The dream of every outgoing governor is to produce a successor and the outgoing Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola is not an exception. He also nursed this dream. He may not have liked the choice of the party’s candidate, since he did not personally anoint him. But he would have wished his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate; Gboyega Oyetola won Saturday’s governorship decisively.
Sadly, Osun voters passed what appeared to be a no-confidence vote in him and his party as they appeared to have rejected the governor who had won his re-election with a little over 100,000 votes about four years ago, by refusing to hand his party a convincing victory last Saturday.
At the end of the contest, Oyetola, polled 254,345 votes, winning 15 councils, while his challenger, a man who was never given a chance, Senator Ademola Adeleke, polled 254,698 votes, winning 12 councils.
But the Returning Officer for the election, Professor Joseph Fuwape, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, said even though the PDP candidate led with a difference of 353 votes, it was not enough to declare him winner, going by INEC’s guidelines.
According to him, INEC’s election guidelines stipulate that where the margin of victory in the election is lower than the number of voters in units where elections are cancelled, no winner shall be declared. Instead, he said a re-run will be ordered to determine the eventual winner.
“Unfortunately as the Returning Officer, it’s not possible to declare anybody as the clear winner of the election on the first ballot. The total registered voters in the five polling units where elections were cancelled is 3,498 votes. Since that figure is higher than the difference between the votes of the leading candidates, a re-run election has to be conducted. I, Joseph Adeola Fuwape, hereby, declare this election inconclusive,” he said.
He noted that the re-run, slated for Thursday, will hold in areas where elections were cancelled. The areas include Ife North, Ife South, Orolu, and Osogbo, adding that after the supplementary election, the results would be added to the ones released on Sunday, and the final results would be announced and winner declared.
However, despite the PDP candidate not been declared the outright winner of the contest, political pundits say the analysis of the results no doubt showed a total rejection of Aregbesola and whatever he stands for.
For instance, of the six councils in Ijesa land, where the governor hails from, PDP won four, leaving just two for the APC. Sadly, even the governor’s immediate council, Ilesa East, was won by the APC with a slim margin.
Again, Osogbo the state capital, which gave the governor and his party over 70, 000 votes in 2014, only managed to return about 40, 000 votes to him last Saturday.
But for the cancellation of some results, Aregbesola and his party would have by now bid farewell to Osun State. But they appear to still have till this Thursday, to redeem their image.
What could possibly have made Aregbesola and his party so unpopular in Osun State in less than four years, to the extent that the people would now prefer a “dancer” to him? Daily Sun attempts to find out.
The many sins of Aregbesola, APC
Hafsat is a Muslim name. It means “baby lioness.” But it is one of the sins of Aregbesola. If one hears an average Osun State civil servant say they are tired of Hafusa, they are invariably saying they no longer want half salary. For several years, the state government tried to rationalise the reason behind the payment of what it referred to as modulated salary to workers. But all the explanations fell on deaf ears, as the workers see the policy as “wicked and anti-human.” They have therefore been waiting for a day like last Saturday to pay Aregbesola back.
The Christian community too appears angry with him for demolishing most of their churches, Daily Sun investigations reveal. Although he paid compensations for most of the churches which were demolished to pave way for some development projects in the state, the takeover of the Baptist High School in the name of remodelling of schools in the state is one sin most Christians hold against him.
Though a Muslim, like the Christian community, there are some Muslims in the state too who see the governor as anti-Islam. Those who hold this view are quick to point to his elevation of Traditional worshipers in the state to the extent that they now enjoy public holiday during their annual celebration. They also alleged that in spite of their population been higher than that of the Christians, there are more Christian government appointees than there are Muslims.
Also, most Osun citizens believed that the Aregbesola administration did not take deliberate effort to stimulate the growth and development of the state’s economy. Those who hold the views are quick to point at the appointment of Lagosians into government positions in the state. And that most time, the appointees do not settle in the state. “They will make the money here and carry them to Lagos to spend. Our own economy cannot grow that way,” one of the state workers said.
The state worker was however quick to add that “talking about infrastructure, the man (Aregbesola) tried. Go round the state capital especially; you will notice he has changed the face of the place. Also, his free train ride from Lagos during festivities excites a lot of us.”
