Although the Osun State gubernatorial election has come and gone, the inside story of how the victory was achieved for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, has emerged.
PDP’s Adeleke defeated incumbent governor and All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Adegboyega Oyetola at last Saturday’s governorship election.
Winning 17 out of the 30 local governments in the state, Adeleke polled 403,371 votes, while Oyetola, scored 375,027 votes and won in 13 local governments.
The election was always going to be tough whatwith the 2018 experience which Oyetola won with less than 500 votes. What’s more, the party had to deal with internal wrangling pre- and post-primaries.
However, the Adelekes are no pushovers politically. The political machinery inherited from their late father, the Asiwaju of Edeland, Second Republic Senator Ayoola Adeleke had done a lot to mobilise the electorate.
Going into last Saturday’s election, the Adelekes decided nothing can and should be taken for granted considering the outcome of the 2018 polls.
However, this was coming at a time when tempers were high over the presidential running mate saga in the PDP. The situation became dicey as some of the party’s governors stayed away from the inauguration of the campaign council.
But the pressure on PDP to provide its best strategies and select some of its most experienced strategists for the National Campaign Council was immense. Having failed to win Ekiti State and Osun being the last major off-season election before the 2023 polls, the party couldn’t afford to lose this chance to boost the confidence of its members.
However, in the party’s campaign council, three of the members devoted more time and resources to the campaigns, particularly in the last few days of the election.
They were former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Bayelsa State Governor, Sen. Duoye Diri, and his Edo counterpart, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
While Diri was the chairman of the National Campaign Council, Obaseki who has known the PDP candidate’s elder brother, Deji Adeleke since their days in the financial sector in Lagos also felt obliged to share his experience in similar elections in 2020 when he was seeking re-election and had similar APC forces arrayed against him.
His victory strategy was therefore needed and he decided to help the party in the same way the party helped him to defeat the APC forces led by Adams Oshiomhole and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Saraki has many reasons why PDP and the Adelekes had to win the state. Osun State is a neighbouring state to Kwara State where Saraki hails from. So, he needs to ensure Osun isn’t used to sabotage the PDP in Kwara in next year’s election.
Secondly, Saraki as chairman of the PDP National Reconciliation and Strategic Committee (NRSC), handled the resolution of PDP crisis in the state which afforded him insights into the issues, interaction with the personalities, and need for unity in Osun PDP.
It thus became a challenge for him to help the Adelekes in making last-minute rallying of all forces and persons behind the candidate in order to defeat the divided APC.
Third, while his late father, Oloye Olusola Saraki was a colleague of the patriarch of the Adelekes in the Second Republic Senate, Saraki and the late eldest brother of the Adelekes, Isiaka Adetunji, were colleagues in the 7th and 8th Senate.
Later, when Ademola, the PDP candidate replaced his late brother in the 8th Senate, he was a loyal supporter of Saraki who was then Senate President. Fourth, the Saraki and Adeleke families remain the only two nuclear families to have produced three members of the Nigerian Senate respectively.
Also, Deji Adeleke, the surviving eldest of the Adeleke brothers is a good friend of Saraki. Thus, for all these reasons, Saraki decided to throw in all the support for the Adelekes.
However, sources told LEADERSHIP that Saraki and his team moved from Ilorin where he had been since the eve of the last Eid-El- Kabir festival into Ede, the Adelekes’ home town on Wednesday morning, July 13, 2022 and immediately held meetings with all the PDP polling agents.
The former Senate president, at Adeleke University, Ede, handled training for the polling agents, sharing some strategic lessons with the agents on how to carry out their assignments on polling day.
After the training session with party agents, Saraki and Deji Adeleke joined the two PDP governors in Osogbo, the state capital, enroute to a meeting with ex-Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola at his Osogbo GRA residence.
The meeting was actually at the instance of Saraki who believed that Oyinlola was aggrieved and needed to be pacified and pleaded with to support Adeleke. The party was able to appease Oyinlola and reconciled the differences between him and the Adelekes.
Saraki returned to Ede the same night to meet with the PDP governorship candidate and his team where they reviewed the preparation for the election, especially on critical areas of election preparation, security and logistics.
After the meeting with the candidate and his team, Saraki returned to Osogbo and met with party stakeholders in the state. As former chairman of the PDP NRSC, he was able to revisit all the issues his committee had dealt with and ensured that those already dealt with did not resurge while the ones that were pending were quickly attended to.
It was learnt that the engagements helped the party to put a strong and united front across in the last 48 hours or so before the commencement of voting.
By Thursday morning, the governors, Saraki and his team were in Osogbo to coordinate the PDP mega rally, despite the refusal of the APC administration to afford the party the use of a facility they had applied for.
By Friday morning, fresh engagement with aggrieved party stakeholders from each of the three senatorial districts was coordinated by Saraki and his team.
Although the meeting with party stakeholders from Osun East took up most of the day, it was learnt that these last minute engagements were strategic to providing a formidable outing for the party on Saturday.
On Friday night, Saraki moved into the party situation room located inside the residence of late Senator isiaka Adeleke to ascertain the level of preparedness and to test run some of the facilities to be sure that all is working perfectly. In this assignment, he was joined by Governors Diri and Obaseki.
On Election Day as early as 6 am, Saraki and the two governors were already in the situation room to start coordination. They got reports from party agents, field officers, and observers across the state and stayed awake until the results were announced in the early hours of Sunday morning.
It was because of their critical roles that immediately he was pronounced the winner, Adeleke prostrated before his elder brother, Deji, held tightly to each of Saraki, Diri and Obaseki for their kind, much-needed, strategic, and effective last-minute interventions that saved the day.
With the elections won and lost, it would be interesting to see how the party builds on this strategic engagement going into the much anticipated 2023 election.