As the electorate in Osun State gathers momentum to file out on 22 September, 2018, political gladiators are making consultations across the state in preparation for real campaigns to secure their votes.
The mantle of leadership of the state will change on November 28, 2018, when Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola will hand over the baton to another elected governor to steer the ship of the state having completed his two terms of eight years as the first citizen of Osun.
Parties and political gladiators are already into it, running from pillar to post, working assiduously to ensure that they emerge victorious at the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is doing what it knows best, working day and night to ensure free, fair, credible, and acceptable poll as it registers more parties to make them 91.
In Osun, because the people of the state are politically conscious, hardly will you see a party that has no representation no matter the strength probably limited to the state capital or dominant in an area or town in the state.
But for this context, let us look at only five dominant parties though others like the Accord Party, AC, Labour Party and a few others cannot be overlooked and they can surprise especially with the situation on ground in the state.
However, let us look into the activities of these leading parties that include the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Action Democratic Party (ADP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC).
The intrigue that led to the emergence of the candidates of the political parties at the primaries snowballed into the choice of who eventually becomes running mates to the candidates.
The candidates are conscious of the factors that are though not embedded in the nation’s constitution nor that of some of the political parties yet they are germane issues that bothers on zoning, religion, age and academic prowess of the running mates.
Immediately the governorship candidates were through with the choice of who to pick as their running mates, they went out making consultations with stakeholders, labour unions, traditional rulers, market men and women, pensioners and many others to get their support.
Interestingly, while the people of the state are awaiting the manifestors of the parties, the issue that was at the front burner of their discussion with these stakeholders bothers on the welfare of workers and pensioners.
It is obvious that Osun state will witness a kin gubernatorial contest that could produce even an underdog as the next occupant of the Bola Ige House, Abere.
Therefore, gladiators are ready to hold on even to common leafs at the point of drowning for survival even when they know how buoyant the economy of Osun is, hence they are ready to promise heaven on earth. It is left to the electorate to either allow themselves to be fooled or be wise.
The ruling APC has the incumbent Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, from Iragbiji in Boripe local government area of Osun Central as its candidate with Mr, Benedict Adegboyega Alabi, Christian from Ikire in Irewole Local Government Area of Osun West as his running mate.
The prospect of Oyetola becoming the next governor of Osun is high not only because of the power of incumbency but because he was the engine room of Aregbesola’s administration.
Aregbesola’s feat in the area of provision of road network, construction of world class schools across the state, the free ambulance service, care for the aged, youth empowerment programme tagged O’YES, school feeding scheme, assistance to security agencies that make Osun one of the most peaceful states to dwell and numerous others has made the administration one that cannot be forgotten easily.
Oyetola is central to the implementation of these laudable programmes as a renowned technocrat of international repute and a cool headed, composed and unassuming personality that is more than competent to rule the state.
But, the sing song of “we will pay full salaries and ensure the welfare of pensioners” that has become the ringing tone of all parties today couldn’t have being if the government of Osun under the watch of Oyetola had lived up to the expectation of paying full salaries to all categories of workers ditto the pensioners.
Today, Oyetola is promising workers and pensioners that he would see to their welfare knowing fully well the capacity of the economy of the state with the huge debts hanging on the neck of the state, what is agitating the mind of those concerned is whether Oyetola will be able to fulfill his promises or not.
Another clog in the wheel of Oyetola emerging as the governor of the state is the over-flogged manner by which he emerged as the governor of the state that had led to exodus of prominent members of the party to other parties.
Even, a good number of those that remained in the party are still alleging that Oyetola was imposed on them by Asiwaju Bola Hammed Tinubu and the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola against the clamour for an Osun West aspirant to emerge the party’ s candidate.
Even with these shortcomings, Oyetola who fulfilled his promise to pick his Christian running mate from Osun West senatorial district remained a candidate to beat come 22 September, 2018.
Also, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti the candidate of the Action Democratic Party is a major factor in the gubernatorial scenario because of his wide spread acceptability across the state.
Adeoti, the immediate past Secretary to the Government of Osun State until a few weeks after the direct primary of the APC, was a chieftain of the ruling party.
He not only midwifed the process that produced Ogbeni Aregbesola as the governor of Osun by virtue of his position as the chairman of the APC in Osun but stood by him through thick and thin during the protracted litigation that gave victory to Aregbesola.
Adeoti was compensated with the post of Secretary to the government of Osun but from inception it was obvious that his appointment was ceremonial because the bulk of the work that used to land on the table of succeeding SSG now found its way to that of the Chief of staff to the governor.
He had to contend with the scenario for over seven years during which he was hoping to become the governor after Aregbesola since hopefully the perceived zoning arrangement favours him. The outcome of his optimism is a subject for another day.
Adeoti subsequently pulled out of APC after he declined to participate in what he believed to be an already stage-managed primary that could not favour him.
Adeoti, a grassroots politician not only left the APC along with nine members of the 16 members of the state executive committee of the party but stalwarts of the party that included members of cabinet of Aregbesola, past and present.
Besides, Professor Adeolu Durotoye, one of the aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party who defected to Action Democratic Party, a Christian from Osogbo, Osun Central emerged his running mate to form a formidable team.
Formidable, because Iwo where Adeoti comes from and Osogbo, the home town of Durotoye command respect because of the population of the electorate in the two towns.
The contentious issue of zoning favours Adeoti because the people of Osun including elders from various divide are jointly united in the clamour for the emergence of the next governor of Osun State from Osun West having suffered governorship marginalization.
Being a grassroots politician across the state with the emblem of home based politician, Adeoti is also identifying with the success achieved by the Aregbesola administration being the SSG in that administration for so long.
