21 December 2012

Nigeria: In Their Fathers' Footsteps


Children of past political leaders are following the footprints of their fathers in every endeavour. In this piece, OLAOLU OLADIPO lists some of the personalities involved

Past political leaders who once ruled the country are now calling the shots through their children in virtually all the tiers of government. Their offspring are in different leadership positions hitherto occupied by their parents.

From Kwara, Kogi, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), children of the well-to-do, as well as shakers and movers of the country's political, social and economic life, have taken over the mantle of leadership and setting the pace ahead of 2015.

The late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki was popular for political sagacity and strategic maneuvering. Oloye, as he was fondly called, was synonymous with Kwara politics. He called the shots and dictated who became what for over four decades. Until the cold hands of death snatched him away at the age of 79, he was still an enigma whose political desires tallied with that of his state.

His son, the immediate past governor of the state, now a senator, Bukola Saraki, has been reportedly chosen by a broad section of the Kwara society to lead them. The younger Saraki shares so many things with his late father. He is also a qualified medical doctor who ventured into politics, as well as a proud holder of the distinguished title of Turaki Ilorin, a post his father held before being upgraded to a much higher title of the Waziri.

The situation is similar in the neighbouring Kogi State, where Chief Yomi Awoniyi, son of a former chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), the late Chief Sunday Awoniyi, is riding on his father's name to achieve political clout. Yomi, who is an architect, is the deputy governor of the state, and he is regarded as one of the political heavyweights who will decide the fate of the state ahead of 2015.

And to prove the weight of Yomi, Governor Wada Idris had, during the fifth memorial service of late Awoniyi on December 3, 2012, declared that the former ACF leader's selfless sacrifice stabilised the country's democracy.

Similar arrangement is also the norm at the third tier of government, as the current caretaker chairman of Ajaokuta Local Government Area, Mr. Alloysius Okino is the son of the foremost political bigwig in Kogi State, Hon. Ado Moses Okino. The latter was a former member of the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007.

In Oyo, it is an unwritten rule that for any politician to be successful, he or she must be a member of a well respected political family in the state. Unknown to many people, the present governor of the state, Abiola Ajimobi, is from an established political family. His late father was a disciple of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the political god of the entire South-West region.

Though his cabinet is made up of children of prominent politicians, the most easily notable is Mr. Dapo Lam-Adesina, one of the sons of the late Lam Adesina, a former governor of the state who died recently. Dapo is currently the Commissioner for Youth and Sports.

In the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the situation is not different as strategic government positions are being occupied by children of political bigwigs. For instance, daughter of the Second Republic attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Chief Richard Akinjide, a senior advocate of Nigeria, Chief Jumoke Akinjide, is currently the minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Prior to her appointment, she ran unsuccessfully to occupy a senatorial seat but lost to the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria's candidate.

Ms Akinjide and the daughter of another former governor of the state, Dr. Omololu Olunloyo, Ms. Kemi Omololu Olunloyo, were both members of the lower legislative chamber in the 6th Assembly of the current dispensation. The younger Olunloyo failed to retain her seat at the last election.

Osun State presents a very interesting scenario as the cabinet is composed of the children of who-is-who in the politics of the state. Son of the late governor of old Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige, a senior advocate of Nigeria, Muyiwa, is the Commissioner for Lands, Physical Planning and Urban Development while Ms. Mobolaji Akande, is the daughter of a former state governor and now national chairman of the ACN, Chief Bisi Akande. She is in charge of Human Resources and Capacity Building as the substantive commissioner.

Apart from the above two, children of the late eminent jurist and former justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Kayode Eso, Mrs. Funmilayo Eso-Williams, is also a special adviser in the cabinet of Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

On the side of the PDP, a former state governor, Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke, is one of the children of late Senator Ayoola Adeleke, who was elected a member of the upper legislative chamber in the defunct Second Republic.

In Ogun, son of the Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, Dr. Oluokun, is currently the Commissioner for Health. His younger sister, Moremi, has been serving at the federal level, precisely at the presidency since the days of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Olumide, the son of yet another former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba, is currently a member of the Federal House of Representatives.

Also, the cabinet of Governor Ibikunle Amosun is dotted by the presence of personalities such as the son of a prominent traditional ruler and business mogul, Oba AdedapoTejuoso, Lanre, who is the commissioner in charge of Special Duties; as well as Architect Lekan Adegbite, son of the late secretary- general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Dr. Lateef Adegbite.

Daughter of the late business mogul and acclaimed winner of the June 12 presidential election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, is in charge of implementing the MDGs in the state in her capacity as a special adviser.

On the side of the PDP, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, daughter of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, served as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Ogun Central district. This is just as the immediate past speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole is the son of a prominent politician, Chief Alani Bankole.

In Ondo State, a notable figure riding on the back of his father to fame is Mr. Deji Falae, who is now part of the cabinet of Governor Segun Mimiko. Deji is one of the sons of Chief Olu Falae, a former secretary to the government of the federation. The older Falae was the presidential candidate of the joint ticket of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the All Peoples Party (APP), which later became the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the 1999 presidential poll.

Ekiti State presents a different story as virtually all the political appointees and elected officials have strong pedigree. It must be stated that the first executive governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo is the son of Major-General Adeyinka Adebayo (retired), former military governor of the old Western Region.

The same situation exists in Lagos, where the state deputy governor, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire is the offspring of a notable politician, Baba Orelope, strongman of Alimoso politics. Babajide, the son of former Nigeria's ambassador to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, is now putting himself for political reckoning with his declaration by the tribunal as the winner of Ikoyi Obalende LCDA during the recent local government election in the state.

Another politician to note is Hon Sultan Adeniji-Adele, who is a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly. He is from the popular Adeniji-Adele royal family from Lagos Island.

In Niger State, Umar Nasko, son of Gen. Gado Nasko, was Commissioner for Works in the first term of Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu. He was allegedly taunted to be one of the politicians to step into the shoes of Aliyu as governor before they purportedly parted ways. Also, Col. Sani Bello's son, Abu Lolo, was a Commissioner of Commerce in the state. The son of General Inuwa Wushishi, Kabir, is the Commissioner of Tourism and Culture in Niger State.

Going by the above analysis, it is clear that, like their fathers, they have been inducted into the corridors of power. Long live Nigeria!

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