The 2022 gubernatorial election in Osun State is only months away but before the date, political gladiators in the state have continued to campaign for the support of the electorates.
The last gubernatorial battle was held on Saturday, September 22, 2018, with a rerun on Thursday, September 27, 2018.
The injuries sustained from that particular contest have refused to heal after four years and are still festering, yet another gubernatorial contest is fast approaching.
The insults, injuries, lies, intrigues and politicking that accompanied the poll are yet to subside but fresh political campaigns have now opened old wounds causing old enemies to once again square up to woo voters to their side in the quest to elect a new governor.
In the beginning
The battle for the soul of Osun began in 2005 when Rauf Aregbesola, then Commissioner for Works in Lagos indicated an interest in running for governor of Osun under the Action Congress (AC).
The then governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola would not have any of it and being the war general that he was, he squared it out with Aregbesola until the decision of the Federal Appeal Court on Friday, November 26, 2010, reversed Oyinlola’s electoral victory of 2007.
Cue back to 2014 to the epic battle between Rauf Aregbesola of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the incumbent governor who sought another term and Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Omisore’s ambition and the intrigues surrounding the interference of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the then PDP President of Nigeria forced Senator Isiaka Adeleke and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola to decamp to the side of Aregbesola and in the ensuing electoral combat, the odds were against Omisore who came in as runners up at the end of the day.
But prior to the gubernatorial contest of 2018, there were already underground schemings but the shocking and untimely death of Isiaka Adeleke, the first civilian governor of the state in 2017 scattered the political permutations that were building up in the state.
It was well known that the senator was eyeing the gubernatorial slot of the APC and was a crusader for the West agenda (the West agenda being that both the East and Central Senatorial Districts of the state had produced governors who have ruled for two consecutive terms of four years).
Before his death, Adeleke had gone back to the senate in 2015 as part of his reward for supporting Rauf Aregbesola and the APC in the 2014 gubernatorial election in the state.
His death opened a vacuum as to who would fill the vacant position in the Senate. The Osun West senatorial district clamoured for another candidate from Ede, the country home of the Adeleke’s but the state government would have none of that preferring former Senator Mudashiru Hussein who was edged out for Adeleke to go back and fill in the vacant position.
Thus, the battle line was drawn, Ademola Adeleke who felt cheated by Aregbesola’s decision to sideline and bypass him left for the PDP and with him a majority of his late brother’s supporters.
In the by-elections that were held later in 2017 in the 10 local governments that make up Osun West, Ademola Adeleke won in 9 local governments while Hussein with the backing of the state government could only win in one local government.
With the upset, the stage was now set for more surprises that will come in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
2018 Osun gubernatorial election
There had been a growing clamour for the West agenda within the APC and PDP but opponents of the agenda in the APC countered with the idea of competency superseding rotation.
At the end of the day, the APC national secretariat settled for direct party primaries in Osun in place of indirect primaries that were obtained on previous occasions.
Adegboyega Oyetola who was a hitherto quiet Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola became a party candidate after the primaries which many aspirants in the APC considered a transaction while the disagreement that grew out of that decision has remained unsettled to date.
In the PDP, Senator Omisore wanted to pull his weight again for the second time but members saw through his motive and worked against it forcing him to defect to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Ademola Adeleke emerging as PDP candidate for the election.
Considered the underdog, he stood no chance in the elections he was going into especially against the support that the battle-tested Rauf Aregbesola was giving the APC candidate, Adegboyega Oyetola.
Election day came and Osun State and indeed the country was surprised. At the end of the collation of votes, Ademola Adeleke led by 353 votes. The election was declared inconclusive and a rerun election five days later turned the whole affair around. Adegboyega Oyetola was announced as governor-elect of the state.
Based on the words of President Muhammadu Buhari that the victory was “remote-controlled” from Abuja, it has been alleged in public quarters that both the PDP and APC expended funds in their desperation to get the votes of the electorates but that the APC outspent the PDP.
Now, unlike in 2018 when the battle for the candidacy of the PDP was between Senator Ademola Adeleke and business mogul Akin Ogunbiyi, the 2022 contest within the PDP has six candidates pitched against one another.
These candidates include Sanya Omirin, Dotun Babayemi, Fatai Akinbade, Akin Ogunbiyi, Ademola Adeleke and Dele Adeleke.
