The Osun State governorship election is here. The D-day fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is Saturday, July 16, 2022.
The political parties and their gubernatorial candidates have done their homework and now the decision of who is to be governor of Osun State for the next four years will be determined by the electorates.
Whichever way it ends and who the count favours at the end of the day, would only reflect two things: the will of the Osun people and how things are done generally in Nigeria.
In the beginning:
During the 2018 gubernatorial election, the outcome did not favour Senator Ademola Adeleke who was a last minute candidate fielded by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He had defected with his elder brother, the late Isiaka Adeleke, first civilian governor of Osun State and two term Senator representing Osun West Senatorial District from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) prior to the 2014 Osun gubernatorial election, in which Senator Iyiola Omisore of the PDP was thrashed by the incumbent governor Rauf Aregbesola.
In 2017, the elder Adeleke died suddenly and his senatorial position became vacant. The sympathy was for somebody in the Adeleke clan or preferably from Ede to continue till 2018 but the governor, Rauf Aregbesola thought otherwise and the APC fielded Mudashir Hussein who was by then a serving Commissioner for Federal Matters in the State and who also hails form Ejigbo in the same Osun West Senatorial District.
The battle line was drawn and at the end of the bye election, Ademola Adeleke who had earlier decamped again to the opposition PDP, having been denied the ticket in the APC, won massively.
Out of 10 local governments in the senatorial district, Adeleke and the PDP won in 9 and Hussein and the APC only managed to win in one, Ejigbo local government which coincidentally is the local government of origin of Mudashir Hussein who himself had earlier been a Senator representing Osun West Senatorial District and was asked to step down for Isiaka Adeleke in the 2015 general election.
It was this animosity and bad blood that preceded the 2018 gubernatorial election in the State. The ruling APC did not consider Ademola Adeleke in their calculations. They made it abundantly clear to him that Osun West was different from the whole of Osun.
The Osun APC arsenal was rather directed at Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) having contested with the incumbent governor and lost in 2014.
On election day, September 22, 2018, it was to the surprise of everybody that Ademola Adeleke, who pre-election calculations did not favour, came out leading by 353 votes, before it was declared inconclusive by the INEC returning officer for the election, Joseph Adeola Fuwape.
A rerun election was directed to be held on Thursday, September 27, 2018, and at the end of the exercise, after allegations of massive electoral fraud, vote buying and voter intimidation, Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC was declared winner and issued with the certificate of return and was sworn in as governor of the State on November 27, 2018.
Oyetola was sworn in, but the PDP decided to challenge the outcome at the election petition tribunal.
The outcome of the tribunal was also a vindication that the PDP had a case, but the APC machinery went into motion and after going through the Appellate and Supreme Court, Oyetola won and retained his seat as governor.
Despite the judicial interpretation of the people’s mandate, the Adeleke family and the PDP were not satisfied and made it clear at any opportunity that they won the election fair and square, a ground which was boosted by a claim by Sunday Bisi, a former Osun PDP chairman in an interview with DAILY POST in 2021.
In that interview Bisi stated that the electoral victory of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola and the APC was fraudulently achieved as even President Muhammadu Buhari had boasted that the result was “remote controlled!”
Throughout 2019 to 2021, it seemed that there was quiet in the State as Senator Ademola Adeleke took time off to acquire a university education and Adegboyega Oyetola concentrated on governance, but in so doing fell out with his former boss, Rauf Aregbesola who is the current Minister of Interior.
Who holds the ace:
As the electioneering winds started to blow again towards the end of 2020 in Osun, the old wounds re-opened.
Individuals interested in contesting as aspirants for the PDP gubernatorial flagbearer protested that fielding Ademola Adeleke again in 2022 would be bad for the party.
The disagreement splintered the party into two factions, with the pro-Ademola Adeleke faction led by Sunday Bisi and the anti-Ademola Adeleke faction led by Olasoji Adagunodo.
Both sides instituted several suits to determine who controls the soul of the party in the State, as this would automatically translate to who will be fielded by the party during the 2022 election.
The Sunday Bisi faction won and Adagunodo was compensated with the South West Vice Chairman of the party.
Senator Adeleke indicated interest again in being the flagbearer of the party, as well as Dotun Babayemi, Dele Adeleke, Sanya Omirin, Akin Ogunbiyi and Fatai Akinbade.
The Sunday Bisi faction of the Osun PDP, which later held sway, ensured Ademola Adeleke emerged their aspirant. This led to sharp disagreement within the rank of party members and inevitably led to parallel congresses where Ademola Adeleke emerged in one and Dotun Babayemi emerged in the other.
