AYOBAMI AGBOOLA reports on factors that are likely to shape the Osun State governorship election, which analysts believe is a five-horse race between Governor Gboyega Oyetola, Senator Ademola Adeleke and three others
There is no doubt that the 15 political parties contesting tomorrow’s governorship election in Osun State are set for the poll. However, out of the 15 parties, five are seen to be the major contenders. They are All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), Accord Party (AP), and Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The major contestants are Gboyega Oyetola (APC), Senator Ademola Adeleke (PDP), Akin Ogunbiyi (AP), former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun (LP) and Akinrinuola Omigbodun (SDP). Out of the 15 contenders, only Governor Oyetola (APC), Senator Adeleke (SDP), former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun (LP) and Ogunbiyi (AP) showed signs of seriousness during the campaign window. Others have literally consigned themselves to the back seat. However, political analysts are of the view that the poll is a straight battle between Governor Oyetola and Senator Adeleke. They hinged their belief on the large numbers of supporters and crowd pulled by the duo and their respective parties during the campaigns as well as their dominance in all the local government areas of the state. New Telegraph observed that the presence of other political parties has not been so much felt in most parts of the state compared to the APC and PDP.
They have no spread, clout and financial capacity as well as the foot soldiers to make meaningful impact at the poll. For the APC, in spite of the obvious advantage of power of incumbency, Governor Oyetola has been unrelenting in his vigorous campaign for re-election. Similarly, Adeleke has left no stone unturned in his effort to wrest power from the APC-led government. In one of his campaign tours, he was quoted as saying that the election would be fire-forfire, which perhaps explains the reason he took the battle to Boripe Local Government Area, the governor’s country home, with his supporters. According to the Convener of Dialogue 365, Waheed Saka, “Oyetola’s strength is his style of governance in the last three years, his courage to reverse the controversial policy of his predecessor, his financial re-engineering of the state that ended the half salary regime, his humble disposition to the citizen and overall commitment to campaign promises of the past will give him an edge over his greatest challenger.
“Moreover, the opposition PDP campaign the last time was centered on the failure of the government of his predecessor, now he is been judged on his deliverables and Oyetola will be proud he has constructed over 500km of roads and the Olaiya flyover is the new face of infrastructure in Osun. He will also be delighted that organised labour has never gone on strike for a day since he emerged as governor. Osun workers’ disposition is that the state is in safe hands. “However, the PDP candidate, Senator Adeleke, will not be a push over because of his experience and also his family as a dynasty has won many political battles although the former lawmaker has not shown enough readiness in terms of brilliance and charisma as well as a policy statement on what he will do differently if he has the opportunity.
It is undeniable fact that the Adeleke dynasty is a popular political dynasty in Osun and they are going to war to sustain the dynasty on Saturday.” “In national politics, the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the APC flag bearer is also a major factor to tilt the election in favor of the incumbent APC as Asiwaju needs to prove a political point that he is in control of his region going into general elections in February. “On the economy, the APC government at the national will also swell the rank of the opposition as the people are feeling the heat of hyperinflation on their day-to-day livelihood.
But for Osun, it will be either to move forward in terms of stability or to put the state in reverse gear. May our people decide, freely, fairly, credibly and above all peacefully! Corroborating the points, Ayo Ologun, a public affairs analyst, the battle is between Oyetola and Adeleke. His words: “There is no doubt that all the candidates representing the various political parties are ready for the poll. That is evident in the state of publicity, campaigns and rallies across the state but the fact is that some candidates are more ready than others.
“An average political conscious citizen would believe with me that the candidates at the frontline are the candidates from APC, PDP and Accord Party, respectively. I would not like to do a witch-hunt on any candidate but the strength of each one of them lies in their pre-election manifestos and promises. More also, the influx of high class politicians of the country into the state to support one candidate or the other could also be termed plus for the candidates as this would also give credibility to their ambition and political race. “One thing is certain; the incumbent stands a better chance at the elections knowing he now has a score card by, which he can be adjudged unlike in the previous election. The swing of the pendulum as towards the 2023 elections will also be a big factor in the countdown to the election on Saturday as this is the last isolated election before the general election of 2023.
“By and large, the Saturday election will be a victory for the people and not any political party and I predict that the eventual winner will not likely win with a large margin as things presently stands giving the list of gladiators in the election.” Despite the belief that Oyetola has performed creditably well to deserve a second term, it is incontestable that opposition against his re-election is fierce, real and formidable. One of the major factors that will work against the governor is the face-off between him and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, who is the current Minister of Interior.