Also the choice of the party’s candidate was a major blow. The people of the state believed that, having tolerated Aregbesola whom they see as an “Ajele (District officer), they would prefer to have what they call “home based,” an appellation for anyone that has no relationship with the national leader of APC and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. All these, and many more may have been responsible for why Osun voters behaved the way they did last Saturday, thus justifying Jack Ma’s saying “You need the right people with you, not the best people.”
His succession crisis
For close to seven years, Aregbesola appear not to have any concrete plans in place for succession. Deep inside him, it was learnt, he would have wished he was allowed a free hand to anoint one. And were he to have the opportunity, he probably would not have gone for his former Chief of Staff and cousin to his boss (Tinubu), Oyetola. Aregbesola, sources say, believes that Oyetola would be “too difficult for him to control.”
He was even said to have told Tinubu that Oyetola was not sellable in Osun. In response, Tinubu was said to have told the governor “when we brought you (Aregbesola) were you sellable? Go and sell him.”
Before the APC governorship primary, crisis broke out between Aregbesola and Oyetola. Daily Sun gathered that the crisis which had caused ripple in the relationship between the governor and his political leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu at the time, was allegedly responsible for the shift in the date of the governorship primary from Saturday, July 7, to Thursday, July 19.
The crisis, Daily Sun gathered, threw Aregbesola’s camp at the time into disarray as cabinet members became confused as to whom to mobilise support for, ahead of the re-scheduled primary. While some were rooting for the governor’s Finance Commissioner, Bola Oyebamiji, who though is not a “home based,” but fits the “West L’okan (it’s turn of Osun West)” agenda, others were for Oyetola, who is also not a “home based” and does not even fit into the Osun West agenda because he is from Osun Central.
Although the state’s commissioner for Information, Lani Baderinwa, told Daily Sun that it was wrong to describe what was happening at the time, especially in the camp of the governor as crisis, he nonetheless said “we can resolve between and among ourselves and get on without any difference.”
Speaking on the seemingly crisis in the party at the time, a staunch supporter of Oyetola, puts the blame squarely on the door step of the governor.
He told Daily Sun that “religion and not zoning has always been the issue in Osun politics. Suddenly, people from the governor’s camp are now championing the issue of zoning. The man (Finance commissioner) the governor is surreptitiously backing, like you observed while we were discussing was the first to take Oyetola to his home town in Ikire to show him to the traditional rulers and elders of the town that he was the man. So what made him change his mind within a week to now say he wants to run? The commissioner when confronted claimed he had no hand in it, that it was his people who wanted him to run.”
Daily Sun also gathered that, from the day it became public knowledge that the Finance commissioner was going to run, all the commissioners and other cabinet members who hitherto were on the campaign trail of Oyetola, who at the time was going round the councils in the state to seek support, were said to have withdrew their support and refused to continue the tour with him.
But a source close to Oyetola denied it. The source however admitted that “it is true that they have slowed down. But we still have six commissioners with us. However, I think Oyetola is not perturbed. I am sure they will resolve it. The elders of the party are talking to each other.
“Truth is, Aregbesola cannot afford to offend Asiwaju. His fear is that he may not have control over Oyetola if he becomes governor. But this was the man who helped him stabilise the government during all that turbulence. I think Aregbesola needs to let us know where he stands, and the earlier, the better.”
Two other cabinet members who spoke to Daily Sun confirmed that they were indeed in a state of confusion as their leader (Aregbesola) has not come out to tell them who to back. They however confirmed the strong sentiment in favour of Osun West, as far as the contest was concerned.
Ask why they think so, one of them said “initially, we thought it was going to Iwo (also in Osun West). We realised that the governor was not disposed to having the SSG, who is also from Iwo succeed him. So when the governor’s friend, Moshood Oriolowo, who is also from Iwo, showed interest, we concluded that, that was his choice. But with the eleventh minute entry of the Finance commissioner, who is also from Osun West, we have become confused, “the cabinet member said.
Daily Sun further gathered that those in the Oyetola’s camp, who are already accusing Aregbesola of betrayal sees the governor’s alleged latest action as an attempt to get back at Tinubu for denying him the opportunity to return to Lagos, after his tenure as governor.
“It is public knowledge, the man himself said it. He actually wanted to take over from Yayi (Senator representing Lagos West.) But Obanikoro is also interested in the seat. Tinubu is afraid of empowering Obanikoro too soon. And the only way to checkmate his return is to use Yayi. That is why if you notice, Yayi has slowed down on his governorship ambition.
