Osun election: Major contenders and their chances

Political parties’ mega rallies have ended. Osun State is set to elect a new governor for the next four years come Saturday.

The election is one of the off-season gubernatorial elections in the country. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a total of 1, 955,657 registered voters are eligible to participate. Fifteen political parties have presented candidates for the election in all the 30 local government areas of the state.

In the last few days, there were verbal battles among the candidates as they toured the state to sell their manifestos and themselves to the electorates ahead of the election.

Pundits predict that just like in 2018, the contest would remain a two-horse race and a straight contest between People’s Democratic party (PDP) candidate, Ademola Adeleke and incumbent Governor Gboyega Oyetola who is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). But a couple of the candidates – Lasun Yusuf, from the Labour Party and Akin Ogunbiyi, of the Accord party – have outside chances too.

Here, BusinessDay analyses the chances of the four major candidates in Saturday’s election.

Gboyega Oyetola

Oyetola, survived a scare on Thursday when the Federal High Court in Abuja, dismissed a suit, seeking to disqualify him from Saturday’s election as the APC’s candidate.

In 2018, the governor won narrowly, defeating the PDP’s candidate, Adeleke, after a run-off election.

But Oyetola appears confident based on his achievement in office in the last four years.

Oyetola’s supporters have argued that since he assumed office, he has improved infrastructures across the state, while salary payment and welfare of civil servants have improved significantly unlike in the past. They also say his administration has done brilliantly in the education sector in Osun State. Observers say this may work in Oyetola’s favour.

However, pundits have warned that his victory may not come easy, they say the situation now is different from 2018.

In recent years, the APC chapter in the state has been engulfed in crisis and factionalised, with major chieftains dumping the party.

There is the Ileri group which is loyal to Oyetola, while there is another faction, TOT which supports Rauf Aregbesola.

The relationship between Oyetola and his predecessor, Aregbesola, the current Minister of Interior has also soured.

During the APC governorship primary, Aregbesola backed Moshood Adeoti for the APC gubernatorial ticket. In the last few weeks, efforts to reconcile the leaders have not succeeded.

Aregbesola was missing when the APC held a mega rally this week ahead of Saturday’s election, an indication that there is no peace between the two leaders.

Oyetola, is however, banking on the support of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the APC to win.

Observers say the governor will definitely use the incumbency power to his advantage as well as the state apparatus.

Pundits predict that he might have challenges in Ede and some local governments dominated by the PDP and disgruntled APC members.

Just like in 2018, Saturday’s election would be marred by the inducement of voters and vote-buying across the state. So, the Governor’s large financial war chest may sway voters to his side.

Ademola Adeleke

Adeleke came into the limelight after the death of his brother, Isiaka Adeleke, who was then a senator and had intended to contest the governorship election before his death.

The PDP’s candidate is popular with his dancing prowess, just like his nephew, Davido, who is a popular hip-pop artist.

Unlike in 2018, where he was defeated in a run-off, after winning the first round, INEC had said Adeleke’s margin of victory was smaller than the number of cancelled votes in seven polling units.

The PDP’s candidate is all out on revenge, promising that the situation then is different from now.

He is hell-bent on reclaiming his mandate this time around. He said he is more prepared for Saturday’s election than in 2018 when Oyetola defeated him.

He equally boasted recently in a viral video that trended on social media that he had come to the state with dollars and all kinds of foreign currencies.

“Osun people, you are the ones to decide. If it is about money, I have enough. I came with plenty of money. And it is not only naira; I came with dollars, pounds, and euros. This time in Osun, it is fire for fire,” he had said in Yoruba.

However, Speaking in a debate organised last week ahead of the election, Adeleke said the dollar comment is not an intention to buy votes, but a figure of speech to describe the foreign investment he intends to bring into Osun State.

However, observers fear that the crisis in Osun PDP and even at the national level may affect Adeleke’s chances on Saturday.

Currently, the PDP in Osun is factionalised, with one camp recognised by the national body and another body backed by Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who is a former governor of the state.

Although some PDP leaders and governors have made frantic efforts to reconcile the camps and leaders in the last few days, observers say it may be too late to produce any result.

Adeleke may enjoy sympathy from some electorates, considering the manner the 2018 election ended. Some electorates in the state believe he was cheated and that the APC manipulated the results.

Some electorates have vowed to pay him for it this time around.

Pundits predict he will garner more votes from Osun West, where he comes from and the Osogbo metropolis. They say, few part of Osun-East may vote PDP because of the imbroglio going on between Aregbesola and Omisore camp in the Senatorial District.

Lasun Yusuf

Yusuf, the candidate of the Labour Party, is a grassroots politician who has worked closely with notable political leaders in the state.

He was a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, representing the Irepodun/Olorunda/Osogbo/Orolu Federal Constituency.

Yusuf was once a youth leader in the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and a former state public relations officer of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) before and during Bisi Akande’s administration.

With his undiluted loyalty, the role played in AD and his doggedness in the political cycle in the state, Oyinlola appointed him chairman of Osun State Capital Territory Development Authority (OSCTDA) in 2004.

This is the first time Yusuf would be contesting the gubernatorial election.

He defected to the Labour Party after he was defeated in the APC primaries, where he placed third.

Pundits predict Yusuf may enjoy sympathy votes from people of his local government and three others close to his local government.

However, his ability to get votes in Osun-East is not clear, but he will play a spoiler role for the APC in his Senatorial District.

In his manifesto, Yusuf promised to focus on subsidising education, farming, infrastructure, health and exploitation of mineral resources for the benefit of the citizens.

“I want to urge our party members to work for my victory because power is not shared freely.

“Any politician that is contemplating rigging elections at this time, especially after the EndSARS protest, is taking too much a risk and such politicians are heading for doom”, he said.

Read also: Osun 2022: NSCDC deploys 11,226 officers for guber poll

Akin Ogunbiyi

Although not ranked among the top contenders, the Accord Party candidate, Akin Ogunbiyi, is not entirely new in the Osun gubernatorial race.

Ogunbiyi, a businessman, is the chairman of Mutual Benefits Assurance PLC.

In 2018, he narrowly lost the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP to Ademola Adeleke but decided to support him for the election.

He defected to the Accord Party after complaining of unfair treatment in the PDP. He had said he could not realise his ambition at the party.

However, observers say he may not spring any surprise in Saturday’s election. It is predicted that Ogunbiyi may just step down before Saturday’s election for a more popular candidate.

Speaking recently, Ogunbiyi said his key areas of focus are education, industrialisation, agriculture, youths and sports, health and empowerment.

He promised to give free and compulsory primary education.

“We are going to employ teachers and train them. I know the Bible says every labourer deserves his wages. We are going to industrialise Osun state. I also plan to have free health care for children, pregnant women and people above 60years,” Ogunbiyi said.

“We have not had leadership that can put the necessary structure in place and ensure the state gets its due; it is like people are only concerned about their pockets.

“There is illegal mining going on in Osun on a daily basis, a common patrimony that few people are carting away illegally”.

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