Born on September 15, 1957, Omisore is the grandson of the late Olufewara, Kabiyesi Oba Titus Adetoba of the Oseganderuku ruling house in Ifewara.
When in the build-up to the Osun State gubernatorial supplementary election Senator Iyiola Omisore suddenly became a beautiful bride, the American 19th Century humourist, Josh Billings’ quote became apt in describing the decision of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to seek a working alliance with a man they had on several occasions labeled a ‘murderer,’ all in the quest of the party to retain power in Osun State.
Senator Omisore’s ambition to govern Osun is as old as the history of the state. It started in 1996. The state was created in 1991. In 1999, but for the intervention of Afenifere leaders, he would have picked the ticket ahead of Chief Bisi Akande, who later emerged the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was made the deputy governor. But towards the end of the tenure in 2003, crisis broke out and they went their separate ways. He defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In the build-up to the 2003 election, he was arrested in connection with the death of the then Afenifere deputy leader and former Minister for Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Bola Ige. He was still in the prison when he won election as the Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District, thus becoming the first Nigerian politician to win election from the prison.
In 2014, he ran for the governorship on the platform of the PDP but lost. The senior Adeleke, who is the elder brother to the PDP’s candidate in this year’s governorship poll, Ademola Adeleke, contributed to Omisore’s defeat by his last minute defection to the APC. In that year’s electioneering, the only campaign the APC ran against him was to tag him an alleged ‘murderer.’
Last year, despite having the opportunity to scuttle the younger Adeleke’s senatorial ambition, he teamed up with him to win the bye-election on the understanding that he would not run for the governorship this year. But when the young Adeleke popularly referred to as ‘Dancing Senator’ threw his hat to the ring on the platform of the PDP, Omisore defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
One month before the September 22 governorship, our sister publication, Daily Sun had predicted rightly that whoever was desirous of winning Osun must consider negotiating with Omisore, pointing out that he may not be able to clinch the governorship seat, but his popularity in the Ife axis of the state would help decide the winner of the election.
At the end of the first ballot on September 22, PDP candidate, Adeleke, polled 254,698 votes, winning 12 councils; while APC’s Gboyega Oyetola, came second with 254,345 votes. He won in 15 councils.
Omisore came third, with over 128,000 votes. But the Returning Officer for the election, Prof Joseph Fuwape, vice chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, said a difference of 353 votes was not enough to declare Adeleke winner, going by INEC’s guidelines. INEC later fixed last Thursday for the supplementary election to decide the eventual winner.
For two days, PDP and APC bigwigs turned to Omisore for help. Many who remembered how Omisore was treated in the past say that deeply principled politicians would prefer to lose an election than consort with someone they had in the past castigated for the sake of power. But for the APC, it was expediency and not principles that matter. In the end, Omisore fell for the APC’s deal, saying that the party agreed to form a coalition government with the SDP, hence his resolve to work with the party. He directed his supporters to vote for the APC during last Thursday’s supplementary election.
The APC leaders who struck the deal with Omisore included its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Ekiti State governor-elect, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Kano State governor, Dr Umar Ganduje, his Oyo and Ogun states counterparts, Senators Abiola Ajimobi and Ibikunle Amosun, respectively; Jigawa’s Mohammed Badaru, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuff Lasun and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
And at the end of the supplementary election on Thursday, in Ife North, APC polled 126 votes, while PDP polled just two votes. In Ife South, APC polled 455 votes, while PDP garnered 36 votes. By the early hours of last Friday, the APC’s candidate, Gboyega Oyetola was declared governor-elect, polling 255,505 votes, to defeat his closest rival, Senator Adeleke, who polled 255,023 votes, thus ending the dream of Adeleke to dance to the Government House in victory.
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Born on September 15, 1957, Omisore is the grandson of the late Olufewara, Kabiyesi Oba Titus Adetoba of the Oseganderuku ruling house in Ifewara. His mother, Princess Emila Ademola, had ruled the area as a regent until she died in 2006. Omisore holds a Ph.D in Infrastructure Finance from the International School of Management, Paris, France.