Saturday, 2 August 2014

Osun 2014: One seat, 20 contenders

Going by the array of contenders, altogether 20 of them, the August 9th governorship election in Osun State promises to be tough as early signs also indicate.
It is one contest that elicits interests even from unexpected quarters. Even the nation holds its breath as the August 9 date draws closer. The outcome of the governorship election in Osun State, according to the general belief, would be the decider of which political party controls the south-west in the 2015 general elections.
And the signs so far indicate that the contest would be tough as expected going by the number contestants in the race. Twenty candidates from various political parties are expected to test their popularity and strength at the polls. The electioneering process is at its peak and the atmosphere is tense even as the people of the state remain apprehensive. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is ready for the epic battle and has assured all the candidates of a level playing field. The 20 political parties in the race have in
turn also pledged their support for the commission to enable it conduct a free, fair and credible election on August 9.
Though INEC promised equal treatment for all the candidates, it is obvious that the candidates are not equal in terms of their stake considering the level of their commitment to the electioneering process.
Out of the 20 candidates, six are major players in the politics of the state. These include the incumbent governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), Senator Iyiola Omisore of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Fatai Akinbade of Labour Party (LP), Elder Segun Akinwusi of Social Democratic Party (SDP) Mr. Niyi Owolade of Accord Party (AP) and Senator Sunday Fajimi of Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Among the six, only three –Aregbesola, Omisore and Akinbade are on the forefront given the status of their political parties, popularity, their personal pedigree and influence within and outside the state.
The other 14 candidates include Mr Babatunde Oralusi of Action Alliance (AA), Olufemi Adeleke Hammed of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Agboola Azeez Obasanjo of African People’s Alliance (APA), Akintunde Adebimpe Adetunji of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Afolayanka Olarenwaju Jimoh of National Conscience Party (NCP), Adefare SegunA degoke of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Oludare Timothy Akinola of People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), Ganiyu Abiodun Lawal of Progressive People’s Allaince (PPA), Funsho Toyin Bunmi of United Democratic Party (UDP), Adeoti Ibrahim Abiodun of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Prince Victor Olusegun Adeniyi of United People’s Party (UPP), Rafiu Shehu Anifowose of Citizens’ Popular Party (CPP), Babatunde Adetoro Mega Progressive People’s Party (MPPP) and Ojo Gbenga Gabriel of African Development Congress (ADC).
Information about these candidates is sketchy because many of them are relatively unknown in the real and actual political calculation and permutation in the state. Among the six popular candidates, the real contest is between Aregbesola and Omisore barring unforeseen circumstances.
Rauf Aregbesola
Aregbesola is the candidate of APC and incumbent governor of the state. His influence is unprecedented considering his status and performance, which earned him support of the people of the state. The APC candidate also has the backing of former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other APC chieftains across the country as well as all APC governors. Aregbesola, popularly known as ‘Ogbeni,’ who is 56years old, is a force to reckon with not only in Osun politics but in the entire south-west, owing to his closeness with Tinubu who seems to be the rallying point of south-west politics.
Aregbesola is perhaps the most popular of all the candidates. He has held mega rallies in all the nine federal constituencies of the state to canvass for votes. However, some of his policies, especially the merger of schools, may work against him, while analysts contend that he may not survive the federal might during the impending contest as the Ekiti example has shown.
Senator Iyiola Omisore
Omisore, the candidate of the PDP, is a doctoral degree holder, who is influential within and outside the state. Senator Omisore, who was in the upper chamber of the National Assembly for eight years served as chairman of the senate appropriationscommittee. He enjoys the support of the Presidency and the entire PDP governors in the country.
He is the major challenger to Aregbesola’s aspiration for a second term. The victory of PDP in the recent governorship election in Ekiti State, which saw Mr. Ayo Fayose defeating Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has also boosted the hope and chances of Omisore. He held only one mega rally when he first declared his ambition to contest and an event that shook the state to its foundations with the mammoth crowd that graced the occasion.
The second mega rally of the PDP candidate is expected to be attended by President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark and all PDP governors, senators members of the House of Representatives as well as ministers.
Alhaji Fatai Akinbade
Alhaji Fatai Akinbade is the candidate of Labour Party. He is 59-year-old and holds a Higher National Diploma (HND). Akinbade, who was the secretary to the Osun State government during the tenure of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, is making waves in the race. Akinbade’s campaigns have been very moderate given the strength of the PDP and APC candidates. Though Akinbade is loved and he is very popular among the people, he has limitations financially.
He has organised two mega rallies in Osogbo and the turnout was very impressive. Akinbade seems to be banking on the support of Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, who also won his election on the platform of LP but he may be disappointed considering the relationship between Omisore and Mimiko, who are childhood friends and are very close.
Surprisingly, Akinbade is insisting that he will win the election and his followers believe him.
Mr. Niyi Owolade
The former attorney general and commissioner for Justice in the last administration in the state, Mr.Niyi Owolade is the candidate of Accord Party. Owolade who hails from Ifetedo is a lawyer and a former deputy speaker of the state house of assembly. He did not organise any major rally for the election except the press conferences he held in Osogbo recently. He is not likely to go far because he comes from the same area with Omisore.
Mr Akinwusi Olusegun
Olusegun is a former head of service in the state who joined active politics after his retirement few years ago. Though he has intellectual capability, he cannot do much considering the financial factor.
Senator Sunday Olawale Fajimi
A former member of the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Fajimi, who hails from Iwo is the candidate of AD. At a political rally in his hometown where he declared his ambition, Fajimi told journalists that he was determined to wrest power from Aregbesola with the hope of executing people oriented programmes as enunciated by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The 61-year-old holds a HNDin Business Studies and he is a marketer. He joined the race late and from all indications, his desire is to retain the name of his party in the mind of the voters rather than win the election.
Few days into the contest, high-wire politicking and intrigues have been on the increase as candidates and their parties struggle to outsmart one another, while security agencies are sending signals to everyone that there would be no room for trouble-makers. What is very clear is that the impending contest would no doubt be tough and the stage is really set for all the contenders.

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