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Osun 2022: Contenders angling for Oyetola’s seat

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As the 2022 governorship election approaches in Osun State, governorship aspirants are already warming up to emerge as the flag bearers of their respective political parties. ‘Dare Odufowokan, Assistant Editor, reports on the next political moves of the governor and the politicians who want his job and how they plan to run the race.

The 2022 Osun State gubernatorial election will take place on July 16, 2022, to elect the Governor of Osun State. Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has fixed the date for the conduct of the 2022 governorship election in Osun State. The commission’s timetable, signed by Rose Oriaran-Anthony, INEC Secretary, said notice of elections and every other build ups would begin on February 15, 2022.

She said that collection of Form EC9 (formerly CF001) and EC9B (formerly CF002) for the election by political parties on INEC website would be on February 16, 2022, adding that February 16 to March 12, 2022 is fixed for political parties to conduct their primaries and resolve disputes that may arise from them.

“The tenure of the Governor of Osun State will expire on the 26th November 2022. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 178 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25 (7) and (8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the earliest date for the Election into the office of the Governor, Osun State, shall be the 28 June, 2022 and the latest date for the Election shall be 27 October, 2022.

“By virtue of the provisions of Section 178 (2) of the Constitution and Section 25 (8) of the Electoral Act, Election into the office of a. State Governors shall hold not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office. The Commission is by virtue of Section 30 (1) of the Electoral Act, expected to issue Notice of the Election not later than 90 days before the date of the Election.

“This is in exercise of the powers conferred on INEC by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1959 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and of all other powers enabling it in that behalf,” the notice read in parts”, part of the statement read. It also listed March 25, 2022, as the date for the publication of personal particulars (EC9) and April 8 as the last day for the withdrawal/replacement of candidates by political parties. The notice also stated April 17, 2022, as the date for the official commencement of campaigns by parties.

Incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) governor, Gboyega Oyetola is eligible for reelection. Though he is yet to officially announce his desire to seek re-election, sources very close to him confirmed to The Nation that the Iragbiji-born politicians will definitely contest the 2022 gubernatorial election next year. The primaries that will produce the gubernatorial candidates of the various political parties are scheduled for between February 16 and March 12, 2022.

Oyetola’s APC

In spite of the fact that Governor Oyetola is yet to indicate his interest in a second term, no chieftains of the ruling party in the state has shown interest in the APC’s gubernatorial ticket till now. Some watchers of the political goings on in Osun State believe that next year’s governorship poll in the state presents a golden opportunity for the current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola to settle their old scores.

Aregbesola is the immediate past governor of the state. And, since Oyetola succeeded him in 2018, the ruling APChas been troubled as observers insist there has been no love lost between the political camps of the two political giants, though the duo constantly denied that there is any rift between them. But some moves by the two politicians as well as the actions and body language of their supporters have been reflecting that they are not on one page as far politics is concerned.

Amidst their constant denials, concerned APC leaders including Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande, made attempts to settle their differences in December 2020 at Akande’s country home, Ila-Oragun. But it appeared the efforts failed to yield the desired results as aides and associates of the two erstwhile political allies continued to throw brickbats that present the ruling party as a house seriously divided against itself.

Sources said Aregbesola and Oyetola have been trying to play down their rift with maturity based on their relationship with Tinubu. While Aregbesola regards Tinubu as his political godfather, Oyetola is said to be a nephew to the former Lagos State governor. But the activities of their supporters on social media platforms, where they throw banters, exchange allegations and trade words on behalf of their principals, leave nobody in doubt of the situation of things between the two camps.

Although some analysts point to the suspected rift between Oyetola and Aregbesola as one development that could lead to Oyetola failing to be nominated as the APC gubernatorial flagbearer in 2022, Osun APC Chairman, Gboyega Famoodun allayed such fears when he claimed that Oyetola is widely accepted throughout the state and local APC chapters and thus would have the support of majority of the members of the party in the state should he decide to seek re-election in 2022.

But Kolapo Alimi, a former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in Osun State, who is the legal adviser to The Osun Progressives (TOP), says it is untrue for anybody to say there is no rift between Oyetola and Aregbesola. “I am a Muslim and I call a spade a spade. Ask anybody in Osun if that statement is true. I don’t know how people would have faith and would be telling blatant lie. If he doesn’t have issues with Aregbesola, how many times have you seen him with Aregbesola or in Aregbesola’s office? How many times have you seen Aregbesola in the Osun State Government House?

