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Osun Guber: Battle Begins After Primaries

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After the Ekiti State governorship election held on July 14, attention has shifted to Osun State where the gubernatorial poll is scheduled to hold on September 22. All the parties participating in the election have held their primaries to elect their flag bearers for the poll amidst sharp division within their ranks. TOPE FAYEHUN writes

Various political parties participating in the September governorship election in Osun State have elected their flag bearers, thereby signifying the commencement of the real battle for who will occupy the Bola Ige Government House after the expiration of the two-term tenure of the current occupant, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, no fewer than 48 political parties have filed nominations for the September 22 governorship election in the State.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja said, “Our preparations for the Osun governorship election continued in earnest. Nomination of candidates closed on Tuesday in line with the timetable and schedule of activities released by the commission in October 2017.

“A record number of 48 political parties have nominated candidates for the election. The commission is currently processing the nomination forms.”

Going by this development, the battle has started in earnest and with the intrigues that are currently playing out across the nook and crannies of the state, clearly shows that the battle will not be easy for any party that may likely win the election, even as there are signs of an ongoing alignment and realignment of forces.

Obviously, the dust raised by the primaries that produced each candidate as the flag bearers of their various political parties, particularly the three major political ones, the All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party, and the Social Democratic Party, is yet to settle.

Analysts observed that, if those issues generated by the primaries were not quickly nipped in the board, it might spell doom for the parties and scuttle their chances of winning the September 22 poll.

For instance, in the ruling APC, the recent direct primary election conducted under the supervision of the Zamfara State governor,  Abdul’aziz Yari, has been described as a fraud by some aspirants who participated in the exercise.

One of the aspirants, Dayo Oyebanji, who expressed disappointment over the adoption of the direct method by the leadership of the party, described it as fraudulent.

Addressing journalists after the primary election, Oyebanji said because of the way the election was conducted, he was not able to vote and participate in the exercise.

He explained that the exercise was not free and fair, stating that it was full of manipulations and ambiguity on the part of the organisers.

Oyebanji said, “I don’t have confidence and trust in the whole exercise because it is fraudulent and characterised by impunity.

It is because of this that I mandated my supporters and loyalists across the state to stay away as it amounted to a waste of time and resources.

“All the advantages enumerated by the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, that the method would eliminate inducement of delegate and reduce corruption is not true.

“It is even worse than the delegates’ system that we were using before. All arrangements were skewed to favour a particular aspirant and a lot of money was committed to the process and more complicated than the old system jettisoned,” he stated.

Following the outcome of the APC primary, the Secretary to the Osun State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, resigned his appointment and dumped the ruling APC for the Action Democratic Party, ADP.

Adeoti , in a letter of resignation dated July 23 which was addressed to Governor Rauf Aregbesola said, “In view of the need to further my political aspiration, I wish to honourably resign my appointment as the Secretary to the Government of the State of Osun as well as my membership of the State Executive Council with effect from Tuesday, July 24, 2018.”

The letter read in part, “First and foremost,  I wish to thank you immensely for the honour of being appointed to serve in your administration in this capacity. It has, indeed, been a humbling experience. ”

Adeoti, who withdrew from the APC governorship primary election based on an allegation of manipulation to favour Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola stormed the ADP secretariat along Ikirun, very close to the secretariat of the PDP.

He was received with hundreds of his supporters at the party’s capacity and he immediately contested the primary election of the party and emerged victorious in the exercise.

Adeoti, who described the primary election which produced Oyetola as a charade and exercise manipulated to favour the winner, was the only aspirant on his new platform.

Just like what currently going on in APC, the main opposition party, PDP, is also battling with the problem that arises from its primary. The presiding officer of the election, Governor Dickson Seriake of Bayelsa State, while announcing the results , declared that Ogunbiyi polled 1, 562 votes and lost to Senator Ademola Adeleke who polled 1,569 votes.

In swift reaction, the first runner up, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, who said the election was marred with irregularities, urged the party’s leadership to declare him the winner of the primary election .

Although, prior to the primary election, seven out of 11 governorship aspirants had announced their withdrawal from the party’s primary which 3,000 delegates participated.

But Ogunbiyi who not satisfied with the outcome of the exercise told journalists in Abuja that he was at the party’s National Secretariat to petition the leadership over the primary that produced Senator Ademola Adeleke as the flag-bearer for the September 22 poll.

Ogunbiyi who narrowly lost to Adeleke, polling 1,562 votes as against 1,569 votes by the latter, said that 42 voided votes and 128 unaccounted votes were for him.

Ogunbiyi, rejecting the verdict said the outcome of the primary election has been a subject of concern to a majority of party members. According to him, the members are disappointed, disillusioned and confused by the conduct of the exercise and the results declared.

“Some of the major issues which compromised the integrity of the exercise and made the results clearly unacceptable include the non-adherence to the provisions of the Electoral Guidelines and manipulation of the accreditation, voting, sorting and counting of the votes cast by delegates at the primaries.

