Special Adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and a member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Chief Tunde Olusunle, who, last Wednesday, emerged as the consensus candidate of the coalition of Yagba and Lokoja/Kotonkarfe Federal Constituencies has withdrawn from the 2015 senatorial race.
Olusunle said he is determined to place collective interest above personal interest and ambition, and keep the momentum the current struggle for the sustenance of the rotational arrangement among the component units in Kogi West Senatorial District has gained in the past few days.
Olusunle, in a statement issued in Lokoja, Kogi State capital onMonday said his decision to withdraw, though painful, became inevitable to clear his good name and also to survive the Yagba Agenda. He however promised to work “conscientiously” for anyone who emerges in his place in the repeat exercise to choose a new consensus aspirant for the coalition.
It is gathered that a meeting of stakeholders from Yagba to review the exercise which had thrown up Olusunle as the consensus senatorial aspirant of the Coalition of Yagba and Lokoja/Kotonkarfe Federal Constituency was scheduled to hold at the Rekiya Abu Centre, Lokoja, Monday evening.
Saying it took a long walk, discussions, negotiations, sacrifices and strategies to get the momentum up to this speed level, Olusunle admitted that such insinuations that he was being sponsored by Smart Adeyemi and his cronies to thwart the senatorial rotation project, were strong enough for him to prove wrong by stepping aside. This he said will ensure so that the momentum so garnered is not weakened or allowed to be stopped or killed, ultimately.
According to him, “these most unfounded, unscrupulous, unthinkable and demeaning speculations” had festered, even since his first attempt to serve his people during the 2010/2011 electioneering period.
This he said, is despite the fact that leaders of Kogi West at the time through a committee which included respected elders like Prince Olusola Akanmode and Otunba Funso Owoyemi, held bouts and bouts of meetings with him and Abdulganiyu Salaudeen another senatorial aspirant at the time, to prevail on them to make sacrifices to maintain the two-terms- per-federal constituency template of senatorial succession in the zone. This the elders said, is to preserve trust, unity and peaceful co-existence among the various political components of the zone.
“That concurrence with the general thinking of the leadership of the zone to implant a regime seamless and orderly succession, was most unfortunately, misconstrued”, he said.
According to him, early signals of the likely breach of this mutual arrangement, culminated in the defection of Abdulganiyu Salaudeen to the All Progressives Congress, APC, after about 15 years of loyal membership of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, to seek the actualization of his aspiration to the Federal House of Representatives in the emerging dispensation.
He noted that his position on the irrevocability of the shift of the senatorial seat to Yagba federal constituency, has been most strident and consistent as typified by his public comments on the issue over the years.
Explaining that he belonged to a “totally different political, ideological and moral persuasion from those who intend to perpetuate the brutalisation of the sensitivities of my people by their inordinate ambition,” Olusunle said his painful exit from the race was to preserve the unanimity of purpose of the present clamour for equity, justice and fairplay.
Speaking further, he said as a stickler for integrity, due process, respect for existing consensual arrangements and rule of law, he “cannot understand how egocentricism, avarice, arrogance, sheer lawlessness, even God-lessness will replace my cherished values and principles.”
Olusunle said he may not be able to pursue a robust, issue-based campaign under the fog of crass misconception and do-or-die desperation by the other side which could place a huge moral burden on him.
He thanked elders and leaders of the Yagba-Lokoja/Kotonkarfe for pioneering a new epoch in the political evolution of Kogi West which engendered a historic novelty in the emergence of a consensus aspirant in an atmosphere devoid of rancor and bitterness.
Olusunle described his withdrawal as one more sacrifice by the league of the charter of equity, to ensure that the senate rotates to its destination-Yagba East in 2015. He pointed out that “no sacrifice is too much for anybody to make and no price is too high for anybody to pay in the task to keep it right by ensuring that equity, fairness and justice are not mortgaged on the altars of self-interest, greed and avarice at this point in the 23-year history of our Senatorial District.”
He promised to work conscientiously with whoever emerges from the repeat exercise to choose a new aspirant for the coalition, in pursuit of the realisation of the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Kogi West for a Yagba senator in 2015, while Yagbaland will return the favor to Lokoja/Kotonkarfe in 2023.
Following his emergence, it will be recalled that forces believed opposed to the outcome of the arrangement went public with allegations that the man who had emerged was indeed a stooge and a tool in the hands of the incumbent Senator Smart Adeyemi and cronies. The former Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo was accused of acting a script that is designed to derail the Yagba agenda.
Olusunle’s reference to sacrifices may not be unconnected with two previous withdrawals by leading senatorial aspirants from Lokoja and Kotonkarfe from the 2015 senate race. Former SSG, Musa Ahmadu and the Galadima of Lokoja, James Katugwa announced their withdrawal from the race last week to pave the way for aspirants from Yagba. Also, Major General Adewumi Ajibade, one of initial five Yagba aspirants did not only dropped his ambition but attempted to donate his nomination form to Olusunle, which was denied by the PDP secretariat.