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Ajimobi And Ibarapa Zone: A Catalogue Of Marginalization And Humiliation | Yemi Akinlabi


The marginalization of Ibarapa zone in the distribution of Oyo State political posts is second to none and incomparable with any of the other zones in the state. 

However, the experience under Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the ruling APC is unprecedented and grossly undeserved. It goes beyond political appointments to denial of well deserved promotions and appointments in the state civil service. 

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This edition of my write up is a partial catalogue of marginalisation orchestrated to manifest the extreme dislike and hatred of our people.

The elders’ council of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) identified three top contenders for the party’s Oyo governorship ticket in 2011. They were Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Bar Femi Lanlehin and Dr Ismail Adewusi. The Elders council who opted against democratic primaries for nomination favoured Ajimobi for governorship, a compensatory post of Oyo South Senatorial ticket for Bar. Olufemi Lanlehin while the unpicked Dr Ismail Adewusi was to be assuaged with the post of Secretary to the State Government (SSG). Ismail Adewusi, a first class brain and PhD holder in economics was the Lagos State Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning during the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He reengineered the Lagos state finance and economy and sustained the local governments after the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo stopped the statutory allocation to Lagos state local government after the state created additional local governments. His record breaking economic reengineering raised Lagos state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from 1.5 billion Naira in 2004 to 8.4 billion Naira by 2007and laid a solid foundation for what the state’s economy is today. Lagos state can now stand by herself without any federal allocation. 

The elders’ council wanted him to bring this economic reengineering and financial independence blueprint to Oyo state and be an asset to the then proposed ACN administration.

Being a native of Eruwa in Ibarapa East local government of Oyo state, Dr Adewusi put his hat in the ring for the 2011 governorship race along with about nine others. The elders wanted Dr Adewusi as SSG after the party’s success in order to bring his extensive experience in government, public finance, macroeconomic management, taxation, economic planning and financial management to his dear state. However, this recommendation which Ajimobi initially agreed to was jettisoned for two reasons: intimidation by Adewusi’s high profile and hatred for Ibarapa land.

After the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Abiola Ajimobi like all other APC state controlled governors was invited to submit list of his nominees for the federal ministerial slot. The names forwarded were: His Excellency Bar. Iyiola Oladokun (Oke Ogun zone), Mr Joseph Tegbe (Ibadan zone) Mr Zach Adelabu (Ogbomosho zone) and Mr Bimbo Kolade (Oyo zone). His Excellency did not find any suitable person to nominate among his highly competent teeming supporters in Ibarapa zone. At the end of the day, President Buhari used his discretion to appoint the current minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu from Oke Ogun who was vehemently rejected to no success by Ajimobi.

At the time President Buhari released the names of career ambassadors for confirmation by The Senate, the only name from Oyo State was Mrs Shakirat Ogundero, a native of Igboora in Ibarapa zone. All ambassadorial nominees were nominated on merit based on their career attainment, integrity and discipline (Mrs Ogundero was not an exception). The president ensured it did not have any political coloration. On hearing the news, Governor Ajimobi met our three Senators in Abuja and told them to reject the nomination during screening. His explanation was that Mrs Ogundero was not known to him and he cannot afford to have two federal appointments (minister and ambassador) outside Ibadan. It took the intervention of the Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu and Senator Adesoji Akanbi for Ambassador Ogundero to be cleared. She is now representing Nigeria in Germany.

If not for the well meaning support and assistance from a governor in one of the south western states, Ibarapa zone would not have had any of the 6 Chairmanship positions of the Federal Boards allocated to Oyo state. Governor Ajimobi nominated up to two chairmanship slots from other zones without considering a single one for Ibarapa. Thanks for the intervention of the said governor of the neighbouring state who pushed for the appointment of Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle who is now serving as the Chairman of Federal Lottery Regulatory Commission. Even after the announcement, several attempts were made by governor Ajimobi to stop the inauguration of Fatai Ibikunle, a native of Ibarapa East as the chairman of this board.

At the time Alhaji Tajudeen Aremu retired as the Head of Oyo State Civil Service in 2014, the next and the most senior Permanent Secretary who should have naturally emerged as the HOS was Dr Augustine Okesola, a doctor of dentistry who had a brilliant and unblemished career in the state civil service. At that time, he still had up to three years to his statutory retirement age. But in order to create a space for the governor’s favourite and block the Ibarapa Central origin from becoming the HOS, Dr Okesola was retired prematurely to pave way for Mr Soji Eniade an indigene of Ibadan who once served under Okesola as Director of Finance and Admin at a time Dr. Okesola was the Permanent Secretary in the Oyo State Hospitals Management Board.

It is painful to know that as we speak today, there is no single Permanent Secretary or Director General of Ibarapa extraction in the state civil service. This is not for want or lack of competent and eligible civil servants but owing to the hatred of the governor. Presently, more than eight natives of Ibarapa are qualified to be Permanent Secretaries or equivalent positions. In actual fact, all the eight of them used to be senior and superior officers to the incumbent Head of Service in all ramifications.

Perhaps, the peak of Governor Ajimobi’s hostility towards Ibarapa is demonstrated by his refusal to grant audience to Dr Olusola Ayandele, the only governorship candidate in APC from Ibarapa land for the 2019 election after more than seven attempts. Except for the Minster of Communication, Bar. Adebayo Shittu whom he has declared as his sworn enemy, His Excellency see often and discuss on daily basis with aspirants from other zones some of whom are: Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala, Mr Sunday Dare and Senator Fatai Buhari (Ogbomosho Zone), Mr Ajiboye Omodewu (Oke Ogun Zone), Chief Bayo Adelabu, Mr Joseph Tegbe, Mr Niyi Akintola, Mr Soji Eniade (Ibadan zone). But in 2011 when Ajimobi was contesting for the first time, he was quick to see the same Sola Ayandele to receive a handsome donation towards his election.

To crown all these, none of the three commissioners appointed by Ajimobi’s administration in the last seven years in Ibarapa was assigned any of the top class ministries like Attorney General and Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture. Dr Nurudeen Olarinde (late) the first commissioner appointed by Ajimobi was assigned Budget and Planning Ministry while his successor Engr. Azeez Adeoye manned Ministry of Water Resources. In the ongoing term the three local governments in Ibarapa was dashed the weakest, irrelevant and deceptive ministry (liaison matters). A ministry that has never been heard off anywhere in Nigeria.

There is no way Ibarapa will be relevant or receive what she deserves under an Ajimobi administration or a party under his draconian control. If Ibarapa’s votes amount to 5.9% at governorship elections, we amount to 33% at Oyo South Senatorial election. We must proof this figure and claim it appropriately. A confirmed hater will remain so and no leopard can change his colour.

Akinyemi Akinlabi, a former chairman Caretaker Committee of Ibarapa Central Local Government, writes from Igbo-Ora.

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