Situating July Governorship Poll in Osun

The Osun State Governorship election scheduled for July 16, 2022 will be a straight battle between the incumbent, Governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator  Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adedayo Akinwale Reports

Last week, the the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdulahi Adamu, inaugurated an 86-man National Campaign Council for Osun Governorship election scheduled to hold on July 16, 2022 with a stern warning that the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party under his leadership has zero tolerance for failure.

Shortly before then, the ruling party had recorded a smooth victory in the Ekiti state governorship election held on  June 18 with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaring the immediate past Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Biodun Oyebanji, as the winner of the contest.

APC scored 187,057 votes to defeat its closest rival, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which garnered 82,211 votes, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got 67,457 botes

APC is already aware that the Osun governorship poll is a different ball game and even more dicey. There are some factors and  political realities which the opposition PDP had already cashed on to whip up sentiments which, at the moment, are working perfectly in its favour.

It was against this background that Adamu gave a marching order to the campaign council that they should do everything possible within the law to win the election. He further stated that the campaign council should not come back crying as failure is not an option.

“I was told that the governorship candidate of the opposition is a money bag. So we must be prepared to face him eyeball to eyeball. We are going there to win and that plan to win, the ability to execute the plan rests with the leadership that this council is going to provide in the campaign efforts.

“I urge you to leave no stone unturned. I urge you to go there and do whatever is doable in the laws of the federal republic of Nigeria and Electoral law to win. My tolerance level and this national working committee level for failure is really really zero. Nobody should come back to us crying, failure is not our own by the grace of God. Whatever it takes within the laws of the land, I said go for it, win the election. Let them go complain, let them go wherever, let’s win the election. We have no apologies whatsoever for this posture because these two elections are best for the national election coming up in 2023,” The APC National Chairman had said.

The forthcoming election will be a repetition of what happened in 2018, which was obviously a straight battle between Oyetola and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the PDP.

It would be recalled that in 2018,  the PDP was already coasting to victory when the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive and subsequently fixed a date for the rerun election.  But the APC emerged victorious during the rerun election.

Initially, the indigenes of the state and political observers were angry because they believed the election was rigged, but for years on, their anger has been assuaged with the modest achievements of Oyetola.

Oyetola’s Scorecard Four Years On

After four years of steering the ship of the state, Oyetola has recorded modest achievements that will put him in a better stead to win a re-election. Some notable achievements recorded include Construction of a 120-bed ward at the State Specialist Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo which is 95 per cent completed; Construction of 30 units of Doctors’ Quarters at the state specialist Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo,  90 per cent completion; Rehabilitation and renovation of Trauma centre, New Theatre Complex, Children’s Ward, Main Laboratory, Blood Bank Building and Surgical Ward at the State Specialist Hospital, Asubiaro, which has been completed; Renovation and Rehabilitation of Government House Clinic and the State Secretariat Staff Clinic, Abere, which had been completed; and release of N477.9 million as premium for the enrolment of vulnerable citizens of the state into the Osun Health Insurance (O’HIS) Scheme.

Others are: construction of N2.7 billion Ola Iya flyover; reconstruction of the 13.15km Ada-Igbajo township road; which was abandoned for 33 years; Construction of 25km Ede-Ara-Ejigbo road; Construction of 8.1km Moro-Yakoyo-Ipetumodu-Asipa road, which was abandoned for 45 years; Ada-Igbajo road which was literally forsaken for 33 years; roads in the Akindeko-Awosuru-Alekuwodo area; Osogbo-Kelebe-Iragbiji road as well as the 20km Ejigbo-Ara Junction-Ede road.

Also, the rehabilitation of Ikirun-Ekoende Road, State of Osun  2.5km; Rehabilitation of Aagba road 1.83km; rehabilitation of 1.8km Itaasin (St. Stephen) -Our Lady’s School -Police Divisional Headquarters, Modakeke -Famia Road; Construction of 30km  Gbongan – Akoda Road (Federal road); Total Overlay of 6.092km  Ikirun (Idi Esu) R/A- Iragbiji Road; rehabilitation of Osogbo- Kelebe- Iragbiji Road, including extension to 28.09km Idi-Odan-Anaye-Araromi and rehabilitation of 3.75km Chief Adebisi Akande/Olajokun Park-Adenuga junction -Oke Church Olufi Market Gbongan, among others.

