By Ismail Omipidan
Like the death of the first executive governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu, the death of the first executive governor of the State of Osun, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, 62, also filtered in, first, like a rumour. But unlike Audu’s death, it did not take long before Adeleke’s death was confirmed.
His death, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal, would slow down the agitation by people of Ede, to take a shot at the governorship in 2018. Adeleke had remained one man from Ede in particular, and Osun West Senatorial District in general, capable of upstaging any aspirant within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), from the Eastern and Central senatorial districts of the state, in a free and fair contest for the ticket, including carrying the day at the general election.
After the aborted Third Republic, although Adeleke did not make any significant showing on the political scene, his cult-like followership in Ede in particular and Osun West senatorial district in general remained intact. It was therefore not surprising when in 2007 he made a comeback to run for the Osun West senatorial seat on the platform of the PDP. He made it by defeating Senator Mudashiru Hussein of the defunct Action Congress (AC).
But before the end of that Senate, ACN had taken over the state, following a court judgment that sacked the Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola’s PDP government. Adeleke could therefore not return to the Senate after the 2011 elections. He, however, remained in the PDP.
Towards the build-up to the 2014 governorship election in the state, some PDP stalwarts within and outside the state reckoned that Adeleke was perhaps the only man that could help dislodge Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, as such they reached out to him to consider running. He took up the challenge. But the Presidency then felt otherwise. In the Presidency’s thinking, having just delivered Ekiti State to the PDP at the time, getting back Osun, without Adeleke was equally possible, especially because Governor Ayodele Fayose and Senator Iyiola Omisore, whom the Presidency was desirous of fielding at the time, were best of friends. And because Osun and Ekiti share boundaries, getting assistance from Ekiti during the election would be possible.
Adeleke was forced out of the PDP, and he wasted no time in pitching his tent with the APC. Speaking on the reason for his defection, Adeleke had said: “I am happy to be in the progressives. I was a governor under the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which was a progressive party; I was fully involved in the struggle for June I2.
“I was asked to come and vie for governorship that Omisore is not capable, I accepted, but a day to the congress I got to the hotel in Osogbo. The people I sent there were on the floor with guns pointed at their heads and I told the police that they are members of our party from Ede.
“I then moved towards the room where I met Sogo Agboola, Jelili Adesiyan, Iyiola Omisore, Gani Olaoluwa and others. As I was about explaining what happened outside to the minister, he descended on me with blows. So also was Omisore and others.
“How can a whole minister of the Federal Republic be boxing? I have nothing against PDP, but I don’t see myself working for a criminal. I can’t support a violent person to go to the Government House.”
His defection no doubt signaled early defeat for the PDP even before the poll. And to confirm the party’s fears, on the eve of the election, security operatives laid siege on his house in order to arrest the colossal damage he would be doing on the PDP. They missed their target, as Adeleke who was initially rumoured to have been arrested escaped mysteriously. And on the election day, even though he could not cast his ballot for Aregbesola, he delivered the votes which were very critical to APC’s victory to Aregbesola. In the end APC carried day. Following the legendary role he played in ensuring Aregbesola secured his second term, the party did not think twice before asking Senator Hussein, who had defeated Adeleke in 2011, to hand over his 2015 ticket to him. And that was how Adeleke returned to the Senate, for the second time.
Although he was yet to declare his intention to run for the 2018 governorship in the state, all eyes were on him, and the odds appeared to favour him. When asked about his governorship ambition recently, the closest thing he said concerning the issue was, “I believe that only God Almighty shall decide my political future both in Osun State and Nigeria.”
Since the creation of the State of Osun, apart from the aborted tenure of Adeleke, no none from Osun West has governed the state. Chief Bisi Akande, from Osun Central, spent four years, Oyinlola, from the same zone also spent seven years, making a total of 11 years. If Aregbesola completes his second term by next year, Osun East too, would have had eight years, leaving Osun West with just two years of Adeleke, which, was eventful, as it witnessed establishment of a polytechnic at Iree, a college of technology at Esa-Oke and the completion of the State Broadcasting Corporation, among several other projects.
If Adeleke were to be alive, he would certainly have run for the governorship next year and would perhaps have had his tenure as a second term senator truncated, if he wins. His tenure as governor was truncated now his governorship ambition has been permanently truncated, just as his tenure as senator, representing Osun West.
But with his death, Ede in particular, and Osun West in general, needs someone in his mould as a rallying point ahead of 2018, so as to help neutralize whatever opposition that there is to the zone’s interest in the state.