All eyes are on Osun State as it goes to the poll on August 9, to elect the next governor of the state or renew the mandate of the incumbent. The stakes are high, particularly after the last election in Ekiti State, which saw to the defeat of the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ayodele Fayose. Will Osun be a replay of the Ekiti episode? JOSHUA DADA writes.
The talk of the town in Osun before the governorship election of Ekiti State was that the outcome of the election in Ekiti will be a reflection of what will happen in the Osun State gubernatorial election scheduled for 9th of August, 2014.
The generality of the people who canvass this view based their argument on the similarities of what are on ground in the sister states.
Obviously, the leading contenders incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Iyiola Omisore, Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and Alhaji Fatai Akinbade Akinbade of Labour Party (LP) are replicas of what it was in Ekiti where Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, and Hon Opeyemi Bamidele of APC, PDP and LP respectively.
There was no doubting the fact then, that from the trio of Fayemi, Fayose and Bamidele, a winner could emerge as governor of Ekiti State.
True to pundits postulation, Mr Ayodele Fayose of the PDP swept the polls and the beauty of democracy demands for the contestants to embrace the outcome of the election, a scenario that surprisingly played out and has since been acclaimed by Nigerians and foreigners as a welcome development.
Immediately it became obvious that Fayose will carry the day, members of PDP in Osun State started jubilating as if their candidate, Senator Omisore has been declared as the winner of the governorship election of the state. Their joy was anchored on the fact the odds that faced Fayose in Ekiti is not far from the one Omisore is battling with in Osun, yet he won.
It is equally obvious that the loss suffered by the APC in Ekiti state adversely affected the morale of members of the party in Osun who had variously boasted that their party will carry the day in Ekiti State.
Having realized this, the leadership of APC in Osun, and it candidate, Aregbesola at a rally in Ikirun few days after the victory of Fayose, charged members of the party not to be intimidated by what happened in Ekiti saying that what happened there cannot happen in Osun.
He was quick to fault the election already ad to be one of the best in recent time, as widely acclaimed by election observers both foreign and local and political analysts across the country.
Aregbesola insisted that the election was rigged in favour of the PDP and threatened that any attempt to repeat such will meet stiff resistance in Osun.
However, observers believe that in Osun today, it will be difficult for any party to record a landslide victory as was the case in Ekiti state under a free and fair election. They based their analysis on the premise that though, the then ACN had an overwhelming victory at the 2011 general election largely because of their love for Aregbesola and peoples rejection of PDP government, the situation has changed.
There is no doubt that Aregbesola within the three years administration has turned the state around positively with his massive investment in infrastructural development, which even his adversaries cannot shy away from.
It is believed that nobody rightly ignore the on-going projects that are been adjudged to be of very high quality and of unquestionable quality.
Aregbesola it is said has been able to touch every household positively, through one programme or the other apart from his projects that are spread across the nooks and crannies of the State.
Of all these, he is said to be carrying the populace along in his programmes courtesy of massive media coverage through sponsored programmes by every ministry and departments thereby registering his achievements in the heart of his subjects.
He has equally been able to reach the core masses, whose voting capacity has been taken for granted by previous administration, he not only relate with them but has embarked on programmes that touched their lives.
The core masses, petty traders, especially in Osogbo, despite several difficult decisions that has been taken by Aregbesola that has adverse consequence on them and their businesses still have relatively high confidence in him.
He may not have problem along religious line because he has ensured equal treatment for all religion while it is equally believed that some Muslims will still prefer him to anybody from other religious inclination.
Many people are still comfortable with Aregbesola because the state has witnessed peace since he assumed office even when election is at hand because despite many projects and programmes he embarked upon, yet he invested heavily on security which makes it possible for people to sleep with their eyes closed.
Aregbesola also hales from the biggest senatorial district in the state and Ilesa, one of the three biggest towns with the highest number of voters in the state.
It is worthy to note that he has financial capacity to cope with financial demands of election, He has good team and structures that can sway things in his favour to the extent that one of the gubernatorial aspirants of PDP, Hon. Wole Oke described him as the best election organizer in Nigeria.
In essence, when Aregbesola talks about winning election, it is difficult for a sane soul to ignore his statement. Besides, the power of incumbency resides with him, which he is using maximally.
However, some of those issues that led to the rejection of APC in Ekiti state are rearing their heads in Osun, for example, it is obvious that Fayemi incurred the wrath of workers by virtue of his determination to bring sanity into civil service and teaching profession.
