This Saturday’s election will be unlike the 2014 contest. This time, four major parties are making efforts to have significant presence in the rectangular battle.
Ismail Omipidan, Bamigbola Gbolagunte and Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
In 2014, the Osun State governorship contest was a straight fight between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But this Saturday’s election will be unlike the 2014 contest when the race was narrowed to just two popular political parties. This time, four major parties are making efforts to have significant presence in the rectangular battle.
Although, there are 48 political parties listed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as participating in the election, political pundits are however of the view that the contest will be a fierce one between four leading political parties. The parties are: Social Democratic Party (SDP), APC, PDP and Action Democratic Party (ADP).
Interestingly, three of the four leading political parties are bent on ensuring that APC does not win the state. But there is no clear working alliance among them against the APC. This, Saturday Sun gathered, may affect their performance at the poll. Saturday Sun can authoritatively reveal that a working alliance among any two of the three political parties opposed to the APC would have made their victory against APC seamless.
There are 30 councils in the state, with the three senatorial districts sharing them equally, that is 10 each. Historically, before the 2014 contest, the winning votes come from Ife. But in 2014, Osogbo gave about 70,000 votes to the APC. And in the end, APC won the governorship with a little over 100, 000 votes.
But since the candidate of the ADP, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Moshood Adeoti, is no longer in the APC, even if APC would win Osogbo this Saturday, it will certainly not be with the same margin with which it won it in 2014.
How the parties stand in the councils
Ede – There are two councils there, Ede South and Ede North. The name Adeleke is like a religion in the area with large followership. Although, the former Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Adejare Bello, who is also from Ede and a political protégée of late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, has defected to the APC, he is not likely to cause any upset. But his influence will only reduce the margin with which the PDP will win the area.
Egbedore – This area is seen largely as part of Ede. Therefore, whatever happens in Ede, will have effect in the area. Chief Layi Ogunrinade is also from the area. He is the pioneer chairman of the PDP in the state.
Ayadire – This is another council in the Osun-West senatorial district. Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, who contested the PDP’s ticket with Senator Ademola Adeleke, who eventually emerged the candidate, is from the area. Following the truce reached between him and Adeleke, he has since deployed men and resources to ensure victory for the party, as he has also been promised the senatorial ticket in return. Besides, the council is a traditional PDP enclave, even before Ogunbiyi happened on the political scene.
Obokun is a council in Osun East senatorial district, where the outgoing governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola hails from. But the area is one of PDP’s strongholds because of the influence of the incumbent member of the House of Representatives from the area, Wole Oke and another retired Customs officer, who has been eyeing the senate from the zone.
Boripe is a council in Osun Central senatorial district. It is the immediate council of the APC’s candidate, Gboyega Oyetola.
Osogbo is the state capital. Like Ede, it also has two councils –Osogbo and Olorunda. Although the PDP candidate made some incursions, especially among the non-indigenes, the area remains APC’s stronghold. Any party that win the area overwhelmingly may eventually carry the day.
Ifelodun is also in the central. APC remains popular there. Its victory in the area may however be slim.
Irepodun is the council where incumbent Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives hails from. Although, he is one those who is still very bitter over the outcome of the party’s primaries, believed to have been manipulated in favour of the candidate, APC remains strong in the area.
Ejigbo is a council in the west senatorial district of the state. The outgoing speaker of the state House of Assembly, Najeem Salaam hails from the area. But for the love his people have for him, they would have abandoned the APC candidate because of the zoning sentiment, which favours Osun West. It was the only council APC won during the last senatorial by-election that threw up Adeleke.
Ila is also in the central senatorial district. Chief Bisi Akande hails from the area. Akande, former interim National chairman of the APC and former governor of the state appears uncomfortable with the decision of the party to pick its candidate from the central district.
Long before now, he had granted interviews and made comments that tend to support ceding the position to the west. About two weeks ago, at the party’s rally in Osogbo, he came close to saying so in the public before the microphone was hurriedly taken away from him.
Hear what he said “we are all tenants at the government house (referring to Aregbesola). I was once a tenant and I left, somebody is a tenant now and he is already preparing to leave for another person to get there. But it is not good for the outgoing tenant to destroy the house for the incoming one.”
