The main contestants in Osun State governorship election
The main contestants in Osun State governorship election. Picture credit: The Punch

OLUSESAN LAOYE

As the governorship election in Osun State comes up on Saturday, the parties and their candidates have intensified their campaigns to convince the people to see why they must be voted for to replace the incumbent Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, it now appears that only five political parties and their candidates are in hot contention out of the over 43 political parties listed by the Independent National Electoral commission for the contest.

Although it was envisage before the primaries that three political parties would be slugging it out with themselves, the fall out of the primaries increased the tally to five as two major contestants in both the All Progressives Congress and the People Democratic Parties angrily left their parties to join other political parties that are not as popular as the APC, the PDP and the Social democratic party(SDP) due to what they described as irregularities and favoritism in the primaries, which produced the candidates of their former political parties.

Those actually in the race and battle ready for Aregbesola’s job are Otunba Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic party (SDP), Senator, Ademola Adeleke, (PDP),  Gboyega Oyetola (APC), Alhaji Fatai Akinbade African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Moshood Olalekan Adeoti of the Action Democratic Party (ADP).

What is ironical about the five of the candidates is that they were all offspring of the PDP. Omisore was in PDP where he contested the Senatorial seat of Osun East, Governorship election in 2014. He left the party after the reconciliation which put all the factions together when he was said to have been told by the national headquarters of the party that he would not be considered due to the fact that the incumbent Ogbeni Aregbesola is from the same Osun East where he would like to contest.

Akinbade was the first Osun state chairman of the PDP, he contested the primary of the PDP in 2014 and left the party after losing to Omisore for the labour party where he contested the governorship and came third, and he came back to the PDP after the reconciliation of the two factions and contested the primaries of the party.

He came third in the primary which was alleged to have been fraught with malpractices and as a result, he left the party to join the newly formed political party the ADC where he is now contesting the governorship election. Adeoti too was in PDP before he joined the APC in 2014 with the former governor of the state Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and late Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke.

He contested the last Governorship Primary of the APC and lost to Oyetola who is regarded as the anointed candidate of the power that be in Lagos and governor Aregbesola. Oyetola’s emergence angered other aspirants who felt that he was forced on them. As one of the angry APC aspirants, he left in annoyance to join ADP where he is contesting the governorship.

Ademola Adeleke who could be described as a child of destiny, was not known in political circle until the death of his brother Senator Isiaka. Although he has been following the brother to wherever he went politically but he never actually got involved in politics and when his brother died, he was asked to step into his shoes to contest the Senatorial seat which the death of his brother left vacant.

He was to have contested the Osun West senatorial Seat under the platform of the APC but he was edged out at the last minutes. This action of the party forced him to go back to the PDP where he eventually contested the senatorial election which he won.

He was still basking in the euphoria of his being a Senator when he ventured into the governorship race. He was one of the aspirants who contested the PDP primary and eventually won.

These five candidates are heavy weights in Osun politics and still remain forces to be reckoned with and with their involvements in the coming governorship election, no one is actually sure of who would actually become the governor. Although all of them are intensifying efforts and making frantic moves to win the election, several factors are now on ground to determine who among them would carry the day.

When the battle for the Abere Osun state government secretariat and the Oke-fia government house began, there were heated arguments as to which of the Senatorial Zones should produce the next governor after Aregbesola. In fact the argument was so intense that it caused rumpus in virtually all the political parties, especially in the All Progressives Congress where the leaders did not share the idea of zoning.

The idea initially was that the Osun West Senatorial District should be allowed to produce the next governor being the only zone which has never tested power since the present political dispensation in 1999. At the inception of the ongoing political dispensation it was the Osun central who first had the slot with Chief Bisi Akande under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

He ruled for four years after which Prince OlagunsoyeOyinlola from the same Osun central became the governor under the platform of the People Democratic Party; he governed the state for over seven years before the court verdict gave the mantle of leadership to the outgoing governor Aregbesola, who is going to end his eight years as governor in November this year.

It means that while the Central senatorial zone ruled for 12 years and Osun East eight years, Osun West never had the opportunity to rule since 1999

The situation now in the state is that all the Senatorial zones are now fully represented and the five giants are from the three zones as well. This situation has now made the contest very interesting and competitive. This means that all the candidates, especially the big five would have to work very hard to win.

One fundamental issue bothering the people of the state with these five is violence. With Adeleke, Omisore, Oyetola and Adeoti   who have large followers and diehard loyalists any action to undermine any one of them by any of the contestants could lead to unwarranted violence.

How they stand

Omisore:

Iyiola Omisore, SDP candidate

This would be his third times of contesting the governorship. His bid for the governorship started in 1999 while he was in the Alliance for Democracy. He was one of the financiers of the party and he put so much to into it, but as a young politicians just coming into the game, he was persuaded to step down for a much older person, Chief BisiAkande.

To appease him he was then asked to be Chief Akande’s Deputy. He was the deputy Governor of the state under Akande for four years but his tenure was turbulent, as he fell out with Chief Akande over the issue of second term. Omisore according to him, was promised to take over from Akande after a first term but the arrangement did not work.

He eventually left the AD for the PDP where he wanted to contest the governorship but unfortunately, the late Chief Bola Ige’s saga prevented him. He was incarcerated and he had to drop the governorship ticket to Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who was planning to go to the senate.  Omisore eventually contested the Osun East Senatorial seat in prison and won.

He did not lose hope and he was to have contested the governorship again under the platform of the PDP after Oyinlola must have completed his second term in office but the Court verdict which gave the governorship to Aregbesola without Oyinlola completing his second term put paid to his ambition then.

