The stage is set for today's governorship election in Osun State with 48 candidates accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to contest the polls.
However, five candidates are expected to be the major contenders in the election which is the last major poll before the 2019 General Election.
The five top contenders as at yesterday were former Secretary to the State Government, Fatai Akinbade of the African Democratic Congress, ADC; Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Social Democratic Party, SDP; immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Moshood Adeoti of the Action Democratic Party, ADP; the immediate past Chief of Staff to the outgoing governor of the state, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, who is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
While zoning has been a major issue for many voters and indigenes of the state, stakeholders from within and outside the state are expected to critically appraise the voting to assess the extent to which vote buying will prevail in today's election.
Ahead of the election, the police assured that heavy deployment had been made to ensure minimal infraction of election laws and conduct.
Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris said yesterday that 18,426 policemen and other support personnel from military and para-military agencies have been deployed for the exercise.
Idris said that no less than four policemen would be attached to each of the 3010 polling units in the state.
He maintained that the officers have been properly trained, even as he stressed that enough funds for the payment of the officers' allowances had been provided by the government.
REC assures readiness
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje also reassured the electorate of the readiness of the electoral umpire for the poll.
He said for optimal performance, a total of 4,761 Smart Card Readers would be used for the conduct of the election.
The REC said a credible Register of Voters with 807,598 males (48%) and 874,897 females (52%), making a total of 1,682,495 registered voters is in place.
He added that of the 1,681,930 Permanent Voter Cards received, 1,237,620 (72.58%) were collected and a total of 444,310 (26.42%) remained uncollected as at Monday morning.
The PDP, however, last night alleged a collaboration between INEC and the APC to create an illegal electoral ward in Ila Local Government Area with 4,000 votes to boot.
The national publicity secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, at a press conference in Abuja said:
"Ila Local Government has 11 electoral wards, but ahead of tomorrow's election, INEC has created an imaginary 12th ward for Ila and allocated over 4,000 votes for that ward, and that ward is called Iperin
"What they have done is to create two wards in Iperin , instead of one. They allocated votes for both wards including the original ward and the fictitious ward.
"As a party, we will not accept egging and as we promised, we will dismantle every rigging plots of APC ahead of the election."
Ologbondiyan said it was strange that an electoral body would collude with a political party with the intention of allocating votes that will make them win an election.
The Southwest Zonal Publicity Secretary of the party, Ayo Fadaka also yesterday alleged that Osun State had been invaded by nine APC governors who he claimed were in the state to facilitate the alleged rigging plot of the ruling party.
"These Governors are led by Alhaji Ganduje and Mallam El'Rufai of Kaduna and there are nine of them presently on the ground.
"We, however, wish to state that their presence is causing a disquiet in Osun State and this development is capable of leading to unforeseen developments, It is sad that the APC continues to pride itself in this malfeasance of wholesale bribery in spite of its so-called battle against corruption."
The Director of Communication and Strategy of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi could not be reached as at press time on his reaction to the development.
The election follows the distortion of the governorship term in the state in 2010 after Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was removed as governor of the state by the Court of Appeal on November 26, 2010, upon the election appeal lodged by Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, who was sworn in as governor on November 27, 2010.
Whoever wins today's election would be sworn in on November 27, 2018, for a four-year term.