The popular story in Ogun State at the moment is that it is the turn of Ogun West to produce the next Ogun Governor, come 2019. The incumbent governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has already endorsed that political permutation. He has publicly proclaimed it thrice. But the only condition is that he won’t support Senator Solomon Olamilekan popularly called Yayi, who wants to contest, and who he claims is not a bonafide Yewa man. He has always said, in 2019, he would not support an outsider, someone who has lived all his life outside the state.
Expectedly, the Yewas are happy about the decision to give them the chance to put forward a candidate of their choice for the governorship.
For a very long time, the Yewa people have been complaining that they have been thoroughly marginalized in the scheme of things in Ogun State and that they have not benefited from this principle of fairness, as their area is yet to produce a governor for the State since inception, 40 years ago. Although many candidates have come out to contest in the recent past, none has won.
So, the Yewa are very angry and worried that they may not be able to produce the next governor if there are no conscious efforts made to achieve that feat. They are angry that while Ogun Central and Ogun East have produced governors at various times in the past and at present, the Yewas, who are in the Ogun West Senatorial District, has not.
Good as the prospects look, what might work against them this time round is the lack of consensus among Yewa aspirants. Yayi, who is currently a Senator representing Lagos, is a leading contestant. He has money and he has a formidable structure. He has also lobbied all the major groups in the state, including many traditional rulers in Yewa zone. But the governor does not support him.
The governor’s Chief of Staff, Tolu Odebiyi, is also in the race. He does not have the deep pocket that the governorship race requires. He also does not have the structure in place. All he is banking on is to use Governor Amosun’s structure. GNI is running. He is experienced. He is popular but needs good money, Hon. Akinlade is also in the race. He is experienced. He is well liked. He is popular and he has money. Ogun Speaker, Hon. Adekanbi is also interested. The list is long. How will they agree to present an acceptable candidate? That is the big question. But the truth is that in the last 40 years, the Yewa people have not produced a governor. The Egbas and Ijebus have produced governors, yet the Yewa-Awori people have never produced any. All they have done is to have people routinely representing them in the Senate, House of Reps and House of Assembly.
Since the creation of the state in 1976, the state has had 13 governors, many of them were military administrators, while only a few were democratically elected. The 13 governors are: Saidi Ayodele Balogun (1976-78), Harris Eghagha (1978-79); Olabisi Onabanjo (1979-83); Oladipo Diya (1984-85); Oladayo Popoola (1985-86); Raji Alagbe Rasaki (1986-87); Mohammed Lawal (1987-90); Oladeinde Joseph (1990-92); Olusegun Osoba (1992-93); Daniel Akintonde (1993-96); Sam Ewang (1996-98); Kayode Olofinmoyin (1998-99); Olusegun Osoba (1999-2003); Gbenga Daniel (2003-2011) and Ibikunle Amosun (2011-date).
Yet, the Yewa people are a significant part of the state. They are also an integral part of the political system of the state.
A few days back, City People asked Hon. Akinlade for his views on why Yewa people have not produced a, Governor in Ogun State and whether it is true that Yewa people are not organized enough to present a winnable candidate?
“I will say Yes and No” was his response. “We have made attempts. Even me, I have made attempts 3 times. The Yewa people are suffering from what is call Institutional Marginalisation. It means you are Marginalised Institutionally”. Why is this so? “It is because of how the state is structured politically. The Yewa people are at a disadvantage. The state has 20 local government councils, made up of Abeokuta South, Ifo, Odeda, Sagamu, Ado Odo/Ota, Ijebu North, Imeko Afon, Odogbolu, Yewa North, Ewekoro, Ijebu North East, Ipokia, Ogun Waterside, Yewa South, Ijebu East, Ijebu Ode, Obafemi Owode, Remo North and Abeokuta North.
