On September 22, 2018, the people of Osun State will queue behind their candidates for the governorship election scheduled to replace the incumbent Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, whose tenure will end on November 27.
Since the release of the final list of 48 parties and their candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the competition among the parties and their candidates for the exalted seat has intensified.
Information available to our correspondent indicates that the dominant political parties have begun to sharpen their arsenals and are subtly deploying resources to have an edge in the poll.
But unlike in the past when the race for the state governorship seat was narrowed to just two leading political parties, the September 22 election will be a fierce battle, not only between the traditional rivals, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but also other parties
Findings by Business Hallmark however indicate that most of the parties are just in the race on paper because they do not have any significant presence in the state and their candidates are largely unknown.
Out of the 48 political parties, four of them have appreciable presence, with structures across the 30 local government and 389 wards and they are the parties to watch. The leading parties are the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
However, three of the four political parties, APC, PDP and SDP, are plagued with internal crisis, a situation that could undermine their chances in the epic election. Behind the rift are the conflicting interests of the power brokers and their supporters. Even so, the three leading parties have fairly equal strengths and weaknesses.
Checks by BH show that apart from the crises trailing the conduct of primaries currently dogging the leading parties, several other factors, such as geopolitics, economy, party/candidate strength, federal might, funding and tribal influence, voting strength, among many others will determine where the pendulum would swing.
CANDIDATES TO WATCH
The governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Iyiola Omisore, is not a pushover in Osun politics. His coming into the SDP has made the party to suddenly become one of the three leading political parties in the state.
Apart from being a former deputy governor of the state, he was actively involved in the formation of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) which he massively funded.
He was on the verge of emerging the governor of Osun State in 1999, before the leaders of the AD in the South West forced him to step down for Chief Bisi Akande who later became governor. The South West party elders at that time had pressurized the young Turks to step down for older politicians like Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Segun Osoba, who reportedly fought for the actualization of the annulled June 12 1993 presidential election as compensation for their efforts.
The new Turks were promised tickets in 2003 which did not materialized. Since then, Omisore had made several unsuccessful efforts to become governor. He was the candidate of the PDP in the 2014 governorship election in the state and was defeated by Governor Aregbesola.
The old war horse is blessed with vast war chest and a cult-like followership, especially in many parts of Osun East, which he once represented at the Senate.
However, he faces a major challenge. He is from Osun East, the same senatorial zone as that of the incumbent governor who is deploying resources to ensure that he delivers his constituency for his godson. It should also be noted that the Ijesha’s, who control six out of the 10 local government areas in the zone, are not known to support Ife cause and may vote true to past leanings in the coming election, a development that will greatly undermine Omisore’s ambition.
The incumbent Chief of Staff to the state Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, is one of the top contenders in the forthcoming governorship election in the state. The technocrat, who hails from Iragboji in Boripe Local Government area of the Osun Central Senatorial District, is said to be a cousin of APC leader, Bola Tinubu.
A seasoned politician and administrator, Oyetola is very versed in the areas of finance and administration. He played a major role in the birth of AD in 1998. He is generally regarded as the brain box of the Aregbesola regime, a factor that could be a plus as well as a minus for the candidate.
He is seen as a continuation of the Aregbesola administration by the people of the state. While the successes of the administration are credited to him, the failures of the regime are also largely attributed to him. In effect, his emergence will depend largely on how he is able to extricate himself from the shortcomings of the governor.
He will also battle with the toga of being tagged as Tinubu’s puppet as he is rumoured to be his uncle.
Apart from these challenges, he is highly favoured to succeed Aregbesola because of the arrays arsenals at his disposals and his grasp of local politics.
Senator Ademola Adeleke is the younger brother of the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke who died last year. When Adeleke who is representing Osun West Senatorial District in the Senate announced his intention to contest in the governorship election, the political calculation in the state immediately changed as he was seen as a major threat to the APC.
His landslide victory in the last bye election in which he defeated the candidate of the APC with wide margin remained a good selling point for the PDP. The senator also has the massive wealth of his billionaire’s brother, Deji Adeleke, at his disposal for the election.
However, he is handicapped by several shortcomings. The governorship aspirant is currently dogged by certificate forgery scandals. While questions have been raised about his primary and secondary schools education, the university which he claimed to have attended in the United States has also come forward to disown him.
