2023: Battle for Senate seat gears up in ogun East

By Onome Naomi

Multiple aspirants jostle for Ogun East Senatorial District seat in Ogun State, the contest for the senate seat currently occupied by Senator Lekan Mustapha, is getting more tough and hotter by the day.

Report making round from reliable sources reveals Senator Lekan
Mustapha, former Governor Gbenga Daniel, Otunba Oluseyi oduntan, Mr Segun Olumide Senbanjo, Engr Deji Ashiru and many of them
are jostling to secure the tickets of their respective political parties ahead for the 2023 senatorial election in the zone.

Meanwhile the number of contenders and pretenders continues to swell, intrigues and scheming continues in the leading political parties as the struggles for the senatorial tickets intensify.

The incumbent Senator Mustapha of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has left many persons guessing his next line of political move.

As at the time of filing this report, it is unclear if he will be seeking re-election to the Senate or will hearken to the calls on him to contest for the guber ticket of the state in 2023.

Sources close to the Ijebu-born politician told vanguard that Mustapha is in a dilemma over his political future as due to certain conflicting interests. Moreso, it was revealed that the Senator may desire to seek re-election for a second term in the national assembly, there is pressure on him from within his faction of the APC in Ogun state to challenge Governor Dapo Abiodun for the party’s gubernatorial ticket ahead of the 2023 general election.

Mustapha belongs to the group loyal to former Governor Ibikunle Amosun in the ruling APC. The faction has been at loggerheads with the mainstream of the APC perceived to be loyal to the governor. Ahead of the party’s primary elections, there is anxiety as the two factions continue to prop up their preferred candidates for the various tickets. Mustapha is one of those being named as possible replacement for Abiodun by the Amosun faction.

Pundits says except for his not being in the good book of the governor and the leadership of the APC in the state, SLM, as Senator Mustapha is popularly called, looks good to make a return to the senate should he seek to re-contest. He was first elected to the Senate for the Ogun East constituency in 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was appointed to committees on Niger Delta, Interior Affairs, Commerce and Capital Markets.

He returned to the senate in 2019 on the platform of the APC. A grassroots politician of note, he is widely seen as having performed well with his current mandate. The unwritten zoning arrangement in the senatorial district also favours him in a way as the incumbent governor, Dapo Abiodun, is from the Remo Zone of the district. Mustapha is from the Ijebu zone.

While many independent campaign groups are working to promote Mustapha across the district, he is yet to formally declare his next political aspiration. According to sources within the party, there is confusion over his intentions. “We have some groups shouting KLM for Governor in some parts of the state on a dialy basis. And here in Ogun East, you hear some others saying Mustapha for Senate. So much uncertainty,” a source said.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel
Former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, is one of the frontrunners in the senatorial race in Ogun East. The Sagamu-Remo born politician governed the state between 2003 and 2011 on the platform of the PDP. In 2015, he attempted to go to the senate and represent Ogun East but abandoned the race midway. He left the PDP following his face off with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the late Buruji Kashamu.

He joined the APC in 2019 to support the ambition of Governor Abiodun and has remained one of the latter’s strongest pillars of support till date. His statewide political network and structures are his main strength in the race and pundits say he looks good to clinch the ticket of the ruling party unless the governor decides otherwise for whatever reason.

Otunba Oluseyi Oduntan
Another senatorial aspirant on the platform of the APC in Ogun East is Otunba Oluseyi Oduntan. He said he is in the race because the state needs National Assembly members in 2023 that would partner and complement the efforts of Governor Dapo Abiodun in his development agenda. Oduntan is a former Managing Director of the Honeywell Group.

As part of his quest for the seat, he recently inaugurated in his senatorial office the flagged off of an e-Naira Youth Empowerment, which is an initiative backed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the e-Naira digital currency, in Ijebu Ode where hundreds of youths across the Ogun East Senatorial District were trained as CBN agents on e-Naira.

