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New governors: The road to Government House

By Bolade Omonijo, Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

When the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida exercised Osun out of Oyo State in 1991, the people of Ibadan, capital of old Western Region, Western State and Oyo State heaved a sigh of relief. Before the creation of the new state, it was not unusual to hear Ibadan indigenes complain of political marginalisation.

In the old Western Region, the Ijebus, Egbas, Ijesas and Ekitis were seen as the dominant forces. Few people from Ibadan held sensitive civil service and political appointments. The first Premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was an Ijebu from Ikenne. The second, Chief Ladoke Akintola hailed from Ogbomoso. Even when the military took over it was the likes of General Adeyinka Adebayo, Brigadier-General Oluwole Rotimi, Dayo Popoola and Olurin from others parts of the South West who managed affairs of the state.

In the Second Republic, the late Chief Bola Ige, an Ijesa, was the governor. However, by 1983, the Ibadan people decided it was time to muscle their way into office. Dr. Omololu Olunloyo contested the governorship race on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). In that controversial election, Dr. Olunloyo was declared winner against the incumbent, Chief Bola Ige. That disputed election was the only opportunity the Ibadans had to produce the Chief Executive of old Oyo State. All that changed when Osun State was created in August 1991. The first opportunity to elect a leader of what remained of Oyo State came shortly after the state came shortly after the state creation exercise. It was the first opportunity the Ibadans had to demonstrate that their prayers had finally been answered. By January 1993, an Ibadan indigene, Chief Kolapo Ishola was sworn-in as governor of the state. Since then, it has been Ibadan all the way.

As soon as the military indicated interest in stepping aside in 1998, two Ibadan indigenes emerged on the platforms of the two major political parties in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD). On the PDP platform, Alhaji Yakeen Adeojo warded off the challenge from another Ibadan man, Senator Rasheed Ladojo to pick the ticket. In the AD, the choice of the people was Alhaji Lam Adesina. All the other divisions, Oyo, Ogbomosho, Oke Ogun and Ibarapa had little say in the process.

Again, in 2003, the two candidates who emerged from the two parties were Alhaji Lam Adesina who made a bid for a second term and Senator Ladoja of the PDP. Either way, more of the other provisions stood half a chance of emerging governor of Oyo State. Today, Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja is being sworn in as the elected Chief Executive of Oyo State. Born on September 25, 1945 at Gambari village in Ibadan land, the new Oyo State governor showed early in life that he was a promising child. Throughout his elementary and secondary school days, he was easily seen as a leader. (At Ibadan Boys High School where he studied to obtain the West African School Certificate between 1958 and 1963 and Olivet Baptist High School where he studied for the General Certificate of Education, Advanced levels between 1964 and 65, he showed traits of achieving rare distinction and success.

No sooner had he obtained the necessary qualification than he left for the University of Liege, Belgium in 1966 to study Chemical Engineering. He graduated with Distinction in 1972 and had no problem picking up a plum job with Total Nigeria Limited as a Special Products Engineer. He served in various capacities with Total for 13 years before taking the courageous step of plunging into the turbulent world of private business.

Since then it has been forward ever, backward never. His business interest span Shipping, Manufacturing, Banking, Agriculture and Transportation.

Having conqured the world of business, Senator Ladoja decided to embark on Public Service career. When the opportunity presented itself in 1992, Chief Ladoja contested to represent Oyo South in the Senate. He won and was chairman of the Committee on Mines and Power until General Sani Abacha decided to send all elected officials packing in November 1993.

As a Senator on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Ladoja was fully involved in the titanic battle of seeming revalidation of Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola’s victory. He was therefore a prominent member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). His activism led him to live in exile for years until the General Abdulsalami Abubakar came on the scene. On April 19, Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja emerged governor-elect beating Alhaji Lam Adesina at the polls.

Today, as Ladoja is being sworn in to pick up the burden of history placed on his shoulders, he is inheriting the task of resuscitating the school system, revitalising dilapidated infrastructure and renewing hope. Going by experience, the new governor of Oyo State is eminently qualified. But, if performance of some of those who sat on the throne before is anything to go by, qualification alone is not enough. Only a focused man, one dedicated to the task ahead and sufficiently strong willed to ward off intense pressure from predators within the system. Contractors, political jobbers leaders and godfather already lurking at the corner are only waiting to have a field day. May 29 is Senator Ladoja’s date with destiny. He alone can make or mar the place reserved for him in history.

When Peter Ayodele Fayose first indicated interest in succeeding Otunba Niyi Adebayo as governor of Ekiti State, it appeared to many keen watchers of politics in the state that he was operating from a dream land. Prior to that sudden appearance on the scene, Fayose’s name was strange. How could he have emerged from nowhere to become the pilot of such a sophisticated state that had produced the likes of Professor Tunde Adeniran, Dr. Bode Olowoporoku, Chief S. K. Babalola and the Osuntokuns among others who were regarded as chieftains of the PDP? Fayose proved them all wrong. Against all permutations he went to work, decided to arouse the rural dwellers and, in no time, changed his relative obscurity to popularity.

