22 September 2018

Nigeria: Osun Guber Race - How the Candidates Stand

Osogbo — As the people of Osun State prepare to go to the poll to elect a new governor to lead the state for another four years, there appears to be stiff competition for the highly exalted position.

Although, there are 48 political parties listed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to participate in the election, political pundits are however of the view that the contest will be a fierce one between five leading political parties. The parties are: Social Democratic Party (SDP), All Progressives Congress (APC,) Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) African Democratic Congress (ADC) and Action Democratic Party (ADP).

Interestingly, three of the four leading political parties are bent on ensuring that APC does not win in the state. But there is no clear working alliance among them against the APC. This, it was gathered, may affect their performance at the poll.

There are 30 councils in the state, with the three senatorial districts sharing them equally, that is 10 each. Historically, before

the 2014 contest, the winning votes came from Ife. But in 2014, Osogbo gave about 70,000 votes to the APC. And in the end, APC won the governorship with a little over 100, 000 votes.

For the today's poll, about 1.6 million Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) have been issued out to voters by INEC across the 30 Local Government Areas and Ife East Area Office, Modakeke. But since the candidate of the ADP, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Moshood Adeoti, is no longer in the APC, even if APC would win in Osogbo this Saturday, it will certainly not be with the same margin with which it won it in 2014.

This is because the running mate to Adeoti, is from Osogbo and he remains the only hope of the state capital to have its son in the deputy governor's position as it currently pertains in Aregbesola administration.

Also, attempts by three of the four leading opposition parties to field a single candidate failed at the last moment as they could not agree on the issue. The parties that were ganging up were the SDP, ADP, and ADC. They failed because none of them was willing to step down.

How the parties stand in the councils

Ede -There are two councils in Ede, Ede South, and Ede North. The name Adeleke is like a religion in the area with large followership.

Although the former Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Adejare Bello, who is also from Ede and a political protégée of late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, has defected to the APC, he is not likely to cause any upset. His influence is not expected to significantly alter the odds for the PDP in the area.

This is because the Adeleke's family has been dominating the two councils politically right from the Second Republic when their late father, Senator Raji Adeleke who was an associate of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo dominated the political space in the area.

Egbedore- This area is seen largely as part of Ede. Therefore, whatever happens in Ede, will have an effect in the area. Chief Layi Ogunrinade, the first chairman of the PDP in the state is also from the area.

Ayedire- This is another council in the Osun-West Senatorial District. Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, who contested the PDP's ticket with Senator Ademola Adeleke, who eventually emerged the candidate, is from the area.

Following the truce reached between him and Adeleke, he has since deployed men and resources to ensure victory for the party, as he has also been promised the senatorial ticket in return. Besides, the the council is a traditional PDP enclave, even before Ogunbiyi happened on the political scene.

Obokun is a council in Osun East senatorial district, where the the outgoing governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola hails from. But the area is one of PDP's strongholds because of the influence of the incumbent member of the House of Representatives from the area, Wole Oke and another retired Customs officer, Prince Francis Fadahunsi who has been eyeing the Senate from the zone.

Boripe is a council in Osun Central senatorial district. It is the immediate council of the APC's candidate, Gboyega Oyetola and this may work in his favour.

Osogbo is the state capital. Like Ede, it also has two councils -Osogbo and Olorunda. Although the PDP candidate made some incursions, especially among the non-indigenes, the area remains an APC stronghold.

Any party that wins the area overwhelmingly may eventually carry the day. The political rivalry between Ede and Osogbo may also work against the PDP candidate who is an Ede indigene.

Ifelodun is also in the central senatorial district. APC remains popular there.Its victory in the area may, however, be slim.

Irepodun is the council of the incumbent Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Lasun Yusuf. Although he is one of those still very bitter over the outcome of the party's primaries, the APC remains strong in the area. Every effort by the PDP to woo him to its side failed as he said he remained a progressive.

Ejigbo is a council in the west senatorial district of the state. The outgoing speaker of the state House of Assembly, Najeem Salaam hails from the area, and likewise the SSG, Senator Mudashir Hussein.

It was the only council APC won out of the ten councils during the last senatorial by-election that gave Adeleke victory.