“Aregbesola who had initially seen that opportunity will naturally not be happy. So we are seeing his refusal to back Oyetola at this die minute from that angle, and that will amount to betrayal, “another source added.
But the state government’s spokesperson, Baderinwa, who claimed to be sufficiently close enough to the governor to know his mindset, insisted that the governor has always desired to remain in Osun to consolidate on the gains that has been recorded so far after handing over to his successor.
Speaking on the development in the camp of the governor, Baderinwa further said “I know of a fact that he has declared on several occasions that he is not personally sponsoring anybody. The actions and inactions within the polity are normal. At the cabinet level, quite a large number of us wanted Oyetola, while others felt it should be the SSG (Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, also from Iwo).
“And all of a sudden some members of the cabinet, owing to this West agenda, felt the Finance commissioner should be an alternative to Oyetola who have enjoyed tremendous support all the while. The governor said he has assumed a father role to all, and he wants to keep it at that. He did not go to pick the form for the Finance commissioner; some persons used the commissioner’s palace chief to surreptitiously pick the form for him. I don’t think it will be much of a crisis. He has the right to run. People should not misconstrue what is happening as crisis. Our party members must remember what happened to us in AD in 2003, when the party was divided and it cost us that election, we must not allow same thing to happen in September,” the Information commissioner said.
Unfortunately, the party leaders did not heed Lani’s call. They mismanaged the primary, which led to the exit of the state’s former SSG, Adeoti and several other stalwarts to Action Democratic Party (ADP), even those who did not defect, like the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yussuf Lasun, were not integrated into the governorship project after the primary was won and lost. The party went into last Saturday’s election a divided house. And like Lani reminisced, the party almost paid dearly for allowing division within its fold, as Adeoti won Iwo, a strong hold of the APC with 16, 425 votes against APC’s 7, 644.
Aregbesola’s long battle with the Adeleke family, Ede
Late Senator Isiaka Adeleke was warming up to contest this year’s governorship before his sudden demise in April last year. He left no one in doubt about his ambition. But the party had to caution him to slow down on his activities at the time so as not to heat up the polity in the state unnecessarily. This was why when he died, his family and most people in Ede believed he was allegedly killed to put paid to his governorship ambition.
Following the sudden and tragic demise of Adeleke, Ede people felt a sense of loss, and had hoped that the APC-led administration in the state would find a way of compensating it, by at least allowing it produce the late senator’s successor. Although the state government denied any rift with the late senator, the way it managed issues arising from his death leaves much to be desired.
For instance, after his death, the government could not give him a state burial, despite the fact that he was the first civilian governor of the state.
Explaining the circumstances that prevented it from giving the former governor a state burial, one of the governor’s aides, who was the governor’s spokesman at the time, Semiu Okanlawon, said the unruly behaviour of the mob denied the late Adeleke of a state burial befitting him as a former governor of the state.
Okanlawon, who denied any political rift between his boss and Adeleke, said despite the short notice of the funeral, since he was a Muslim until his death, the state government had prepared to dignify it as a state burial in view of Adeleke’s status as an ex-governor, adding that “the Deputy Governor was leading a government delegation to the funeral, they were already on their way, when the report of violence came…. We don’t think that would be the best way to honour Senator Adeleke, who was known to be a man of peace.
“The tribute of the governor to the late senator has taken care of it all. There was no rift whatsoever. It was an unfounded rumour. As Governor Aregbesola said, he (Adeleke) worked for the governor’s re-election and the governor worked for his (Adeleke) his election into the senate in 2015….
“Yes, there would always be power blocs, but the fact is, they were in the same party and would always work for the interest of their party. In any case, he was entitled to vie for the governorship and Aregbesola is not seeking re-election. So how could there be a friction? “
However, if anything, Daily Sun further gathered, the Coroner inquest into the circumstances leading to Adeleke’s death, did not go down well with the family. The inquest, which was at the instance of the state government, turned out to portray the late senator as a “drunk,” who had little or no attention for his health, despite his status.
It was further gathered that the state government might have insisted on the Coroner, to prove its innocence, following speculations that some of its agents might have allegedly poisoned the late senator.
