Aregbe, Obanikoro Clash Over Lagos West Senatorial Seat In 2023 - THE NEW DAWN ONLINE


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Aregbe, Obanikoro Clash Over Lagos West Senatorial Seat In 2023

As politicians gear up for the 2023 elections, there appears to be imminent clash of interest between Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the honorable minister of Interior and immediate past Governor of Osun state, and Senator Musliu Obanikoro over who gets the ticket of the All Progressive Congress to represent Lagos West senatorial district in the upper chamber of the National Assembly; a seat currently occupied by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, popularly called YAYI.

In 2023, the seat of Lagos West will be up for grab as Senator Adeola is making arrangement to return to Ogun state, his home state, to seek return to the Senate to represent Ogun West senatorial district in 2023 general election.

Rauf Aregbesola

Although Rauf Aregbesola is the representative Osun state in the federal executive council and a former governor of the state for eight years between 2010 and 2018, he has always played his politics in Lagos state and is a strong pillar and leader of the All Progressive Congress in Lagos west senatorial zone, especially Alimoso local government area.

During the administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Governor of Lagos state, Aregbesola was appointed into the cabinet as the representative of Alimoso local government area, and he held the portfolio of commissioner for works between 1999 and 2007. Aregbesola was a key member of Bola Tinubu's kitchen cabinet and a trusted ally of Asiwaju Tinubu. While in that government, he consolidated his influence in the politics of Lagos state and Lagos West. In 2003, he played a key role in the victory of Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi of Alliance for Democracy, AD, who moved from Lagos Central to contest the election of Lagos West against sitting senator Wahab Dosunmu, who had defected to the Peoples Democratic Party to seek a second term. Aregbesola has grown to become a leader of All Progressive Congress in Lagos west ever since. Even when he was in office as Governor of Osun state, Aregbesola still played his role as leader of the party in the western zone of Lagos.

In 2017, Aregbesola nursed the idea of going to the Senate to represent Lagos West district at the expiration of his term as Governor of Osun state in 2018. He backed Senator Adeola, the incumbent senator for the district and his protégé to get the gubernatorial ticket of APC in Ogun state, but he shelved his ambition after the duo of the then Governor of Lagos state Akinwunmi Ambode and his Ogun state counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, expressed disapproval of his senatorial ambition and Senator Adeola's gubernatorial ambition respectively.

Senator Musliu Obanikoro

The charismatic Musliu Obanikoro, a former senator, former Ambassador and former minister of state for defence, hails from Lagos Island local government in Lagos Central senatorial district. He is a grassroot politician in Lagos Island, and has served as Chairman of the local government area in the 1990s. Obanikoro was appointed Commissioner for Home Affairs by Governor Bola Tinubu in 1999. His position made him a very influential member of Tinubu government and Lagos state. Popularly called Koro , he was also the defacto leader of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Lagos Island during that period.

In 2003 following the migration of Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi to the western zone, Obanikoro got the ticket of the AD for Lagos Central senatorial district and won the election to represent the zone in the Senate. He established himself as a prominent force in the Senate and became more popular among Lagosians due to his youthful vibrancy and astute representation. In 2005, Obanikoro dumped AD for the PDP and aspired to succeed Governor Bola Tinubu. His decision to leave AD was the climax of their fallout, with Obanikoro accusing Tinubu of running the party like his personal estate.

Following the death of Engr Funso Williams who was the frontline candidate for the PDP in the 2007 gubernatorial election, Musliu Obanikoro got the party's ticket after defeating Mrs Hilda Williams, the wife of the late Funso Williams, who was backed by Chief Olabode George, the PDP Deputy National Chairman in charge of southern zone. Obanikoro was however unlucky at the main election as he fell to Tinubu backed Babatunde Raji Fashola of Action Congress.

He was appointed as Nigeria's High Commissioner to Ghana by President Umaru Yar'adua in 2008 and later Minister of state for defence by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013/2014. Obanikoro sought the gubernatorial ticket of PDP for the 2015 election but lost to Mr Jimi Agbaje in a controversial circumstance, and was reappointed minister in January 2015.

In 2017, two years after the fall of Jonathan's administration, Obanikoro defected to All Progressive Congress and was reabsorbed by the Bola Tinubu political family, Mandate Group. He sought to get the ticket of the party to return to the Senate in 2019 but upon realising that Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the senator representing Lagos Central senatorial district and wife of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was still interested in running for a third term and to avoid conflict with the Tinubu family, he announced his "defection" to Lagos West senatorial district. In 2018, he aspired to become Senator for his new district, claiming that his family "originated" from Lagos West in "Ojo local government area", but he was defeated by Senator Solomon Adeola in the intra party politics of the APC.

The Battle Ahead Of 2023

Obanikoro is a strongman in Lagos state politics and a force to be reckoned with in Lagos Island local government and Lagos central senatorial district. Since his exit from the Peoples Democratic Party, the party in Lagos is yet to find its bearing. However, his movement to Lagos West means conquering new constituency, a constituency that sees him as an outsider. 

Moreover, he is aspiring to run under the All Progressive Congress, whose members and leaders he fought for fourteen years between 2005 and 2017. But he is a very popular personality as far as Lagos state is concerned.
Although, Rauf Aregbesola is seen as the leader of APC in Lagos West and is obviously a favorite to get the party's ticket, his eight year stint in Osun state may raise eyebrows against him by the people of the zone and Lagos state in general.

But only time would tell who among the two powerhouses will get the nod of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the mortal decider of APC in Lagos state for the seat in contention.


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