By Gbenga Olarinoye
TODAY’S Governorship election in Osun state is being contested by 20 of the registered political parties but it is very glaring that only three of the candidates are really on ground. These are the incumbent governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), his main challenger, Senator Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Alhaji Fatai Akinbade of the Labour Party (LP).
The general belief in the state is that the three candidates are the leading contenders, they control many local councils in the state and their campaign rallies were always crowded. Also, the trio had been in government at one time or the other and have known what it takes to win an election in the state.
Rauf Aregbesola (APC)
Rauf Aregbesola, who is the incumbent governor of the state was not known in the politics of the state until 2005 when he came into the state on the banner of Oranmiyan, a socio- political group and eventually emerged the governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. Aregbesola eventually became the Governor of his home state. His emergence in November 2010 marked a significant watershed in the twists and turns of the Nigeria’s transition programme.
The strength of Aregbesola include: the power of incumbency which he will deploy to ensure that he remains in power. He hails from Ilesa in Osun East Senatorial District of the state. According to the statistics released by INEC, there are 514,698 registered voters in his Senatorial district. Incidentally, he comes from the same senatorial district with Senator Omisore and both of them are expected to battle fiercely for the upper hand in the zone.
However, Aregbesola is likely to win in his council, Ilesa East, Ilesa West, Obokun and Oriade.
Osun West Senatorial District may go either way as both Aregbesola and Senator Omisore are fully on ground. The total number of registered voters is 431,921. The first civilian governor of the state, Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke and Elder Peter Babalola are working hard to sway the votes in favour of APC.
Osun Central arguably belongs to Aregbesola, who is likely to win in majority of the 10 Local governments. The prominent members of the party that may influence votes for him include: the immediate past National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande and the immediate past governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The councils include: Boluwaduro, Ifelodun, Ila, Odo-Otin, Olorunda and Osogbo. There are 460,603 voters.
Iyiola Omisore (PDP)
Omisore today prides himself as the leading candidate in Osun state as he controls the main opposition party in the state, the PDP. An indigene of Ile-Ife in Osun East senatorial district, Omisore was, between 1999 and 2001, the deputy governor of the state. He was the running mate of Chief AdebisI Akande in the 1999 election and it was on record that he sponsored the campaign of the then Alliance for Democracy (AD) that produced Akande. He, however, parted ways with Akande following his alleged intention to take over from the former governor, a situation that did not go down well with Akande, who was also interested in a second term.
It was therefore not surprising when Omisore was impeached by the state House of Assembly in a controversial circumstance and he eventually pitched tent with the PDP. He was detained for months following his alleged complicity in the killing of the late Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief James Ajibola Ige, who was murdered in his Bodija, Ibadan residence in December, 2001. He was later discharged and acquitted.
Omisore, while in detention, contested the senatorial election of Ife/Ijesha senatorial district and won in 2003. He was reelected into the Senate in 2007. He, however, lost in his bid to return to the Senate in 2011, to Senator Jide Omoworare of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Omisore is a force to reckon with in the state as he has the financial muscle to contest any election and also possesses good connection with the presidency. He has a strong political structure within the PDP in all the 30 local councils of the state and has started strategising on how to take over from the incumbent Aregbesola.
Senator Omisore has been nursing the ambition to govern the state as far back as 1999 when he was set to clinch the AD ticket until a last-minute political maneuvering by late Chief Bola Ige, who drafted Chief
Bisi Akande into the race denied him that opportunity. He was however compensated with the post of deputy governor.
Another opportunity for Omisore came again in 2003 after he had fallen out with Akande which led to his impeachment. This time around he had dusted his political machinery and was the leading aspirant among the 19 aspirants of the PDP until his implication in the murder of Bola Ige. He was however replaced by Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola by late Chief Sunday Afolabi.
Omisore was later compensated with a seat in the Senate which he won from the prison. In November 2010, when Oyinlola was left with only six months to complete his two terms and Omisore was already waiting to collect the PDP governorship ticket, a judgment from the Appeal Court in Ibadan, which nullified Oyinlola’s election shattered this dream.
After the defection of some Osun PDP members to the ruling APC, Omisore picked up the pieces again and went through the length and breadth of the state mobilizing people and former members to come back to the PDP.
Omisore may win in Osun East, his senatorial district. This district also has the highest number of voters in the state. In Ife west senatorial district, he has supporters like the Director General of his campaign organization, Chief Lere Akogun from Ikire and his running mate, Mr. Adejare Bello, the immediate past speaker of the state House of Assembly. In Osun Central, Omisore can only boast of winning in Ifedayo and Orolu as things stand now.