By Victor Adeoti
It is no longer news that 48 political parties will participate in September 22 governorship election in Osun, more than twice of 20 political parties that did same in August 9, 2014, the results of election which favoured the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
But the concern of the 1,682,495 registered voters in the state has been about which among the political parties will produce the state governor to be sworn-in in Nov. 27.
Political observers, nonetheless, believe that no fewer than five political parties out of the number are strong.
The contenders in the perceived strong political parties include Gboyega Oyetola of the ruling APC; Ademola Adeleke, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Moshood Adeoti; Action Democratic Party, ADP; Iyiola Omisore, Social Democratic Party, SDP and; Fatai Akinbade, African Democratic Congress, ADC.
If administrative acumen, political experience, exposure, performance and power of incumbency are anything to go by in the election, political observers rate Oyetola high.
Mr Oyetola, the chief of staff to the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, since 2010, won the APC direct primary on July 21, with 127,017 votes to defeat other 16 aspirants.
According to some political public officers, Mr Oyetola can be described as the engine room of Mr Aregbesola’s administration that played pivotal roles in infrastructural development of the state.
The power of incumbency is also a plus for him as he has the support of all Aregbesola’s cabinet members who are working for him, they observe further.
Of course, contesting on the platform of the ruling APC, it is expected that Oyetola will enjoy federal might.
In the calculations of the political stakeholders in the state, Oyetola has a chance of becoming the next governor of the state given that is from Osun Central which has the highest population in the state.
These advantages, notwithstanding, there are some perceived hindrances to this; the recent gale of defection of chieftains and members of his party to ADP, ADC and other parties.
Among the defectors include the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Moshood Adeoti, the party’s Vice Chairman Azeez Adesiji, Chairman of Local Service Commission Peter Babalola, Sen. Bayo Salami and Mr Ademola Ekundayo, Chairman APC Integrity Group, among others that worked for Aregbesola’s victory in 2010.
Political analysts note that these elements, of course, will no longer support Aregbesola’s candidate — Oyetola.
Another contentious issue is non-payment of salary, gratuity and pension in the administration that Oyetola participated, which led to the introduction of a modulated salary regime since 2015.
The hardship that citizens of the state have experienced by non-payment of full salary and pensions has led to loss of confidence in APC, analysts observe.
Ademola Adeleke, seeking election on the platform of the major opposition PDP in the state, won the party’s primary on July 21, with 1, 569votes to defeat Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, who scored 1, 1562.
Political observers believe that Adeleke will be leveraging on the goodwill of his late brother, Isiaka Adeleke, to win the election.
They note it is on this platform that the younger Adeleke got people’s vote on July 9, 2017 that guaranteed him victory which earned him the senatorial seat to replace his elder brother after his demise.
They also recalled that the late Adeleke was representing Osun West Senatorial district at the Senate before his death on April 23, 2017.
According to him, a similar scenario is likely to replay in this governorship election because the Adeleke supporters may still work by sentiment and vote for the PDP.
Also, the demand by the people of Osun West Senatorial District that the zone is the next to produce the next governor might also work for Adeleke since he falls within the zone.
In spite of this, critics of Adeleke believe that PDP cannot be said to enjoy absolute chances of victory during the election.
According to them, the choice of Adeleke for governor in Osun has been shrouded in controversy occasioned by the allegation that he forged his secondary school certificate.
Even, some aggrieved members of the party filed suits seeking an injunction at the Osun State High Court to prevail on the party at the national level to withdraw his candidacy, the note.
Although the plaintiffs later withdrew the case and the matter was settled out of court, there are insinuations from certain quarters that somebody who does not have a school certificate may not have adequate intellectual capacity to govern the state.
Another contending party is ADP that presents Mr Moshood Adeoti, the immediate Secretary to the State Government, as governorship candidate.
Adeoti is one of the 17 aspirants that contested the APC primary and lost, although observers insist that he withdrew shortly before the primary, he later defected to ADP on July 23.
If the zoning sentiment “West lokan’’ (It is the turn of the West) is popular, then Adeoti has chances because he is from Iwo in Osun West Senatorial District, analysts note.
Osun West had had a stint in the governorship once when the late Isiaka Adeleke from Ede spent only two years in office as the first civilian governor.
Since then, Osun Central Bisi Akande and Olagunsoye Oyinlola took their turns; Akande spent four years in office and Oyinlola took over from him and spent seven years in office.
By further analysis, Osun East has taken its turn with Aregbesola who will soon complete eight years in office.
Altogether, Osun Central alone got 11 years, Osun East had eight years while Osun west got only two years, if Adeoti is favoured by this analysis, then he has a platform to contest.
Also, the clamour to accord Osun West a fair play if the people of the state would work by zoning arrangement may leave victory arena open to Adeoti and Adeleke who are both from Osun West.
However, political pundits note that Adeoti has a better chance since he is from Iwo that has never tasted it but the late Adeleke from Ede, Osun West had had it once.
Apart from this calculation, observers insist that Adeoti’s background as a grassroots politician is a big plus for him.
On the other hand, critics allege that Adeoti was a part of government that threw the people into hardship due to non-payment of salaries, pensions and gratuity when he served as Secretary to the State Government.
Iyiola Omisore, a former PDP member who defected to SPD on May 20, is also a force to reckon with in the governorship election.
Mr Omisore has been seeking for the governorship seat since 1999 when Akande clinched the Alliance for Democracy ticket and he (Omisore) became the deputy; since then, he has not given up the battle.
With this background, analysts say he has the chance of winning because he has full support of his people in Osogbo and Ile-Ife where he comes from.
Based on the sentiment of determination and his love for civil servants when he was deputy governor, observers believe that he may do well at the poll.
However, his longstanding controversies with the PDP, where he was a landmark politician can be his albatross.
In addition, zoning arrangement does not favour him because he is from Osun East which had enjoyed an eight-year tenure featuring Aregbesola.
Fatai Akinbade, the ADC candidate allegedly has the backing of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
Mr Akinbade, a grassroots politician, contested PDP primary and lost but resigned his membership of the party on July 24.
Mr Akinbade was former Secretary to the State Government in the days of Mr Oyinlola and commissioner for works, being a significant figure in Oyinlola’s development strides in the state.
Also, if picking a female as running mate will boost number of women voters, then his choice of Olamide Oloyede as his deputy can be a winning strategy.
All in all, on September 22, the die is cast and the stage is set for the political gladiators to test their might but the question among the residents of the state now is who will occupy Bola Ige House in the governorship election?