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All is set for this weekend’s governorship election in Osun State. As the participating political parties and candidates put finishing touches to their strategies, Adesoji Adeniyi, reports on the factors that will come at play and the chances of the candidates

ALTHOUGH no fewer than twelve political parties are fielding candidates for the September 22 Osun governorship election it seems only five of them, the ruling All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Action Democratic Party and the African Democratic Congress, are prominently positioned to make appreciable impact. Other participating political parties, which are also visible, include the Alliance for Democracy, the Accord Party, the Labour Party, among others.

Less than a week to the election, the tempo of campaign activities has reached a feverish peak. Most active political parties and their standard bearers are moving from one community to another to rally support of the prospective voters for their aspirations. Also, many groups, including the Independent National Electoral Commission, the civil society organisations and media houses are sensitising the people of the state about the poll.

Security agencies are also firming up their operations and educating their men and officers to be deployed for the exercise on how to carry out their duties on the day of election.

The candidates of the political parties for the election and their supporters also have continued to engage the people through door to door campaign and political rallies to sell their manifestos and programmes. But more than often, their campaigns focus largely on accusations and allegations against one another while many of them hardly discuss their programmes and how they will tackle challenges facing the state when they become the governor.

Also, defections from one political platform to another have continued unabated. We gathered that most of chieftains move from one party to the other mainly because of their inability to realise their ambition on a particular platform.

However, issues about some of the candidates and their parties that are frequently discussed in groups in all parts of the state ahead of the election include certificate scandal, zoning of the governorship seat to Osun West Senatorial District, welfare of the public workers and pensioners, debt profile of the state and Lagos agenda. These issues have been highly politicised.

As the election date draws closer, both the candidates and their supporters are engrossed with issues they believe will determine where the pendulum may eventually swing to and what each of the candidates have going for him. Our investigation during the week shows that many factors and happenings will combine to determine the candidate that will succeed Governor Rauf Aregbesola, whose second term in office is gradually coming to an end.

APC’s Oyetola

The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola, had been the Chief of Staff to the incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola for almost eight years until about three weeks ago when he resigned the appointment to be able to face his campaigns across the state. His candidature is programmed to continue the tempo of socio-economic development of the state started by the Rauf Aregbesola administration and to also break new grounds. For over 30 years, he served as a technocrat in the competitive private sector, and has added eight years in the public office to that experience. Analysts say the combination of these two critical areas of experience positions him well for the exalted position as the Executive Governor of Osun State.

That probably informed his regular statement that he would hit the ground running without anyone telling him what to do or where to start the job from.

He is also said to be calm and to exhibit control over serious challenges. It is also believed that he is going to leverage on his exposure that travels beyond the shores of the state and Nigeria would afford him. But being a major part of the Rauf Aregbesola government, his opponents are saying that the issue of salary and pension arrears would always stare him in the face and may affect his chances. However, recent serious effort by the incumbent administration to pay the backlog of salaries and pensions with the release of the last Paris Club Fund may douse the tension occasioned by this development. Though the APC made the workers see reasons for a fashioned modulated salaries, which he said was caused by the serious economic challenge facing the nation and which was not peculiar to Osun alone, it is feared that some public servants may still habour ill feelings because for the harsh effect of the economic reality on their wellbeing. It therefore seems that the major concern of the APC candidate is the issue of debt profile of the state, which the opposition has capitalised upon and has described as “reckless.” But the APC insists there is justification for the several loans secured by the Aregbesola government because of rapid and even infrastructural development in massive road construction and other sectors, including education, health, among others.

Also, the APC said the loans had helped the state to beat high cost of construction if the state were to wait till it would have enough savings to do the projects.

Another major issue in the state politics today is zoning. Some people from Osun West Senatorial District are clamouring for zoning to the West. But some informed opinion leaders are saying that what is needed is the “Best” not the “West.” They said in democracy, the people should be allowed to decide where the next governor will come from.

Another important factor is the so-called Lagos agenda. But the APC candidate to which this allegation is primarily directed at maintains that it could not be denied that he was born in Iragbiji, the headquarters of Boripe Local Government and raised and schooled in Osogbo, the state capital from elementary to secondary school before proceeding to the University of Lagos to read Insurance. He said it is even an added advantage for the state to have its successful indigenes in various sectors of the economy since their exposure, expertise, accomplishment will ultimately impact on the state, if such an indigene has opportunity to govern. This is even more so, if the said indigene has always been in regular contact with the grassroots and has for many years made investments in the state. He described the insinuation of a Lagos agenda as political “being promoted by very few with selfish and personal interest.”

Given his personal achievement, popularity, appeal to all and the strength of his political party in the state, APC’s Oyetola is evidently the leading candidate in the governorship race. More than any other, he seems prepared to step into the big shoes of the outgoing Governor Aregbesola.

