Osun guber: Fierce race of equally rugged, endowed players

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Ademola Adeleke

Come September 22, 2018 voters in Osun will troop out to elect their next governor.

Unlike the 2014 political contest, which featured a handful of parties, this time, 48 political parties have been cleared by INEC to participate in the electoral battle.

According to INEC statistics, total voters in the state are 1,676,384 but as at August 8, 2018 a total of 1,127,866 PVCs, representing 67.60 per cent have been collected out of the 1,668,524 PVCs leaving a balance of 540,658 PVCs(32.40%) yet to be collected.

The large number of parties that have shown interest in the election has added to the complexity of the election and presented additional challenges to INEC in terms of logistics and management, as well as law enforcement.

The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Olusegun Agbaje said: “This is the first time in Nigeria that we will have 48 political parties participating in an election.”

He assured that the Commission has reached advanced stage in preparation, pointing out that apart from the ongoing training of officials that would work at various levels, non-sensitive materials had been collected and distributed to various centres.

“To complement our effort, we rely heavily on media support and assistance to inform, sensitize and educate the good people of Osun State to go to INEC offices in the 30 local government areas to collect their PVCs because without it they cannot vote.”

The campaigns have seen major upsets. For example, the ruling APC appears has suffered setbacks recently, when 13 members of the State Working Committee (SWC) moved away and joined the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Adeoti, who is now flag bearer for the ADP after he lost the APC primary.

The Guardian learnt that efforts by APC leaders to persuade Adeoti and his supporters to dump their ambition and return to the party were unsuccessful.

Another governorship aspirant and chieftain of APC, Elder Peter Babalola also dumped the party and returned to the PDP.

Babalola, like Adeoti, is a grassroots politician and mobiliser who played key role in his Ayedaade constituency during the 2014 governorship poll and the local government election conducted by the current administration.

Five members of the state House of Assembly from Ila, Odo Otin, Iwo, Ede and Ilesa state constituencies have also joined the defection train.

The unpaid arrears of salaries owed workers on grade level 08 and above, including unpaid pension of retirees have combined to compound the trouble for the ruling party.

Workers in the state public service resumed last Monday from a three-day warning strike to press home their demand for payment of salaries while pensioners recently staged protest against non-payment of arrears of pension and gratuities.

However, Governor Rauf Aregbesola and other APC leaders say the gale of defection that has hit the party was not unexpected, saying such movements are across board, with the APC also receiving defectors.

Findings showed that despite the huge number of candidates for the election, many exist only on paper, while strategic alliances are ongoing to strengthen the bigger parties.

Frontline Parties And Candidates

AS they stand, the gale of defection that hit the ruling party shortly after Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola emerged candidate has affected its popularity. Oyetola is a native of Iragbiji, Boripe local council in Osun Central Senatorial District.

The technocrat with many years in the private sector (Insurance) served as the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola since inception and has that experience to his advantage.

His emergence is believed to have been influenced by his kinsman and national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

That fact raised so much dust and whether it would count as gain for him remains to be seen.

The PDP is also popular in the state and enjoys large following.

The party had governed the state before Aregbesola and his party sacked it through the court process in November 2010.

Intra-party tussle almost ruined its chances, but the party seems to have bounced back.

The governorship candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke emerged in a keenly contested primary.

Ademola, the younger brother of the late Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke stepped into his brother’s shoes when against all odds he defeated APC in the Osun West by-election.

His victory rekindled hope in PDP. He hails from the late Raji Ayoola Adeleke dynasty in Ede, Osun West Senatorial District.

If well managed, his family pedigree could be of use in the election.

THE Social Democratic Party (SDP) is not new in Osun political circle. 

The party contested the 2014 governorship poll and grew in membership when it picked as candidate for the 2018 governorship, Senator Christopher Iyiola Omisore, who left the PDP along with his supporters.

The party has been making waves, attracting large crowd at its rallies. Omisore is a grassroots politician and mobiliser.

He was Deputy governor in the state and governorship candidate of PDP in 2014.

The Ile Ife born politician in Osun East Senatorial District has long standing ambition to govern the state.

He is an experienced politician. He is a man to watch.

AFRICA Democratic Congress (ADC) is new and has not contested election in the state.

However, its governorship candidate Alhaji Fatai Akinade Akinbade is an experienced politician and grassroots mobiliser.

The civil engineer was a former commissioner during the military, ex-chairman of PDP and Secretary to the State Government (SSG) during the era of Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

Akinbade hails from Ogbaagbaa in Ola Oluwa local council in Osun West Senatorial District of the state. He was governorship candidate of Labour Party in 2014, He returned to the PDP and contested the primary.

He left the PDP again due to alleged injustice. His popularity in Osun politics and political experience are factors to consider.

THE ADP became popular in Osun when the immediate past SSG to the state government, Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti defected from APC and became its candidate. Adeoti, a popular and grassroots mobiliser drew scores of his supporters to join him in ADC.

His decampment caused serious panic in the APC camp.

The Iwo-born politician in Osun West Senatorial District and former chairman of APC is banking on his firm control of the structure of APC to realise his ambition.

Adeoti left APC on allegation of imposition of Oyetola and refusal by party leaders to pick the governorship candidate from the West district.

Adeoti and his party have not left anybody in doubt that they have something up their sleeves.

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