As political parties in the state concluded the process of choosing their flag bearers, Solomon Odeniyi in this report writes on the chances of the major contenders, agenda, and their platforms in the race to succeed Governor Rauf Aregbesola as the next governor of the state with about two months away
The die is cast. Political parties fielding candidates for the topmost seat in the state of Osun have concluded the processes. Their flag bearers have been unfurled to the electorate.
This has been carried out in accordance with the directive of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) whereby it mandated the political parties contesting the state governorship election to submit the names of their gubernatorial candidates latest by July 25, 2018.
In compliance, major political parties contesting the election went by the way of primaries. Parties like the ruling All Progressives Congress used a novel direct primary whereby all card carrying members were given the luxury opportunity to choose from the avalanche of aspirants hoping to take over the mantle of leadership from Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. This was contrary to the ‘traditional’ indirect primary used in Anambra, Kogi and recently in Ekiti which allows the selection of a few to choose the party’s flag bearer. The primary election eventually produced the current Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola as the party’s candidate. The choice of the mode of primary had since been accompanied by accolades and rejections from stakeholders in the party and observers.
The Peoples Democratic Party on its part stuck to the indirect primary where 3,439 delegates voted and eventually, the Senator representing Osun West Senatorial District, Ademola Adeleke emerged the PDP candidate, even though, the party’s runner-up has insisted that he would challenge the result in court.
The Accord Party also used the conventional delegate system and the primary produced Pastor Olapade Okunola, as the party’s candidate. While few other parties like the Redemption Party of Nigeria, which has the only female aspirant contesting among others did consensus primaries, the crisis in the Social Democratic Party has seen to the emergency of two candidates for the party, Munirudeen Atanda and Senator Iyiola Omisore sequel to two different primaries held through delegate system.
The State of Osun governorship election will hold on Saturday, September 22, 2018. The APC’s Gboyega Oyetola and the PDP’s Ademola Adeleke as it stands are seen to be the major contenders for the race. This is despite the presence of influential candidates such as Iyiola Omisore of the SDP, a former deputy governor of the state; Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, who just resigned his appointment as the Secretary to the State Government and defected to the ADP after losing out in the APC primary, as well as Akintola Olugengba of the Alliance for Democracy, an aide to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo among others who would give the front line contenders a run for their sweat and money.
This is predicated on the various parties’ huge membership spread across the length and breadth of the state, their strength in the 30 local governments and 332 wards where some of them have over the years built formidable structures, their financial capabilities laced with the credentials of their flag bearer.
While the Osun APC is still basking in the party’s victory in Ekiti, it would want to replicate same feat in Osun considering the bitter taste its lost to PDP during the west senatorial by-election which was formerly held by Sen. Isiaka Adeleke left in the mouths of party members. If not for anything but sweet revenge, the APC needs this.
On the other hand, the PDP is mapping out strategies to make sure that it does not suffer defeat in the September 22 governorship election in Osun State as it did in Ekiti. Last week, the leadership of the party ordered a review of what happened in Ekiti State that made the party to lose the election to the APC. The party is determined to sooth the deep wounds with victory in Osun.
Parties, Aspirants and Agenda
The Ruling APC
Being the ruling party, the unveiling of the APC’s initial 27 aspirants was not surprising to many. Pundits fear was whether the leadership of the party would be able to manage such an unprecedented number of aspirants without infighting considering a lot of things such as: The caliber of the aspirants, the agitation for zoning to West, the yearnings for a level playing ground, the cry against imposition and of course that of the novel direct primary mode of election introduced.
In total, 17 aspirants were screened at the national party Secretariat in Abuja to contest the July 19 primary election while 14 went to the poll. They are; Alamu Oyebisi, Sulaimon Lasun Yusuff, Akintayo Amere Gafar, Taiwo Babatunde ,Gboyega Oyetola, Julius Oyebanji, Kunle Adegoke, Ismail Saka-Layonu , Engr. Raifu Mumini, Dr. Najeem Salam, Ezekiel Oyemomi, Benedict Olugboyega, Adelere Oriolowo and Adeyinka Ajayi. The three that withdrew are; Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, Elder Peter Babalola, while Senator Babajide Omoworare also stepped down.
Adeoti withdrawal was based on the credibility of the primary which he described as a skewed and jaundiced process already designed to favour an anointed aspirant. Omoworare premised his on the need to ensure peace to thrive in the party. However, Elder Peter Babalola on his part is silent on his reason. Message put to his line were not replied.