Ogun West has Senator Joseph Dada as a Senate member. In the House of Reps there are the following people: Ibrahim Isiaka (Ifo Ewebon); Imeko Afon/Egbado North, (Kayode Oladele); Egbado South & Ipokia, (Adekunle Akinlade); and Jimoh Ojugbele, from Ado Odo/Ota.
Interestingly, the Yewa zone has produced many competent hands in the recent past, representing the zone in the Senate. There are people such as Senator Joseph Dada who has been Senator from 2015 to date. There are others like Senator Akin Babalola Kamar Odunsin (2011-2015) Senator Felix Bajomo (2007-2011), Senator Iyabo Anisulowo (200-2007) and Afolabi Olabimtan (1999-2003).
Akinlade says because of the institutional marginalization, the Yewa people are faced with many challenges. “Look at Ogun State, 20 local governments. If you look at it from the area of local governments, the Ogun Central has 6, Ogun East has 9 local governments, Ogun West has 5 local governments. That alone is Institutional Marginalization”. “Also don’t forget that, in the last few years, we have not been opportune to occupy the major executive office. We lack many things, such as the exposure and the connection. In Ogun West, we have our challenges. But they have nothing to do with Unity or lack of it. If you go to Ogun East today, they have their challenges. Go to Ogun Central, they have their challenges. People should not look at it from the perspective that disunity in Ogun West is our challenge or causing our failure to get the governorship of Ogun State. No. It’s not true”.
“I believe this time around, we will put our house in order and we would ensure that we get it right. We have learned from our mistakes and we would do well in 2019. I can assure everybody that we are ready, we are set to make the difference. Now, someone like me has been 3 times unlucky in my attempt to be governor of Ogun State. I came out strong each time, but the System frustrated me”.
So, who are the Yewas? City People can reveal that the Egbado, people now called the Yewa, are a clan that inhabits the eastern area of Ogun West Senatorial District, Ogun State. In 1995, they changed their name to Yewa. Yewa clan now comprises 4 local Governments; Yewa South, Yewa North, Imeko-Afon, and Ipokia, while the Ado-Odo/Ota LGA forms the 5th Awori part of the senatorial district.
The Egbados appear to have migrated possibly from Ketu, Ile-Ife, or Oyo – to their present area early in the 18th century. Egbado towns, most importantly Ilaro, Ayetoro, Imeko, Ipokia and Igbogila, were established in the 18th century to take advantage of the slave trade routes from the hinterland of Oyo empire to the coast at Porto-Novo. Other towns were Ilobi and Ijanna, which were strategic in protecting the flanks of the slave trade routes. The Egbados were subject to the rule of the Oyo empire, which managed them via Onisare of Ijanna. The Oyo empire was unable to deploy its cavalry force to protect the routes, owing to tsetse flies and lack of horse-fodder and thus had to rely on the Egbado people to manage the routes. The historians Akinjogbin, Morton-Williams, and Smith all agreed that by the early 18th century, the route to the coast was heavily engaged in slave trading and that slaves were the mainstay of the Oyo economy.
The Egbados, later achieved a fragile independence after the fall of the Oyo Empire, but were subject to frequent attacks from other groups such as, the slave-raiding Dahomey army (who seized, among others, Princess Sara Forbes Bonetta), and various ethnic groups, who wished to force open their slave-trading routes to the sea.Ilaro and Ijanna towns had been destroyed by the 1830s. By the 1840s the Egbado had come under the control of the adjacent Egba group, who used the Egbado territory to forge routes to Badagry and the port of Lagos. By the 1860s the Egba abandoned the route because the British were actively using their formidable navy to try to abolish the slave trade. Consequently, the Egba expelled British soldiers missionaries and traders from the area in 1867.
After 1890, the Egbados asked for a British protectorate and got a small armed garrison, thus becoming independent of the Egba. The area became part of the British Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914, as Egbado Division in Abeokuta Province. The administrative headquarters was later transferred away, after the creation of the new Ogun State subsumed in the old Abeokuta Province.