…Makarfi, Sheriff claim victory as Aregbesola, others congratulate Adeleke
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Gbenga Olarinoye, & Dirisu Yakubu
All Progressives Congress, APC, grandees in Osun State were yesterday trying to absorb the shock that came from the resonating clamour of the people for a change. Governor Rauf Aregbesola had for the last seven years tried to change Osun State into his image.
He had changed the designation of his possession from its constitutional appellation into the State of Osun. He had redefined for workers the “sufficiency” of going home with half pay and seemingly made the failure of governance of none effect. That was until Saturday.
Last weekend, the people of the state, or at least, a third of the state representing Osun West Senatorial District removed the veil from their eyes when they voted against the governor’s anointed candidate in the Osun West Senatorial District bye-election.
The APC lost nine out of 10 local governments in a senatorial district it had handsomely won in the last two general elections in 2011 and again in 2015.
Even more, the APC had come to dominate the political space within the state having won all three Senate seats and eight of the ten federal constituencies in 2015.
By the time the results distilled yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which had been losing elections almost everywhere, even in its strongholds in Ondo and Edo States was basking in an unusual victory.
How did it happen, Vanguard asked one leading PDP chieftain yesterday?
“This is a result of the failure of governance all over Osun,” Mr. Bamidele Salam, a leading chieftain of the PDP and former local government chairman of Egbedeore Local government area of the state said over the telephone.
“Even within the APC they are disoriented with what is happening,” Mr. Salam added.
The disorientation within the APC according to credible sources showed in the way and manner leading APC chieftains voted against their party in the bye-election that was triggered by the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke.
Governor Aregbesola and his handlers did not also help matters in the way they projected and forced on the people the candidacy of Senator Mudashiru Husain. Husain had been a senator in the district before and had stepped aside for the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke in 2015. Having been nominated and approved to be a commissioner in the Osun State Executive Council recently, many were shocked that he was still picked to fly the ticket of the party in the bye-election.
Like Aregbesola who came from Lagos State to contest the governorship election, Husain had served as a member of the House of Representatives in Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency before relocating to Osun State after the emergence of Aregbesola to contest in 2011.
Some local APC chieftains saw the governor’s preference for Husain as another rejection of local content for Lagos politicians. On Saturday many of them came out to reject the APC for this.
Even more, the failure of the government to pay salaries and pensions regularly and to deliver on its key infrastructure projects have stirred bitterness among the populace. In the days leading to the election news of protests here and there did not help matters for the embattled APC.
The APC in Osun State was also faced with the huge challenge of confronting a well-oiled political machine. Otunba Ademola Adeleke who was the PDP candidate also had the exceptional grace of getting the support of the two tendencies in the PDP who came together to confront what everyone saw as a common enemy.
Aregbesola congratulates Adeleke
In acceptance of the will of the people, the governor yesterday congratulated the senator-elect, with the result of the poll, saying the “people of Osun have spoken.”
The governor, in a tweet Sunday afternoon congratulated Adeleke, saying “Democracy has won and we respect the people’s choice.”
Also, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Najeem Salam lauded the government and the people of the state under the watch of Governor Aregbesola for creating a conducive atmosphere for the electoral contest.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Goke Butika, Salaam saluted the state helmsman for ensuring secured environment for all contestants to campaign and canvass votes for their respective parties without intimidation or lawlessness, saying as a Chief Security Officer of the state, Aregbesola has passed another democratic litmus test.
Adeleke says it is new dawn for PDP
Meanwhile, the senator-elect, Ademola Adeleke, has said that his victory signposts better days for the PDP in the state.
Adeleke said all his pre-election campaign promises would be fulfilled, stressing that his N5 million per ward scholarship scheme would soon take off across the Osun-West Senatorial District.
His words: “We are working hard to make sure that next year we overcome and victory shall be ours. My victory is a new dawn in the history of our democracy.’’
Meanwhile, the leadership of the PDP in Osun state has commended citizens and residents of the state for their support in various forms towards the victory of its candidate in senatorial bye-election.
The state chairman of the party, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, in a statement made available yesterday, said the party recognises the fact that out of several options, people decided to give PDP the mandate to represent them in the upper chambers.
Meanwhile, the two tendencies in the PDP at the national level were yesterday seeking to outdo one another in claiming the victory.
The Ahmed Makarfi led tendency which was the first to congratulate the winner and the party for the victory, in a statement, said the victory of the PDP candidate was a reawakening of the potentials of the PDP which the APC led Federal Government had over time tried to despoil.
In the statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, the party attributed the victory to the reawakening of Nigerians, noting that with the emergence of Adeleke, the APC in the State has been rejected by the people
Also, the Modu Sheriff led leadership in a statement made available to news men in Abuja commended the Independent National Electoral Commission. INEC, security agencies and the electorate for the peaceful conduct of the polls, saying that the peaceful conduct of the bye-election had shown clearly that all hope was not lost in the nation’s electoral system.
In the statement issued by the National Secretary, Prof. Adewale Oladipo, the party commended the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff- led National Working Committee NWC, of the party for allowing the people of the Senatorial District pick the candidate of their choice, who eventually led the party to victory despite all odds and the power of incumbency.
Meanwhile, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has congratulated Adeleke on his victory, describing the poll as “a glimmer of hope for the nation’s electoral system.”
Reacting to the outcome of the election, Ekweremadu said it was not only victory for the PDP but also, more importantly, a victory for the nation’s democracy.
It’s victory of light over darknesss —Omisore
The PDP candidate in the 2014 governorship election and former deputy governor of the state, Senator Iyiola Omisore has also congratulated Adeleke describing his victory as a victory of light over darkness.
“This is a triumph of light over darkness. The doggedness, dedication, loyalty, and commitment of you all are what make this victory sweeter. The overwhelming victory our party recorded shows the level of disenchantment Osun people have against the incumbent administration in our dear state.
“I rejoice with the good people of Osun State generally and Osun West in particular who aligned with my belief that Chief Ademola Adeleke possesses the qualities to continue the good work his late brother was doing and that is the same reason I toured the whole senatorial district with him,” Omisore disclosed.
Speaking further, Senator Omisore said that, “from the beginning, this election sets out to be a different kind of election. The unity and resilience of the party were tested, and it is a great relief that we came out victorious. As a party, we must take this victory seriously even as we prepare for another major election.”