As the August 9 Osun State governorship election draws closer, the top contenders are making good use of major social networking to woo voters. Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola; People’s Democratic Party candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore, and the candidate of the Labour Party, Fatai Akinbade, seem to have taken the battle for the soul of the Abere Government House to Twitter and Facebook.
The major contenders have since been promoting their political rallies, speeches and events by posting photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Their social media pages contain everything from schedules of proposed rallies to the outcomes of meetings and political events. But Apart from promoting themselves, the candidates have also been seen lambasting their rivals on these virtual platforms.
The battle on the social media space only seems to be getting fiercer as Aregbesola declared to his opponents via his Twitter page that the government house is currently not vacant. Aregbesola, who boasts a following of about 180,000 people, the highest among the three contenders’, warned his opponents against equating the politics of Osun State with Ekiti State where the incumbent, Kayode Fayemi, lost to the PDP candidate, Ayo Fayose, in a landslide victory. According to the governor, the rousing welcome he receives from the people of the state each time his campaign train stops at the various towns and villages in the state attest to the fact that he is loved by the electorate. “Osun is not Ekiti. No vacancy at the Bola Ige House, Osun State Government Secretariat, Abeere.Let us continue the good work we have started. Ipinle Osun a dara,” he wrote on Twitter.
The governor’s spokesman and Director of his office’s Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon, has also been caught by the bug of the new media as a tool for electioneering. Okanlawon, who has begun selling the candidacy of his boss on Twitter, insisted that there is no better alternative to Aregbesola. The incumbent governor, Okanlawon argued, had always dedicated himself to people oriented-programmes, which, he said, had endeared him to the people. “Aregbesola is a leader that the people can feel and this is because the people are at the centre of his programmes. A good leader inspires his people no matter how lowly placed and Aregbesola does it with ease. What will people not do to show Aregbesola their massive support?” he asked.
But Omisore has hit back at Aregbesola, telling voters it is time to send the incumbent APC government in Osun State packing for what he calls its broken promises. Describing himself on his website, www.iyiola-omisore.org, as a high-profile public figure with a “distinguished record of achievement” within both government and the commercial sectors, Omisore contested that he had got all it takes to take the people of Osun to the Promise Land. Arguing that his plans to unseat Aregbesola in the forthcoming election would sail through, he noted that he would leverage on his long-term experience as an effective grassroots politician, a political mobiliser and a community man.
Omisore tweeted, “Development for the People: Everyone, the old, the young, women, children, men, communities, household, artisans, traders, students! I want prosperity and development that leave no one behind. That is the new agenda. That is the Osun PDP’s commitment. Let’s support this rescue mission! “Governance with the people, I believe, should be participatory, engaging and responsive. No coercion, no tension. We are together. That’s what the rescue mission offers. Osun State will change. It will be a better place to work. We all are in it, but our partnership matters.” Omisore accused Argebsola of failing to sell his achievements to the people during his so-called “mega rallies” across the state, stating that he only preoccupied himself with dancing skelewu and azonto to draw crowd to his political gatherings.
“But we must admit, they (Argesola’s team) win the day in skelewu and azonto dancing at overpriced mega rallies, speaking grammar,” he said.
Ever since Akinbade, a former Secretary to the Osun State Government, emerged the candidate of the Labour Party, he had been making concerted efforts to sell his profile to the people of the state. According to him, he has met with several socio-political groups and professional bodies to solicit for their support ahead of the election.
He stated that only people “wallowing in ignorance” will say the APC government of Aregbesola has performed well in Osun State. Soliciting for the goodwill and support of the electorate, Akinbade said he had a special relationship with the masses dating back to the days when he marketed drugs inside molue buses. He, however, warned parents against allowing their children to be used as a ready tool by politicians for electoral violence and rigging.
“We should all continue to pray for Osun and the governorship election slated for August 9. We want a violent-free transition. Election is coming up, keep your children far away from evil politicians who are promoters of violence,” Akinbade said.