At the moment, the incumbent member representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Clement Akanni, has defected to the PDP from the APC. He is loved by the people. But the former member of the House of Representatives from the area too, Ismaila Kolawole, has also defected to SDP. Therefore, PDP and SDP will battle for votes in the area.
Verdict: PDP or SDP
Orolu is also in the central senatorial district. It is another APC’s stronghold.
Isokan is in the west senatorial district. SDP’s candidate’s running mate is from the council. He is Azeez Lawal. He is in his late 30s and well loved in the area.
Ife East, where Modakeke people are in the majority, has never been in the same party with Ife. They were in NPN, when Ife was in UPN, PDP, when Omisore and Ife was in AD, and when Ife became PDP, they moved to ACN. And they vote en bloc. Therefore, SDP is unlikely to win the area, even though the candidate is from the area. But APC too may not win either.
Verdict: ADP or PDP
Ife Central is another council in Osun East senatorial district. SDP looks good in the area.
Ife South – The father of the SDP governorship candidate is the traditional ruler of one of the prominent towns (Ifetedo) in this council.
Ife North is not likely to go the way of the SDP. In 2014, even when Omisore, who is seen as one of their own, ran on the ticket of the PDP, he only managed to defeat the APC’s candidate with just about a thousand votes.
Verdict: Battle ground
Irewole is a council in the west senatorial district. The return of Peter Babalola (Peter Power) from the APC to the PDP, makes it look good for the PDP. Besides, Lere Oyewumi, who is the DG of the Adeleke campaign Organisation, is also from the area. Oyewumi is a two term council chairman of the area, former member of House of Representatives and immediate past commissioner, National Population Commission. He was also a former ALGON chairman in the state.
Atakumosa West is in Osun East senatorial district. Although Aregbesola is from the district, the council is not sure for the APC because former minister and former deputy governor of the state, Erelu Olusola Obada is also from the council. She is bidding for the senatorial seat of the district; as such she would be willing to do everything to win the council.
Verdict: Battle ground
Atakumosa East, like west, is also going to be a battle ground. This so because Dr. Bayo Faforiji, who is the state party chairman of the SDP, is from the area. He was a two-term chairman of the council, former Education commissioner in the state and also former Works chairman in the state, and he an Oba-elect. But like SDP, PDP also has a strong presence in the area. Sanya Omirin, who is currently serving in the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC), is of the PDP. He was also a former council chairman of the area. He once represented the area in the state House of Assembly.
Verdict: Battle ground
Iwo is the council of the candidate of ADP, Moshood Adeoti. The council is in the west senatorial district. Until the last senatorial by-election when it lost to the PDP, APC has always won the area. But this time, they are expected to queue behind their own.
Ilesa West is in Osun East senatorial district, where Aregbesola hails from. Investigations however reveal that the people of the area love Adeoti more than his own Iwo people.
The leading candidates at a glance
Senator Iyiola Omisore
Omisore is the candidate of the SDP. He was former deputy governor. He was the first Nigerian politician to win an election from the prison. His ambition to govern the state is as old as the history of the state. In 1999, but for the intervention of Afenifere leaders, he would have picked the ticket ahead of Akande, who later emerged candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was made deputy governor. But towards the end of the tenure in 2003, crisis broke out and they went their separate ways. He defected to the PDP. In 2014, he ran on the platform of the PDP but lost. He is not from Osun West. Although zoning does not favour him, the Christian community in the state is favourable disposed to his candidature. This explains why he has suddenly become a threat to the APC, a fact confirmed by some APC chieftains in the state on Wednesday night. The Christian community is angry with the PDP’s candidate for denying his faith because of election.
Adeoti, who is the candidate of ADP, is from Iwo, in Osun West. He resigned from the government and the ruling party in protest, following its handling of the party’s primary. He is the immediate past SSG.
The zoning sentiment favours him. But all his life he has never worked anywhere. He is what is called in the local parlance as a “professional politician.” Though a grassroots man, he could not dispense any political patronage even as SSG, sources close to him say. But they also claimed that from day one, Aregbesola and his supporters made deliberate effort to “strangulate him politically, “a charge Aregbesola’s men have consistently denied. If the plot to decimate Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s political influence in the South-West had worked as planned, he was the choice of the “Abuja South-West APC leaders.” But the last minute decision to block his sources of funding has not really helped him.