Verdict: Very Strong


ADP’s Adeoti

Action Democratic Party (ADP) governorship candidate, Moshood Olalekan Adeoti, is a thorough bred and a grassroots politician. He had held several grassroots political positions in the past, including the Chairman of Iwo Local Government, Chairman of the defunct Action Congress that later transformed to Action Congress of Nigeria, on which platform, Rauf Aregbesola, came into power in November 27, 2010, following the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Ibadan, Oyo State which sacked the Peoples Democratic Party-led Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s administration.

He was the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Aregbesola’s government for almost eight years before he resigned and defected to the ADP because he said the APC primary was “manipulated in favour” of another aspirant. He is a major advocate of Osun West agenda, saying the zone had been short-changed for far too long. But his political opponents described him as pursuing a selfish interest rather than supporting the principle adopted by the party; which is that the contest should be open to all the zones.

It is however feared that to garner enough votes from his base, Osun West, may remain a Herculean task for him since he has other major contenders from his home base. His second major challenge may be how to convince the other two zones to support his aspiration. If we add these to the level of acceptability and the limited spread of his party, compared to that of the other major candidates, his chances may only be described as dicey. As an individual however, he is experienced and popular enough not to be dismissed with a wave of the hand. His party is not as strong however.

Verdict: One to watch.


SDP’s Omisore

The Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s governorship candidate, Sen. Christopher Iyiola Omisore is an engineer and PhD holder. He was deputy to former governor of Osun State, Abdul-Kareem Adebisi Akande, between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy. He was impeached towards the tail end of the Akande administration but staged his comeback to the political space when he was elected the senator representing Osun East Senatorial District, otherwise known as Ife/Ijesa zone, from 2003 to 2011.

In the Senate, he was Chairman, Appropriation Committee. In 2011, he attempted to return to the Senate the third time but lost to Babajide Omoworare of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria. Omisore in 2014 had a strong governorship contest but lost to the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who then was seeking a second term in office. He defected from the PDP to the SDP to pursue his ambition when the former denied him the ticket. His entry into the SDP was dramatic and controversial but he maneuvered to secure the party’s governorship ticket.

Omisore is from Osun East, where the incumbent governor, Aregbesola, comes from. This factor, according to his political opponents, may work against his victory because his choice of candidate for the people would make the zone spend about 12 to 16 years unbroken in power. This is not palatable to those agitating for zoning of the governorship to Osun West believed not to have had equal representation on the exalted position. Also, it is believed that the PDP family, from where he had defected may split his votes. But he is very strong in Ife zone of the Osun East.

Verdict: Limited chances


ADP’s Akinbade

ADP’s governorship candidate, Fatai Akinade Akinbade, an engineer, is from Osun West Senatorial District. He was former Secretary to the State Government under Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s administration for over seven years.  He was also the Chairman of the PDP that led the Oyinlola government into power in 2003. During the military rule, he was Commissioner for Works under three military administrators; from Anthony Udofia, Anthony Obi and Theophilus Bamigboye. He defected from the PDP to Labour Party to actualise his governorship ambition in 2014 and returned to the party about three months ago only to defect again to his present party, ADC, where he got the flag bearer.

He is an experienced grassroots politician but it is feared that his votes may be split because he is from Osun West, where Adeoti, another major governorship aspirant, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, the running mate to the APC candidate, Gboyega Alabi, and other political heavy weights also come from.

Verdict: Limited chances


PDP’s Adeleke

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke is very new in Osun State’s politics except for his late elder brother, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, on whose structure he is using. After late Adeleke’s death, he came on the political scene, using his family goodwill and sympathy for the tragic nature of his brother’s death to win Osun West Senatorial bye election. Iwo axis of the West was said to have conceded the senatorial seat to Ede, believing that when it is time for 2018 governorship seat, Ede will do same for Iwo. But the story changed and Iwo may not support Ede for the forthcoming poll as no fewer than three candidates are from that zone for the seat.

Also, a certificate scandal involving him has continued to hunt Adeleke though the court had given him the go ahead for the election when it ruled in his favor over the matter. His critics however alleged that he had not done much to prove to the public that he had the credentials to rule Osun. The bickering among the PDP members over the result of the party primary, where Adeleke emerged with very narrow margin, is a factor. It is believed that Ogunbiyi was robbed; though the issue had been laid to rest only about a week ago some analysts said this may affect PDP’s chances.

Another recent blow to Adeleke’s chance was the defection of his kinsman, the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Adejare Bello, to the APC. Bello came to the APC with hundreds of his supporters that should be working for the victory of Adeleke.

Verdict: Fairly strong


Who the cap fits…

Taking all the issues and developments into consideration, it seems the struggle for power in Osun today is between the APC and the opposition parties. Analysts say that the opposition members need to come together to defeat the APC.

Some observers contend that whichever party that will eventually win may not have a landslide victory but may only have a very narrow margin. Every candidate is counting on his homestead and exercises the hope of getting support from other parts of the state, particularly places like Osogbo and others with a huge voting strength. The game therefore remains dicey.


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