JOSHUA DADA writes on the just-concluded primary elections to pick candidates by major political parties in Osun State and the forthcoming September 22 gubernatorial poll.

The stage is now set for the race to the Governor’s Office in Osun State following the conclusion of primary elections by the participating political parties, to pick their flagbearers for the September 22 governorship poll.
Though the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) is yet to make public the names of candidates of the participating political parties, but according to the time table published by the electoral umpire for the election, all the parties would have formally submitted the names of their candidates in order to meet the July 23 deadline.
The events before, during and after the primaries, which led to the emergence of the candidates of the participating political parties will be subjects of debates for some time to come.

The party primaries, irrespective of the mode adopted, were characterised by financial inducement or vote buying, and the deeper the pocket of an aspirant, the more you are assured of victory.
The vote buying trend, despite the illegality, was the order of the day across the parties, even among relatively unknown and unpopular ones, which are less known to the electorate.
While the givers and the takers engaged in the illegality, none of them cared about the danger inherent for Nigeria’s nascent democracy and the electoral process.
Besides, primary election is supposed to be predominantly a party affairs, therefore it is safe to say that apart from the mandatory INEC officials, security operatives, who are to provide security for delegates, agents and journalists, others are intruders.
But political thugs and hooligans registered their presence at many of these primary election venues without restriction and unhindered, thereby posing threat to possibility of free, fair and credible exercise, even as politicians who hired them felt on top of the world having them around.

However, it is apparent that alignment and re-alignment of political interests will continue as a result of conflicts trailing the emergence of some of the governorship candidates.
Already, the following candidates have emerged as the flag bearers of their political parties in the recently conducted primaries: Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola from Iragbiji in Osun Central Senatorial District will be flying the flag of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); Senator Ademola Adeleke from Ede in Osun West will stand in for the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); while for the Social Democratic Party (SDP), two candidates controversially emerged flagbearers of the party and the fate of both now hang in the hands of INEC, who will decide who the authentic candidate of the party is.
Surprisingly, a faction of the SDP elected an Iwo-born lawyer, Barr. Muideen Atanda, who is from Osun West as its candidate, another faction elected a former deputy governor of the state, Senator Christopher Iyiola Omisore, from Osun East as its flag bearer.
The Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) picked an accountant, Alhaji Tajudeen Badmus, as its candidate, while the Providence Peoples Congress (PPC) has Prof. Ife Adewumi as its flagbearer.
The Accord Party (AP) was not left out of the primary election exercise, as it elected a Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) pastor, Olapade Julius Okunola, as its candidate, just as the Labour Party (LP) picked Barr. Tunde Olatunji as its governorship candidate.

The aggrieved Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Osun State, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, from Iwo, in Osun West, who resigned as SSG and defected to the Action Democratic Party (ADP) shortly after the conclusion of the APC primary election last Saturday, is now the flag bearer of his new party for the September 22 election; while another former SSG, Alhaji Kazeem Adio also from Iwo will fly the African Democratic Congress (ADC) flag at the poll.
Now that the candidates have emerged, they will have to pick their running mates immediately. But picking running mates is not a simple task, because of the issues involved.
Majorly, this is where the issue of zoning will come to play, because not minding merit, other zones would be taken into consideration in the sharing of the two most political offices in the state.
Another major factor in deciding the running mates is religion, which is expected to play a vital role, because a Muslim candidate will definitely want to look out for a Christian deputy to balance the so-called equation.
The parties will thereafter set the ball rolling in terms of campaigns, though it is doubtful if issues-based campaigns would be the order of the day, as winning an election has now become cash and carry business.
Even advanced democracies like United States of America (USA) seemed not to be immuned to the menace of vote buying as an aspirant was seen on the social media sharing money to voters.
Just like in the recently conducted Ekiti State governorship election, it is not in doubt that financial inducement in return for votes, what is now popularly known as ‘E di bo, e se’be’ in Yoruba parlance (meaning vote and cook soup), will be the order of the day, not minding the ongoing fight against corruption.

The reason for this is not far-fetched. Nobody has been caught and made a scapegoat as deterrence to would-be offenders, a situation that is made possible by the complicity of INEC officials and security personnel.
However, the days ahead will define what the outlook of the September 22 governorship election in Osun will be like, but certainly, it will be interesting.