By the time the April 12 National Assembly election was around the corner, it was clear that Fayose might turn the apple cart. He was generally seen as generous, young vibrant and able. The results of the first in series of 2003 general elections confirmed that Ayo Fayose had arrived. The victory of PDP in two of the three Senatorial Districts and all but one federal constituencies in the state demonstrated beyond all shadows of doubt that PDP had emerged a force to reckon with in Ekiti State. It also proved that the Fayose challenge was real. Born November 13, 1960, Fayose has  shown in his 43 years that nothing is impossible for one who is determined. Up till the elections were held, a poll of doubts still surrounded the name, character, credibility and personality of Mr. Ayo Fayose? Is he asked: “Who is Ayo Fayose? Is he the same as Ayodele Oluwayose? What qualifications did he obtain? Did he really obtain a West African School Certificate, the minimum educational standard required of all aspirants by the constitution?”

To the questions, Fayose read mischief. He sought to prove that he was at St. Leo’s Catholic Primary School, Ibadan between 1966 and 1972,  at Olivet Baptist High School Oyo between 1973 and 2979 and Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro for a pre-Ordinary National Diploma OND programme between 1980 and 1981.

The new governor of Ekiti State sought to prove his detractors wrong by pointing out that he attended the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro between 1982 and 1984 for OND in Science Laboratory Technology. He also explained that he obtained Higher National Diploma (HND) in Biological Science/Applied Medical Biology from the Ibadan Polytechnic in 1987.

Whatever the doubts his opponents sought to cast in his standing in the society, the electorate approved of his ambition to run the affairs of the state. He won 220,902 votes to Otunba Niyi Adebayo’s 169,191. The rest is history. In the next four years, all eyes would be on Governor Ayodele Fayose who has been given the task of transforming Ekiti from a rural to a modern state. He has the task of harnessing the state rich human resources for the onerous task of development. The financial resources are lean but expectations tall. It requires the deft touch of a magician to meet the expectations. Can Fayose do it? He has 48 months to prove his mettle. Unfortunately, he has no background in managing the public sector or big private enterprises. He has to learn on the job. Just how far are the people willing to wait? 2007 is almost here.

Were experience the sole criterion for occupying public office, Dr. Olusegun Kokumo Agagu would have been an automatic choice for the governorship seat of Ondo State. Although there are many criteria, especially obtaining the consent of the electorate, Dr. Agagu still emerged the undisputed choice of the people of Ondo State at the April 19 polls.

By experience, Agagu is perhaps the most qualified to occupy the exalted office. By education, no one could be more qualified. And, were exposure a criterion, Agagu who hails from Okitipupa would still have been the governor of Ondo State.

A geologist, Agagu, born February 16, 1948 obtained Ph.D. in Petroleum Geology from the University of Ibadan. Before then, he had obtained a Masters degree from the University of Texas and a Bachelors from the University of Ibadan.

Between 1981 and 1988, he was a lecturer at the Department of Geology of the University of Ibadan. He also had a stint at Golf Oil, Lagos between 1971 and 1972. Before he opted for a career in the public sector in 1991, Agagu was a Consultant in the lucrative petroleum sector of the economy.

As a member of the SDP, he was elected Deputy Governor of Ondo State in 1992 and occupied the office until military jackboots kicked away elected officials in November 17, 1993. When the military was forced out of the scene in 1998, Agagu carefully chose to occupy the Alagbaka Government House, Akure. Sentiments that AD was a reincarnation of Action Group (AG), Unity Party of Nigeria (UNP), and SDP swayed the votes in AD’s direction. Yet, Agagu made a point. He was the only PDP candidate in the South West who obtained almost 40 per cent of the votes. If that could happen when NADECO straggles still meant much in Yoruba land, it was obvious that the pendulum might change at the next available opportunity. The point was made on April 19 when Agagu won 611,926 votes to defeat the incumbent governor, Chief Adebayo Adefarati who polled only 204,434 votes.

The period 2003 to 2007, baring all odds, would be referred to in the history of Ondo State as The Agagu Years. What he makes of the period is up to him. Henceforth, all eyes of the people of Owo would be on him to resolve the knotty Olowo crisis to the satisification of all, provide a conducive atmosphere for the Akure people to choose an acceptable Deji, Ondo people to have a sense of belonging and the Akokos to warm up to the government despite voting against one of their own. Of course, a lot need be done in Ondo South Senatorial District from where he hails. The Ikale, Ilaje and Ijaw people must be fully reconciled for meaningful development to take place at the oil-producing area.

Fortunately, at the commencement of the Fourth Republic, Dr. Agagu was not only  made a minister but he emerged one of the trusted aides of the President. In the run up to the election, all attempts to rubbish him over his stewardship as minister of Power and Steel failed. Now, he has a duty to discharge in Ondo State.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel is the new governor of Ogun State. At first, displacing Chief Segun Osoba appeared an impossible task. But Daniel made it possible. Not known to have ever failed in any assignment he sets himself to, Gbenga Daniel, having surveyed the political scene and realising that he stood no chance of picking the AD ticket opted for the PDP only on September 2, 2001. Within a short period, he had plotted his strategies for dislodging Osoba.

