IKORODU DIVISION: FROM POLITICS OF GOD-FATHERISM TO POLITICS OF BLOOD-FATHERISM

God-Fatherism is a very popular phrase in Nigeria’s political landscape. This is particularly so in recent political dispensation, as it is almost impossible for one to aspire for any political office in Nigeria and be successful without the support of a political god-father.

From the East, West, North and South, god-fatherism is a compulsory ‘ritual’ for political ascendancy and relevance in Nigeria. To underscore the importance of political god-fathers in Nigeria, a sitting Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chris Ngige was once abducted and was nearly forced to resign by now Senator Chris Ubah, for not keeping to their negotiations before he was made the state governor.

A prominent South-west god-father, Late Alh Lamide Adedibu was quoted to have referred to himself as the ‘Garrison Commander’ Oyo State and the General of ‘Amala’ politics. His erstwhile political god-son, Senator Rasheed Ladoja suffered ‘impeachment’ by the Oyo State house of assembly, for allegedly refusing to share his security vote with his god-father and political leader. He eventually lost his bid to return as Oyo State governor for the second term as a result.

In Lagos, the fear of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the beginning of wisdom among those who wish to clinch political power, either by elective or political appointments. Since his exit as a two-term governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has assumed the position of Lagos State political god-father and has remained the go-to political leader, who determines who gets what in every sector of Lagos. There is no denying the fact that Lagos breathes and lives at Tinubu’s command!

Current Minister for Power, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola almost lost his bid for a second term in office in 2011, for allegedly refusing to do the biddings of his political god-father. He later had a narrow escape and got the nod of his political leader for a second term in office. However, his predecessor and immediate past Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode was not so lucky as his attempt to seek APC’s ticket for a second term in office was lost, allegedly mainly on the account of falling out with the Jagarban-Borgu and Governor-Emeritus of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Tipped by many as a favourite of President Muhammed Buhari as one of the ministerial nominees from Lagos State, Ambode, it was alleged also lost to power play and disapproval of Senator Tinubu. Like they say, the rest is history.

Now, coming home to Ikorodu, the budding community and division has had its fair share of the influence of political god-fathers. Names like Alh Mukaila Aluko, Alh Mufutau Ajisebutu will continue to ring bells as political-god fathers in their lifetime.

Prominent among Ikorodu’s past god-fathers was the late Alh Mufutau Ajisebutu who ruled the Ikorodu political landscape like a colossus. He was a major voice and force to reckon with during the first term of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Lagos State Governor. The likes of Asipa Kaoli Olusanya and many Ikorodu sons and daughters who are relevant in Lagos politics today owe their rise to political relevance to Ajisebutu’s political god-fatherism and leadership. Infact, it is widely believed that the demise of Alh Ajisebutu is partly responsible for the declining fortune of Ikorodu in Lagos politics.

In most recent times, two prominent political god-fathers of the entire Ikorodu division are the duo of Prince Abiodun Ogunleye and Asiwaju Olorunfunmi Bashorun. Others are Chief Denrele Olowu, Alh Akeeb Adewunmi among many others, on whose back many contemporary political office holders rode to political prominence.

However, stakeholders have continued to blame the current political situation of Ikorodu Division on these leaders, who it has been alleged only use their position of influence for their personal benefits and that of their immediate family members. The failure of the Ikorodu Division for Governor Agenda of 2007 and 2015 and lack of political relevance of the entire Ikorodu Division at the State level has been blamed on the lack of collective interest and cohesion among current Ikorodu political god-fathers.

It has been alleged that, while the former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode abandoned Ikorodu in his developmental projects, none of these leaders raised any eyebrow. This, it is alleged was due to the patronage they enjoy from the former governor.

Similarly, the failed attempt of Otunba Ganiyu Olusegun Abiru, a prominent Ikorodu son and a retired Clerk / Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State House of Assembly to represent the Lagos East senatorial district at the Senate has been blamed largely on the lack of home support for the Ikorodu project by these leaders. While they openly refused to support their own son, the same leaders continue to pledge open allegiance to Senator Bareehu Ashafa, who later lost his third term bid to Senator Bayo Oshinowo from Kosofe.

The emergence of Asipa Kaoli Olusanya as the Vice Chairman APC for Lagos East senatorial district early in the year was seen by many as a new vista of hope for the politically marginalized Ikorodu division. This is particularly because, Kaoli, it is believed leads a team of political elites who are opposed to the leadership of the ‘Babas’ and emancipation of Ikorodu division from ‘selfish’ god-fathers.

Asipa Kaoli was the arrow-head of a famous newspaper article, ‘The Sins of our Fathers’, meant to discredit the duo of Prince Abiodun Ogunleye and Asiwaju Olorunfunmi Bashorun, in response to a newspaper report titled, ‘Ikorodu is in Safe Hands’ following the appointment of Barr Rotimi Ogunleye and Gbolahan Ogunleye as Lagos State Commissioner and Sole Administrator, Ikorodu local government respectively. Asiwaju Bashorun on the other hand, allegedly influenced the appointment of his own wife as the Sole Administrator of Igbogbo-Baiyeku LCDA.

It therefore came to many stakeholders as a rude shock when the list of nominees for the Commissioners and Special Advisers in Lagos State was announced and the name of Asipa Kaoli’s daughter, Ms Ruth Olusanya featured prominently.

The question on the lips of many stakeholders is, if there is any difference between the acts of the duo of Prince Ogunleye and Asiwaju Bashorun, to have earned them the public outcry and criticisms that culminated in the publishing of the ‘The Sins of our Fathers’ article.

While the concept of political god-fatherism has been widely condemned across Nigeria, leading to the fall of many political god-fathers, the concept currently being promoted in Ikorodu Division can be aptly described as politics of political ‘blood-fatherism’.

While political god-fathers promote and position other people, other than members of their immediate family or relations for political offices, ‘blood-fathers’ promote and position only their blood relations for the political office, leaving thousands of party members and loyalists in the cold, with nothing!

One cannot but agree with the postulation on ‘blood-fatherism’ as tens of Ikorodu Division political gladiators who served in the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign Organisation (BOSCO) and score of political aspirants who have been promised heaven and earth during the campaigns are yet to be considered for appointment or compensation, save for Hon Toyin Gafar Bolowotan who was recently appointed as the Director-General Lagos State Sports Commission.

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