“Consequent upon these infractions, therefore, the votes attributed to me at the end of the voting exercise were much lower than what I actually scored as valid votes. I have therefore resolved to use the internal mechanism of the party to seek an immediate redress of this injustice which is contrary to the spirit of transparency and justice being propagated by the new leadership of our party led by the National Chairman, Uche Secondus,” Ogunbiyi said.

In a petition addressed to the Chairman, Gubernatorial Electoral Appeal Panel of the PDP, the aspirant added that the total votes he garnered at the poll were 1,732.

According to him,“I, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, having polled the highest number of votes in the primary election of July 21, be declared the validly nominated/ elected PDP governorship candidate for the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Osun,” he stated.

While calling for the disqualification of Adeleke, based on the faulted process of the primary, Ogunbiyi said: “Contrary to Section 30, subsection E of the Electoral Guidelines for primary election 2018, the total number of delegates accredited was not announced before the commencement of voting”.

Ogunbiyi also alleged that document submitted by Adeleke as evidence of his educational qualification up to school certificate level did not meet the basic qualification stipulated by the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act.

“The Principal of Muslim Grammar School, Ede, Mr Khalid Abbas, who purportedly signed the testimonial, had not been posted to the school in question as at the date indicated on the document. The principal has denied ever issuing or signing it and the denial is very well on record,” Ogunbiyi claimed.

Also, another aggrieved aspirant of the party, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, who was not happy with the outcome of the primary election, in a letter written to the Chairman of the party in Osun State, Mr Soji Adagunodo,  announced his defection from the party.

Akinbade, who was the SSG during the tenure of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, contested the primary election of the PDP and scored 56 votes to come third out of four aspirants.

Akinbade said  “I wish to notify you of my formal disengagement from the Peoples Democratic Party as a member as from today. I made this somewhat reluctant decision after due consultations with my political associates, leaders, admirers and friends within and outside the state.

“In particular, I came to this painful junction having realised that the leadership of the party either do not want me or is threatened by my presence in the party. These fears became more produced especially with the events that dovetailed into the recently concluded primary election of the party.

“Consequently, as an ever-forward working individual, I am withdrawing my membership of the party without harbouring animosity against anyone, and will always welcome and participate in an electoral contest that leaves the process open and transparent.”

The same scenario is currently playing out in the Social Democratic Party, SDP, two candidates were claiming one ticket of the party from two separate primaries. The winner of the faction led by Dr.Bayo Faforiji and  Kehinde Atanda who emerged from the one led by Mr Ademola Isola.

The Ademola Isola faction picked its candidates through the Indirect Delegates system method, where delegates from across the 30 local government areas of the state cast their votes.

The indirect primary was held at the SDP office in Fakunle area on Gbongan road in the presence of security officers and INEC staff.

According to the result of the election, Mr Kehinde Atanda polled 271 to defeat Otunba Yemisi Oladeji who scored 13 votes, while Otunba Iyiola Omisore had 8 votes.

However, the Faforiji-led faction of the party also claimed to conduct a direct primary in the 332 wards of the state.

The collation which was done at a hotel off Ogo Oluwa area of the state capital was supervised by the returning officer, Professor Rufai Alkali, in the presence INEC officials and security operatives. Surprisingly, the names of the three aspirants in the-Isola led faction also appeared on the ballot used by the Faforiji side.

At the end of the exercise, Otunba Iyiola Omisore was declared a winner with 123,485 votes to beat Otunba Yemisi Oladeji who got 1,802 votes and Mr Kehinde Atanda who polled 1,637. There has been blaming game on the two sides as each claimed to be the authentic structure of the party.

But the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Olu Falae, expressed his commitment to ending the internal crisis within the party ahead of the September 22 governorship election.

The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation at the national secretariat of the Abuja, formally handed to Iyiola Omisore, the certificate of return following his victory at the governorship primaries.

Although Falae’s gesture erases the doubt as to the position of the party’s national leadership on who would be flying its flag at the coming governorship election, another faction was not on the same page with the leadership of the party.

Omisore at the direct primaries conducted by his faction polled 123,485 votes to defeat his runner-up, Atanda, who polled 1,802 absentia. Consequently, a faction led by Chief Ademola Ishola which announced Kehinde Atanda as the state governorship candidate of the party returned to court, asking the court to nullify the congress conducted  by a faction of the party in the state and the election of Senator Iyiola Omisore as the party’s flag bearer.

The faction insisted congress which produced Omisore was illegal going by the court order flouted by the by the group.

Counsel to the SDP in a suit filed by two of its state officers, Alhaji Rasheed Mayowa and Chief Azeez Alakinde-Ismaila, Olayinka Sokoya had tendered two separate rulings against Omisore’s faction led and asked the court to restore the orders which would lead to sacking the Faforiji’s executives.

He explained that it was an urgent electoral matter which must be quickly disposed off to pave way for smooth running of the party’s affairs in the state.

However, with all the drama going on in the state ahead of the poll, political analysts have observed that the electorate may find it difficult to know who among the three serious contenders to vote for.  They observed that with the level of rancour that greeted the outcome of primary elections conducted by each political parties if it is indeed a sign of what lies ahead , then there is much to fear indeed as 2019 general election approaches.



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