But Daily Sun learnt that rather than make attempt to placate the family and the people of Ede, Aregbesola and the APC carried on as if the political family of the late senator posed little or no threat to the APC’s interest in the state.
For instance, during the campaigns leading to the Osun West by-election, where APC lost all but one of the 10 councils in the zone, Aregbesola, had while canvassing for support for his candidate in Ede, said the late senator’s brother may be suffering from mental illness, following the death of the late senator.
That message did not go down well, with an average Ede person, it was further learnt.
The screening, the defection
Barely a month after Adeleke’s death, INEC announced July 8, 2017 as date for the by-election. In preparation for the election, the APC national headquarters set up a screening committee. Senator Mudashiru Hussein, who was a serving commissioner in the state, and the late Adeleke’s younger brother, Ademola Adeleke presented themselves for the screening. But Aregbesola preferred Hussein, as he was his anointed candidate. However, it appears some persons within the party’s national leadership in Abuja preferred the younger Adeleke to Hussein.
The scenario that played out during the screening exercise further lends credence to the above fact. Once the screening committee, led by the Zamfara State Assembly Speaker, Sanusi Garba Rikiji arrived Osogbo, the state capital, the state government, which is in control of the state party structure, gave itself away, as a group ready to do anything to ensure the Adeleke family, who were also bent on having one of them replace their late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, does not come close to participating in the primary, let alone pick the party’s ticket.
Prior to the arrival of the screening committee, stories had gone round that the younger Adeleke was not a member of the APC. He also pulled a fast one on the party in the state, as he did not pick his nomination form from Osogbo. He picked it from Abuja.
Daily Sun can however reveal authoritatively that he was not the only one who picked his nomination form from Abuja, as there are about two other supporters of Aregbesola, who also picked their forms from Abuja.
On arrival in Osogbo, while welcoming the committee, the state’s party Secretary, Razak Salinsile, declared to the members of the committee that Ademola Adeleke was not its member.
But Rikiji cautioned Salinsile, saying his job was just to welcome them and not to teach them their job. He further added that if they have any objection to Ademola Adeleke’s candidature, such objection should be forwarded to the party’s screening committee in writing.
Barely 24 hours to the screening, four other aides of Aregbesola who had earlier indicated interest in the primary, were persuaded by the governor to step down for Senator Hussein, the state’s commissioner for Cabinet Matters.
At the said meeting, this lasted till about 3am, Daily Sun further gathered that party faithful were practically begged to support Hussein’s aspiration.
But if the governor knew Hussein was his joker for Osun West senatorial district, why did he swear him in as a commissioner even after Adeleke’s death?
Adeleke died in April. The commissioners were sworn in, on May, 30th 2017, to be precise.
After the screening, the committee disqualified Hussein, on the grounds that he had not resigned his appointment before aspiring to the position of a Senator. The committee was said to have relied on Article 31 (iii), of the party’s constitution and the 2014 APC Guidelines on the Nomination of Candidates for Public Office.
The committee held that “in conformity with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, qualification for aspirants to respective offices in State House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, Governor and President, the party’s guidelines prescribe that an aspirant seeking public office on its platform shall not have remained as an employee of the Public Service within 30 days preceding the date of the election.”
Interestingly, the committee further held that Hussein had admitted while appearing before it that he was indeed a Commissioner in the Aregbesola’s cabinet, even after obtaining a nomination form, an action they noted was at variance with the party’s guidelines. It however advised Hussein to seek redress through the party’s Appeal Committee in case he was not satisfied with the committee’s verdict.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, Hussein approached the National Appeal panel, led by its chairman, Abdullahi Bello and Alhaji Shehu Nguru, as Secretary, to seek redress. At the end of the panel’s sitting, it upheld the decision of the screening committee.
The Appeal panel held that “during the petitioner’s appearance before it, he confessed that his nomination form did not satisfy the full requirements of a legal document which could stand him for election.”
In the report made available to Journalists, and signed by the committee, it stated among other things that “an objective view of the petitioner’s nomination form for the primary was not duly sworn to before a magistrate or a notary public and his failure to do this constitute an incurable defect.
“The failure of the petitioner to submit his nomination form for the purpose of certification and oath before a magistrate or a notary public is fatal to his cause. Upon the above consideration, the appeal for reconsideration and reversal as presented by Senator Mudashiru Hussein lack merit and is hereby dismissed.
