By Akinwale Kasali
Less than 24 hours to the Osun State governorship election, the state has been beefed up with security details from all the forces. In every nooks and crannies, from Oshogbo, to Ife, Ilesha, Ila Orangun, Ede, Modakeke, Ijesha and its environs, security personnels could be seen roaming round the streets, getting prepapared for Saturday’s election which is mainly between the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Social Democratic Party, SDP, candidates.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, state Resident Electoral Commission, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, has warned politicians not to misinterpret the commission’s electoral rules for their selfish aims.
Agbaje was reacting to the allegations that the commission had placed a total ban on the usage of mobile phones and cameras at polling units.
Speaking on Friday at a press conference at the commission’s office in Osogbo, the state capital, the REC said it was not true that the commission had asked voters not to come to polling units with their phones.
He clarified that the commission only asked voters not to hold their phones inside the voting cubicle, in a bid to curb vote-buying, a phenomenon that has marred elections in the past.
He said, “It is important to once again clear the air on some baseless allegations being peddled around by some critical stakeholders, such as the banning of phones and other cameras at the polling unit; giving out of uncollected Permanent Voter Cards to a certain political party; preparing the Smart Card Readers to favour a particular political party; and that INEC will be biased during the election.
“The allegations are not true. They are figments of the imaginations of those that made them, as they have not been able to substantiate them as I speak to you. INEC did not place a ban on phones and other camera devices at the polling units.
“What INEC said is that voters should not carry their phones or other camera devices into the voting cubicles where the voter will mark the ballot so as to safeguard the secrecy of the ballot.
“Voters are free to come with their phones and other camera devices; what we are saying is that at the cubicle where they will be casting their votes, they can’t be allowed to go in with anything except the voting materials.”
Agbaje also warned politicians and voters against vote-buying, and vote-selling, saying the commission was ready to unleash the full wrath of the law on anyone found doing so.
Omisore has a very massive grassroots support in the state and his victory would bring together all the disgruntled elements and his emergence as the governor would re-harmonize the Osun SDP and as a remarkable financier of the SDP in the state. He will be ready to provide the needed financial muzzle to withstand the APC and PDP money bags. Since Omisore had once occupied the deputy governorship seat of the state and had once been in power, the influence they will wield on the electorate is inexplicable.
It should be noted that Senator Omisore is very strong as he has the ears of the “Who-is-who” that is believed to be in line with his political tactics.
With his closeness with powerful politicians in the country and Osun State, his stints at the senate and presidency have made him to be the outstanding and an exposed politician in the field of politics. His campaign train is also moving fast to all nook and cranny of the state to convince the electorate that SDP is the only political party that has the chances of winning the forthcoming election in the state.
Also, his structure and followership are his greatest source of influence and power. Omisore’s has direct access to the people in power; his impeccable antecedents at the Senate, his romance with some political leadership are bases of his influence and power. It should be noted that his presence would cause a stir in the camp of the opposition during the election and as such we cannot but say he is a very strong personality to be reckoned with in Osun 2018 polls.
However, the age-long unsubstantiated allegation of his alleged involvement in the murder of late Chief Bola Ige may be his albatross, even though the court has vindicated him.
Political pundits are tipping Alhaji Adegoyega Oyetola of the APC as the person that could likely be the next governor of the state, putting into consideration the Aregbesola/Tinubu factor.
Until his emergence as APC candidate in the state, Oyetola was the Chief of Staff (COS) to Governor Rauf Aregbesola. But he is a “foreign” politician who does not have his political roots in Osun State.
Born in Iragbiji of Boripe Local Government of the state of on September 29, 1954 he attended University of Lagos, where he bagged Bachelor of Science and Master Degrees in Business Administration with specialisation in Finance from the same University of Lagos in 1990. He is a successful insurance magnate and was appointed as the Chief of Staff by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on January 7, 2011. It is being rumored that he is Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s first cousin.
His influence and weight in his home town remain cloudy, dicey and un-predictable as he is still learning the politics of the state.
However, his political backer and mentor – Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola- who has achieved greatly in giving dividends of democracy to the people of the state could be considered as his ladder to the Osun State helm of affairs.
The outgoing governor would not want to lose at the poll but to win to boost the chances of APC in Osun State for another four years after expiration of his tenure. The party’s victory in the state will soften the ground for further elections in 2019 and at the same time plant his political machinery on ground to dismantle any opposition.
The influence Aregbesola and power of incumbency which he wields so strongly is a strong factor and the governor in his hometown Ilesha, can convince his kinsmen so easily and this will help him sell APC to them bearing in mind that his constituency is one of the largest voting zones which dictate who governs the state.
From all indications, his dream of planting his successor on the seat may be realized since he has a structure on ground, he continues with such. His vision for qualitative education, health, agriculture and roads will be better intensified if re-elected.
Without mincing words, Ogbeni Aregbesola is a strong political APC stalwart and as the governor, he is a grassroots mobiliser. His affinity to Asiwaju Tinubu is a plus for him and this will definitely boost successor ego. The financial wherewithal is no problem for him, as the incumbent, he has access to resources to face anyone.
Another dream of Ogbeni Aregbesola is a matter of continuity as he would work so assiduously to retain the seat for his successor to ensure that all his projects and legacies are not rubbished by any successive government; knowing full well that he was the initiator of such projects.
Of equal importance is the federal might and supports of neigbouring states in the South-West. On Thursday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led several governors and party leaders to the state rally to boost his moral with the broom revolution.
But considering the fact that he is from Ilesha, he is definitely going to meet a very stiff opposition in the likes of Chief Ebenezer Babatope and Erelu Olusola Obada, who are from the same place with him. The Ilesha people may definitely split their votes for these giant politicians. Since he is vying for governorship, people tend to see other politicians from the zone as home based while Ogbeni is seen as an ‘imported’ politician from Lagos who did not actually spend most of his life at the grassroots.
But to his credit, his educational and infrastructure reforms are to certain extent-remarkable only that his classification exercise married its achievements relatively. Summarily, Governor Aregbesola is a strong APC stalwart with former Governors Bisi Akande and Ahmed Tinubu being his mentors and godfathers. His popularity amongst civil servants hangs in the middle as the pacts with Osun labour unions have not been fully implemented.
Non-payment of workers’ full salaries is a major hindrance. Of course, this could be a major reason why his candidate may be voted out on election day. Osun is a civil servants’ state and if the workers determine not to vote for his successor, it means, the party and the candidate would lose during the exercises.
Also, failure of the government to pay compensation to many of the people rendered homeless by government through its urban renewal policy and still squatting in friends’ houses is a major problem. As a result of this, they might not vote for his candidate at the poll.
There are so many aggrieved party members who were opposed to the emergence of Oyetola as the party flag bearer for the race. Out of these members, thousands had defected to other political parties while some are believed to remain in APC to serve as spy for those who had already left. This development may cripple APC chances at the poll.
Some indigenes of the state who are members of the APC are said to be opposed to his candidacy for eight reasons. They said though the voted for Aregbesola four years ago because they were convinced he was the best candidate, today, they simply not convinced that Alhaji Oyetola has what it takes to make a positive difference.
They said the continuity agenda indicated that Oyetola wants to perpetuate current government’s “heritage of half salaries, non-payment of pensions and arrogance of ignorance that pervades the land, conflict of interest in the collection of the state’s IGR and lack of preparedness on the part of the candidate.” They also fear that Oyetola, who is from Iragbiji might turn out working for a surrogate governor in Lagos.