As if that are not enough problems for him, two popular candidates from his senatorial district, former SSGs Alhaji Moshood Adeoti and Alhaji Fatai Akinbade are also contesting the election and will no doubt split the votes of the zone. This according to analysts could spell doom for his chances.
While Adeoti is from Iwo, a town with a large population of voters (76,657), Akinbade is from Ogbaagbaa, a town in Ola-Oluwa Local Government Area with a voting population of 29,524.
Their emergence is therefore a considerable threat to Adeleke’s ambition.
A former Secretary to the State Government under the administration of former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade is also a real grassroots politician who has the experience in politics, administration and governance.
He hails from Osun West Senatorial District as Adeleke and he was also the former Chairman of the People Democratic Party. He enjoys the support of grassroots politicians across the state and this manifested recently with the mammoth crowd that came out for him when he defected to the African Democratic Congress (ADC) where he was given the ticket to contest the September 22 election.
Alhaji Moshood Adeoti is one of the leading contenders for the governorship seat of Osun State. The 63-year-old politician hails from Iwo in Iwo Local Government area of the Osun West Senatorial District. He was the pioneer Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Osun and was the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in the state.
He recently defected from the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) to the Action Democratic Party (ADP) where he picked the governorship ticket.
A grassroots politician, Adeoti enjoys the supports of majority of local politicians. His chances are however slim as two leading candidates, Adeleke and Akinbade, who are from his zone are going to cut into his votes.
According to the latest figures of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Osun State has 1,668,524 registered voters based on the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise. However, out of 1,668,524 PVCs received in the state, a total of 1,152,751 have been collected, leaving a balance of 515,773 as at August 17, 2018.
Of this number (1,668,524), there are 884, 206 females (53 per cent) and 784, 318 males (47 per cent).The state has 30 local councils, 332 wards, 3010 polling units and 3379 voting points. Osogbo, the state capital, has the highest voting strength of 171,190 registered voters, while Ifedayo local council has 18,066 voters.
The other local governments according to their strength are Atakumosa East (39,136 registered voters); Atakumosa West (31,569); Ayedaade (60, 252); Ayedire (30,899); Boluwaduro (19,844); Boripe (57,137) and Ede North (58,130); Ede South (42,931); Egbedore (40,925); Ejigbo (61,623).
Others are Ife Central (105,471); Ife East (90,430); Ifelodun (63,591); Ife North (45,435); Ife South (44,555); Ila (40,527); Ilesa East (64,746); Ilesa West (62,286); Irepodun (41,554); Irewole (58,487); Isokan (43,493); Iwo (76,657);Obokun (44,957); Odo-Otin (55,720); Ola-Oluwa (29,524); Olorunda (75,580); Oriade (49,113) and Orolu (27,914).
The breakdown of the voting population clearly shows how voting strength will largely influence the election.
Osun East, made up of Atakunmosa East; Atakunmosa West; Ilesha East; Ilesha West; Obokun;
Oriade; Ife Central;Ife East; Ife North and Ife South has the largest eligible voting population of 577,689.
It is followed by Osun Central, comprising Boripe; Boluwaduro Ifelodun; Ila; Ifedayo; Irepodun;
Orolu; Odo-Otin; Olorunda and Osogbo with 571,123 eligible voters; while Osun West, which comprises Ayedaade; Ayedire; Ede North; Ede South; Egbedore; Ejigbo; Irewole; Isokan; Iwo and Olaoluwa, has the least voters with 502,921eligible voting population.
What this means is that a candidate who wants to win the election must not joke with the votes of Osun East and Central which have 1,128,812 voters between them.
As it stands, the voting pattern seems to favour the candidate of the APC, Alhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, who is from Iragbiji, the headquarters of Boripe LGA in Osun Central. His senatorial district has the second largest voters.
To further boost his chances, he is the only credible candidate from zone and is expected to go almost unchallenged, except in Osogbo, which is cosmopolitan and would be shared largely based on ethnic lines, party affiliations and incumbency factors.
Finding also revealed that intractable crises which trailed the conduct of party primaries in several parties will play a big role in influencing the outcome of the election.
