by Ayomide Adeloye
THE CHIEF OLUSEGUN OSOBA’S support base in Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency will be put to test Saturday when PDP’s Soyemi Coker – a political stale – takes on Rep. Olumide Osoba in what is billed as one of the most interesting fights of this national assembly poll.
Osoba vs Coker in the poll campaign, putting development issues on the frontburner and demonstrating past provisions of dividends of democracy by both parties. The PDP’s choice of a candidate to take on Olumide, the incumbent member of Federal House of Representatives, representing Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency, is an attempt to reignite/reopen and old wound and has already underscored the APC’s attempt to bring this constituent plank at the centrestage of polls in the high-profile constituency.
Aremo Olusegun Osoba’s son, Olumide Babatunde Osoba and Aderupoko Coker’s son Soyemi Coker have politics in their genes. The two scions of the Osoba and Coker families are born to Ogun State’s former governor and former governorship candidate. Their patriarchs are/were high Chiefs of Egba land in Ogun State. The two scions of the great politicians are today lockhorn in a political battle for Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency just like their patriarchs did in 1990/91 when the Osoba Snr. and Coker Snr. battled for the golden fleece of the coveted power house of Ogun State government under the platforms of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Congress (NRC) – the two political parties established by the military fiat in 1990 by the only military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida popularly called IBB. In that governorship election, the Osoba Snr. trounced the Coker Snr.
Of course, that was 32 years ago. Olumide has followed the foot path of his father by joining a progressive political party All Progressives Congress (APC), while Soyemi belongs to the conservative party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), on which platform he contested and won twice. He contested for the chairmanship of Odeda Local Government in 2004 and won. In 2007, he vied for the Odeda State Constituency and won. He ruled Odeda LG for three years before he was promoted to the Ogun State House of Assembly.
Soyemi Coker was a backbench legislator when the Ogun State House of Assembly erupted in a crisis that consumed the Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly, Hon Tunji Egbetokun on September 9, 2009.
Soyemi became the beneficiary of the imbroglio that pitched the legislative body against the powerful executive arm of government that was led by Otunba Gbenga Daniel, also known as OGD.
He was elected the Speaker of Ogun State House of Assembly by nine members out of 26 members of the legislative House, which split the halo Chamber into two factions. Soyemi led the G11 legislators while Hon. Egbetokun became the leader of G15. He garnered these experiences under the tutelage of his late father, Aderupoko, who was Bada Egba, a strong financier and political leader of the PDP in Ogun State.
He became the political heir of the family. Soyemi’s stint with politics was a short-lived one because his role in the brouhaha that engulfed the Ogun State House of Assembly was seen as ignoble.
Soyemi’s political firmament had been in limbo since 2011 until his younger sister Dr Tomi Coker emerged from the political obscurity to limelight when she became the current Commissioner for Health in the administration of the incumbent governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR., who is also vying to be reelected in this year governorship election. Tomi Coker, Soyemi’s sister, paraadventure is not predisposed to the ideological bent of their patriarch as she is a member of All Progressives Congress APC, at least, by the office she holds in the APC-led government.
Olumide Osoba too has followed the political path his father had paved for him. He is a member of All Progressives Congress (APC).
His political trajectory was contrary to Soyemi’s. While the latter can be described as a grassroot politician, same cannot be said of the former. Olumide cut the tooth of elective position by contesting for the seat in Federal House of Representatives in 2011, representing Abeokuta South Federal Constituency and won on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Olumide stumbled out of ACN with his father, Osoba Snr. penultimate 2015 when the heat of power tussle between the then governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, MON, became unbearable.
Father and son pitched their political survival under the white horse party. Olumide contested on the platform of Social Democratic Party, SDP, in 2015 for the Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Abuja, unfortunately, he did not turn out victorious.
Shortly after that experience, Osoba Snr returned with his son, Olumide to ACN and they lied low until ACN, ANPP, CPC and a fraction of PDP merger was consummated in 2014.
Osoba Snr became the national leader of the newly formed All Progressives Congress APC. He was the Chairman of the Constitution and Manifesto Drafting Committee of the emergent political party with national spread. He worked tirelessly to give birth to APC.
It was just natural that his son obtained the nomination of the newly formed party to the Federal House of Representatives after the second debacle to clinch another four years sojourn in the national assembly.
Who will blink first in this present staring competition?
Unfortunately, Soyemi Coker does not enjoy the luxury of a politically active patriarch that could provide strong backing. The Coker Snr died a long time ago. Though, he is heir to a chicken farm big enough to produce eggs enough for all the 16 countries in West Africa.
Soyemi’s present political move can be seen from the prism of self-reliance. Only his past stewardship could speak for him in this present dispensation. He has been working quietly to secure the ticket for the Federal House of Representatives to represent Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/ Odeda Federal Constituency. Even as it is his debut many years after the death of his patriarch. Soyemi Coker, the PDP candidate for the House of Representatives, Abuja is managing his campaign in his own style.
It is not likely that the electorate would still remember his stewardship while he served as the Council Chairman between 2004 and 2007. That’s about two decades ago. It’s not also impossible that his constituents in the 10 wards I Odeda Local Government can still see the traces of his constituency projects while serving in the House of Assembly.
Interestingly, Olumide Osoba, the incumbent Representative of Abeokuta North/Obafemi-Owode/Odeda Federal Constituency and Chairman, House Committee on Sports, roped in his maverick Osoba Snr has been cheered and accorded by the people of his federal constituency as “Mr. Project”.
Olumide’s constituency consist of 38 wards. He ensures that each ward was provided with at least two projects, ranging from provisions of 500/33Kva transformers, boreholes, hospital equipment, solar powered streetlights, construction of classrooms of various sizes and numbers to provisions of learning materials at both primary and secondary schools at all wards where public schools are located, including construction of mini-sports centre, market stalls and Town Halls, and provisions of drugs and hospital equipment, including construction of acquisition centres in many of the wards.
Olumide Osoba has provided jobs for about 20 job seekers in the Nnamid Azikwe University, University of Calabar, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, and FRSC just to mention a few.
Both men are hard working and frugal. They are born with silver spoons in their mouths. Olumide does not believe in handouts, so also Soyemi.
How this will affect the two scions of powerful politicians in Egba land is yet to be seen. Surely, they will be adjudged by the level of the spread of democracy dividends. Another factor that will give one an edge over the order is past relationship that their patriarchs had established among the electorates of the three local government. Incumbency may not has much impact in the results of the polls cast for individuals.