The governorship election in the State of Osun (so the sitting Governor rechristened it) is just a day away. We have a record number of 48 candidates vying for the governorship seat. Of these 48 candidates, five are heavyweights in the real sense of the word; the rest are mere makeweights.
Of these heavyweights three are real contenders while the other two are “swingers” — that is they are capable of influencing floating votes for or against the real contenders.
The two “swingers” are Fatai Akinade Akinbade of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Adeoti Moshood Olalekan of the African Democratic Party (ADP). Coincidentally, both have been Secretary to the State Government. Both can make or mar the chances of the real hopefuls. The real hopefuls are Isiaka Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). These are the chances, the pluses and minuses of each of the contenders to emerge victorious.
ISIAKA GBOYEGA OYETOLA (APC)
Until recently when he resigned to join the governorship race, Gboyega was the Chief of Staff of the outgoing Governor, Rauf Aregbesola. He will hope to win the election on the coattails of his boss.
Osun Central As Stronghold: Osun Central Senatorial District has always been Aregbesola’s stronghold. He had 39,983 votes against Omisore’s 11,513 in Osogbo and 26,551 against Omisore of PDP’s measly 8,483 in Olorunda, both in Osun Central Senatorial District. in 2014. Since Oyetola’s Iragbiji is the headquarters of Boripe Local Government in Osun Central, he will hope to leverage on this,
The Federal Might: Oyetola’s task is somewhat made easier by the backing of his ambition by the federal government. This claim is substantiated by what the master of ceremonies said during APC rally recently in Osogbo as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s chopper was landing at the venue. The MC’s voice rose into a crescendo announcing “they intimidated us in 2014 with federal might now it’s our turn”.
Membership of Aregbesola’s Cabinet: His membership of the outgoing government is both a blessing and a burden, a curate’s egg sort of. But trust politicians, he can turn the seeming burden around by saying that having worked with his boss for years he now knows the problems of the state and he is ready to fix them.
The Tinubu Factor: A fair chunk of the people of Osun are tired of the state being Tinubu’s apparent fiefdom; they are tired of being what they call VASSALS paying tribute to a certain political Lord. Tinubu himself made reference to this while addressing the mammoth crowd in Osogbo during the party’s rally, saying he is no ‘Ajele’ (tribute collector)
Backlog of Unpaid Salaries: Being a member of the outgoing government’s kitchen cabinet that has a backlog of — especially for senior civil servants — partly-paid and totally unpaid salaries to offset, affected workers and their dependants may register their displeasure by voting against Oyetola.
The Adeoti Factor: Moshood Adeoti, a respected politician in Iwo, will play the role of a dog in the manger to the APC, having defected to the ADP, which means for the first time in a long while Iwo won’t be APC’s stronghold.
ADEMOLA NURUDEEN ADELEKE
He is a scion of the Adeleke political dynasty in Ede and a senator representing Osun West Senatorial District. He won the by-election occasioned by his elder brother’s (Isiaka) death. He has won renown, perhaps notoriety, more for his brazen but mesmerizing footwork as a compulsive dancer than for his political exploits.
Osun West’s Claim of Marginalisation: Ever since Osun State was created in August 1991, that’s 324 months ago, Osun West has ruled for only 22 months. The senatorial district produced only the first civilian governor, Isiaka Adeleke, whose administration was truncated by military coup after just 22months. The politicians from this bloc may decide to pool their clout, regardless of party affiliation, and present a common, concerted and united front to wrest the reins of power from the other two senatorial blocs. It’s been done before.
Ede As Stronghold: Forget about his O’level result scandal, what the people of Ede have for the Adeleke family is more than love; it’s a rabid allegiance. He has 95% of their votes in his clutches.
An Influence That Cuts Across Religious Divides: Though Ademola is from a strong Muslim family, his elder brother Adedeji is a convert to Christianity. Deji is now a Christrian of Seventh Day Adventist’s extraction and a philanthropist too. Ademola can leverage on this to secure the votes of Christians in the state. And the fact that he has reconciled with Akin Ogunbiyi, his rival at the PDP governorship primary, is an advantage too.
Certificate Scandal: Outside Osun, his alleged unresolved certificate scandal, especially among the elite, makes his candidature a no-no.
Political neophytism: He is considered a spoilt brat who knows much about dancing and nothing about the nitty-gritty of governance by some people.
The Fatai Akinbade Factor: The fact that there is no love lost between him and Akinbade, who defected to ADC after losing the PDP primary to him, means he should forget winning considerable votes from Ayedaade Local Government, where the former SSG is influential.
IYIOLA OMISORE (SDP)
He is a former Deputy Governor and senator of the state. He lost the governorship race to Aregbesola in 2014 on the platform of PDP.
Ile-Ife and Its Environs As Strongholds: He calls the shots in Ife-East, Ife Central and Ife North local government areas. This was evident in the result of 2014 elections, where he polled 24,500 votes in Ife Central as against Aregbesola’s paltry 9,680, and 20,831 in Ife East against Aregbe’s 13,821.
Political Experience: Whether you like his face or not, Omisore is a veteran politician. He is the most experienced of the three major contestants, and this may serve him in good stead in the forthcoming election. Other contestants could only ignore or underrate him at their own peril. Don’t forget that, by hook or by crook, he won the 2003 senatorial election from the prison. He may want to add another feather to his cap and become the master of the impossible by winning this governorship election on the platform of a fringe party.
SDP As Fringe Party: For the first time in his political career, Omisore is going into an election as a dark horse courtesy of his choice of political party. The truth is, this SDP — except in name — is not the same party on whose horse the late MKO Abiola coasted to victory ahead of Tofa’s soaring bird of the NRC. SDP, as it is today, is a fringe party and a spent force too. This was evident in the calibre of people Omisore presented during the party’s rally in Osogbo. Ever since the country’s return to democracy in 1999, the mainstream parties have always produced governors in the South-West except the Labour Party’s Olusegun Mimiko; but the factors that aided Mimiko’s victory are not available in Omisore’s case
IFE MAY NOT BE A FORMIDABLE STRONGHOLD
Now out of PDP, Omisore has many forces to contend with. PDP has decided to shrink his sphere of influence by picking Albert Adeogun, another son of Ife soil, as Adeleke’s running mate. Adeogun is the federal representative of the IfeCentral/ East/North/South constituency. Aregbesola too has always been a problem for him in the Ife/Ijesha Axis. And there is the case of another late politician of note from that axis hanging around his neck like an albatross even though no court of law has pronounced him guilty.
Votes from five towns (Osogbo, Ede, Ife, Ilesa, and Iwo) often decide the winner of the governorship election in Osun State. Almost all of these “decider-towns” have candidates on different political platforms; which means the spread of votes might be somewhat even and the election might be too close to call. Should we expect a run-off as things stand? A candidate can only be declared winner of a governorship election after polling both the highest number of votes cast and a quarter of the votes cast at each of at least two-third of the local governments. In other words, having the highest number of votes cast is not enough come September 22 but fulfilling the complementary conditions in 20 out of the 30 local government areas in the state.