Shina Abubakar, Osogbo
Next Saturday’s governorship election in Osun State will be contested by 18 political parties with five major parties struggling to outshine one another. However, the election will eventually be a-two horse race like it happened in 2018.
Accord Party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) have all shown serious interest in forming the next government on November 27, 2022, but the only three of the parties, Accord, APC and PDP are involved in visible electioneering campaigns across the state.
Of these five, the battle, following intense political activities, seems to be between the APC’s Adegboyega Oyetola, the incumbent governor, and his known opponent, Senator Ademola Adeleke, of the PDP, this is a re-enactment of the 2018 scenario.
But since the 2018 election, the dynamics have changed unlike then when workers welfare and school merger and reclassification formed the major issues for the election; today, the incumbent governor has taken care of majority of workers agitation except for backlog of salaries arrears and pension.
The new issues the two major parties are contending with are internal wrangling which created new candidates for the poll tightly contested between the APC and PDP in 2018.
The fallout of the internal crisis in the APC birthed the Labor Party and its candidate, Rt. Hon. Lasun Yusuf, while that of the PDP produced Dr Akin Ogunbiyi of Accord Party and Mr Goke Omigbodun of the SDP.
Oyetola’s prospect and challenges
The incumbent governor and the candidate of the APC, Oyetola, has the party’s structure to leverage on. It is spread across the 332 wards of the state and the existence of party executives in all the 3,763 polling units is a major boost for the governor. Besides the party’s reach, Oyetola’s performance within the last three and a half years endeared him to many of the populace in Osun especially the elites and civil servants.
The governor has, in line with populace demand, reversed the extant education policy in the state; despite that it pitched him against his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, he aligned with popular demand on the issue.
He has also ensured and sustained regular and full payment of salaries and pensions, as well as reversed some of the policies the labor unions have been agitating against. These include the replacement of Coordinating Directors with Permanent Secretaries in government ministries and agencies, promotion backed with salaries while the Head of Local Government Administration is to replace Council Managers among many other reforms in favor of workers unions.
Similarly, in the health sector, doctors’ agitation was taken care of through approval of both CONHESS and CONMESS which reduced industrial action in the sector since he assumed office. He also introduced a health insurance scheme for workers and peasants in Osun to ensure access to quality healthcare at affordable fees.
These and other reforms in government policies have changed dynamics in favor of the governor. The different workers unions and the NLC in the state seem to have pitched their tents with Oyetola.
The Head of Service, Dr Olowogboyega Oyebade, in a statement on behalf of the forum of heads of government ministries departments and agencies, said workers are happy with the governor’s policies and will ensure his return to office.
APC’s power broker
Besides Oyetola’s acceptability among elites and civil servants, another factor that works for him and his party is the unity within the power brokers across the senatorial districts.
This is the nerve centre for anyone that intends to win the election in Osun. The senatorial district is the most organised and has the highest number of power brokers as well as votes.
The APC is most formidable in the area with Chief Bisi Akande heading Ila Federal Constituency. Also in the district are Engineer Sola Akinwumi, Hon. Isa Ojewale, the state APC Chairman, Prince Gboyega Famodun, Hon. Akintunde Adegboye, Oluomo Sunday Akere, Senator Ajibola Basiru, and a former Deputy Governor, Mrs Grace Laoye-Ponle among several others.
Besides the political power brokers, some other eminent sons and daughters in the area seem comfortable with the Governor’s calm and conservative nature since assumption of office.
Osun West District
The district lacks proper leadership over the years with different leaders not succumbing to the superiority of one another. However, the APC in this district will be depending on the prowess of the Deputy Governor, Gboyega Alabi, former Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, Alhaji Bola Oyebamiji, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Patricia Etteh, as well as other public office holders in the zone.
Osun East District
In the district, the party depends on the sagacity of Senator Iyiola Omisore, the party’s National Secretary, Engineer Awotorebo, Prince Felix Awofisayo, Sooko Adewooyin Adeleke, Hon. Lawrence Ayeni, Hon. Ajibola Famurewa Olosunjela and Professor Isaac Adewole among many others.
A major challenge Oyetola and the APC face is the grudge with his predecessor, Aregbesola, which led to the emergence of The Osun Progressive (TOP). However, the governor, during one of his rallies in Ejigbo, the home of former Speaker Najeem Salaam, urged party members across Osun to embark on genuine reconciliation.
Similarly, a TOP Chairman, Elder Adelowo Adebiyi, urged its members not to work for PDP, saying the Minister has openly declared support for the APC.
Adeleke’s prospect and challenges
On the other hand, Senator Adeleke after the 2018 election also decided to address a major snag against his personality ahead of 2022. He returned to the United States where he is said to have bagged a degree in criminology after which he returned to Osun and toured some parts to rally party members.
A major advantage for the senator, whose major hobby is dancing, is his street credibility, especially among the lower cadre of the party and across some towns in the state. Also, like the APC, the PDP also has wide reach across the length and breadth of the state.
The PDP is also endowed with many gladiators that could brighten its chances at the poll, but many of these power brokers are not fully in support of Adeleke’s emergence as the party’s flag bearer and have stayed away from its activities including campaigns.
The party founding fathers like its first elected governor in the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, his deputy, Erelu Olusola Obada, former Board members, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, Senator Olu Alabi, among many others have decided to stand aloof which is a major blow for Adeleke.
The insurance magnate’s credentials are intimidating but his structure, the Accord Party, lacks the type of popularity APC and PDP have enjoyed for decades.
However, Ogunbiyi, during a conversation with journalists at the NUJ Press Centre in Osogbo, said, “Accord Party’s structure can compete with that of APC and PDP.
“We have submitted names of agents in all the polling units in the state and our people have seen our genuine intention.
“They know we can do what APC and PDP have failed to do in power. Our manifesto speaks volumes.
“None of the two candidates have been able to show any. We have implementable ideas and the people have aligned with it.
“The people who are tired of PDP and APC’s misgovernance are our power brokers and we emerge victorious on July 16″.
Lasun Yusuf and Labour Party
The former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives used to be a popular name while he served under the APC-led legislative arm of government. However, the party is yet to organise a public campaign rally.
Though the Party Chairman, Comrade Bello, said the party has embarked on house-to-house campaigns across the state, members of the public have only heard about his plans on television and radio debates.
The party, besides some followers that followed the former number six citizen from the APC can hardly be heard outside of the state capital where its secretariat is domiciled.
Goke Omigbodun and SDP
Goke Omigbodun was a disciple of Omisore up till the 2018 governorship election, but has decided to give the governorship seat a shot too. Whether he could leverage on the SDP structure is yet to be tested.
But he has also vowed to wrestle power from the APC, especially with his “MAT” (Mining, Agriculture and Technology) agenda.