Ila is also in the central senatorial district. Chief Bisi Akande, former governor of the state, hails from the area. Akande, former interim national chairman of the APC, appears uncomfortable with the decision of the party to pick its candidate from the central district, but as a disciplined party leader, he remains with the party.

He joined other national leaders of the party to campaign at the mega rally of the APC held in Osogbo without having inputs at any speech.

At the moment, the incumbent member representing the area in the State House of Assembly, Clement Akanni, has defected to the PDP from the APC. But the former member of the House of Representatives from the area, Ismaila Kolawole, has also defected to SDP. This factor can, however, make little impact in the final result of the election.

Orolu is also in the central senatorial district. It is another APC's stronghold.

Isokan is in the west senatorial district. The SDP running Mate, Azeez Lawal is from the council. He is in his late 30's

and well loved in the area. The youth in the state are also rallying behind him as they see him as a good representative of the clamour for not too young to rule.

Ife East, where Modakeke people are in the majority, has never been in the same party with Ife. They were in NPN when Ife was in UPN, PDP when Omisore and Ife were in the AD, and when Ife became PDP, they moved to ACN. And they vote en bloc. Therefore, SDP is unlikely to win in the area, even though the candidate is from the area. But APC too may not win either.

Ife Central is another council in Osun East senatorial district. SDP looks good in the area.

Ife South- The father of the SDP governorship candidate is the traditional ruler of one of the prominent towns (Ifetedo) in this council. And this reason may work in favour of SDP.

Ife North is not likely to go the way of the SDP. In 2014, even when Omisore, who is seen as one of their own, ran on the ticket of the PDP, he only managed to defeat the APC's candidate with just about 1,000 votes.

Irewole is a council in the West Senatorial District. The return of Peter Babalola (Peter Power) from the APC to the PDP, makes it look good for the PDP. Besides, Lere Oyewumi, who is the DG of the Adeleke Campaign Organisation, is also from the area. Oyewumi is a two-term council chairman of the area, former member of House of Representatives and immediate past commissioner, National Population Commission. He was also a former ALGON chairman in the state. All these factors are going to work in favour of the PDP

Atakumosa West is in Osun East senatorial district. Although Aregbesola is from the district, the council is very sure for the APC, even though former minister and former deputy governor of the state, Erelu Olusola Obada is also from the council. She is bidding for the senatorial seat of the district.

Atakumosa East, like the west, is also going to be a battleground. This is because Dr. Bayo Faforiji, who is the chairman of the SDP in the state is from the area. He was a two-term chairman of the council, former education commissioner in the state and he is also an Oba-elect.

But like SDP, PDP also has a strong presence in the area. Sanya Omirin, who is currently serving in the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC), is of the PDP. He was also a former council chairman of the area. He once represented the area in the state House of Assembly. These big wigs from PDP may only make little impact in the outcome of the election result .

Iwo is the council of the candidate of ADP, Moshood Adeoti. The council is in the west senatorial district. Until the last senatorial by-election when it lost to the PDP, APC had always won i n the area. But this time, they are expected to queue behind their own, ADP.

Ilesa West is in Osun East senatorial district, where Aregbesola hails from. Though Investigations reveal that the people of the area love Adeoti more than his Iwo people, this may not, however, translate into votes for the ADP.

The leading candidates at a glanceSenator Iyiola Omisore

Omisore is the candidate of the SDP. He was a former deputy governor. He was the first Nigerian politician to win an election from the prison.

His ambition to govern the state is as old as the beginning of the Fourth Republic.

In 1999, but for the intervention of Afenifere leaders, he would have picked the ticket ahead of Akande who later emerged candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was made deputy governor. But towards the end of the term in 2003, the crisis broke out, and they went their separate ways. He was impeached by the state house of assembly by a margin of one vote. He, however, defected to the PDP. In 2014, he ran on the platform of the PDP but lost.

Although zoning does not favour him, the Christian community in the state is favourably disposed to his candidature. This explains why he has suddenly become a threat to the APC, a fact confirmed by some APC chieftains in the state on Wednesday night. The Christian community is angry with the PDP's candidate for denying his faith because of the election.

