SENATOR Iyiola Omisore lost the August 9, 2014 gubernatorial election for one simple reason: majority of Osun State voters did not believe his averments that he would serve them better than Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
All other reasons – and they are legion – amount to no more than mere details. Yet, it is worthwhile to examine the many sides of the epic political battle. The APC candidate got 394,684 votes, while his closest challenger, the PDP candidate, got 292,747 votes. This means that Aregbesola got 101,937 more votes than Omisore, clinching 59 percent of the votes to Omisore’s 42 percent. Because Aregbesola won in 24 of the 30 local government areas, what he administered on his opponent was a thrashing.
Following Governor Kayode Fayemi’s recent loss to Chief Ayo Fayose in Ekiti State, Omisore announced with certitude that a second crushing defeat awaited the APC in Osun State. He didn’t seem to have taken two important factors into due consideration. The first is that Ekiti and Osun are different states, their proximity notwithstanding. The APC is more grounded in Osun than in Ekiti. After all, it was the only state in the South West stronghold of the ACN, a precursor of the APC, in which President Jonathan did not win in the last presidential election. Secondly, Aregbesola plays a type of politics markedly different from the one by which Dr. Fayemi is critically perceived. The Osun Governor was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes that cost Fayemi a second term.
He owed salaries in arrears. And he owed pensions in apparently longer arrears. Once Aregbesola reckoned with the fact that civil servants’ disaffection in Ekiti contributed to Fayemi’s defeat, he went borrowing. With the hurriedly secured loans, he cleared the backlogs of debts that were of concurrent impact on the people but added to his state’s overall debt profile, which was not the immediate concern of those saved from privation and penury. He compensated landlords whose houses he had demolished for the purposes of urban renewal. In seven short weeks – the period between the Ekiti and Osun ballots – Aregbesola assuaged the feelings of the citizens he had alienated through abruptness and unsettled perquisites.
Again, the APC remorselessly tied Omisore to a past he would rather be disconnected from. The assassination of Chief Bola Ige, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, in 2001 had come at a time Ige and Omisore were publicly at daggers-drawn. He was the prime suspect in the murder even though he endlessly professed his innocence and has the court’s not guilty verdict as validation. Yet, his traducers maintained that his hand was all over the celebrated murder. Little wonder that Omisore scored his littlest votes from Ijeshaland, of which Chief Ige was a denizen!
These and other factors gave the APC an upper hand in the ballot. Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan, the Police Minister whom the APC also never tires of weighing down with the baggage of Ige’s murder, immediately congratulated Ogbeni Aregbesola and appealed to all sides to accept the verdict. Chief Fayose, waiting impatiently to resume his governorship of Ekiti, congratulated Aregbesola. The PDP chairman congratulated Aregbesola. Above all, President Jonathan congratulated the Governor re-elect.
All those who congratulated Ogbeni Aegbesola were far from foolish. They simply acted laudably and in the best interests of Nigerian democracy, just as Governor Fayemi did when he congratulated Ayo Fayose, his victor in the Ekiti election. Now, it is important to highlight the wisdom with which Aregbesola reacted to his victory. His 750 word-long victory speech, entitled “Victory Over The Tyranny Of Power”, did not have a single word of praise for INEC which had delivered him a second term on the wheels of a free, fair and credible election. The following is a part of Governor Aregbesola’s victory declamation:
We witnessed gross abuse of power and of due process before, during, and even after the actual voting process. It is so sad and unfortunate that what should be a normal, routine process was maliciously allowed to snowball into a needless virtual war by the Federal Government and the PDP.
“Osun state was unduly militarized in an unprecedented manner through criminal intimidation and psychological assault on our people. This election witnessed an abuse of our security agencies and amounted to a corruption of their professional ethics and integrity.
“Hundreds of leaders, supporters, sympathizers and agents of our party were arrested and detained.” Yet, these hundreds remain faceless and nameless despite the APC’s disproportionate hold on the national media! Yet, not a single pictorial or video evidence of Aregbesola’s allegations in this era of the social media in which virtually every cellphone is fitted with a camera! Hundreds were harassed, brutalized and traumatized! In which clinics and hospitals are the touted victims recovering from injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder? It is difficult to presume that Governor Aregbesola believes a word of his own tirade. Not that it surprised any rational being for the APC had, in the run-up to the poll tossed about accusations of planned rigging and violence. It is the same kind of hot air the APC blew about in the last five gubernatorial elections under President Jonathan.
The President and his PDP planned intimidation, brutalization and rigging in the July 14, 2014 Edo State election! Yet Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the APC candidate, beat his PDP candidate in an election adjudged to be free, fair, credible and violence-free. The PDP planned the “same evils” for the October 20, 2012 Ondo election! Yet Governor Mimiko of the Labour Party defeated his PDP challenger.
The President and his political party planned the same anti-democracy stunts for the November 16/November 30, 2013 Anambra State election! Yet APGA’s Chief Willie Obiano defeated his PDP challenger. The PDP planned fire and brimstone for the June 21, 2014 Ekiti governorship poll. Yet, neither rigging nor violence attended its victory. “The security agencies were unprofessionally utilized in Osun State to harass, intimidate and oppress the people…” Yet APC’s Aregbesola defeated his PDP challenger!
Two things are obvious. One, the APC incessantly cries wolf where there is none. That is deplorable politics. Two, all the elections in the present political dispensation have proved to be, in all respects, infinitely better than the ones conducted since the inception of the Fourth Republic. This makes the point that INEC, under Professor Attahiru Jega, is a plus for Nigeria’s democratic experience.
It demonstrates that President Jonathan is responsible for creating the enabling political environment in Osun which accorded due respect to people’s voice and, thereby, guaranteed the thrashing of Dr. Iyiola Omisore, his fellow party member.
Chuks Iloegbunam, is the author of Ironside, the biograpy of General Aguiyi-Ironsi.