“Consequently, the disqualification of Hussein by the 5-man election screening committee for the Osun West Senatorial District primary election of the APC is hereby upheld.”
But in the afternoon of Monday, June 12, 2017, the date earlier set aside by the party for the primary, news broke that the primary had been postponed till Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Curiously, news of the postponement came through officials of the state government, and not the screening committee.
Ironically, one of the state government officials also claimed that the postponement was at the instance of Chairman, APC appeal committee, “overseeing the screening and choice of candidate for Osun West Senatorial Election.”
By evening of the same day, another statement emanated from the party in the state, purportedly clearing Hussein to contest. It was signed by Kunle Oyatomi, its Director, Media and Strategy.
It reads: “The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress has Monday cleared Senator Mudashiru Hussein to contest the party’s primaries for the Osun West senatorial district holding tomorrow, Tuesday June 13, 2017. This is the outcome of the meeting of the NWC in Abuja which reviewed the decision of the Appeal Panel which had earlier dismissed the appeal filed by Senator Hussein on Sunday.”
Interestingly, Oyatomi is neither a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, nor was he the committee’s spokesperson, as at the time he issued the statement on behalf of the party’s national headquarters.
However, there was no any contrary position to the statement from Abuja. Hussein became the sole candidate of the party, following the withdrawal of Adeleke from the race. In the end, while Adeleke emerged as the PDP’s candidate, Hussein became the APC’s candidate. At the end of the contest, APC lost the July 8, 2017 battle to the PDP.
The battle ahead
This Thursday, Adeleke and Oyetola will be returning to the trenches. They will be contesting for over 3, 000 votes, in seven polling units across four councils. The councils are Ife North, Ife South, Orolu and Osogbo. The outcome will determine the eventual winner. From the analysis of last Saturday’s contest, Senator Iyiola Omisore’s entry into the race appears to have affected the performance of his former party, PDP, adversely. Omisore ran on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He polled about 125, 000 votes.
In Ife North, APC won with 6,527 votes, leaving PDP with 5, 486 votes and SDP, 2,396 votes. Also, in Ife South, APC won with 7, 223 votes, leaving SDP with 6,151 votes, while PDP polled 4, 872 votes. But, in Orolu, PDP won with 7,776 votes, leaving APC with 5,442 votes, while SDP managed to poll 2,043 votes. For Osogbo council, APC won with 23, 379, leaving PDP with 14, 499 votes, while the SDP polled 10, 188 votes.
From the forgoing, any party that wants to win the Thursday’s re-run convincingly, must therefore require the support and backing of Omisore.
How the parties stand in the councils:
Ife North- This is APC’s stronghold. But the combination of PDP and SDP may change the tide in favour of the PDP during the re-run. Conversely, APC will also require SDP’s support to win convincingly.
Ife South- The SDP appears very strong here. Though, its candidate lost the council to APC, the margin was slim. And since PDP also gave a good account of itself here, if it is able to convince SDP to assist and support its candidate, it may be a tight one for the APC on Thursday.
Orolu- This appears PDP’s stronghold. It defeated the APC in the council with over 2,000 votes. Here too, SDP was only able to garner about 2,000 votes. Again, SDP’s support is also vital here for either the APC or the PDP. Both APC and PDP have strong men in the council. The incumbent commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Kolapo Alimi, a strong factor in the APC in the area will be on ground to provide support for the party. Likewise, former Special Adviser to the former governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Alhaji Asifat Olarinde, is also a strong factor in the PDP in the area.
Osogbo- This council should ordinarily be for the APC for the take. But events of last Saturday show that the party must redouble its efforts to win the area convincingly. Feelers from the governorship candidate showed he was betrayed by some party elders and leaders.
Daily Sun’s investigations also revealed that some party elders and leaders who were mobilised for the election allegedly bolted away with the “logistics,” claiming that it was their own share of what the party leadership and government have denied them access to, in the last eight years.
If the APC and its leaders behave the way they did before last Saturday’s election, they probably would get the same treatment this Thursday. But if they decide to drop their toga of arrogance and approach the re-run with some humility and respect for party faithful, especially all those who are aggrieved, including those who had defected, it will help the party and its candidate on Thursday.