Osun 2022: The Gubernatorial Gladiators (1) By Femi Alafe Aluko

 

This is the first in a series of write-ups in the build-up to the 16th of July 2022 Gubernatorial election in Osun State.

The political temperature is rising, there is tension in the State of the living spring. July 16th is the D day for the gubernatorial election in the State. Osun State comprises 30 local government areas, plus one area office(Ife), and now compressed into 3 senatorial districts and 9 Federal Constituencies, is one of the States that have off season Governorship elections. Others are, Ekiti, Ondo, Edo and Anambra States, hence, all eyes are bound to be on these States. It will also serve as a barometer for the forth coming general elections in 2023.

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By now, all the parties interested in the elections must have conducted their primaries and submitted the names of their candidates to INEC. According to INEC, fifteen(15) political parties have signified interest.

Wikipedia confirms Osun State as a small Yoruba majority South Western State with vast natural areas and rich cultural heritage, but facing an under-developed agricultural sector and a high debt portfolio. May I also add that its lucrative gold mining sector is being exploited by foreigners, especially the Chinese, aided by the locals who are rewarded with peanuts.

As a result of mass scale illegal mining, especially in the four local government areas of Ilesha South Federal Constituency, namely, Ilesha West, Ilesha East, Atakumosa East and Atakumota West local Government areas. The level of land degradation should give any government a lot of concern. Mining sites are springing up like mushrooms, this might be as a result of the quit order given to illegal miners in Zamfara State.

Out of the 15 political parties that INEC has given the go-ahead to present candidates, only 5 of them can be taken as serious. This seriousness is based on the popularity of the party or the popularity of the candidates. Out of the 5 parties, 2 really stand out. The PDP has been on ground since 1999. It ruled the State under the able leadership of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola from 2003-2010.

The 2nd party is the party in power, the APC. It is an offshoot of Alliance for Democracy (AD), which was governed by Chief Bisi Akande from 1999-2003 and ACN/APC from 2010-2018 by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. The current occupant of Abere since 2018 is Governor Gboyega Oyetola who is also a member of the APC. The 3 other parties are Labour Party(LP), Accord Party(AP), and SDP. These parties are offshoot of APC and PDP.

My rating and SWOT analysis of these five serious parties are unbiased and a true reflection of their chances in the forthcoming elections as at today.

Starting with the APC, the party in power, the candidate is Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, 67, an Insurance Executive from Iragbiji town in Boripe Local Government Area, and the incumbent Governor of the State. From 2010-2018, he was the chief of staff to his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. His party, the APC is also in control at the Federal level. In Africa, especially Nigeria incumbents hardly lose, Jonathan’s loss was a one off. The Country was on tenterhooks, at the hedge, waiting to tilt over. Buhari’s victory doused the tension.

The Civil Servants seem to be at peace with Oyetola as salaries are paid as at when due, though the pensioners are not happy with him. Regarding infrastructure, the Olaiya overhead bridge has beautified Osogbo. Oyetola’s albatross is his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, the current Minister of Interior. The cracks between them started to show immediately Oyetola was sworn in as Governor of Osun State in 2018. It became more visible when Oyetola started reversing some of Aregbesola’s policies and became full blown when Aregbesola backed his former SSG, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti for the Governorship against the Governor during the party’s primaries.

Oyetola’s political camp is named “Ileri Oluwa”and Aregbesola’s camp is “The Osun Progressives” (TOPS). The reconciliation efforts will definitely be reflected in the number of votes cast. As one United party, he won with less than 400 votes in 2018.

For the PDP, the ebullient and controversial Senator, Demola Adeleke, 62, from Ede is the flag bearer, although it is still subject to litigation. United we stand, divided we fall. No amount of propaganda can disguise the fact that the party is haemorrhaging. It is split down the middle. A faction is headed by ex Governor, Oyinlola and the other by the Adeleke family. The factions had different primaries that produced Prince Dotun Babayemi and Senator Ademola Adeleke respectively.

If the PDP is seriously desirous of winning the July 16th election, it should put its house in order. The attitude of ‘winner takes all’ and ‘money conquers everything’ does not work in politics. The party stands a very good chance of winning with its brand name recognition, but both sides of the divide need to work together as a team. Presently, they are working at cross purposes, operating like parallel lines. The Eyitayo Jegede reconciliation committee has a lot of work to do before the elections.

The 3rd political party is the Social Democratic Party(SDP). Pastor Goke Omigbodun 58, an Osogbo indigene, is the Candidate of the party. He is an architect and school proprietor, an old boy of the prestigious Government College Ibadan (GCI) and a gentleman to the core. I wish every politician can play politics the way he plays it. He focuses on politics, campaigns of issues, ideas and programs rather than thuggery and violence. A son of the soil. According to him, he lives in Osogbo and has all his investments in Osun State, therefore knows where the shoe pinches. This former special adviser to Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola is challenging the APC to explain why State resources are used for paying salaries to Wards, Local Government and State party Officials.

One of Omigbodun’s limitations is that the SDP is seen as an appendage of Senator Iyiola Omisore, who was the party’s Candidate in the 2018 elections, though he is now the National Secretary of the APC. His loyalists still populate the SDP. Finance may also be another limitation, but he is quite active on the social media.

The 4th Political party is the ‘Accord Party’(AP). This is a political party founded by an ex Oyo State Governor, Senator Rasheed Ladoja. The party gave the APC a serious run for its money in the 2015 Oyo State Gubernatorial elections. The party won seats in the States and National Assemblies. No wonder a recent PDP Governorship Aspirant, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi 59, from Ileogbo Aiyedire local Government Area, on the advise of Senator Ladoja decided to pitch his tent with the Accord party to actualize his gubernatorial aspirations when he fell out with the PDP. He lost to Senator Ademola Adeleke by a mere 7 votes out of over 3000 votes in the 2018 primaries of the PDP. There is a school of thought that he actually won the primaries. He is a well read insurance professional and Entrepreneur. It is doubtful if the Accord party of which he is the flag bearer has the structures to compete with the PDP and APC. Ogunbiyi switched parties late, and his name is not yet a political brand in the State.

The ‘Labour Party’(LP) is coming back to life because of the adoption of Honourable Lasun Yusuf, 61, as its gubernatorial candidate. He is the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and a Mechanical Engineer from Ifedore Local Government Area. He was a member of the APC until the last gubernatorial primaries, when he lost to the incumbent Governor. He definitely has a deep pocket but it is doubtful if the deep pocket will get him votes beyond the 4 local Government areas that make up his Federal Constituency. He might be able to get a few protest votes off the APC. Last week, his APC campaign outfit pledged their loyalty to the APC. Lasun operates like a Lone Ranger.

The election is still more than two months away. The results of the Ekiti June 18th Governorship election will definitely have a significant effect on the dynamics of the Osun elections, likewise a television debate where the Candidates will highlight their plans, policies and programs to the Electorate. Meanwhile, the campaigns go on!

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