The main strategy was simple. He established a Gateway Front Foundation through which he reached out to people at the grassroots. The underprivileged especially benefited from his large heart which he ensured enjoyed maximum publicity for the political mileage he sought to make out of the situation. As it is said, if you have it, flaunt it.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s political sojourn started in 1978 when, as an under graduate, he joined the Chief Obafemi Awolowo- led committee of friends which later metamorphosed into UPN. As a Mechanical Engineer, he worked in such firms as Mandilas, Medal Box, African Petroleum, Metal Construction and finally berthed at H.F. Schroeder. He left Schroeder to establish Kresta Laurel which turned out one of the most successful indigenous engineering firms, specialising in servicing high-rise buildings.

His whistle-stop campaign that took him to 236 wards of Ogun State left his main opponent gasping for breath. It probably decided the direction of victory.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel was born on April 6, 1956, went to Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta for his secondary education and the University of Lagos for his tertiary education. Although lacking in public sector experience, Otunba Daniel paid his dues in the private sectors.

Dr. Bukola Saraki is the youngest of the newly elected governors. Born on December 19, 1962, the medical doctor turned politician was born with the proverbial silver spoon. A scion of the renowned Saraki linage, Dr. Bukola Saraki attend the elitist Corona School, Victoria Island for primary education, King’s College, Lagos for secondary education and the trio of Cheltenham College, London, London Hospital Medical College and University of London for tertiary education.

Although a medical doctor like his famous father, he realised early enough that he would do better in the private sector. After attending a series of courses, he was made a Director of Societe General Bank, an outfit floated in Nigeria by his father, in 1989. A year later, he was elevated to the status of Executive Director. He remained the bank’s Executive Director until 19991 when the President appointed him his Special Assistant on Budget Matters. He was to return to SGBN in 2001 as Executive Vice Chairman taking full responsibility for the bank’s overall performance.

While Dr. Bukola Saraki was elected governor at a relatively young age of 40, his background in medicine and private sector appear to mark him out as one of those to watch closely. He has what it takes to turn the sorry state of Kwara around for good.

Kwara’s neighouring state and one which shared close historical link, Kogi, has Alhaji Ibrahim Idris on the driver’s seat in the next four years.

Of all the new governors, Alhaji Idris’ educational attainment is the thinnest. But what he achieved with his little formal education is unbelievable.

Apart from primary education which he had in Onitsha and Kano, Alhaji Idris had commercial training at King’s Commercial College, Buguma, Rivers State in 1964.

Born in1944, he moved to the tough terrain of private business in the late 1960s and worked very hard to attain an enviable height. In 1970, he established a large-scale furniture factory in Sokoto, followed by Ibro Hotel which he equally sited in Sokoto. Today, he is the proprietor of Kano Carpentry and Joinery Workshop, Ibro Furniture Company, Minna, Golden Sport Hotel, Minna and Ibro Farms. His hotel in Abuja, Ibro Hotels, is one of those making waves in the Federal Capital.

Known to be a philanthropist and a widely traveled man, Alhaji Idris is expected to bring his “goal-getting” attribute to government business. He defeated former Governor Abubakar  Audu at the polls on April 19 by a wide margin of 469,942 votes to 293,089 votes.

Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige is the only new governor in the South East. Elected on the platform of the PDP in Anambra State, his election is still the subject of a hot dispute by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) whose leaders insist won the governorship election. The election has been refereed to the Election Tribunal by Mr. Peter Obi, the APGA candidate on April 19.

Dr. Ngige was born Aug. 8, 1952 and obtained distinction at the West African School Certificate Examination in 1972. He was at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he received his medical education, graduating in 1979. He immediately went into the civil service, serving at the National Assembly and State House clinics at different times. He retired in 1998 as a Deputy Director in the Federal Ministry of Health.

He made a bid for politics in 1998 when he emerged a foundation member of PDP. He sought for a seat at the Senate but was refused but went on to emerge in 1999 as Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of PDP in the South East.

Senator Modu Ali Sheriff has left the status of king makers to be crowned the king of Borno State politics. Known to be very wealthy, he is believed to have installed Alhaji Malla Kachalla governor in 1999. No sooner did the governor gain stability than the duo sought a definition of who should control the territory. Kachalla was chased out of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, picked up the AD ticket and the duo were joined in a fierce battle for the governorship seat on April 19 by the Alhaji Ibrahim Kashim. Sheriff won 581,880 votes to Kaholla’s 336,165 and Kashim’s 341,537. Little is known of Sherif’s background. He is however said to have obtained a doctoral degree from the Babian University, London. He was at the Constitutional Conference between 1994 and 1995 and represented Borno Central at the Senate in the first leg of the Fourth Republic. Like Sheriff, little is known of the background of Alhaji Shekaran, the new governor of Kano State.

He is a new corner into politics but gained popularity as the National President of the All Nigeria  Conference of Principals. He won on the ticket of the ANPP with the support of such leaders of PDP like Alhaji Ghali Umar Nabba, then Speaker of the House of Representatives and Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, a veteran politician and Second Republic governor of the state.



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