By Emmanuel Aziken
THE remarkable victory of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the Osun State governorship election has continued to resonate across the polity.
One of the more remarkable facts was that the dramatis personae in the election were about the same candidates who fought the same battle exactly four years ago.
In 2018, the PDP’s Senator Ademola Adeleke took the lead at the end of voting with 254,698 votes but the poll was declared inconclusive because the difference with Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress, APC was 354 votes as Oyetola polled 254,344 votes.
The margin of lead was less than the 3,498 votes outstanding from polling stations where voting was re-ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Despite the lead and the momentum the PDP brought to the rerun election, the APC with an apparently more proactive leadership came in to trade with Senator Iyiola Omisore, who came third in the first round of the election.
With the deal with the APC, Oyetola was able to overcome the deficit and emerge winner of the election, albeit narrowly.
At that time, many PDP stakeholders flayed the former PDP leadership of Prince Uche Secondus for its inertia.
However, four years on, the music seemed to have changed with the PDP leadership and governors mobilizing and if not, embedding themselves in Osun.
The 2023 presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar, who had just graduated with his Master’s degree from a United Kingdom university returned on time to show presence and taunt the APC at the final rally on Thursday.
He also appealed to them to protect their votes from being stolen.“Do not allow them to steal your votes like they did in 2018.
Osun is a PDP state and I appeal to you to vote for the party and safeguard your votes,” Atiku said.
Other party heavyweights present at the rally on Thursday included the vice-presidential candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, PDP National Chairman, Ayu Iyorcha, the Chairman of PDP Governor’s forum, Aminu Tambuwal, former Vice-president Nnamadi Sambo and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Also present were members of the PDP campaign council led by Governor Douyle Diri of Bayelsa and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State who remained boots on ground till the declaration of victory on Sunday.
The attendance at the rally on Thursday was itself remarkable as many party stakeholders from across the divide turned out for the final rally that gingered the party to victory.
However, one secret that has largely been untold that helped the PDP to victory was the last minute reconciliation of the different factions of the party that was finalized just on the eve of the Thursday rally.
The significant role of the governors, and notably, the Vice-Presidential candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who did the runs between Wednesday and Thursday in forging the final unity has now emerged.
Four days to the election, the PDP in the state was still largely factionalised with followers of the last PDP governor of the state, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola, grieved at the treatment their principal had repeatedly gotten from the party establishment both in Abuja and in Osogbo.
After Oyinlola was schemed out for the position of national chairman last year, and then deputy national chairman, he had withdrawn himself.
Even more, the state structure of the party was in the grip of the Adelekes who were before his sparring partners in their days in the ACN.So, as the election approached, the Oyinlola camp was largely withdrawn.
It fell on Okowa to pull the two camps together and this he finally did between Wednesday and Thursday with repeated shuttles between Oyinlola’s base in Osogbo and Adeleke’s command centre in Ede.
As a source privy to the development said, Okowa arrived early ahead of the PDP heavyweights for the specific job of reconciling the two camps.
“Okowa made shuttles between Ede and Osogbo and it was not until about 2.00 a.m on Thursday morning that he forged reconciliation, and eventually returned to his Ibadan base for the night before returning for the rally.”
“The behind the scene reconciliation was very significant to the victory of the party,” a source disclosed even as commendations were poured to the PDP hierarchy for showing a kind of enthusiasm that was absent in Ekiti a month ago, and also in Osun, four years ago.
The shuttles between Osogbo and Ede were significantly preceded by peace meetings initiated by Okowa with the stakeholders in Abuja and Lagos in the two weeks before the election.
It was as such not surprising that an advocacy group within the party, PDP Online People, POP, has now urged the party to go in the same spirit to pursue the 2023 General Election.
The group in a statement issued on Monday particularly commended the party’s presidential candidate and his running mate for identifying with the boots on ground in Osun in catalysing the victory of the party.
In the statement issued by its national coordinator, Manny Onye, the group said: “It was a joy to us seeing our party chiefs including Governors Duoyle Diri and Godwin Obaseki of Bayelsa and Edo States side by side with Senator Bukola Saraki monitoring and giving directions on ground.
“Yes, we note that even before they came that our presidential candidate and his running mate, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa showed presence in Osun a state that the APC cheated us four years ago.
“Their presence at the grand campaign signified to doubting Thomases the resolve for unity and the purposefulness that the party brought to bear in achieving this laudable victory.
“As we congratulate our freshly baked governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, we will not fail to remember all those who through their physical presence helped the party to achieve this laudable victory.
We as such appreciate Atiku Abubakar, Governor Okowa and all the other party chiefs who were on ground to ensure the victory of the party.”