By Josh Ekpeneru
Indigenes and residents of Osun State will on Saturday, 22 September 2018 go to the polling units across the state to elect a successor of the incumbent Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, whose tenure will end in the next 69 days.
About 48 candidates from various political parties are jostling for the Number One seat in the state.
Although some analysts may have predicted a tough contest, those who read in-between lines have said that Aregbesola’s sterling performance in his eight-year occupation of the power stool, must have made victory a fait accompli for the Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gboyega Isiaka Oyetola.
Although the primary that led to Oyetola’s emergence was stormy and ruffled some feathers, the skirmishes that arose as a result of the outcome of the exercise appear to have been contained.
Party’s ultimate victory
Some members of the APC who contested the primary with the former Chief of Staff to Governor Aregbesola, but lost, who also nursed a feeling of discontent have since allowed the sleeping dog to lie. They have also resolved to close ranks for the party’s ultimate victory on Saturday.
Oyetola himself, being a fair player, who strongly believes in the saying that “a tree does not make a forest”, has since reached out to many of them and has also succeeded in winning them back to the fold.
However, observers said that those who have refused to accept the olive branch being presented to them are in the minority and may not have the capacity to muster enough votes that can stop Oyetola.
An analyst, who expressed the optimism, said that no matter how tough the contest may seem, the APC candidate would emerge winner.
For eight years, Oyetola worked with the out-going governor as Chief of Staff. He was part and parcel of the government in Osun until his voluntary resignation recently to enable him pursue his ambition.
Indeed, at rallies and consultations, continuity and consolidation has been the message of the candidate. An analyst said: “Should this message be bought by the electorate, many of whom rate highly the Aregbesola’s reign, it may translate into huge votes for the APC candidate.”
At a recent interview, the candidate spoke about his drive, saying: “Our core agenda is continuity and consolidation. The six integral action plan of the outgoing administration has transformed the Osun landscape and changed the face of infrastructure in the state.”
Oyetola is also seen as a perfect successor to Aregbesola by many keen followers of political events in the state going by the the enormous influence he wields in the current administration and to keep the machinery of state moving at same tempo and direction.
“Oyetola is the best man for the job”, said one Akinola. He further said: “Having understudied Governor Aregbesola for eight years, Oyetola appears well-grounded and prepared to wear the big shoes of his boss. The brilliance, calmness, thoroughness and his ability to pay attention to details must have endeared him to many, especially core professionals, academics and other categories of people in the state. I have no doubt that he will garner block votes from these quarters, and he will ultimately emerge victorious.
“The fact that Osun Central where the candidate comes from, has the largest number of voters and also has Osogbo and Olorunda Local Government Areas, whose votes gave Aregbesola almost 40 percent of the votes that made him governor in 2014, is also to the advantage of the APC candidate.”
The candidate has the backing of the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is expected to throw his weight behind him in everything, including financials. Oyetola himself is said to have the financial wherewithal to prosecute his ambition.
Speaking on his chances of winning, even if there were a coalition, Oyetola had said: “Coalition, alliance and merger are part of the antics of power struggle in a democracy. But obviously that is and can never be a threat to my ambition. Sovereignty rests with the people.
The ultimate judge
They are the ultimate judge who will, on Saturday decide who gets their mandate. The people are sufficiently knowledgable and conscious of what they want. The APC has served them transparently and inclusively in the last eight years.
The people want continuity of governance. They want their children to continue to eat free and nourishing food in schools. They know that we value education. They want to continue to enjoy soft loan for business, and they know we are the ones that can serve them better.
They know such alliance is a mere conspiracy to impose people with little or no capacity to provide the required leadership. They know we are not pretenders. I am confident that come Saturday, the good people of Osun State will return the APC government to the Government House.”
Speaking on the capability of Oyetola to succeed him, Aregbesola recently said: “Oyetola has justified his capacity and capability as a man of impeccable character and worthwhile personality who remains dogged and forthright to all policies that had impacted positively the lives of the citizens.
“We are not in doubt about Oyetola’s competence and ability. He is calm and much more reserved. He knows the job and he will serve our people. He will advance the development programme of our party.”
Ekpeneru wrote from Lagos.