Senator Gbenga Obadara is a big name in Ogun Central politics. He has been actively involved in the politics of the senatorial district for years. He in fact represented Ogun Central senatorial zone up until 2015. Until last Wednesday, 6th September 2018 when Gov. Amosun announced his decision to join the Ogun Central senatorial race, Senator Jeremiah Olugbenga Onaolapo Obadara was the candidate to beat in the race, simply because of his intimidating profile and effective political network. He was one of the leading senatorial aspirants in Ogun ACN years back. He is from Odeda in the Odeda Local Government of Ogun State And he is from the Balogun Itesi Ward. His father, late Chief J.A.O. Obadara was the first Chairman of Odeda Local Government and mother is Chief (Mrs.) L.A. Obadara from Atan, Iyesi, in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government. In 2006, he participated in the party primaries for the senatorial elections on the platform of the then Action Congress (AC) but was hurt by intra-party politics.
Many don’t know that this is not the 1st time he will be stepping down for Amosun. He stepped down for him once before now. He is half Yewa and half Egba. In 2006, Obadara competed in the Action Congress party primaries for the 2007 senatorial elections but did not win the nomination. In the April 2011 elections, Obadara ran for elections as Senator for Ogun Central and gained 102,389 votes, defeating incumbent Senator Iyabo Obasanjo Bello of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 56,312.
Many people do not know that he was one of those who stepped down for Senator Ibikunle Amosun to become Governor.
Not many people know that he once came out to run for governorship of Ogun State. At that time he erected billboards all over the state capital. Why did he drop his ambition then?
These and many more were the questions are put to Senator Gbenga Obadara last week after Gov. Ibikunle Amosun announced his decision to run for Ogun Central Senate seat come 2019. Below are excerpts from the interview. He also revealed why he dropped his Senate ambition for Gov. Amosun last week.
Many people were surprised last week after Gov. Amosun declared to run for Senate from your district and you told all your supporters in your Ogun Central senatorial districts that you have stepped down your ambition. Why did you do that?
I had to do that based on the promise I made months back. When I came out to run for the Senate in 2019. I was soul-searching, the reason why soul-searching. The reason why I accepted to run came after calls from my people. When calls were coming in torrents and delegations were coming to my house I gave it a thought after prayer. But even at that I still said to myself if the present governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun decides to run for Senate, it behooves on me to allow him to run. I said at that time that if he decides to run I will drop my own ambition.
In the Senate, we have what we call ranking Senators. Senator Ibikunle Amosun has been a Senator before me. He is ranked. He is a ranking Senator. By being a ranking Senator you gain acknowledgement. You gain recognition. All of these will help you bring development to your senatorial district and to your wards. This is because you are in a position to relate with the principal officers. It is written in the RedBook what ranking Senators can do.
So, Yes I came out to run a few months back and I started meeting the stakeholders. I met with Gov. Amosun first. He said he has not made up his mind, that it is going to take him 2 weeks. That was on August 3rd. I assured the Governor that I will be meeting with the stakeholders and our people. And anytime he decides or makes up his mind to go he can be sure I will step down for him.
The politics we are playing now is not about I will do, it is about what have you done? That is what people want to hear. It is about what you have contributed. That is why the Senate seat is not for rookies who are going for the 1st time. If you become a Senator today it will take you a minimum of two and a half years as a pupil to learn and understand what is going on there. So you need several years of tutelage. There is not much you can do in your 1st year. I was fortunate to be a Chairman of a Senate Committee in my first time. I am the only APC Senator out of the 18 APC Senators then, that was a Chairman. With the benevolence of God, I was able to go to ECOWAS parliament for 4 years. I also went to represent the ECOWAS Parliament at the UN. I thank God for all these. I was also able to attract fantastic projects to my senatorial district. We need experienced hands at the Senate. By that, I mean Senators with 2nd, 3rd, or 4th term.
So, it is incumbent on me to step down for Senator Amosun because he is a ranking Senator over me. So I must give him support. That informed my decision to step down. I am a man of my words.
How do you see the choice of OGUN APC consensus candidate, Hon. Akinlade?
On the issue of the governorship race in Ogun, there is nothing wrong. They have been contesting but they have not had the opportunity to be governor. My maternal grandfather is an Awori (Keesi). And my maternal grandmother is from Igbogila in Yewa. So that tells you from my maternal side we are Yewa/Awori. I feel for my people because they’ve not been given an opportunity to rule. And I think they deserve it, but certainly in a way that is going to bring cohesion. That means our leaders have to factor in all the 3 senatorial zones. My brothers from Ogun Central should not take Ogun East people for granted. You need Ogun East more than they need you. You are to go there to meet their political leaders and traditional rulers. You need to go there and persuade them. You need to get go-betweens who will first persuade them as to why you want that bride. And the bride, in this case, is the governorship slot. That is politics. Politics is about consultations, cohesion, and inclusiveness. That is the way to go about it.
Senator Obadara has always been known to be a party man. You have stepped down before for other candidates to run when the party asked you. You are doing it yet again. How does the idea work with you?
I stepped down in 2007 when I won the primaries to the Senate. I stepped down in 2011 when I contested as the Governor after 2 and half years of going around the 236 wards. And this is about another one. I had to step down again in 2015. I stepped down for Senator Odunsi I was to be the candidate of the SDP for the governorship. So I stepped down in 2007 after I won the primaries to the Senate, I stepped down for Gov. Amosun also in 2011 after two and half years of transversing the State, wanting to be Governor. I stepped down in 2015 under SDP where I came out to contest. I stepped down for Senator Akin Odunsin. This time again I am stepping down. I don’t see stepping down as a big deal. I am a party man. Only God crowns. Only God gives power to whoever he likes. It is not a do or die affair. It’s called service. I decided to come out and serve.
I am a complete man of peace. I don’t see anything wrong in stepping down. God has reasons for everything that happens. I will work for Gov. Amosun to win the senatorial seat, even to be a campaign manager to Senator Ibikunle Amosun. Believe me. I do not see anything that will injure my personality or my person in stepping down for Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Over the last 3 years, you have continued to mobilise the people of your Ogun Central senatorial zone despite the fact that you are not a sitting Senator. Why is this so?
It’s about service. If I am no longer in public office that’s not the end of life. I premise my life on God. God crowns. God uses human beings to do his job. I will continue to serve. Because it does not happen today does not mean it cannot happen tomorrow. God has blessed me enough to continue to serve. I am connected to my people. God used them to make me a Senator. I always give thanks to them. A politician is truly someone who is attached and identified with his people, who is really ready to serve his people. That is why I am always with them and they are always with me. My house is their house. Do you know that since I left the Senate I have been giving out transformers to communities, building schools, paying school fees, buying furniture, doing a lot of things? I set up a Radio Station Sweet FM I put it in Abeokuta. It could have been in Lagos where it would have made more money with about 24 million people. But I put it in Abeokuta to give back. In Abeokuta what is the income generation? But I still went on to establish it there to create employment, giving my people a rare opportunity to have a voice. My television station is coming up soon, to complement the radio. I promise to serve Egbaland and my people till my last breath. It’s a honour to do that.
What’s your message to some party members who are angry with what’s going on now?
They should see it as just a storm that will subside. Its for them to remain calm. APC is a party of peace. It’s a progressive party that strives to do what is right. They should maintain peace and listen to our leaders and follow the leaders. Let us just continue to trust them and continue to pray for them, for wisdom to do what is right. We should continue to work for the progress of our party.