Oyetola also recently approved rehabilitation of 25 roads totalling 200 kilometres across the state of the living spring.

The odds against Oyetola

One of the major factors that will work against Oyetola in the July 16 election is the disruption of the zoning arrangement in the state. In 2018, it was a known secret that it was the turn of Osun West to produce the next governor of the state. In fairness to Aregbesola, he agreed with the unwritten but respected zoning arrangement until the national leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, who is now the presidential candidate of APC, insisted on installing Oyetola, from Osun Central, as the governor of the state.

The clear disregard to the zoning arrangement made the victory of Oyetola a tough one. Understandably,  all the stakeholders in the state agreed that it was indeed the turn of Osun West. Since the commencement of the Fourth Republic  in 1999, Osun East had produced the state governor in the person of Aregbesola, while Osun Central had also produced Chief Bisi Akande and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as governors. The last time Osun West produced a governor was during the administration of late Isiaka Adeleke in the ill-fated Third Republic in 1992.

It was based on the renegade on the zoning arrangement that angered the people of Osun and coupled with the fact that Tinubu wants to maintain a firm grip on Osun the same he has done in Lagos over the years. Expectedly, this was why the  people Osun made a statement in 2918 and still want to make a statement in the forthcoming election that Osun is not Lagos.

Oyetola’s faceoff with Aregbesola

Aside  this, it’s a known secret that his predecessor in office and the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola is opposed to the reelection of  Oyetola. Though, Aregbesola has not really stated categorically what Oyetola has done wrong, but he had claimed the incumbent governor was witch-hunting him. He, however, failed to point out how he was being witch hunted. Aregbesola further claimed  Oyetola abandoned his progressives ideals.

“There is no harm in replacing someone who is not doing well and not in tandem with progressive ideals. That is what we are working on and that is why we have come to you. I  worked very hard to ensure Oyetola’s election. It was, however, a rude shock when he got into office and started a grand witch-hunt against me,” Aregbesola had said.

Interestingly, the progressives ideals Aregbesola made reference to remains a surprise to watchers of political events, considering the fact that in  2018, the former Governor left a debt profile of N170.6 billion. This is  made up of N141.1 billion domestic debt and N29.5 billion multilateral (external) debt. No thanks to Aregbesola, Osun state is now neck deeper in debt.

Moreso, the statistics released by the Debt Management Office (DMO) in March, 2022 revealed that Osun state has been able to reduce the debt to the sum of N134 billion. This showed that Oyetola has paid the sum of N36 billion out of the debt accumulated by Aregbesola. Despite this, Oyetola has continued to pay workers salaries, unlike what was obtainable during Aregbesola’s administration where workers were owed several months of salaries and in some cases where salaries were paid, the workers were forced to receive half salaries, after the administration of Aregbesola  weaponised hunger against the civil servants.

Political analysts were tempted to ask if the progressive ideals that Aregbesola wants Oyetola to maintain was that of payment of half salaries or accumulating mountains of debts for future generations, or the demolition of Fakunle Comprehensive High School, which gave way for a mega store.

But, like Oyetola or hate him, he has not borrowed a dime after four years in office and has also kept his promise to the people of the state.

Although, some members of the National Assembly who were perceived to be loyalists of Aregbesola were denied tickets during the party’s recent primaries in the state, stakeholders in the state said those denied tickets are very popular and have a lot of followers, and believed that the action was a political miscalculation on the part of the governor. Others were, however, of the opinion that it was politically expedient for the Governor to take such a decision.

In the opinion of Yemi Adewale, an indigene of the state residing in Ikirun, “Rasheed Afolabi who represented Ifelodun, Boripe, Odo-otin federal constituency in the House of Representatives was denied the party’s ticket. Afolabi is popular and has a lot of flowers, but the ticket was given to Moshood Oluawo who is not as popular as Afolabi. His followers already are angry and are ready to vote for the PDP”.

While there is a general consensus that Adeleke is not a abetter alternative, the opposition against Oyetola’s re-election has continued to gain a lot of traction within the state, despite the fact that his political enemies have not been able to pinpoint what exactly he has done wrong that makes him undesirable for a second term in office.

Be that as it may, political observers believed that Oyetola has performed creditably well to deserve a second term , but the opposition against his re-election is fierce, real and formidable. 

The APC is really in for a tough battle in Osun and  a slim margin may determine the winner between its candidate and that of the PDP.

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