It is a known secret that Aregbesola is opposed to the re-election of Oyetola. Though Aregbesola has not really stated categorically what Oyetola has done wrong, he had claimed that the incumbent governor was witch-hunting him. He also accused Oyetola of a deliberate attempt to abolish his legacies, claiming that governor abandoned his progressive ideals. “There is no harm in replacing someone who is not doing well and not in tandem with progressive ideals. That is what we are working on and that is why we have come to you. I worked very hard to ensure Oyetola’s election.
It was, however, a rude shock when he got into office and started a grand witch-hunt against me,” Aregbesola said at a time. He further revealed that he begged Oyetola for two years not to fight him or destroy the policies and legacies he enacted during his tenure but according to him, Oyetola waged war against him after he emerged as governor because he alleged that he did not support his candidature in 2018. But some political analysts were tempted to ask if the progressive ideals that Aregbesola wants Oyetola to maintain was that of payment of half salaries or accumulated debts or the demolition of Fakunle Comprehensive High School, which gave way for a mega store. Also the outcome of the recent primary elections of the APC in the state may work against Oyetola.
Although, some members of the National Assembly who were perceived to be loyalists of Aregbesola were denied tickets during the party’s recent primary elections in the state, stakeholders in the state said those denied tickets are very popular and have a lot of followers, and believed that the action was a political miscalculation on the part of the governor. Others were, however, of the opinion that it was politically expedient for the governor to take such a decision.
However, whatever plot Aregbesola would come up with is likely to be countered by a former deputy governor of the state and current National Secretary of APC, Senator Iyiola Omisore, who is a strong politician in Osun East Senatorial District, especially his hometown, Ile-Ife and Ife South Local Government Area of the state. For Adeleke, there are equally hurdles that pose threat to his ambition. Prior to the PDP governorship primary election, there was an allegation that the Adeleke family wanted to pocket the PDP and turn it to their personal property. A chieftain of the party, who is now the candidate of Accord Party, Ogunbiyi, defected from the party with thousands of his supporters.
Oyetola banks on achievements
Oyetola had in many occasions assured his supporters no to panic, saying he would defeat his main contender,Adeleke this time around with a wide margin. He hinged his optimism on his achievements within three and half years. The governor has also revealed what he intends to do if elected for a second term, especially on payment of pension and workers welfare. According to the governor, his administration in the last three and half years has been fair to workers and pensioners as it is not owing any pensioners in the state contrary to claims by the opposition.
Adeleke appears prepared this time
Senator Adeleke seems a better prepared candidate unlike during the last election. The PDP candidate, who hails from Ede town, is banking on voters in Ede North and South Local Government areas of the state. The two councils played a major role in his performance during the 2018 election. Already, the paramount ruler of Ede, Oba Munirudeen Lawal, has directed residents and indigenes of Ede to vote massively for Senator Adeleke and ignore the 2026 false promise of governorship rotation to Osun West.
Gale of endorsements
There has been series of endorsements for Oyetola’s re-election bid from traditional rulers, market men and women, students, civil servants, hunters association, members of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and non-indigenes residing in the state, among others. Among traditional rulers in the state, who openly endorsed Governor Oyetola are the Owa-Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran; Oluwo of Iwo and Oba Adewale Akanbi. The traditional rulers under the aegis of Network of Kings from Osun Country Side (NKOCS), unanimously endorsed the candidature of Governor Oyetola as “the most qualified among the contestants.” The monarchs lauded the governor for extending and expanding the frontier of socio-economic and infrastructure development to the grassroots.
They also said that his administration has rejuvenated the standard of living of the rural dwellers. The traditional rulers declared that the monumental achievements of the governor had further stimulated the rural economy, so “we cannot do without this government continuing for the next four years because we know the salt it has put in our soup.”
Speaking shortly after their meeting with Oyetola in Osogbo, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of NKOCS, Oba Adekunle Adeogun Okunoye, said the decision to endorse the governor was based on his prudence, meek character and administrative acumen in managing the affairs of the state amid scarce resources. Oba Okunoye, who doubles as the Eburu of Iba, said that the governor’s excellent performance after a critical evaluation of his people-oriented programmes and policies earned him the collective endorsement of the rural monarchs across the nooks and crannies of the state.
However, one thing most political analysts have found to be an aberration to the Yoruba culture of respect for traditional rulers is the open partisanship of some of the traditional rulers. While it is customary for candidates to pay homage to monarchs before going on an open campaign tour, some notable Obas in the state have misconstrued the gesture to mean an opportunity to showcase their bias or favour for the visiting contenders.