Contrary to insinuations in some quarters against his ambition, he is not a new comer to the race, though not well known in the politics of the state. He contested for the same seat in 2015, campaigning round the towns and villages of the district for support. His chances in the primary election of the ruling party remains dicey but his supporters say he is the aspirant to beat

Mr. Olusegun Olumide-Senbanjo

a chieftain of APC, is one of those who have declared their intentions to contest for the Ogun East Senatorial District seat in 2023. Speaking recently, the aspirant who is a front-line grassroot politician and oil mogul, said he had consulted critical stakeholders in the zone prior on his intention. The Ijebu-born businessman is an ally of Governor Abiodun.

Some analysts have projected him to be the favourite due to his closeness to the governor. This may be the reason for his being touted as the governor’s preferred candidate for the Ogun East seat in some quarters in spite of insistence by Governor Abiodun that he has no anointed candidate for any positon across the state ahead of the 2023 general election.

“I called this stakeholders meeting for us to have a deliberation regarding my desire to serve you all as a mediator between the State and Federal Government from this Senatorial District. We will be able to tender our needs before the authorities and get things working the way they should, which will ensure we complement the efforts and achievements of our Governor, Dapo Abiodun.”

But pundits says Senbanjo, aside his friendship with the governor, possess some political strength as a grassroot politician in the area. “being fresh to the politics of the area. The ruling party needs a strong candidate in Ogun East which is what senbanjo has shown, as the area is known to be a stronghold of the opposition PDP, especially when the late Buruji Kashamu held sway. Senbanjo, had been doing a lot to win the support of party members, senbanjo which is fondly called SOS by his teeming admirers had gradually gained the political spread to win for the APC,” a source said.

Engr Deji Ashiru
Another contender on the platform of the APC is Engr. Deji Ashiru (FNSE) also known as EDA. He recently declared his intention to contest the forthcoming general elections come 2023. In the build up to the last general elections in 2019, Ashiru had emerged the candidate of the Ogun East Senatorial District on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). The politician joined the ruling party in 2019 to support the governorship election of Governor Abiodun.

Ashiru has been wooing voters with some of his humanitarian gestures when he contested the same office in 2019, according to him, he has traversed 103 wards, nine local Government Areas and 1,135 polling units twice which make up the entire Ogun East senatorial district. But political observers say it may be an herculean task for the politician to win the senatorial ticket of the APC for the 2023 election for some reasons.

Ashiru, pundits argue, may not get the support of any of the two major groups in the party. This may work against his aspiration in spite of his obvious grassroots appeal, especially in the Ijebu zone of the district. “He is not a strong member of the Governor Dapo Abiodun camp. Also, he does not identify with the Senator Amosun group. These are the two major camps in the party. His closeness to Gboyega Isiaka may not do much for him,” a source argued.

Barrister Ajibola Kalejaiye

The factional 2019 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Ogun East Senatorial Candidate, Barrister Ajibola Kalejaiye, is also in the 2023 race for the seat. A former council chairman in Ijebu Igbo Local Government Area, the Ijebu-born politician may likely emerged as the candidate once again, given his closeness to Ladi Adebutu, whose group controls the party in the state currently.

A grassroots politician who enjoys massive followership in the Ijebu Igbo-Ago-Iwoye axis of the district, Kalejaiye, widely known as Dr. Syn, by his admirers, says that a brighter and more rewarding future awaits Ogun East residents and Nigerians in general. While it is possible for him to pick the ticket of his party, pundits are worried that the unending crisis that rocked the state chapter of the PDP may deny him victory in the general election, just as it happened in 2019.

Segun Seriki

Also in the race on the platform of the PDP is Segun Seriki. The well-known ally of the late Kashamu is not in the good books of the leadership of the PDP in the state and as such, may not realise his ambition of emerging as the candidate of the party. Also from Ijebu Igbo, sources said the contest would have been much easier for Seriki were Kashamu to be alive.

“His ambition is largely a way of keeping alive the Buruji Kashamu political struggles. He may not get the ticket of the party. He is a very resolute politician who knows his onions politically. But the death of Kashamu remains a big blow to himself and others like him. Politics for them will no longer be the same without Kashamu’s influence and deep financial war chest,” a source said.

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