He is the candidate of the APC. He was Aregbesola’s Chief of Staff (CoS) since 2010, until he became the candidate of the party about a month ago. He is from Iragbiji, Boripe council in Osun Central. Because he is from the central, a zone that held the position for 11 years, the zoning sentiment in the state does not favour him. He is a cousin to the national leader of APC, Tinubu. But he appears to have also “given a good account of himself over the years,” as a seasoned administrator. Apart from the issue of zoning, the internal insurrection within his party may be his greatest albatross in the march to victory.
Senator Ademola Adeleke
Adeleke is the PDP’s candidate. Apart from being younger brother to the former governor of the state, late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, the younger Adeleke is seen largely as a political nonstarter. He won the last Osun-West senatorial by-election purely based on sentiment and owing largely to the political benevolence of his late brother. His alleged certificate forgery saga is also not helping his case. Like the APC where there is already internal insurrection, the PDP’s internal wrangling may also dim the fortunes of the party. But like Adeoti, the zoning arrangement favours him. He is also from Osun-West senatorial district.
READ ALSO: Adeleke sat for May/April 1981 exams – WAEC
Factors, Issues that will determine today’s outcome
Saturday Sun investigations reveal that money, zoning, religion and Aregesola’s influence are some of the major factors that would influence the decision of an average voter in Osun today.
Money is a factor in the country’s politics. Both at parties’ primaries and during general elections, the candidate or party that spends the more often run away with victory. Although there have been very few exceptions, the general level of hunger in the country, makes money a strong factor in determining the outcome of today’s election. And usually, the vote buying is done in the full glare of security agents. But with the steps taken by INEC so far, it may be difficult to buy votes at polling units, the two major parties, PDP and APC that appear to have good financial war chest have been deploying same in different ways to win the electorate to their side.
For instance, one of the parties is already sending a link to eligible voters to join a group. Once the link is clicked, the next message will be “click on the blue link to send your bank details.”
Once done with that, another message will read “You’ll receive bank alert 6.am on the election day. Don’t forget to pass this good news to all yours friends and family ….”
Also, the state government just engaged 20,000 O’YES youths (Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme) youths, who just completed their training exercise about last week. They were paid N10, 000 each as training allowance. They were also said to have been employed using their PVCs. This will certainly work in favour of the APC’s candidate.
Like in every state of the country, Osun too is politically divided into three senatorial districts: Osun West, Central and East. Its first civilian governor, late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who spent about two years in office, hailed from Ede, in Osun West. Next was Chief Bisi Akande, from Ila Orangun in Osun Central. He spent four years, but lost his re-election in 2003 to Brigadier-General Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd) from Odo-Otin council, also in Osun Central. Oyinlola spent seven years.
Cumulatively, Osun Central alone has had 11 years governing the state. Aregbesola is from Ilesa council. By the end of his tenure, Osun East where he comes from would also have had eight uninterrupted years governing the state. Therefore, if the zoning sentiment in the state is anything to go by, Osun West should ordinarily be the next senatorial district to produce Aregbesola’s successor. But with three of the governorship candidates coming from the area, the senatorial district will split their votes among the three of them.
Until 2014, religion has never been a strong factor in Osun politics. The State has had a Christian-Christian as Governor and Deputy Governor in the past. Although there are two Christian candidates in the race, Adeleke and Omisore, the Christian community has pitched its tent with Omisore, just as the Muslim community has pitched its tent with Oyetola, largely because they accused Adeoti of distancing himself from the community while he was in government. Conservatively, the Muslim-Christian population in the state is said to be 55-45 in favour of Muslims. As at the time of filing this report, Oyetola and Omisore are running neck-to-neck in this regard.
Many residents of Osogbo, the state capital and Ilesa area of the state, where the governor hails from believed that the outgoing governor, Aregbesola has worked. This will certainly attract sympathy for the party and its candidate. But there are those who also believed that the infrastructure he built were at the expense of citizens’ welfare.
One thing he has done effectively is breaking the hold civil servants have on the electorate by playing up the ordinary traders and artisans against them.
In 2014, in spite of the fact that Aregbesola went into that election owing workers arrears of salaries, he polled 394,684 votes, and winning in 22 of the 30 councils. His closest challenger, Senator Iyiola Omisore of the PDP polled 292,747 votes, winning in just eight councils. Will APC repeat the same feat today?