored 88.25 points, Kaka scored 80.25 points, Oladipo 87.5, Adesegun 54 points, Kazeem 58.5 points, Lawal 77 points, Owodunni 42 points and Ogunowo polled 82 points.

Osinowo explained that the exercise was done to avoid multiplicity of candidates which would likely scuttle chances of producing an Ijebuman as the next governor in 2019, and that “This is only the first step. There are still many steps to victory and we are going to take those steps. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this candidate wins the hearts and minds of everybody in Ogun State.

“After this, we are going to launch a massive campaign and go round the state to ensure our candidate carries the day for 2019. I have absolute confidence and trust in them (Panel members). If I didn’t have trust in them, if there was an iota of doubt in my mind, we would not have continued.

“We would not have accepted their report. For those four men, they are integrity personified; I have known them, they are people that have important positions. So they have seen it all. They are people that money cannot buy. They are absolutely incorruptible and we have confidence in them.”

READ ALSO: Ogun allocates N21bn to agriculture in 2018

Responding, Otunba Ashiru, a strong member of Governor Amosun’s cabinet and serving the governor for a second term, described his emergence as “victory for all” and promised not to betray the confidence reposed in him when he eventually emerges as governor. He added that he would ensure the continuation of the mission to rebuild the state, and “turn Ogun to Dubai of this World.”

Ashiru said “I feel humbled, honoured and I believe this is a service to mankind. We will want to continue the mission to rebuild Ogun State. The need to continue the rebuilding mission is very key and we need somebody who has passion, vision and the kind of zeal like that of His Excellency. He is somebody I have a fine relationship with; he is my friend, my boss and mentor. And it is easy for me to combine all of these and work tirelessly and be able to support what he has done.”

Meanwhile, there was a little drama on Friday when Ashiru allegedly tendered his resignation letter, bowing out from Amosun’s cabinet after over six years of meritorious service for his home state; prior to that, he was at Stanbic IBTC Bank as Group Head, Public Sector in 2011.

His resignation prompted Amosun to call an emergence State Executive Meeting to prevent ‘the goose that lays the golden eggs’ from exiting the cabinet, having understood that about three members of his cabinet though from another zone – Yewa-Awori zone – are also nursing ambitions to contest in 2019.

READ ALSO: Is APC going into 2019 general election a divided house?

Brief profile of Ashiru

Bimbo Ashiru was born in Ijebu-Ode, Headquarters of Ijebuland and has worked, all his life, as an investment banker. He became Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in 2011, having served as Group Head, Public Sector, Stanbic IBTC bank and was re-appointed in 2015 when Governor Amosun was re-elected.

Under his stewardship in Ogun State, the business environment of the state developed beyond imagination with over 1,279.84percent increase in internally generated revenue of the state. More than 120 companies established their presence in Ogun State with a cumulative investment profile of about N691.77 billion in 2014 compared to N377 billion in 2013. This placed Ogun state in the first position in Nigeria, according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). During his time, approximately 75percent of Foreign Direct Investments into the country between 2011 and 2016 came to Ogun state.