30th March, 2011
As Nigerians go to the poll on Saturday to elect another set of representatives at the National AssemblyÂ they believe will take them to the promised land, the election into the House of Representatives for the capital city of the most populous state in the country, Ikeja, presents an interesting scenario.
There are two major candidates flying the flag of the two most popular parties in the state, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), incidentally the ruling party in the state; and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party at the centre.
Flying the flag of the ACN is the former chairman of Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Honourable James Abiodun Faleke, while the former leader of the Legislative Council of Ikeja Local Government, Ololade Shonibare, is flying the flag of the PDP. There are other candidates of the other parties but the aforementioned two are not only representing the most popular parties, they are also the most popular among the candidates.
The battle in Ikeja will be interesting because the two popular candidates are very close to the grassroots hence they will be banking on their grassroots support to win. Lolade Sonibare was an elected councillor on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) for one of the wards in Ikeja Local Government Area. Then as popular as he was, he was also elected as the Chairman of the Conference of Leaders of Legislative Councils of local governments in the state, a position he occupied until the expiration of the tenure of local government administration in 2002.
Thereafter, Lolade defected to the PDP and has been one of its leading young members before winning the party’s ticket to contest for the House of Representatives in Ikeja Federal Constituency.
However, Lolade’s political credentials might pale into oblivion if compared with that of his main opponent, Faleke. Apart from belonging to the most popular and acceptable party in the state, Faleke himself is extremely popular especially in the grassroots.
As chairman of Ojodu LCDA, he has put in place programmes and projects thatÂ endeared his administration to the people. His administration has developed the LCDA from a council with no official secretariat to the one with one of the best council secretariats in the state.
Before Faleke came to power, the Oke-Ira area of the council was a no-go area due to bad roads. However, the reverse is now the case as more people are seeking residence in the area due to the improved infrastructure.
The Faleke administration increased the number of health centres in the council area from the one he met to five while the construction of the sixth one is ongoing. When the administration came into office, there was only one dilapidated health centre in the whole of the council area. Now, even residents of border towns like Alagbole, Akute in Ogun State visit these health centres that are accessible to everybody.
In 2007, he took over from Senator Muniru Adekunle Muse as the chairman of the Conference 57, an umbrella organisation for local governments and local council development areas in the state. It was considered an enormous job for a young man but Faleke performed so well that his colleagues have clamoured for his continued role as their leader.
It was during Faleke’s era that the Conference instituted a colloquium for annual celebration of the former governor of the state, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, under whose administration new council areas were created. Since 2009, the colloquium has been attracting prominent personalities from all over the world and it has become an annual event worth looking forward to.
There are so many things that make the ACN candidate stand out of the pack and the general consensus among the people is that ACN has indeed made the right choice.
For Lolade Shonibare and others, they are indeed faced with a herculean task as everything points to a victory for Faleke.