In Osun, despite the fact that government workers are aware of the paucity of fund and lateness in the disbursement of federal allocation to states, they are not happy with the current delay in payment of their salaries and the opposition is promising them prompt payment of their salaries and allowances.
Also, senior citizens in the state are apprehensive about delay in the payments of their entitlements while the opposition has assured them of their entitlements in arrears, though government has seen the signal and taken steps to redeem its image by making payments this week.
Though government has consistently denied any attempt to sack workers, introduced new tax regime that will make them pay from their nose, reduce service years and review retirement age, cancel commercial motorcycle operation, the feeling of the workers is that if Aregbesola is re-elected, he has the tendency to implement them.
Successive government, particularly a government that is coming to seek the mandate of the electorate should stop thinking that the percentage of workers among the electorates is insignificant, they can wreck havoc if care is not taken.
The urban renewal policy of Aregbesola’s administration negatively affected some traders. Most of who have not been able to found their feet since the demolition of their structures despite the compensation paid by government, no good thing comes without making sacrifice.
It is unfortunate that the urban renewal programme is largely appreciated by the elitists who have travelled far and who really know what a modern city suppose to look like, while the masses are of the opinion that it is only a person that is well fed that can appreciate beauty.
The educational policy of Aregbesola is no doubt alien to the larger percentage of the people, recalled that during the process of implementing the policy, government stepped on toes and the consequence may not be palatable if those affected fails to share the vision of government.
Governor Aregbesola has managed the resources in the state prudently, but he may suffer from the hands of his party members who believed that he has not done enough for them. Some of them are saying that most of those that are benefiting in terms of public office holders and contractors in his administration are not home-based, but are Lagos based thereby encouraging capital flight.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore unlike Governor Aregbesola who has a lot of programmes and projects to point to in all the constituencies of the State is at a disadvantage. It is difficult for him to lay claim to projects executed by the administration under which he served as deputy governor.
Little could also be pointed to in terms of infrastructural development because he lacked executive power as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but can only lay claim to projects he facilitated, which he has consistently been selling to the public.
Those who are close to him knows Omisore to be a philanthropist who is not tight fisted and therefore in a position to tare the stomach than get himself busy tarring roads, when it is obvious that people are hungry.
While Aregbesola told the people that he want to complete his numerous projects and do more, Omisore came up with eight point agenda to rescuing the state, which he kept on explaining.
However, the toga of violence put on Omisore by his adversaries may work against him in certain quarters, but feelers revealed that people are now seeing him as a non-violent person and rather one that visits violence on any camp believed to be preaching violence.
Nonetheless, the PDP hierarchy is said to have failed to act proactively to unite aggrieved members of the party after its primary election. It is a development observers posit is very dangerous for the party. It is also on note that prominent members of the party that are yet to officially defect to other political parties have refused to identify with the party’s candidate.
While it can be said that Aregbesola has the machinery of government in the state to his advantage, conversely however, the federal might can easily be deployed for Omisore. It could be recalled that APC had decried the seeming heavy militarization of Ekiti during the Ekiti gubernatorial election. There are fears that such may be the case it in Osun state.
It may look like an ordinary routine work for the law enforcement agents, but the truth is there going by the maxim; “that he who pays the piper dictates the tune”.
That notwithstanding, the Labour Party candidate, Alhaji Fatai Akinade Akinbade may replicate the Otedola scenario that played in Lagos in the botched third republic, where frontline contenders lost out to late Chief Michael Otedola of the National Republican Convention (NRC) as governor of Lagos State, though the crisis then was more of an internal party squabbles in the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
It could be recalled that the LP candidate was a member of PDP before he defected to the Labour Party following internal wrangling within PDP. He is home-based and cut all his political teeth in Osun as commissioner in various ministries under successive military regimes. Akinbade was Osun State chairman of PDP during which time Chief Bisi Akande was voted out from office as governor. He was also Secretary to the State government for over seven years under the administration of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
A grassroots politician to the core on who impacted positively people that come his way. Observers say he is genuinely loved by his followers and has faithfulls among all the parties in the state.
Though he lacks the financial capability required to prosecute a high profile election but his supporters are loyal to his course and are ready to stake all they have to see him emerge victorious.
The pendulum is swinging fast, everybody is apprehensive of where it will stop. The build to the d-day has heightened and the people wait fervently.