However, the chief of staff, Gboyega Oyetola won resoundingly with a landside margin to emerge the party’s flag bearer. He polled a total of 127,017, followed by the House of Representatives Deputy Speaker, Hon Lasun Yusuff with 21,975 while the speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon Najeem Salam and Adelere Oriolowo garnered 21,975 and 5,373 votes to emerge third and fourth respectively.
Oyetola is contesting a political office for the first time. He is said to be among the prominent Nigerians who founded the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1998, and was a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) before it metamorphosed into APC.
Oyetola, the current Chief of Staff will have so many factors working in his favour in the forth coming election; these include his performance in the private sector, the ruling party strength, his wide acceptance which he earned having toured every nooks and crannies of the state consulting the stakeholders before the primary, the transformation legacies across all aspects of the economy by the incumbent, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, his continuity agenda and of course the financial war chest to successfully prosecute the election, among others.
Oyetola is considered as a pillar of substance to Aregbesola’s giant strides in the past seven and half years of the governor’s reign. And the whopping 127,000 votes garnered during the intra party election makes him the man to beat for aspirants hoping to take over the mantle of leadership in the land of the virtue.
Oyetola during his declaration promised that the welfare of workers would top his list of priorities even as he seeks to embark on massive job creation through the creation of industrial parks that would absorb thousands of employable youth.
“My goal is to make Osun to be known as the state for employment and jobs in the country. A study that we commissioned has indicated that 25-30 factories employing over 30,000 workers can be created within a period of 3-4 years across the state. I will also pay critical attention to the establishment of light manufacturing industries such as those focusing on agricultural processing, meat and fish preservation among others”.
Oyetola maintained that he would work with the private sector and NGOs to identify and prioritize the socio-economic and other needs of the state, deploy a Public Private Partnership model which would enable his administration to focus on upgrading facilities and infrastructure available for education, health, sporting activities, skill acquisition, poverty alleviation and environmental care.
Also of importance to him is to sustain the recognition of the state as one of the most peaceful in the federation by responding to the operational needs of security operatives through the provision of mobility, communication gadgets, protective gear and a working environment that is both conducive and enabling.
The party after being at the helms of affairs in the state before it lost it to the APC seeks to get back to power and will be leaving no stone unturned to achieve this. The PDP looks unshaken with the defection of one of its prized members, Sen. Iyiola Omisore who left to actualize his dream in the SDP.
At the initial stage 17 aspirants declared to contest the election, they are; Sen. Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, Dr Oyewumi Olalere, Mr Nathaniel Oke (SAN), Sen. Ogunwale Felix and Alhaji Fatai Akinbade. Others are Dr Ezekiel Adeniji, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, Dr Ayoade Adewopo, Hon. Adejare Bello, Sen. Ademola Adeleke and Prof. Adeolu Durotoye.
Of the 17 aspirants who declared their intent, 11 made it through after the party’s screening at the National Secretariat in Abuja. However, aspirants like Professor Durotoye, Sen Akinlabi Olasukanmi stepped down to lend support for Akin Ogunbiyi while the likes of Albert Adeogun, Lere Oyewunmi, Olawale Rasheed and Professor Aworemi did same for Ademola Adeleke, just as others refused to mention who they stepped down for. At the end, only four aspirants contested the primary won by Sen. Adeleke who polled 1,569, followed by Akin Ogunbiyi with 1,562, Fatai Akinbade and Nathaniel Oke came a distance third and fourth with 56 and 3 Votes respectively.
Ogunbiyi had since rejected the results, resolving to use the internal mechanism of the party to seek an immediate redress of what he described as a clear case of injustice. He said, some of the major issues, which compromised the integrity of the exercise and made the results clearly unacceptable, include the non-adherence to the clear provisions of the electoral guidelines and an unfortunate manipulation of the accreditation, voting, sorting and counting of the votes cast by delegates at the primary.
“Consequent upon these infractions, therefore, the votes attributed to me at the end of the voting exercise were much lower than what I actually scored as valid votes. I have, therefore, resolved to use the internal mechanism of the party to seek an immediate redress of this clear case of injustice.
He came to the political scene after the death of his brother, Isiaka Adeleke. The move to replace the late Isiaka saw Ademola quitting the APC to join the PDP where he emerged the candidate and won the by-election.
One major scenario that played out then was that Osun people, most especially those from Ede where Adeleke comes from cast sympathy votes. The argument was that the only way to compensate the family of the late Isiaka Adeleke was to vote for his brother.