Moshood Adeoti

Adeoti, who is the candidate of ADP, is from Iwo, in Osun West. He resigned from the government and the ruling party in protest, following its handling of the party's primary. He is the immediate past SSG. In sympathy with him for his alleged treatment by Aregbesola, more than 75 percent of the state exco of the party resigned to follow him to ADP.

The zoning sentiment favours him. But all his life he has never worked anywhere. He is what is called in the local parlance as a "professional politician."

Gboyega Oyetola

He is the candidate of the APC. He was Aregbesola's Chief of Staff (CoS) from 2010, until he became the candidate of the party about a month ago. He is from Iragbiji, Boripe council in Osun Central.

Because he is from the central, a zone that held the position for 11 years, the zoning sentiment in the state does not favour him.

He appears to have "given a good account of himself over the years," as a seasoned administrator. Apart from the issue of zoning, the internal insurrection within his party may be his greatest albatross in the march to victory. What is working against him is the link he has with a prominent Southwest politician based in Lagos as some people in the state still believe that his election will not bring an end to the grip of the Lagos Group on the state.

Senator Ademola Adeleke

Adeleke is the PDP's candidate. Apart from being a younger brother to the former governor of the state, late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, the younger Adeleke is seen largely as a political nonstarter. He won the last Osun-West senatorial by-election purely based on sentiment and owing largely to the political benevolence of his late brother. Like the APC where there is already internal insurrection, the PDP's internal wrangling may also dim the fortunes of the party. But like Adeoti, the zoning arrangement favours him. He is also from Osun-West senatorial district. He is like a cat with nine lives. He remains a thorn in the flesh of APC.

What will determine the outcome of the election

The use of money will, unfortunately, certainly play a major role. Also, zoning, religion and Aregesola's influence are some of the major factors that would influence the decision of an average voter in Osun today. Also, some of the candidates cannot afford the money to be paid to their party agents in all the polling booths, a sum that runs into several millions of naira.

Also, the state government just engaged 20,000 O'YES youths (Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme) youths, who just completed their training exercise about last week.

Operators of the free feeding program of the current administration in the state running in several thousands will want to remain in their jobs and may wish to cast their votes for the APC candidate.

This will certainly work in favour of the APC's candidate.

Zoning

Like in every state of the country, Osun too is politically divided into three senatorial districts: Osun West, Central, and East. Its first civilian governor, late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who spent about two years in office, hailed from Ede, in Osun West. Next was Chief Bisi Akande, from Ila Orangun in Osun Central. He spent four years but lost his re-election in 2003 to Brigadier-General Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd) from Odo-Otin council, also in Osun Central. Oyinlola spent seven years.

Cumulatively, Osun Central alone has had 11 years governing the state. Aregbesola is from Ilesa council. By the end of his tenure, Osun East where he comes from would also have had eight uninterrupted years governing the state. Therefore, if the zoning sentiment in the state is anything to go by, Osun West should ordinarily be the next senatorial district to produce Aregbesola's successor. But with three of the governorship candidates coming from the area, the senatorial district will split their votes among the three of them.

Religion

Until 2014, religion was never a strong factor in Osun politics. The State has had a Christian-Christian as Governor and Deputy Governor in the past. Although there are two Christian candidates in the race, Adeleke, and Omisore, the Christian community has pitched its tent with Omisore, just as the Muslim community has pitched its tent with Oyetola, largely because they accused Adeoti of distancing himself from the community while he was in government. Conservatively, the Muslim-Christian population in the state is said to be 55-45 in favour of Muslims. As at the time of filing this report, Oyetola and Omisore are running neck-to-neck in this regard.

Aregbesola's influence

Many residents of Osogbo, the state capital and Ilesa area of the state, where the governor hails from believe that the outgoing governor, Aregbesola has worked. This will certainly attract sympathy for his party and its candidate. But there are those who also believe that the infrastructure he built was at the expense of citizens' welfare.

One thing he has done effectively is breaking the hold civil servants had on the electorate by playing up the ordinary traders and artisans against them. He remains the only governor in Osun State who has demystified the influence of labour in the state given that he won the 2014 election even though they went on strike during the election.

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