By Dapo Akinrefon
THE 2011 general elections is gradually gaining momentum. Already, various contenders aspiring to hold public offices have begun subtle moves to achieve their ambitions.
The recently conducted Anambra State governorship election is beingÂ seen as an eye opener. Osun State, which is also known as State of the Living Spring will not be left out in political fireworks that usuallyÂ precede elections, the schemings and mudslingings which, perhaps, will play up as events unfold during the campaigns. Various contenders and perhaps, pretenders who will turn out to be spoilers, have already indicated interest forÂ Oke Fia Government House.
Besides, duty beckons on him (Oyinlola) to ensure that the process of electing a new governor is free, fair and credible. Meanwhile, no fewer than 10 aspirants have indicated interest in the plum job and have even gone a step further in paying N3million for nomination fees.
However, the Action Congress governorship candidate, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola is still engaged in a legal tussle with the incumbent governor over the April 14, 2007 poll.
As the race hots up, the aspirants, have also gone a step further in setting up campaign offices to help in projecting and realizing their aspirations. Aside, the Osun East Senatorial district is set for a show down with the other senatorial zones, as they harp on the zoning arrangement in producing the next governor of the state.
Beyond this, some powerful traditional rulers especially from this axis are also interested in who takes over in 2011. The governor is believed to be eyeing the Senate 2011.
A source, who confided in Vanguard disclosed that Governor Oyinlola is working towards actualizing his dream of going to the Senate, which, hitherto, was his initial plan before he was made the consensus candidate of the PDP in 2003. Already, the state executive has been dissolved and this was as a result of the fact that most of them are interested in succeeding the incumbent.
The State Commissioner for Information, Alhaja Idiat Adetinto, who explained the motive behind the dissolution of the exco said reason for the dissolution was to give exco members with 2011 ambition ample time to pursue their goals. Governor Oyinlola further expressed gratitude to the former members of his cabinet just as he wished them well in their political pursuits.
It is interesting to note that majority of the aspirants hail from Osun East Senatorial district who believe that it is the turn of their SenatorialÂ district to produce the next governor of the state.
Between Oyinlola and Aregbesola
Fears have, nonetheless been expressed of the petition filed by the Action Congress governorship candidate, Engineer Rauf Aregebsola. In the event that a rerun is called and Oyinlola goes ahead to win, the possibility of him starting a fresh term of another four years cannot be dismissed. While on the other hand, if the court declares the petitioner (Aregbesola) winner, his mandate of four years, will begin afresh.
Contenders or pretenders:
For Akinrogun Tunde Odanye, who hails from Ilesa in Ife East Senatorial District, the astute politician is leaving no stone unturned in his bid to emerge governor of the state, come 2011.
According to observers, Odanyeâ€™s entryÂ hasÂ glamour to the race because of his pedigree as an accomplished lawyer. Unlike other aspirants, he is quite close to all the stakeholders in the state irrespective of party affiliations and groupings.
Aside being a loyal member of the Yoruba political organisation, Afenifere, Odanye has been contesting election in Osun State since 1998 on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, before finally defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
HeÂ isÂ alsoÂ ofÂ theÂ opinion thatÂ sinceÂ his senatorial district, which is the largest in the state, has not produced a governor, the next chief executive of the state shouldÂ emerge from the area. ThoughÂ a new comer to the PDP, Odanye may have many rivers to cross if he is to emerge the candidate of the ruling party.
Senator Iyiola Omisore
Another contender, Senator Iyiola Omisore, who recently and narrowly got elected back to the Senate, may not find itÂ easy in the state.
Also from Ife East Senatorial District, he was deputyÂ to former governor Bisi Akande in 1999 before being impeached.
Having left the AD, he joined the PDP in 2003, but could not get the party ticket to be governor . He was favoured to emerge as the party governorship candidate in 2003 but failed when Oyinlola was made the consensus candidate.
However, he was compensated with a Senatorial ticket.
Oyinlola on his own seem to have cornered those who matters in Osun politics to the detriment of Omisore. Besides, Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade who is the royal father of Omisore is alleged not to be disposed to his candidacy.
The Senate Committee chairman on appropriation is also perceived to be the garrison commander in the senatorial district he represent owing to the fact that he wields enormous power.
As the race gathers steam, Omisore may be a force to reckon withÂ but political pundits are of the view that he may have to eyeball the incumbent governor if he is to get the partyâ€™s nod come 2011.
The former pointsman under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, then Minister of Aviation is also in the race, though, he has not made his intention known to many.
Some factorsÂ may work against him. But he is also believed to be close to one of the powerful monarchs in the state, whom he banks on to enable him scale through. Whether this calculation would work out, only time will tell.
Until recently, he was Secretary to the State Government SSG. Already he has declared his intention to succeed his boss. Said to be highly influential as far as the state politics is concerned, his prospects perhaps, may give him an edge over others. WhenÂ tongues began wagging, wanting to know if he intends to actualize his dream on the platform of the Labour, Akinbade refuted such claims saying he intends to stay put in the PDP to actualize his dreams.
The Ikire born politician, was until recently, the Chief of Staff to the governor. Also known as Peter Power by his supporters, he is also in the race to succeed his boss just the SSG, who is said to be spoiling for war over the governorship race. Besides, the odds may not favour his zone which has produced governor before.
The current Nigerian Ambassador to Cuba is also interested in the plum job. Though resident in the South American country, he is been updated on happenings in the politics of the state.
Lateef Akande Bakare
Bakare, who hails from Ilesha has not held any political office before now, but is optimistic that he has what it takes to convince the party leadership to give a shot of emerging candidate. Whether this will work out for him, time will tell. The chartered accountant, however, believes that he is fully committed to the overall development of the Nigerian nation into a respectable member of the comity of nations.
Other aspirants who have indicated interest in vying for the gubernatorial election in Osun State, include Alhaji Wahab Olatoye, Alhaji Fatai Sarumi; former Chairperson of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Chief (Mrs.) Remi Olowu, Hon. Gbenga Onigbogi, Chief Femi Alafe-Aluko, Mr. Akin Jegede, Chief Dosu Fatokun, Hon. Wahab Toye and a Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala on Special Duties, Mr. Diran Odeyemi.
With the myriad of aspirants jostling to emerge as candidates of the party, it is hoped that a transparent and credible primaries will be held to produce a candidate. Analysts are of the view that a replay of what happened in Anambra, which deprived the PDP the opportunity to govern the state should be repeated.
The beat goes on
When contacted, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Lasis Olagunju told Vanguard that â€œOn his part, Governor Oyinlola has consistently told everyone that there will be a level playing ground for all of the aspirants in PDP. He has also promised that the process which produced him in 2003, especially at the primaries, will be explored in choosing whoever will become the candidate of the party for the governorship poll in 2011.â€
The various gladiators in Osun politics have begun in earnest to set their campaign machinery in motion.
Nigerians especially the people of Osun State have a major role to play in ensuring that they are involved in whoever will govern them come 2011.