INEC, however, confirmed Ademola Adeleke as the Osun PDP gubernatorial candidate, with Akin Ogunbiyi also defecting to the Accord Party.
As it is, both candidates, Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC and Ademola Adeleke of the PDP are battle ready for the July 16 gubernatorial election.
Without saying it, both camps know the battle is not between the two political parties, but rather between two individuals with a grudge to settle.
The Adeleke family still bear a grudge with the Osun State Government for the shabby way the mysterious death of their patriarch was handled.
They are still angry that the state government of Rauf Aregbesola did not agree to a consensus in 2017 to allow the Adeleke’s or somebody from Ede to fill the vacant senatorial position.
They are also angry that in the 2018 gubernatorial election, they were robbed of an electoral victory and there was nothing they could do about it.
Ademola Adeleke, the Adeleke family and the Osun PDP has come prepared to give the APC whatever it takes to win the 2022 gubernatorial election.
There has been no love lost between the two major contending parties. To the PDP, they are up against the APC and others while to the APC, they are up against the PDP and others.
Both parties and candidates are at daggers drawn and are doing everything possible to sway the electorates to their side. They have used persuasion, coercion, allegations, accusations, emotional antics and sometimes violence to sway voters sympathy.
All over the State, different bodies, organisations, groups, associations; religious and secular have pitched their tents with either of the gubernatorial candidates.
Even traditional rulers are not to be left out of late, as they have jettisoned the garb of neutrality and pitched their tents with their favoured candidates.
The Timi of Ede land, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal has directed indigenes and residents of Ede to vote massively for Ademola Adeleke while the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oba Abdul-Rasheed Ayotunde Olabomi, Oyetola’s hometown have supported the governor openly.
The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi has held a public prayer session for the success of Adegboyega Oyetola at the polls.
In 2022 as in 2018, the pendulum is still not in anybody’s favour and the probability of anybody winning is still abstract, but even in the unclear political climate, both sides of the divide have advanced reasons they are sure of winning the polls.
While the PDP is claiming that the APC has overstayed their welcome and that the State needed a change of guard, the APC on their part insists all they have achieved within the past twelve years is enough to return them since there is need to complete the job they had started.
Oyetola and the odds:
There have been internal wranglings in the Osun APC too like the PDP and it spiralled out of control when The Osun Progressives (TOP) was formed by the Rauf Aregbesola group within the party who felt that the governor and his IleriOluwa group had sidelined them in the scheme of things within the party.
This action on the side of the governor has divided the party as loyalties between Aregbesola and Oyetola are fiercely strong among party members.
Again, TOP has accused Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of putting in place plans to rubbish the many achievements of his successor, Rauf Aregbesola.
They alleged that he went into alliance with former party enemies, including Senator Iyiola Omisore whom many within the rank of the progressives still see as complicit in the murder of Bola Ige, a former governor of Oyo State and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.
They, like the opposition PDP, also alleged that the governor has been using workers’ salaries, pensions of retirees and pensioners to deceive the people that his government was working.
TOP members in the heat of the battle formed a parallel APC in the State led by Rasaq Salinsile. They also had their gubernatorial candidate, Moshood Adeoti.
Another TOP member, Lasun Yusuff decamped to the Labour Party and became the gubernatorial candidate of the party.
The eligibility of Moshood Adeoti to contest as gubernatorial candidate of the APC was determined by the court on Thursday, July 14, 2022.
While Oyetola may not be having it easy within his own political party, thesame cannot be said of the ordinary people, civil servants, business persons and the general population.
Adegboyega Oyetola is the incumbent governor, which confers a lot of advantage on him. He is like the champion who cannot be edged out except by a technical knock out.
With government funds, Oyetola has touched virtually every sector of the State ranging from health with the refurbishment of health care centres, general hospitals equipping and provision of drugs, to construction and rehabilitation especially in the western part of the State where roads are virtually impassable.
He is also popular with the state workforce due to his numerous workers’ friendly and people-oriented programmes.
Pundits also claim that Oyetola and the APC’s seeming hold on some areas of the State with huge numbers of registered voters is a good portent for Saturday’s election.
There are five Local Government Areas in Osun with the highest number of registered voters. And past exercises have shown that these LGAs also boast of the highest number of eventual voters during elections.
APC is holding down most of these areas as its strongholds for obvious reasons. Should the party go ahead and win these convincingly, then the PDP should kiss the governorship seat goodbye once again.