For instance, Adeleke recently got a shock of his life when his campaign train stormed the palace of the Owa- Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran, only for him to be told pointedly that Ijesaland was for the APC. The PDP candidate had lamentably poured out his mind about the poor living condition of the people, as well as the deplorable state of roads within the senatorial district.
“Ilesa as a senatorial district ought not to be like this. I want to assure you that when I win come July 16, it will change. When we were coming to the palace and the people thronged out to meet us, we noted that the suffering is too much. The roads in Ilesa are also bad even the road that leads to the palace is in a bad condition.
We will do the needful,” he enthusiastically declared. But instead of a reciprocal commendation for his show of concern, Oba Aromolaran pointedly turned down the overture, saying: “We don’t need money from anybody. You said the other time that the people of Ijesa are suffering, we are hungry truly, but God will continue to feed us. In Ijesa, we are independent of the government; we built the palace ourselves without collecting a dime from outsiders. The current governor wanted to give us money, but we did not collect. The only thing we demanded from the governor was to help us inaugurate it. “We don’t need any money from anybody.
We built a hospital for the aged. The appeal I want to make is that when you become the governor, don’t forget us. I am grateful for you visiting us, we are very fine.” The Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdur- Rasheed Akanbi, in his usual eccentricity, took the trend a notch higher by organising a special prayer for Governor Oyetola and pledging to deliver 90,000 votes for the APC.
This is aside from a recent meeting of some traditional rulers held at the palace of Olu of Ile-Ogbo, Oba Abeeb Agbaje, where the monarchs in attendance unanimously endorsed the candidature of Governor Oyetola and directing Muslims, Christians, traditionalists, artisans, transporters, students, applicants, public servants, men, and women organizations to support and vote for the governor. With the growing show of partisanship, there is a widespread insinuation that the whole charade must have been masterminded by the Aragbiji of Iragbiji, Oyetola’s hometown Oba, who many observers have accused of rallying his colleagues to support his son and also persuading other sons and daughters of the town to vote massively for APC.
Other than the negative consequences the worrisome trend of open politicking by some of the royal fathers might likely have on the traditional institution, electioneering in the state has been quite peaceful and orderly without any incident contrary to the earlier apprehension about possible outbreak of violence among the supporters of the two leading parties.
Too close to call poll
As the people of Osun State go to the poll tomorrow, opinion is divided as to which of the two leading parties – APC and PDP – is likely to coast home to victory. On a balance of scale, it might be safe to say that it is too close to call. Osun State has 30 local government areas with 3,763 polling units, 332 register areas and 1,955,657 voters but some factors are possibly going to work in favour of the APC.
First, APC as a ruling party has strong structures across all the local government areas of the state. Against, it is much easier for the party to mobilise grassroots support because of patronage of office. Secondly, the apparent show of solidarity by governors of South-West state elected on the platform of the APC as well as the victory of the party in the recent Ekiti State governorship election could be a morale booster for both the electorate and the supporters of Oyetola at large. There is also a high possibility of a bandwagon effect on the voting pattern. As already demonstrated by the APC campaign council, both the local and national are united in their efforts to lead the party to victory. While the campaign lasted, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) were very much on hand, accompanying Oyetola to every nook and cranny of the local governments to woo the electorate for votes.
For Adeleke, his main challenge is the internal wrangling within the PDP as the disaffection arising from the governorship primary still remains largely unsettled. Almost all the founding fathers and chieftains of the party have vowed not to have anything to do with Adeleke. Adeleke drew the ire of the party stalwarts when his supporters allegedly attacked former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who was suspected of working for the emergence of Dotun Babayemi as the party’s standard-bearer, warning him to steer clear of the governorship contest. Since then, Prince Oyinlola, former deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, a former member of the Board of Trustees of (BOT), Senator Olu Alabi, and some other party chieftains have distanced themselves from Adeleke and his campaign activities.
Political observers have described the gale of defections that recently hit the PDP in the state as a big minus for Adeleke. Those who defected to APC include the running mate to Senator Adeleke in the 2018 governorship election, Albert Adeogun and the factional chairman of PDP in Osun State, Hon Wale Ojo, among others.
It is not exactly clear where a factional governorship candidate of the PDP, Dotun Babayemi, currently stands in the present scenario. While, on one hand, he has been calling for support for the PDP, on the other hand, he was conspicuously missing in Adeleke’s campaign rallies. These are bound to have some negative impacts on the success chance of the PDP in the election. Regardless of the changing dynamics of the power game, optimism is high that the INEC will conduct a free, fair and credible election devoid of violence as recently experienced in the recent governorship election in Ekiti State.