Checks revealed that virtually all the leading parties are battling with post primaries dispute. Of the parties, the APC and PDP look to be the most affected.
The APC has lost several of its leading members who felt aggrieved with the emergence of the chief of staff to the state governor. Among those who left the party include top politicians like former SSG, Dr. Peter Babalola, who defected to the Peoples Democratic Party with his teaming supporters and the immediate past SSG, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, who is now the governorship candidate of ADP.
Babalola, who was one of the 17 APC aspirants in the July 19, 2018 governorship primary of the party, said it was wrong for the party to pick its gubernatorial candidate from Osun Central Senatorial District.
On the other hand, the dust raised by the conduct of the Peoples Democratic Party governorship primary election has yet to settle as Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, who came second, has continued to make efforts to reclaim his ‘stolen mandate’ from Senator Adeleke.
Ogunbiyi’s supporters have also gone to court to stop Adeleke over issues bothering on whether he possessed the West Africa School Certificate Examination result, a major requirement for any candidate seeking to be elected as governor in Nigeria.
Ogunbiyi who is also from Ileogbo in Ayedire Local Government Area, Osun West, could be a spoiler for the PDP in the zone. Omisore also dumped the PDP after he lost out in a power struggle.
The SDP is also not immune from post primaries crisis. While the SDP faction led by Dr. Bayo Faforiji, conducted a primary election where Omisore emerged the flag bearer of the party with a landslide victory, another faction of the SDP led by Chief Ademola Ishola conducted a separate primary poll where Mr. Kehinde Atanda emerged the winner.
In spite of effort by the peace and reconciliation committees constituted by the APC and the PDP to restore unity and cohesion among their rank and file, the hope of a positive result of such developments are yet to be seen among the two political parties.
The festering crises rocking the parties will definitely play a big role in the election if not amicably resolved before the poll.
Geopolitics (Power shift)
Another major factor that will play a major role in determining the winner of the election is the push for Aregbesola’s successor to come from the Osun West Senatorial District.
The zone remains the only senatorial district that has yet to produce a governor in the state since the return to civil rule in May 1999 and as the candidates prepare for the September 22 poll, the mood in some quarters in the state is that Aregbesola’s successor should come from the Osun West Senatorial District.
However, Oyetola is from Boripe Local Government Area which falls under the Osun Central Senatorial District and Omisore is from Ife which falls under Osun East.
While the power shift campaign clearly favours candidates of the PDP, ADC and APC, who are all from Osun West, a big blow is likely to be dealt to the cause as the zone is unable to produce a consensus candidate, with three prominent politicians from the zone, Adeleke, Adeoti and Akinbade all battling for the same seat.
What will determine the winner of the coming poll will also be determined by other issues. Whoever hopes to emerge as the next governor of the state must be able to convince the voters, particularly retirees and public workers, of his ability to promptly pay their salaries and allowances, as well as backlog of arrears.
Some labour leaders who spoke with BH in Osogbo, the state capital, said the new governor must be able to tell them how he would re inflate the economy of the state, particularly the growing of IGR in order to be able to pay salaries as well as gratuities and full pension on time.
Not a few believe that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration will deploy all available resources in ensuring that Osun state is retained by the ruling APC. According to some government officials who spoke to BH, the re-election bid of President Buhari will be further buoyed by a friendly government in power.
The September 22 poll is therefore viewed by many as a ‘proxy war’ between the president and the PDP machine.
BH gathered that the cabal in Buhari’s government will do everything possible to win Osun for the APC in an effort to boosts the president’s chances in next tears presidential poll. Funding for the election, it was gathered, will not be a problem for the APC and the PDP as it was in Ekiti.
The expected deployment of massive security is expected to work in the favour of APC. Already, the PDP has alleged that it is privy to plots by security agents to harass and detain its supporters before and during the election, while APC supporters would be allowed a field day to manipulate proceedings.
The All Progressives Congress candidate,Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, is projected to win the election by 48percent, while the PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke will come second with 26 percent votes, Senator Iyiola Omisore third with the election 18percent, ADC 6 and other 2 percent.
APC will win in at least 16 local governments, PDP 4, SDP 4, ADC 3 and ADP 1.