OGUN 2023: Jimi Lawal’s Declaration And Its Reverberations
By Dr. Nath Igbimo
Not in recent times has Abeokuta, the capital city of Ogun state, witnessed the gathering of
party faithful, chieftains, leaders and elders as was seen last Thursday. It was a carnival of
some sort. Dubbed the official declaration of Otunba Jimi Adebisi Lawal (JAL, as he his
popularly called) for the Ogun state PDP governorship ticket, the atmosphere from the
adjoining roads at Sapon to Isale Ake and its environs was electrifying.
As early as 9am, men, women and youths from the 20 local government areas in state started
trooping into the Ake Palace Grounds. They were resplendent in the customized green
Ankara which had PDP logo, Jimi Lawal’s pictures and the inscriptions “Otunba Jimi Adebisi
Lawal for Governor, Ogun State 2023”. Others wore T-shirts and face caps to match.
Supporters of other aspirants also took advantage of the large gathering of party faithful,
leaders and elders to literally market their preferred candidates for the 2023 general election.
The shouts of “Jimi Lafe” (which means it’s Jimi we want) rented the air as the duo of
Musiliu Haruna Ishola and Gboye Best churned out instructive and classical tunes in praise of
the aspirant and the need for the electorate to elect him as governor of the state.
Earlier, plans had been made for JAL to be led from his campaign office at Ijaiye area of
Abeokuta by a convoy of vehicles and motorcycles. But, as a very simple man and a stickler
for time that he is, JAL literally pulled the rug off their feet. Before they knew it, he was at
the Ake Palace Grounds venue of the event. He rode in company of his police escort and an
associate and before anyone could say “Jack Robinson”, he alighted from his Sports Utility
Vehicle (SUV) and walked briskly into the venue. Not for him all the grandiose and
grandiloquence associated with such an entry. He walked round to greet the people, wave at
the others and took a middle seat on the right hand side of the podium. Moments after, the Master of Ceremonies(MC), Mr. Yemi Shodimu took the centre stage and began to direct the
affairs of the day.
Addressing the mammoth crowd of party faithful on the occasion, the Oyo State PDP
chairman, Hon. Dayo Ogungbenro, who represented Governor Seyi Makinde, said PDP is the
only party that can salvage the nation from its present challenges, imploring the people not to
hesitate to return the party to power in Ogun state.
Ogungbenro said, “For instance, everyone in Oyo state has already agreed that Engr. Seyi
Makinde deserves another term because, as a governor electedon the platformof PDP, he has
continued working for the good of the people, he prioritizesthe welfare of the people unlike
APC that is making life difficult for Nigerians. All government workers in Oyo state know
that they get paid their salaries on the 25 th of every month. In Oyo, we are enjoying
dividends of democracy and when Jimi Lawal becomes governor of Ogun State in 2023,
you will also enjoy same. We will take over all the South-West states and the Federal
Government in 2023.”
In the goodwill message of the South West Zonal Exco of the party, which was represented by a 17-man delegation, including the Zonal Legal Adviser, Barrister Ola Kukoyi, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, JAL is the right man for a better Ogun state.
For the Chairman of the PDP in Ogun State, Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele, the occasion presented
him another opportunity to reassure all aspirants of a level-playing field ahead of the 21st of
May, 2022 governorship election primaries. This was seen as an attempt to denounce the
insinuations that one of the governorship aspirants controls the party structure in the state.
An elated Ogundele said he was happy that the party had attracted a strong and credible
characterlike JAL, adding that with the spectacle at the event, the All Progressives Congress
(APC) would be in trouble at the poll.
Ogundele described the APC-led government as “visionless, clueless and wicked.”
He said, “Whoever supports the APC in 2023 needs to be checked psychiatrically. They
need to have their brains checked. What will the APC use to campaign for Nigerians. Is
it the price of food stuff? Or prices of petrol? Or is it the price of makeup (cosmetics)?
They have messed up this country and disappointed Nigerians.”
Giving his remarks, which he made extempore, Lawal urged party members and delegates to
vote for a candidate with good character, political experience, and good academic
qualifications as the party’s governorship candidate for the 2023 governorship election in the
“Let us vote for experience, character, and good qualifications. This is very important for us
as a party to win the minds of the people,” he said.
The aspirant added that voting a competent governorship candidate as the party’s flag bearer
would give the party an edge to defeat the ruling APC government in the state.
Lawal, a British-trained banker and lawyer, seized the moment to unveil his five-point
“We have five cardinal programmes we have mapped out as our priorities. These cardinal
programmes are Economic Development, Human Capital, Infrastructure, Security & Justice,
and Governance. Poverty and unemployment are visible in the state. Our government will
ensure to eliminate poverty. After Lagos state, Ogun state should be number two in Nigeria if
we have good government.
“On Human Capital Development, there is healthcare and there is education. Our government
will revamp the healthcare system in Ogun state and take it to the grassroots by building and
equipping healthcare centres in all the 236 wards. We will work hard to drastically reduce
child-maternal mortality rate. Our government will do free and compulsory education up to
secondary school level. Our government will pay for JAMB, WAEC, so that there won’t be
reason for any parent to complain of lack of money to send their children to school.
“We will give free education to pupils between the ages 6-18year. No child should hawk
during school hours…Can you say this present government is doing this? If they are not,
that’s the more reason we have to vote out this government,” Lawal said.
The governorship hopeful, who was until recently the Chairman of Kaduna State Economic
Development Council, vowed to eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum the social
vices of cultism, kidnapping and other security challenges, adding that only the state
should have the right to the use of force, arms and ammunition.
The governorship hopeful noted that activitiesof cultists who murdered about 16 persons
recently have rendered the state insecure and residents live in palpable fear.
Lawal then referred the people to back page of the pamphlet made for the event which
summarised his five-point agenda. It also has his detailed profile and testimonials from
those who had worked with him in both the private and public sectors, especially Kaduna
state where he was charged with the responsibility of running the state’s economy since
But, beyond all the trills and frills of the event, those who witnessed a similar event at
the same venue about a week ago said JAL’s declaration was better planned, well attended and more glorious. They say it bears an eloquent testimony to the managerial prowess, mobilization capability and organisational skills of JAL in spite of all the panicky efforts by a jittery and threatened aspirant to make it fail. A night before the event, he orchestrated and mounted serious pressure on party leaders and delegates not to attend the event but he was ignored. As seasoned politicians, they know too well that
politics is a game of intrigues and subterfuge. The days and weeks ahead would tell where the pendulum will swing. Until then, the reverberations from public the public declaration of JAL, the Omoluwabi Pataki(a thoroughbred personality) would continue to the discomfort and discomfiture of the one who sees JAL as his main opponent.
Dr. Igbimo, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.