Â Although the 2019 gubernatorial election is still a long way off, the two leading political parties in Osun State, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, are already at loggerheads over the election. Yinka Kolawole reports
The rivalry between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State took turn for the worse recently as both parties tried to assert their popularity ahead of the 2018 governorship election.
Recently APC boasted that irrespective of whoever the PDP chose as its flag bearer for the 2018 governorship election in the state, or whoever opted to jump ship from the APC to gang up with the PDP, the ruling party would still win convincingly.
The party’s Directorate of Publicity, Research and Strategy was forced to issue a statement to that effect in Osogbo, the state capital following reports that the PDP planned to woo members of the APC to boost its ranks and win the 2018 gubernatorial election.
The APC in its reaction accused PDP of not failing to take cognisance of the fact that it had attracted a terrible image in the state and that as such, no amount of defection to the party would make the people of Osun to choose it as an alternative to APC, notwithstanding what happened in Osun West Senatorial District in June this year where the PDP snatched victory from the APC in a move that sent shock wave across the polity.
â€œThose who may be tempted to jump ship and align with the PDP are very well aware of the monstrosity they will be moving into; an action that will amount to cutting their noses to spite their faces. That’s not a winning strategy,â€ APC said.
The partyâ€™s confidence emanates from various assessments of the prevailing situation in the state. For instance, APC argued that the PDP in Osun was suffering mainly from lack of respectable, focused and dignified leadership that Osun people could trust. The APC further argued that although a particular member of PDP appeared as the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the Osun PDP leadership, but at a closer look, the problems ran deep within the rank and file.
â€œThe Osun PDP appears to be structured on a heartless, capitalist business model which end-goal is profit at all cost, no matter whose ox is gored. It is this PDP’s mantra of ‘chop and quench’, (apologies to late Fela Anikulapo Kuti) that has attracted predominantly gold diggers into the party, especially politicians who have little or no scruples about enriching themselves with public funds at the expense of the people they were elected to serve.
â€œBesides, the use of violence has become such a nasty part of the PDP DNA such that rather than gain the people’s confidence, they earn rejection and that explains why the PDP can’t win the governorship election in Osun.
â€œBut above all, PDP’s reckless and baseless antagonism to virtually everything Governor Rauf Aregbesola has done since 2010, including the party’s proclamation to reverse all of it, if it attains power has made the PDP, not only detestable, but also unelectable in Osun State.
“Therefore, it is not a realisable dream for the PDP to be imagining itself in power at Abere (government house) come November 2018. The party is terribly unhealthy politically to govern the state”, APC asserted.
Â The PDP’s Argument
The opposition PDP is not leaving anything to chance either. It is already bracing up for the big challenge coming next year.
PDP’s optimism in Osun may not be misplaced in view of the support it received from the people of the state during the Osun West Senatorial District by-election
The caretaker committee of the party in the state led by Mr Sarafa Tunji Isola said the major task before the party presently was to reposition the party for victory come 2018 governorship election.
Speaking in Osogbo after the committee meeting with party stakeholders recently, Isola contended that with the genuine cooperation and spirit of unity displayed by all the members of the party in Osun despite seeming differences among the major stakeholders, stronger pedestal had been put in place to dislodge APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial poll.
He assured party’s loyalists that he was committed to entrenching internal democracy within the party and ensuring an all inclusive leadership so as to wrestle the state from the poverty and frustration foisted on it by the Aregbesola-led administration. He therefore appealed to all the members not to rest on their oars in securing electoral victory for the PDP in the 2018 governorship election in the state and the general election of 2019.
The caretaker chairman who was the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development between 2007 and 2008, said all hands must be on deck to salvage the ship of Nigeria and one of the ways to actualise this was for PDP members in Osun to start far reaching mobilisation of the masses and the electorate ahead of what he described as a crucial poll in 2018, which he said, would determine the future of the state, in earnest.
Some of the PDP leaders at the stakeholders meeting held in Osogbo, which was presided over by the caretaker chairman included the former deputy governor of Osun State and the party’s flag bearer in 2014 governorship election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Senator Olu Alabi, Barrister Kayode Oduoye, Prince Diran Odeyemi, Barrsiter Adeyemo Adetise, Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi and former chairman of the party in the state, Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa.
Others included Dr Bayo Faforiji, Prince Bola Ajao, former Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon Adejare Bello, a former Minister of Youth Development, Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi, Mr Niyi Owolade. They all expressed the determination to ensure that the party take over the state from the APC in 2018.
Â APC Fires Back
No doubt, the ruling APC is not oblivious of the schemes by the opposition to outdo it in the coming election, but the party has continuously told whoever cares to listen that the PDP caretaker committee was on fruitless mission.
According to the APC, the move to unite the divided PDP members in the state would fail because the crisis rocking the party is skin-deep and multifaceted.
The APC Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, described as day-dream and illusion, the plan by the PDP to sack the APC in 2018 governorship election.
Oyatomi described Ishola as â€œpolitically ignoramus,â€ saying that he did not know Osun politics.
â€œIf wishes were horses, beggars will ride. What Mr Sarafa Tunji Ishola, the mediator in Osun PDP’s imbroglio said something bout the PDP planning to sack APC from office in 2018. It is just talk, silly talk.
â€œSarafa said his mediating committee was in Osun to reposition PDP to sack the APC from government come 2018 governorship poll. We wouldn’t blame him much because he is ignorant of Osun politics.
â€œSecondly, the exercise of bringing the divided PDP together, which he claimed to have succeeded in, doesn’t add up. The division within the PDP in Osun is skin-deep and multifaceted, and it is entirely driven by the reckless ambition of one man against the run of affairs to become governor at all cost.
â€œBesides, the economic problem in Osun State is nationwide and not peculiar to Osun. So, if the PDP thinks it can capitalise on the economic downturn, it’s just fooling itself, because essentially their party created the problem with its kleptocracy rule that wrecked the Nigerian economy between 1999 and 2015, and put the country in recession.
â€œThey stole the country blind and the monumental stealing made it impossible for us to withstand the fall in oil prices.â€
APC claimed that the Aregbesola-led APC government did not steal Osun’s money, neither was it reckless.
It said: “All over the state, there is evidence of what Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the APC government did with Osun’s money that has never been seen or done in the state, since it was created.
‘Sarafa should be told if he’s ignorant, that if the PDP could not win Osun in 2014 with the entire resources of the federal government at its disposal, there’s no magic that will make it to win the state now, because then as now, the PDP told all sorts of criminal lies against the APC, did what was demonically possible to disparage the person of the governor, but yet, Osun people were not swayed by the lies and the smear campaign, there’s no way they will be accepted now.
â€œIt’s a pity that because the PDP in Osun is blind, they have equally made Sarafa, the mediator, blind. He came to Osun but could not see, he could not feel and he could not hear what’s evidently going on in Osun.â€
Â PDP’s optimism in Osun may not be misplaced in view of the support it received from the people of the state during the Osun West Senatorial District by-election