A new entrant into the race, Dele Adeleke; Ademola Adeleke’s nephew and agent during the 2018 polls surprised everyone after he indicated interest to run.
The PDP has not recovered fully from the “remote-controlled” thievery of the 2018 Osun gubernatorial election and yet it is divided down the middle by chairmanship tussle which has its root in the candidate the party would be pushing forward again for the 2022 polls.
Supporters of Akin Ogunbiyi who has the backing of Olasoji Adagunodo, the National Vice Chairman, South West of the party and supporters of Ademola Adeleke who has the backing of Sunday Bisi, the incumbent PDP state chairman have continually battled for the soul of the party.
The fight has threatened the chances of the party to bring forward any candidate as its aspirant for the election on Saturday, July 16, 2022.
Sunday Bisi had in an interview with DAILY POST during the second quarter of 2021, said his faction of the party is supporting the candidacy of Ademola Adeleke for a return as the party’s flagbearer in the election.
He also said despite the public support they are showing for him, other aspirants were free to indicate interest in the ticket.
This statement may have sent a signal to other aspirants who quickly banded together and maintained that another ticket for Ademola Adeleke will not be healthy for the party.
They also maintained that the choice of Adeleke was not good for the party because of the controversy surrounding his academic qualifications and also because his family was wielding too much influence on the party which they may perceive as another piece of their business empire.
The spoiler in this game for the “dancing Senator” who has refused to talk to the press but prefers to pass his message across through Christian songs and his trademark dancing is the indication of Dele Adeleke, his nephew and agent in the Osun 2018 election into the race and in the same party, PDP.
Political observers see the inroad of Dele, who is the son of late Isiaka Adeleke as that of a spoiler and they have gone ahead to allude that he’s being set up to act as a means of scuttling the ambitions of his uncle albeit, he may not be given the party ticket at the end.
In the PDP in Osun, it will be safe to categorise these aspirants into two equal camps; the Senator Ademola Adeleke camp which has the support of the Sunday Bisi led state executive committee and the other camps comprising of Sanya Omirin, Dotun Babayemi, Fatai Akinbade, Bamidele Adeleke and Akin Ogunbiyi who have decided to align themselves with the other faction of the party in the state under the proxy leadership of Wale Ojo who is standing in for Olasoji Adagunodo who’s now the National Vice Chairman, South West of the party.
The greatest undoing of the party as they get set for this election will be their inter-party squabbles.
All six aspirants have bought and submitted nomination and intention forms but the party has not conducted state primaries to determine who their candidate will be.
Fingers are crossed as the aspirants have since headed home to perfect their strategies but feelers from the party suggest that there is a likelihood that a consensus candidate will emerge between the other five aspirants to battle Ademola Adeleke in the party primary.
Ademola Adeleke had in the years between 2018 and 2022 gone back to school to obtain a Diploma in Criminal Justice from the Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Georgia, USA.
The Public’s view on Osun Politics
With regards to the unfolding battles, political calculations, back slapping, formed alliances and allegiances, the support of the electorates still needs to be courted because the buck stops in their court.
Speaking with DAILY POST, a political journalist, Kadiri Ibrahim is of the opinion that Ademola Adeleke stands no chance scaling through in the Osun PDP primary and if he does scale through that hurdle, he still can not overturn the electorate’s choice of Adegboyega Oyetola because the work of the administration has been assessed while any PDP candidate does not have record of any such in public service.
He nevertheless opined that the acceptance level of the governor before the Osun electorate is a high 60 percent, the criteria of which was not provided.
Ibrahim held that, “In 2018, INEC declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Gboyega Oyetola, the winner of the 2018 Osun governorship election after a rerun.
“Mr Oyetola was returned as governor-elect at the end of a supplementary election which was held in seven polling units across four local governments.
“The APC candidate won six of the seven units amidst allegations of harassment and other forms of malpractice.
“At the end of the tally of votes, the APC candidate scored a total of 255,505 votes while the PDP candidate scored a total of 255,023 votes.
“Although Mr Ademola Adeleke had led his APC rival with 353 votes at the end of the first round of ballots, the table turned the other way after the supplementary votes, with the APC candidate overtaking and beating the PDP candidate with a total margin of 482 votes.
“Besides leading in the number of votes cast, the APC also led in the number of local governments won, winning a total of 16 local governments as against 11 won by the PDP. The SDP won two while the ADP won one.”