Osogbo LGA has the highest number of registered voters in the State. It is a civil servant populated area and the governor has pleased the workers by ensuring regular payment of salaries.
They have constantly expressed their support for him. Besides, APC controls all the available political positions in the area. With chieftains like Senator Ajibola Bashiru holding the flanks for him there, Oyetola looks to do well here. Ife East and Ife Central LGAs are also well populated. Omisore and other APC chieftains will ensure Oyetola carries the day there.
In Iwo, the open support being enjoyed by the governor is visible and Olorunda is a traditional stronghold of the APC.
Oyetola remains the favourite in the race. His chances of winning are the brightest barring unforeseen last minute developments and surprise from his co-contestants.
His current position as incumbent, the strength of his political platform, the ruling APC, as well as his achievements in the last four years combine to give him an edge in the race.
This malaise did not start from the Osun election. It has been a problem that is as old as democracy in Nigeria.
Prominent election monitoring groups like YIAGA Africa and Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) have kicked against it and have also called on all politicians to discard the idea.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would eliminate electoral frauds.
Out of the 15 contestants in the Osun gubernatorial election, the smaller candidates have accused the big two, Adegboyega Oyetola of the APC and Ademola Adeleke of the PDP of intentionally engaging in acts of vote buying and merchandising, while the big two have accused each other of engaging in the same act.
The 2018 Osun gubernatorial election ended with Ademola Adeleke and the PDP accusing the APC of widespread vote buying, especially in the rerun election.
In the run up to the election, the PDP had alleged that the ruling party and Governor Adegboyega Oyetola coerced civil servants to submit their PVCs as a requirement to collect their June salaries.
In a campaign rally in Osogbo, Ademola Adeleke, the PDP gubernatorial candidate was quoted to have declared that he was ready for the APC as he has come loaded with different types of foreign currency to buy the electorates over.
Adeleke was also quoted as saying that he was ready to give the APC “fire for fire” in order to get his mandate in 2022.
“My fellow Osun residents, you are the one to decide. It is not by force, not by gimmicks, if it is money, I have brought money and not only Naira but dollars, pounds and Euro. This time around, it is fire for fire for the Osun governorship election,” he was alleged to have said.
Adeleke has since debunked that statement in every public fora.
Going by the allegations of the PDP, the APC and their gubernatorial candidate, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has the resources of the state and the support of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu machinery. Also on board, will be the money that other APC governors will bring to the table, added to the APC controlled federal government.
Ademola Adeleke will also rely on his family wealth and the compassion of the PDP which at the moment is fractured due to many problems surrounding the presidential and vice presidential candidates and the party chairmanship. Just as the PDP at the national level is not settled, also in Osun State, the PDP some weeks to the Osun gubernatorial election has been busy engaging in internal wrangling.
Placed on a scale, the APC has the edge. It has the financial muscle to buy voters over, though neither of the political parties will accept that they engage in such practices.
The other political parties, however, believe that the election would not be free and fair. This is just as they insist that the election may not be violent free.
The perception of the majority of electorates and election stakeholders is that at the end of the day, it is the party that spent the most that will win the election.
Adeleke family connection
It is not a hidden secret that Adeleke is facing a three pronged battle ahead of his gubernatorial ambition.
Despite the massive support base from his Ede kinsmen and others spread across Osun, Adeleke’s gubernatorial ambition may suffer defeat from bad blood in a divided family with Dele Adeleke who initially threw his hat into the gubernatorial election ring against his uncle.
Ademola is also faced with stiff opposition from within the Osun PDP. So fierce and stiff was the opposition with his political party that it degenerated into a chairmanship tussle between the pro-Adeleke faction led by Sunday Bisi and the anti-Adeleke faction led by Olasoji Adagunodo.
However, by far, the greatest challenge to his gubernatorial ambition is from the APC machinery and Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.
Adeleke had lost in 2018 and he will want to do everything possible to prevent another defeat in 2022. As it is, everything will be thrown into the ring this time.
The turf war in the PDP led to a parallel gubernatorial primary which eventually led to a series of court cases.
With the coast clear, Akin Ogunbiyi, a fellow aspirant decamped to the Accord Party, while others led by Dotun Babayemi have been campaigning vigorously for the PDP as against Ademola Adeleke.
From the body language of Dotun Babayemi, he may not be working for the aspiration of Ademola Adeleke, but party loyalty is coming into play and the results of several peace parleys may have dissuaded him from taking the battle to another political platform as obtained in some cases.
Family loyalty has also taken precedence as overtures have been made to present a solid Adeleke family front and a picture of a united family.