“Anytime Aregbesola wants to come to this place (state), they would want to create one problem or the other. He is taking the government under which he served for eight years as an opposition government. The opposition could not have done worse. Governor Makinde is a PDP governor. How many times have you seen him rubbishing Ajimobi? If he says some people are fighting him because of appointment and some people believe him, let them believe him. I challenge him to mention any lawyer in his cabinet now that worked for him,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, Oyetola has said that those parading themselves as members of TOP are not speaking the mind of his predecessor. Oyetola said that having worked for the success of Aregbesola to be governor for eight years, there was no reason he would not support his own bid for a second term. “I’m not too sure that the people that have been saying that are saying his (Aregbesola) mind. I believe he is my brother and I believe at any point in time, he wants my success because I worked very hard for eight years for his own success as well.

“If people are saying that (that they won’t support me) I’m not too sure they are telling the story from his own heart. He remains my brother. They are not speaking his mind. Like I said, I don’t see why he would not be willing to support me if the people say they want me,” the governor said, insisting that all is well between him and the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.

However, Adelowo Adebiyi, the TOP Chairman, said the governor is entitled to his opinion. “Aregbesola is our leader and the Chairman of the Board of trustee of TOP. He said it openly that he believes in the ideology of TOP, he said it openly. The real issue we have is not about second term but the party. If he (the governor) is interested in second term, let him show interest and the party will decide on who contest with the party’s ticket.”

Speaking on the alleged rift in Osun APC, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ijesha North, Rt. Rev. Isaac Oluyamo, called on factions within the party to stop creating a crisis between the Governor and Rauf Aregbesola, his predecessor in office. The Bishop said that since the governor has come out to say that there is no rift between him and the former governor, who is now the Minister of Interior, members of the party should bury the hatchets and join hands with the two leaders to help the state grow.

“I don’t know why some people within the ruling All Progressives Congress in Osun are unnecessarily creating a crisis where there is none. They should all come together to join hands with the governor to continue the good work he is doing. He has come out to say that there is no rift between him and Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, his predecessor in office. So, factions within the party should just stop whatever they are trying to do and give the governor the full support he needs to work for the progress of our state,’ he warned.

PDP’s growing list

Unlike the APC, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not lacking in willing chieftains interested in the party’s 2022 gubernatorial ticket. Ademola Adeleke, former Osun West Senator and 2018 guber nominee, has already declared his readiness to once again, seek to become governor of the state. In fact, the leadership of the state PDP recently courted controversy when it claimed that while “the majority of our party stakeholders” were supporting Adeleke, all contenders were allowed to run in the primary.

On his return to the state during the week, Adeleke, while disclosing that he is ready to flag off his campaign without blocking those interested in contesting for the PDP governorship ticket in the state from gunning for it, urged Governor Oyetola to start preparing his handover notes, saying his days as Governor are numbered. “The ruling party has messed up the state since coming to power. I am appealing to the Governor, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola to start preparing his handover notes because his days as Governor are numbered.

“I am back and ready to kick start my campaign. PDP belongs to everyone, I can’t stop anyone interested in the party’s ticket from contesting it, but l appeal for decency among everyone for peace within the party and the state”, he said. PDP Chairman in the state, Sunday Bisi, while welcoming the senator applauded his courage to throw his hat into the ring once again after he was allegedly “robbed of victory during the last governorship election in the state.”

“You have assured us that you are better positioned to drive the process of growth in our dear State and Nigeria as a whole. Let me use this medium to warm those who feel they can subdue our party with force of violence to desist forthwith. Such vain effort cannot get at us as our courage is too fortified to be discouraged. Testing the will of our people through any form of violence of is an effort in futility but stretching it further will backfire. We will not warn you again”, he said.

Also warming up to enter the guber contest again is Akin Ogunbiyi, Chairman of Mutual Benefits Assurance and similarly 2018 PDP gubernatorial aspirant. During the week, while lamenting that inexperience led to his eventual loss of PDP governorship ticket in 2018, Ogunbiyi affirmed that, he would re-contest for the same position in the next dispensation to make the state more virile. He assured that his newly acquired political experiences will now assist him to steer the ship of the state to a promise land.

“I actually won the ticket of the Osun gubernatorial race in 2018 but my political inexperience made me lose it. Today, I assure the entire people of Osun state that I will contest in 2022 under the platform of PDP. 2018 has come and gone. It is a fool that will fall and be discouraged. If I had known this much in 2018, I would not have lost. I won glaringly but now the oppressor is the one being oppressed,” he announced, ending months of speculations over his next political move.

There are also indications that the lawmaker representing Ijesa-North Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon Wole Oke, is interested in the 2022 governorship ticket of the PDP to contest the 2022 gubernatorial election in the State of Osun. Sources within the state claimed Oke, who is in his fifth-term at the House of Representatives, has been reaching out to leaders of the party within and outside the state, to inform them of his governorship ambition amidst the crisis rocking the party.

