There is a tense atmosphere within the major political parties in Osun State, especially the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the July 16 governorship election in the State.
With the PDP hoping to unseat Governor Gboyega Oyetola, some gladiators within the APC are also presently working assiduously to ensure that the party retained power.
The situation is different from 2018 when former governor, Rauf Aregbesola, was the head of the APC campaign machinery.
The seeming frosty relationship between Oyetola and his predecessor is a great concern to the ruling party, while the main opposition is currently battling with the court case on the leadership of the party in the State.
Meanwhile, the former candidate of the PDP in the 2018 gubernatorial election, Senator Ademola Adeleke is back in the race. Keen watchers of the power politics in Osun State are of the view that if Adeleke again picks the governorship ticket and Oyetola stands for the APC, it would be a keen contest.
How Oyetola won Adeleke in the 2018 guber poll
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared Oyetola, the winner of the 2018 Osun governorship election after a supplementary poll which was held in seven polling units across four local government areas.
INEC scheduled the rerun after declaring the September 22nd, election inconclusive, saying the margin of votes between the first and the second candidates was less than the number of cancelled votes in seven polling units.
Although, Adeleke, at the end of the first ballot, had led his APC rival, Oyetola with 353 votes, the table turned the other way after the supplementary votes on September 26, 2018, 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.
Adeleke, the candidate of PDP, then moved to Osun State Election Tribunal where he was declared winner. The tribunal ruled that the September 27 rerun election in the State was illegal.
The declaration of Oyetola is null and void,” the tribunal ruled in a majority decision with one dissenting member.
In May 2019, a five-member panel of the Appeal Court led by Justice Jummai Sankey, however, delivered the lead judgement which favoured Oyetola on the grounds that the tribunal’s ruling read by Justice Peter Obiora amounted to judicial hearsay because he did not participate fully in the proceedings of the Tribunal.
The Appeal Court also said that the entire proceeding leading to the tribunal’s judgement could not stand because of its “faulty composition.”
Adeleke headed to the Supreme Court to challenge the declaration of Oyetola but four of the seven Justices of the apex court, with a dissenting judgement — majority judgment of 5 and dissenting judgment of 2 — ruled in Oyetola’s favour.
Between 2018 and now: What has changed
Many things have changed in the Osun political space, especially within the governing party and the main opposition in the last four years, necessitating realignment, rebuilding and reconciliation.
The concept of the West agenda, which intrinsically implies the imbalanced power distribution and sharing among the three socio-cultural components in the State, was at the centre of power politics that played out in Osun in the last election.
Many pundits are of the opinion that democratic administrations in the State have been characterized with a power-sharing arithmetic that continually domiciled between the West and the Central, perpetually putting the West at bay in the status of second fiddle.
Another critical factor that shaped the outcome of the 2018 governorship election was the alleged lopsided and anti-masses policies of Aregbesola administration, which to many almost gave victory to the PDP in the first ballot.
A popular belief among the electorate was that Oyetola, who was then the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola, was part of the administration and a critical stakeholder in the formulation of policies, like the single uniform and introduction of modulated salaries.
However, the Senior Special Assistant on Students Affairs and Social Mobilization to Governor Oyetola, Kehinde Ayantunji, who spoke to DAILY POST, noted that the achievements of the present administration would give victory to the governor.
Ayantunji said that some of the key issues APC had in 2018 have been addressed.
Oyetola’s administration has reviewed education policy and returned it back to meet with national education standards. He also reversed the single uniform that encouraged crime and violence among the school children. So, for the first time in history, we have innovated over 300 Primary Health Care centres.
Salary was another serious issue that worked against our party in 2018 and we are also addressing pensioners entitlement. Though, I can’t deny the fact that there are issues, but with the capacity of our party, we are going to emerge,” he stated.
However, a strong supporter of Senator Adeleke, Diran Odeyemi, a former Deputy National Secretary, said that Adeleke would win the APC if he clinches the PDP ticket. He said Oyetola had done little or nothing in the past three and a half years.
“Where is the evidence of that performance? Osun has been dull, there is nothing visible and that is why you cannot see the Governor celebrating anything. The people are waiting for another government,” he stated.
Other aspirants contesting for the election
Apart from Governor Oyetola who has picked his expression of interest form at the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja, the former Deputy Speaker of the House Representatives, Lasun Yusuf has also secured an interest form to contest against the governor in the primary election.
DAILY POST learnt that the two-term former Speaker of the Osun House of Assembly, Najeem Salam and a former Secretary to the State Government under Aregbesola, Moshood Adeoti are also seeking the APC ticket.
Meanwhile, the leading opposition had last week cleared all its six governorship aspirants for the July 16 governorship election in Osun State.
Alongside Senator Adeleke, a former Secretary to the Osun State Government, Fatai Akinbade, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, Omirin Emmanuel Olusanya, Dele Adeleke, and Dotun Babayemi were cleared as aspirants by Mohammed Adoke, the chairman of the party’s screening committee.