However, his major intention to contest the gubernatorial election is based on his conviction that he came to unite the party in the state with the believe that he has the ability to galvanise the general electorate towards ensuring a resounding victory for the PDP in the forthcoming polls having done it once. He will be riding on his family good will as well as the financial muscles.
Alliance for Democracy (AD)
The party is bouncing back from an internal crisis which erupted in the course of their primary held at NUJ center in Osogbo on June 25. The contest was between Gbenga Akintola and Femi Kehinde. The former was declared the winner of the election, and the latter had since moved on to seek political refuge at the All Grand Alliance. Despite his defection, the party believes it has the best chance to reoccupy the Governor Office built by AD government when Chief Bisi Akande, now an APC leader held sway. With the reassuring statement of the chairman, caretaker committee of the party, Barrister Olayinka Ojo that the party is not dead as peddled by mischievous persons, adding that with the party’s being long in existence over the years, it has built an enduring structures that is capable of wrestling power from the ruling APC.
A thorough and accomplished Project and Programme Manager, utilising his training in Building, Surveying, Project Management, Architecture & Road Maintenance, in successfully delivering various building and road construction/maintenance projects both in Nigeria and UK.
He was appointed Special Adviser on Infrastructure, Oyo State, in September, 2016. Prior to his appointment, he was the Executive Chairman, Lagos State Public Works Corporation for 6 years from August 2009 to September 2015, and was responsible for the rehabilitation and maintenance of the State’s road network.
He has his agenda branded Atunse. It seeks to build a state capable of creating wealth for its people in good health, a state that fulfills its obligations through a capable workforce for industrialization as well.
Akintola added that the economic development agenda would be geared towards restructuring the terms of the existing loan both local and foreign as well as the mode of payment, so as not to have adverse effect on the people of the state, noting that he would solicit multilateral financing such as the Japanese agency, the Bill Gate foundation among others which provides funds for infrastructural development of states.
He also spoke of other things embedded in his Atunse Agenda saying: “If I emerge, we will move our budget from recurrent to capital. We will also make sure that our infrastructural development is simply finance by public private partnership. We will make sure salaries are well paid, as and when due. Arrangement will be made to upset backlogs of salaries, gratuities in agreement with those owed. Agriculture will be linked to manufacturing. We will tailor our education sector to meet the world acceptable standard. We will invest heavily on primary health center to prevent people from various illnesses our people are contending with”.
Action Democratic Party
Though, the ADP is relatively unknown until the defection of the former Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti to the party, but with the arrival of someone like him, the party is sure to get more attention heading to the September 22 election. Before now Adeoti had occupied several political offices which include; Councilor in Iwo local government council in 1989 after which he became the Secretary to the local government council. He was also the General Secretary, Unity Party of Nigeria from 1978 to 1983; Administrative Secretary, United Nigerian Congress Party, Iwo local government. He was the former chairman of the Alliance for Democracy from 2003 to 2006 and the pioneer state chairman of the Action Congress between 2006 and 2010 and latter chaired the party when it metamorphosed into the Action Congress of Nigeria, the position he held during the struggle to reclaim the incumbent’s mandate.
He left the ruling party having been displeased with the mode through which the party chose the eventual winner of the primary. He has gone to the ADP and he has been handed the party’s ticket.
Considering the positions formerly held and the teeming supporters he commands, Adeoti is expected to engage in a tough political battle.
Before leaving the APC, Adeoti had insisted that he would build on the developmental agenda of the Aregbesola’s administration, but now that he had defected to another party, he would have no choice other than to renege. He said during his acceptance speech after being handed the ADP ticket that he was committed to executing the ideals as contained in his manifesto.
Social Democratic Party (SDP)
The current crisis in SDP has led to the factionalization of the party. This will be a major setback for the party which hopes to come to power. According to analysts, the crisis will reduce the party’s chances at the poll if not addressed real quick.
Sen. Iyiola Omisore who defected to the party for the actualization of his age long ambition is said to be in charge of a faction, and the suspended Chairman , Ademola Ishola, the state party chairman has the other.
The two factions had produced two governorship candidates for SDP, with Omisore’s faction led by Faforiji electing Sen. Omisore as its candidate, while the other faction elected Munirudeen Atanda as its candidate. The two factions are claiming that their primary election was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But if the party is to fancy a chance in the September 22 gubernatorial election in the state, it must resolve its internal crisis as soon as possible. None of the two aspirants has released any agenda to the public.