Omisore did not give up and he oiled his political machines for the coming contest under the PDP but the reconciliatory moves by the present national executive of the party prevented him from doing so with the party and he had to join the SDP.

With the look of things, Omisore has been convincing the people that he is capable of delivering the state from its present situation which they all claimed the APC government put it into. This time around, he has moved to all the nooks and crannies of the state but his strength still remain in is home Ile Ife. Omisore has four Local governments which have the second largest voting strength in Osun state and he is ready to hold tight to that,

Judging from the last election he contested under the platform of the PDP, his largest vote came from the four Local governments, Ife Central, Ife East, Ife West and Ife North and Ife South and with the Modakeke area council and if he if he gets the large chunk of the votes from these areas and pockets of votes from other areas where they believed in him, he could spring a big surprise and this has been his hope and what he is banking on to win the election.

What political observers believe that would also help omisore is the fact that three of the candidates, Adeleke, Adeoti and Akinbade are from Osun West and as it is expected the votes in Osun West would be shared by all of them

Adeleke:

Senator Adeleke, PDP governorship candidate

He is a new comer in Osun politics and he comes from Osun West Senatorial Zone where the people believe that the governorship should come from after Aregbesola. He is depending on the good will of the dead brother Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke who people believed diedin a mysterious manner and this goodwill helped him in the senatorial election,.

Like Omisore he too has the strong hold of four local governments, Ede, North, Ede South, Ejigbo and Egbedore. These local governments produce the third largest votes in Osun State and he is banking on the votes from other areas. It was argued that even if the votes from Osu n West zone are shared, Adeleke would still have the bulk votes from Ede to help him carry the day.

Apart from the confidence of the votes he is counting on, his Brother Deji Adeleke is ready to put everything he has financially to ensure that Demola wins the contest. It was even said that right now in Osun state, Deji is the highest spender for this election.

Akinbade:

Alhaji Akinbade, ADC governorship candidate

Akinbade has only a local government to contend with but he has the support of the civil servants and workers. He is also coming into the race for the second time; in 2014 he came third. The only issue which Akinbade has is money. It was even said that he would have been the candidate of the PDP if he had enough money like the others as he is the most preferred of all the candidates.

He is experienced and as far as governance is concerned he was a three times commissioner and the Secretary to the government of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who is now in the same ADC with him.  He has been moving round to let the people know that he has a lot to offer the state in terms experience.

Adeoti:

He is regarded as a strong politician in Osun state. He too was the Secretary to the Osun state government. He is a mobiliser of the grassroots. He has a lot of supporters across the state but has only one local government to contend with. He has Iwo Local government but he is depending on the support of his arrays of supporters and the big names in the party who have the control of their people.

Oyetola:

Oyetola, APC governorship candidate

He is from Osun central and the issue with him is that the whole of Osun are unanimous about where they want the governorship to come from, which is Osun West. He is from Iragbiji and has only one local government at his disposal. What Oyetola is depending on is the support of the outgoing governor Aregbesola who has said that theAPC would do everything at its disposal to ensure that they retain power in the state.

Apart from the support from the state, he is also depending on the federal might. What is actually working against him is the fact that he is not from the zone mostly favoured and he is also from the minority in the state, where their votes don’t count. The area where he comes from has always been where political parties share votes because of the various interest groups who always want to ensure that their political parties rule the state so that they would have a say. The area where he comes from is where we have the likes of Alhaji Shuiab Oyedokun who is a strong leader of the PDP.

From the looks of things, the people of Osun State are bitter with the recent statement of the APC leader Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu at the Ataoja of Oshogbo’s palace that he was richer than the people of Osun State put together and even the state government.

He said at the palace that, the people of Osun state are very poor. He further said the APC put Oyetola forward so that he would end poverty in Osun State. Tinubu pointed out that if they vote for the APC, their children would not become beggars.

This statement at a point when the people are undecided as to who to vote for jolted the indigenes of Osun State who spontaneously jumped into the streets to protest against Tinubu’s statement. Although it was viewed that this would have adverse effect on Oyetola, one of the party big wigs in the state, Prince Oladuni Arowolo said that that would have nothing to do with their victory. He pointed out that things were better for the people of Osun during the eight years that the APC was in government.

Osogbo the beautiful bride

Osogbo the state capital has become the beautiful bride of all the political parties and their candidates; perhaps that was why Tinubu thought he could go to the palace to woo the people through their monarch to vote for the APC candidate. Osogbo is now very crucial to any candidate who wants to win the governorship because it has the highest votes in the state and that was what helped Aregbesola in his second term.

Virtually all the candidates are very strong in Osogbo and they are now relying on the big names to win election. It is now believed that whoever amongst the candidates who could add substantial votes from Osogbo to the votes garnered in other areas and his strong hold would definitely win the governorship.

  1. Yemi Farounbi who is the arrow head of Omisore’s campaign organization, and who has always been speaking at campaign rally said that the SDP was sure of winning the election because of all the candidates, Omisore is the most qualified in terms of education with his doctorate degree, exposure and experience as the deputy governor and as a senator who headed the appropriation committee.

He said that apart from that he is a grassroots politician who comes from the area where the state produces the second highest votes in Osun State. Also the Director of Publicity and Strategy of the APC Barrister KunleOyatomi said that the APC would surprise the people despite the campaign of calumny by the opposition. He said the party is ready to rule the state again and nothing can stop the APC from continuing in office.

The governorship candidate of the PDP senator Ademola Adeleke has said that he has worked hard to occupy the Government house. He said that the assurance of winning becomes brighter daily with the way the people are yearning for a change and they believed that it is only the PDP that can offer the desired change the people are yearning for.