Osun 2022: Lead actors commence mobilisation

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Following the timetable recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Osun State Governorship Election, lead actors in the politics of the state have commenced massive mobilisation to determine the likely candidates of the leading political parties, reports Associate Editor, Sam Egburonu.

Osun State’s politics has received fresh breath following the recent timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Osun State Governorship Election scheduled for July 16, 2022.

Our investigation during the week shows that some of the political leaders in the state did not waste time at all after INEC’s announcement before reaching out to the field coordinators of their political structures to commence mobilisation.

INEC has fixed date for the conduct of the 2022 governorship election in the state for July 16, 2022. The commission’s statement, signed by Rose Oriaran-Anthony, INEC Secretary, said notice of elections and every other build up would begin on February 15, 2022.

She added 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.

According to the commission, “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, 2020, as the date for the official commencement of campaigns by parties.

Battle of the Lords kicks off

In the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State, the battle of the political lords has already become a public issue. Barely days after INEC announced the governorship election date, some party stakeholders rang the opening bell when they gave a hint that Senator Ademola Adeleke, the party’s former governorship candidate during the 2018 election, may be adopted as the party’s candidate in the 2022 election.

The PDP Director of Media and Publicity in the state, Oladele Bamiji, who made this disclosure on a radio programme, however said the adoption of Adeleke will not stop any other aspirant from contesting the primaries.

According to him, every interested aspirant is free to come and test the primaries in the state. Recalling the 2018 PDP primary in the state where, according to him, Adeleke performed excellently to emerge the party’s candidate, he denied the allegation that the party is planning to sponsor a sole candidate for the election.

In his words, “Ademola Adeleke emerged as the PDP flagbearer in the 2018 election even though he was not the favourite to win the party primaries.

“The reason for the Adeleke candidacy is not far-fetched. He was victorious in 2018 until it was stolen from Abuja.

“Every aspirant must face the people in the primaries and it is possible for another aspirant to win”.

As would be expected, this suggestion has sparked off a heated debate as supporters of businessman cum politician, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, expressed shock at the suggestion of the party sponsoring a sole candidate.

It would be recalled that the two political leaders were also rivals during the last primaries leading to the last governorship election in the state. At the end of the election, Ogunbiyi rejected the outcome of the party’s primary, and alleged that the election was rigged in favour of Adeleke. He alleged that “some infractions compromised the integrity of the exercise and made the results clearly unacceptable.” According to him, such infractions include “non-adherence to the clear provisions of the electoral guidelines and unfortunate manipulation of the accreditation, voting, sorting and counting of the votes cast by delegates at the primaries.”

Although the two political leaders fought deeply, the two camps later reunited towards the 2018 governorship election. It was however alleged that the reconciliation followed some negotiations and agreed secret pact. However, since Adeleke lost the governor’s seat to the candidate of APC, there has been uneasy calm in the camp of the two political gladiators. With the announcement of the timetable for the 2022 elections, especially with the suggestion that Adeleke may be adopted as the sole candidate, the battle line has been redrawn.

For example, Osun State federal lawmaker, representing Ede/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon Bamidele Salam, re-ignited the fire when he repeated the suggestion of the party’s leaders that seemed to suggest that Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi may not stand a chance of clinching the governorship ticket of the party in 2022.

He was quoted as saying: “I know Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi very well; he is a brother that I respect so much, but you know that when we talk about politics, we talk about the name, influence, and networking. Ogunbiyi is nowhere near the Adelekes. I give him due honour; he is a very good and capable man but he can also be very useful in other areas but certainly not as the governor this time around.”

Reacting to this assessment of their political leader, the political campaign group of Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi during the week berated the Osun Federal lawmaker, Hon Bamidele Salam, for what they described as “dampening of the quest of businessman cum politician to contest election on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in 2022.”

A statement signed by the Director of Strategy, Idera de Movement, Kunle Omolere, said that Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi is eminently qualified and possesses the required qualities to lead the PDP to victory.

He said that “desperate attempts at blowing off Ogunbiyi’s candle would not brighten Ademola Adeleke’s chances in the 2022 governorship election.

“Ogunbiyi is better placed and, given his track record of service to humanity and growth, having stimulated several businesses from nothing to stardom will make a good governor if saddled with the lofty responsibility.

“It is shameful and rather ridiculous seeing Bamidele and other supporters of the absentee aspirant banking on irrelevancies, guilt and manipulation to push his ambition instead of rolling out the unique selling points of the man, if he has any, apart from his good dancing steps.

“PDP delegates and the general public have seen through and know the aspirant who will not make a good governor if given the chance. They know the aspirant with the improbable academic record.”

Will Oyetola, Aregbesola’s supporters agree on APC ticket?

In the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), there is fear that the forthcoming primary election may not be an easy exercise as many believe that it may provide an opportunity for the current Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola to settle their alleged old scores.

Party insiders in the state, who expressed this fear, alleged that although Aregbesola is the immediate past governor of the state, who handed over to Oyetola, there has been no love lost between the two since 2018 when Aregbesola left office and handed over to Oyetola.

Notwithstanding that the two leaders had on several occasions denied having any rift between them, close observers allege that their actions and body language, also reflected by their supporters and loyalists, confirm that they are hardly on one page, especially on how APC affairs would be administered in the state.

An top stakeholder in the state, who is a party chieftain in the state, told The Nation in confidence that the matter had been brought to the party leaders in the Southwest zone and at the national level. “This matter has been reported to our leaders in the Southwest zone and in Abuja. But unfortunately, the two leaders do not agree at all. This has affected our party here in Osun. I can therefore confirm to you that as we approach a fresh primary election, there is fear within the party that supporters of the two leaders will use this opportunity to wage a political war. How this will pan out is yet to be seen,” he said.

It would be recalled that it was Aregbesola, then as the outgoing governor that campaigned for Oyetola, who served as his Chief of Staff till 2018 and assisted him to emerge as governor. But after Oyetola emerged as the governor, some of his aides alleged that Aregbesola, the minister, wanted to remain the leader, calling the shots in Osun State APC. The governor’s aides said such an arrangement did not go down well with Oyetola.

So, as the ruling party prepares for the forthcoming primary election, The Nation learnt from some insiders that Governor Oyetola’s bid to fly the party’s flag for a second term may not go unchallenged. As our source puts it, “Ordinarily, we expect Governor Oyetola to be given an automatic ticket to contest for a second term. But following the disagreement between the governor’s supporters and former governor Aregbesola’s supporters, everyone expects a possible formidable opponent. So, if this happens, the primary election may be contentious,” he said.

Notwithstanding the intrigues already playing out amongst the top political leaders, some possible aspirants, aside Adeleke and Ogunbiyi have been mentioned in the media. They include,

Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, 65, the 2018 African Democratic Congress (ADC) governorship candidate; Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi, 64, a former Minister of Youth Development, who aspired for the PDP Governorship Ticket in 2014 and 2018 respectively, but lost at both attempt; Prince Ayoade Adewopo, the Convener of “Ayombo Si Ipinle Osun Movement”.

With the INEC’s announcement, it is expected that more aspirants will emerge and the battle will heat up.