By Mariam Bello
Ahead of political parties’ primaries in preparation for the September 22 governorship election in the State of Osun, the idea of zoning or not zoning the seat to a particular senatorial zone might tear the major political parties apart if not properly managed, as gladiators have divided over the matter across political lines.
In the All Progressives Congress (APC), while some groups and bigwigs, including the former Governor of Osun, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola have stood in favour of zoning the seat to Osun West on the ground that the zone has not had its fair share of the seat, some other gladiators and aspirants, as well as youth groups within the party have insisted that zoning the seat to a particular district would spell doom for the party and the state at large.
Also in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the idea of zoning to Osun West might have hit the rock, following the insistence of the former deputy Governor of the state, Iyiola Omisore, from Ile-Ife, Osun East Senatorial district to contest for the most prestigious seat in the state.
This is in addition to the factional crisis rocking the opposition parties in the state, more so the Ife-born politician has the hears of the National Secretariat of the party.
Contrary to the position of Oyinlola and some other gladiators in the APC, one of the party’s aspirant, Barrister Kunle Adegoke from Osogbo in Osun Central has insisted that there is no fairness or equity in zoning, saying there was never a time it was agreed on in the annals of the state and if at all, it was so agreed, it was not based on Senatorial Districts.
He was quoted to have said that no governor has ever been chosen based on zoning in Osun before, saying, if it is part of the system, why not use the federal constituency basis by which Osogbo and Iwo Federal constituencies become most prominent among the “cheated”.
He said the issue of zoning was just a dummy being sold by a section of the ruling elite to favour a personality or one of them, while the masses who will never derive any benefit from the scheming, would parrot the idea slavishly forgetting that they were never meant to benefit from the class scheming being foisted on them.
According to him, it was a strategy to narrow the political space to favour a weak candidate whose credentials cum political and intellectual capacity cannot withstand a fair contest to produce the best, saying the current situation of Osun, do not need just a governor based on zoning, but the best material for the job.
“As far as I am concerned, let the best emerge even if he is from the same ward with the current governor. No governor by zoning can pay workers’ salaries, put food on our table, improve our educational standard, health status etc. based on his place of origin”.
Also, a youth wing within the APC, Osun Progressive Youths Alliance (OPYA), has called on the leadership of the party in the state to jettison the idea of zoning the governorship slot to a particular zone, saying all contestants must be given the equal right to contest.
In a press statement by the Coordinating Head of OPYA, Comrade Adeboye Adebayo in Osogbo recently, speaking on behalf of the group said, the idea of zoning would not give room for a robust contest that would allow superior ideas and capacity to strive for the growth and development of the party and the state.
“Zoning of political positions is the idea of lazy minds who are afraid of robust contests, such an idea will retard the soaring profile of our party and the growth and development being witnessed at the moment in the state.
“Every interested individual should be allowed to put whatever ideas they have for the growth of the State on the table and allow the party to decide her flag bearer according to the laid down rules of the party’s constitution. Zoning should be outrightly jettisoned as it is alien to our party constitution”, he noted.
According to him, all the senatorial districts of the state can boast of great minds who are full of renewed ideas, particularly within the APC and none should be sacrificed on the altar of zoning, noting that the progress of the state is paramount and anyone with better workable ideas and planning should be allowed to lead.
“Zoning will breed animosity, zoning will deprive our State of the best in terms of capacity for growth and development, zoning will deprive our party of funds, more funds will be generated for the party if the contest is thrown open and zoning will breed unfairness and inequalities, hence it should be jettisoned”, he said.
Also, a governorship aspirant of the PDP extraction, Prof. Adeolu Durotoye, has cautioned that limiting the choice of candidates in the election to a particular political zone might be counter-productive.
Durotoye, who is the Provost, College of Social and Management Sciences, Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), said what Osun needs to fast track its development is a candidate who can raise the stake of transformation in a calm or rocky atmosphere.
The aspirant enjoined stakeholders in Osun to avoid the inherent pitfall that zoning has created for political parties, especially at the national level, adding that picking candidates through the zoning practice has robbed the country of competent hands to govern the society.
Besides, Omisore has been hell bent on his decision to contest, insisting that this is another opportunity for him to test his political capacity and he would not let go that opportunity on the altar of zoning.
Regardless of the opposition to the zoning formula, a socio-political group, Coalition of Concern Progressive Youths (CCPY) has warned that the party will be left to face a bleak future should the next governorship seat taken out of Osun West Senatorial District.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Korede Ajibade, the group maintained that it is the turn of Osun West Senatorial District in the interest of fair play and justice, adding that zoning the governorship seat out of the zone would amount to crisis, political fraud and imbalance in the sharing of political offices since the creation of the state in 1991.
Some concerned elders were also reported to have supported the agitation that the next governorship slot be zoned to Osun West Senatorial District in the spirit of justice and fair play.
When contacted, the Chairman, Elders Caucus of the APC in the state, Chief Sola Akinwunmi declined from making comment on the matter for now.