Adeoti who during his ongoing consultations appeared to be dissociating himself from the hardship suffered by workers and pensioners in Osun with the promise of good days ahead is no doubt a factor in the contest for the governor of Osun.
However, those factors that may work against Oyetola as regard the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola may also work against him, as the fear of some of Osun electorate is that Adeoti may go back to APC immediately he wins the governorship seat. Time will tell.
Another candidate of repute is the former Secretary to Osun state government, Alhaji Fatai Akinade Akinbade, who is contesting on the platform of African Democratic Congress ADC.
Akinbade was one of the aspirants that featured along three others at the primary of the Peoples Democratic Party and lost to Senator Ademola Adeleke.
He immediately defected to the ADC claiming that the leadership of PDP was hostile to him and so does not want to see his face.
Recall that it was Akinbade under whose chairmanship of the PDP wrestled power from the then AD government of Chief Adebisi Akande for Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
Having served in the cabinet of succeeding military government to become the chairman of the PDP and eventually powerful Secretary to the government of Osun in Oyinlola’s government, Akinbade has impacted positively and tremendously on the state and a lot of individuals.
His simple and friendly nature endeared him to his teaming supporters across the state and this has served as impetus for him to believe in himself that he can win election to the exalted seat of governor of Osun State.
Besides, his choice of rtd Justice Folaranmi Olamide Oloyede a woman of high integrity in all ramifications and indeed the only candidate chosen from Ijesaland where the incumbent governor come is another added advantage to Akinbade.
Oloyede, a Christian, though not a practising politician until recently boldly came out to challenge the administration of Ogbeni Aregbesola her kinsman on issues that bordered on his administration the consequence of what forcefully led her out of the bench prematurely.
Her courage and academic prowess endeared her to workers, pensioners and the masses who saw her as a social crusader who was ready to sacrifice all for them. Her choice is definitely a plus for Akinbade .
With sudden emergence of vote buying in the polity of Nigeria, the fear is whether Akinbade and Oloyede could muster the financial resources that could give them headway especially with the money bags that are in the race and are ready to invest huge money in the September 22 governorship election in Osun.
Though Akinbade has consistently debunked the lack of deep pocket insinuation by the people, but his lack of money he can spend extravagantly played out in the PDP primary which his status and integrity he could have won hands down.
Akinbade is not only competent to rule Osun with the wide experience he has gathered over the years, but he also has the connections that could impact positively on Osun State.
The candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Senator Iyiola Omisore is the major issue in Osun politics just as Chief Obafemi Awolowo was an issue in Nigeria politics in his days.
Omisore, a Christian from Ile-Ife not only served as deputy governor during the administration of Chief Adebisi Akande but also served as a ranking senator representing Osun East senatorial district of the state.
His ambition to become the governor of Osun dated back to his tenure as deputy governor of Osun that cost him the seat of the deputy governor of the state then.
While it was rumoured that there was a pact that he would become the governor after Akande, the same repeated itself with Oyinlola, and when he became the governorship candidate of PDP after Oyinlola. It was though a pact fulfilled, it rocked the PDP and the party paid for it.
So when it became obvious to him that he couldn’t emerge as the candidate of PDP again, he pulled out and joined the SDP where he emerged the party’s candidate under questionable circumstances.
The former Chairman, Appropriation Committee, in the red chamber is a likeable grassroots politician that has formidable structures across the state.
Omisore has deep pocket and besides, he has won the heart of workers and pensioners with his long standing support even during the Akande administration and especially now that workers and pensioners entitlements have become an issue.
He has always maintained a clear lead in obtaining votes from Ile-Ife and all the local governments attached to Ife where incidentally part of the bulk of Osun votes comes from.
He has also successfully picked a Muslim youth, Azeez Lawal from Apomu, in Osun West as his running mate thereby not only appealing to the youths during this era of ‘not too young to rule’ but also appealing to the agitators of “it is the turn of Osun West”.
However, the stigma of the alleged killing of the former governor of old Oyo State and ex-Attorney General of the federation, Chief Bola Ige, tagged on him despite being exonerated legally is still on him and being used frantically by his detractors.
Omisore, a technocrat and businessman is capable of ruling Osun with the experience he has in governance over the years.
Finally, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, the front line opposition party in the state, Senator Ademola Adeleke cannot be under estimated.
Adeleke, the younger brother of late Senator Adetunji Adeleke, a Muslim hails from Ede in Osun West senatorial district of the state.
He was massively voted to replace his brother at the red chamber following his brother’s demise despite the fact that he contested from an opposition party.
His victory at the poll came as a surprise to the APC who thought with their landmark achievement, it would subdue the popularity of late Adeleke.
If Adetunji Adeleke, a former governor in the state had been alive today, he would definitely be the one contesting because he was the first person to declare his ambition to be governor after Aregbesola on the platform of the APC.
The Adeleke family is reputed for their philanthropic gestures and workers can easily be at home with Senator Nurudeen Adeleke emerging as the governor of Osun State.
Adeleke comes from one of the largest if not the largest political party in the state today with big wigs in the political landscape of the state.
With these calibres of politicians if well annexed, the zoning advantage and money power at the disposal of Adeleke, he stands a better chance of emerging the next governor of Osun State.
Besides, Adeleke was able to pick his deputy from the home base of Omisore, Ile-Ife in the person of Albert Adeogun, a member of the House of Representatives thereby having the assurance of sharing votes from Ife and environ where bulk votes resides.
The only thing that may work against him has got to do with whether he is competent to rule Osun with his social life and academic qualification.
But apart from the fact that court has declared him academically competent to rule the state, he has come out to debunk the insinuation that he did not pass at secondary school level but told the public that he has other higher academic certificates and that he only presented the minimal certificate needed for the purpose of the contest.
Adeleke is also a formidable candidate that is capable of emerging as the governor of Osun State come September 22.
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