When asked about his reported governorship ambition, Oke said: “My Brother that’s interesting if people are wishing me well to be their Governor. You are putting the cart before the horse. Gubernatorial project is not a child’s play. What you are seeing are wishes of the people. 2022 is a long time,” he said. But some of his close allies have been making moves that suggest the federal legislator may be consulting widely ahead of his now expected declaration for the 2022 governorship contest on the platform of the opposition party.

There are many other potential gubernatorial candidates still expected to join the race for the PDP ticket. Among them is Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, former Minister of Youth Development and 2018 PDP gubernatorial aspirant. The 64years-old politician hails from Ode-Omu in Ayedaade Local Government Area of the state. He represented Osun West senatorial district at the national assembly under the PDP platform between 2003 and 2007. He later served as Minister of Youth Development from 2007 to 2011. He is yet to declare his ambition.

Another potential PDP aspirant is Fatai Akinade Akinbade, former Secretary to the State Government and 2018 African Democratic Congres (ADC) gubernatorial nominee. An indigene of Ogbaagba in Ayedire Local Government Area of Osun State, he was a three-term Commissioner under the military regime before his appointment as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) in 2003, a position he held until November 2010.

Akinbade, a two-time governorship candidate contested under the Labour Party (LP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) platforms in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

Prince Ayoade Adewopo, the Convener of “Ayombo Si Ipinle Osun Movement”, is another PDP chieftain to watch out for. According to very reliable party sources, the Ife-born blue blood commands a lot of respect and followership within the opposition party, especially among the young Turks. “Adewopo, though he lost in his bid last time, remains a front-liner in the race for 2022. He is still much sought after by party members, especially the younger ones,” a party official said.

It is not only the APC and the PDP that are getting ready for 2022. A governorship aspirant on the platform of the Young Progressives Party, (YPP) Dr. Musbaudeen Oparinde, on Monday, while declaring his intention to contest the 2022 Osun governorship election, charged youths to participate actively in politics. The statement read in part, “In a meeting with the state working committee of the Young Progressives Party in Osun State, I have formally declared my ambition to run under the platform of the party.”

APC still confident

In spite of claims by the opposition parties in the state and some analysts that the ruling party is weakened by internal wrangling and alleged non-performance, Osun State Commissioner for Works and Transport, Engr, Oluremi Omowaiye, said Senator Adeleke of the PDP cannot defeat him in any election, not to talk of defeating Governor Adegboyega Oyetola. Omowaiye said Adeleke and his supporters are daydreaming if they believe that what happened in the 2018 governorship election, when the APC had a tough time in defeating the PDP will repeat itself again.

“Ademola (Adeleke) cannot defeat me in any election not to talk of Governor Oyetola. If I run with him today, he cannot defeat me. Don’t also forget that there were a lot of crises in the state which built up till the governorship election in 2018. We had issues of salary modulated payment, religious crisis when students were wearing cassocks, Muslim regalia and masquerade outfits to school. We were also having a regular crisis with the organised labour in the state. This is Oyetola’s third year in government and there has not been a single labour crisis.

“In fact, during the last May Day rally, the workers endorsed the governor for a second term. That is one of the ways to gauge a government that is loved by the people. There has not been single unrest in the state, except the #EndSARS protest which was a national issue. Then, people were angry because of a lot of things and we sincerely looked at the issues and addressed them. Where we needed to make adjustments, we did that. Today, Osun is among the few states paying minimum wage.

“We have paid a lot of outstanding pensions and gratuities. In Ilesha where I hailed from, the biggest market called Atakumosa market got burnt in 2015. Again, part of it got burnt in 2018. We could not repair it from 2015 till 2020 that we embarked upon the repair. Today, we have finished the first phase of modernising the market. As I speak, the second phase is going to start this week. We have restored back school uniforms and names of schools. So, the people are happy with this administration and therefore, it is not possible for the candidate of any party to defeat Governor Oyetola,” he assured.

Speaking on the 2022 governorship election recently, Oyetola himself said it is not true that a ‘serious quarrel” existing within the ruling APC in the state is threatening the party’s victory at the next gubernatorial election. While admitting that there are pockets of disagreements here and there within the APC in the state, the governor said there were ongoing efforts to reach out to those that had disagreements basically on principle with his administration with a view to resolving the issues.

“Election winners are determined by performance or ratings by people but most importantly, God determines winners of election. There is no real quarrel in APC. What we have is basically disagreement on principles,” the governor assured.

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