The one seat that will be vacant in the governance of Osun State very soon has 48 contestants jostling for it in an election slated for September 22, but as expected only one of them is going to succeed Governor Rauf Aregbesola, who leaves office in November 2019
By Olu Ojewale
The battle for the successor of Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State is gaining momentum. In the battle for the plum job in the state, there are 48 contestants. By now, the names of the contenders and their parties are known to the people of the state who are going to make a choice of who will govern them for the next four years. As a rule in every contest, there must be a winner who will take over from Aregbesola whose mandate ends on November 27, 2019.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the battle for the governorship seat in Osun State is heavily dominated by the male. Of the 48 parties fielding candidates for the election, there are only four parties with female contenders. Two of the female candidates have their female counterparts as running mates, while the other two have male running mates. The parties with female candidates are the Advanced Congress of Nigeria, ACD; Nigeria Elements Progressive Party, NEPP; People’s Alliance for National Development and Liberty, PANDEL and Restoration Party of Nigeria, RP. Of the remaining 44 candidates, only 15 of them have female running mates.
That notwithstanding, of all the candidates for the September 22, governorship election, only a handful of them really have a chance. As politics in Nigeria has shown, the chances of each person in the race are dictated by the party he or she belongs and how well the person is equally well acceptable by the electorate. So, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are regarded as the leading parties in the state, thereby making their candidates favourably positioned to lead in the race.
But in this election, there are other eminent politicians who can upstage the candidates of the two leading parties in the state. Prominently positioned in this case is Iyiola Omisore, a former deputy governor of the state, who was also a senator on the platform of the PDP. Sometimes ago, Omisore fell out with the PDP and he is now contesting the election on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
That notwithstanding, Omisore is not without any problems in his new party. The former deputy governor won in the direct primary election conducted by a faction of the SDP led by Bayo Faforiji, which he won with a landslide. However, another faction of the SDP led by Ademola Ishola conducted a separate primary poll using delegate system and Kehinde Atanda emerged the winner.
In any case, Omisore was given the certificate of return by the national leadership of the party in Abuja, and so he has been recognised as the party candidate for the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Nevertheless, the division in the party may be his Achilles’ heel. Omisore had contested against Aregbesola, the incumbent governor in 2014, and came second in the contest but his determination to be the PDP flag bearer in the September 22, election and the power-play that ensued led to his exit from the party. He then joined the SDP, which promptly gave him the governorship ticket. This has also given the party a lift as one the three leading parties in the state. Will Omisore be lucky this time? That should be anybody’s guess.
Another prominent and recognisable face in the election is Fatai Akinbade, a former PDP chairman in the state. Akinbade was made secretary to the state in 2003 by the then Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola. He contested for the PDP ticket in 2011, but he lost to Omisore, who was eventually defeated by Aregbesola. He is now the candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC. The 63-year-old politician is hoping to make his candidacy count this time around, but that will also depend on the state electorate.
The third formidable personality outside the two major political parties is Moshood Adeoti, a former secretary to the state government under the incumbent governor. He once served as state chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. A grassroots politician, Adeoti became the secretary to the state government by dint of his performance in getting Aregbesola elected governor.
But he was forced to leave the All Progressives Congress, APC, when it was clear that he was not going to get the party’s ticket to contest for the governorship seat. He accused the party hierarchy of scheming the party primary in favour of Adegboyega Oyetola, who eventually got the APC ticket. In any case, Adeoti’s exit from the APC has also left the party with a major loss as 12 executive members and some other elders of the party followed him and declared their support for him as they joined the Action Democratic Party, ADP.
The Iwo born politician in Osun West senatorial district is considered a major contender in the race. He is now contesting on the platform of the ADP. But the relatively unknown party may be his undoing in the election.
That notwithstanding, for either Omisore, Akinbade or Adeoti to get a chance to be the next occupant of Okefia Government House, they must have all what it would take to defeat the likes of Ademola Adeleke, a serving senator and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and Adegboyega Oyetola, the former chief of staff to the governor, who is contesting on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. Both Adeleke and Oyetayo represent already entrenched parties in the state with both the cash and grassroots support bases that can deliver for either of them.
Ademola Adeleke came into the lime light following the sudden death of Isiaka Adeleke, his elder brother, in April 2017. He initially joined the ruling APC to contest in the by-election for the Osun West Senatorial seat made vacant by the death of his brother, but when the party refused him the ticket, he joined the PDP.