OPINION: Osun, The New Political Prognosis

OGBENILEKANSIThe tone for this piece was set last Wednesday as an old school mate of mine from Anambra State sought my views on the Osun State governorship election “in the light of what happened in Ekiti”. He nearly provoked me as he asked for my “honest opinion”. I retorted, “Had I ever given you a dishonest opinion.” He merely smiled in response, fixing his gaze on me nonetheless, prodding for an analysis of the chances of the two parties.

As I told quite a number of others who asked me a similar question, no two political situations are ever the same. The Ekiti election was mainly between Ayo Fayose and Kayode Fayemi. Osun’s will be fought by Rauf Aregbesola and Iyiola Omisore. It is my view that the days of strong adherence to political parties are gone. It was so with the parties of the First and Second Republic and, at least in the West, with the Alliance for Democracy in 1999. The situation has since changed for reasons beyond the scope of this space.

Although Ekiti and Osun are neighbouring states, the sociological make-up are quite different. Osun is certainly more diverse than Ekiti and it is therefore easier to mobilise the Ekiti with one slogan than it would be in Osun.

Then, the candidates. Omisore is not quite a Fayose. Attempting to ape the Ekiti political warlord merely made the Ife man look pathetic. It was so  unnatural. It would be more difficult for any man to mount the soap box in Ilesa hoping to win over the Ijesa with two ears of roast corn in his hands than it was for Fayose. There are issues, too. Who killed Bola Ige is an issue in Ijesa land that shares the same senatorial district with Ile-Ife.

Mr. Omisore flaunts some credentials. He had been a deputy governor in the state. It does not matter if it remains a subject of dispute whether he was impeached or resigned. He later went to the Senate and could claim some “distinguished” representation on account of serving as chairman of the Appropriation Committee.

Like Fayose, he has access to the hugely important federal might and budget. The federal government controls the security apparatus and the electoral commission itself is a federal executive body. Money cannot be a problem. The federal government and the party in control are desperate to root out the opposition from the West with a view to boosting its chances at the polls next year.

However, Aregbesola is an unconventional politician, a doughty fighter and a a tested tactician. In the short period of his involvement in Osun’s political milieu, he has shown such dexterity that is uncommon. In 2011, he was the only governor who could rouse his people to vote for a weak Action Congress of Nigeria presidential platform, in addition to winning all the federal and state legislative seats. The scheme had failed even in Lagos State. He is a politician and has campaigned so vigorously that nothing was left to chance.

In terms of campaign style, he stood head and shoulders above the PDP candidate. In performance, he has enough to show and, in terms of perception, he is believed to have provided the now famous or infamous stomach infrastructure. The emergence of Mr. Omisore hurt even his party. Other aspirants are either out or are reluctantly trudging along. It could be asked, where are former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and his deputy, Erelu Olusola Obada today? Are they with Omisore? Has a new political factor emerged in Ede to rival pioneer Governor Adeleke? In Okuku, could the Oyinlola influence be dismissed? In Igbomina land, is Chief Akande no longer relevant?

In Ikire, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade would probably have been a factor had he won the ticket of a contending party. But, in Osun, the Labour Party is not any stronger than it is in Ekiti. The party would be lucky to rake in as many votes as Hon. Bamidele.

The outlook appears bright for Aregbesola. The man knows that he carries a heavy burden- on his lean shoulders is laid the fortunes of the All Progressives Party in the march to 2015. If he wins, he brings the party back into reckoning and inflates an ego deflated by the results from Ekiti. But, should he lose, the PDP would once again have shown that its control of the national political machinery cannot be matched by any other party.

In a way, therefore, the Osun election is about the destiny of Nigeria. Those who believe that the PDP has failed Nigeria would be looking in the direction of APC to show that an alliance between the mainstream political forces of the far North and the West could save the country. Others would believe that a failure of the opposition in the region, following the installation of Labour PDP in Ondo and Fayose PDP in Ekiti signals a new national political equation.

If I were permitted a vote, my heart and head are agreed that Aregbesola is the true way to success and progress.