By this time next week, it would have started getting clearer where the javelin of victory is headed. But no matter where the pendulum swings, it would not have come on a platter of gold. The reason is that the 20 parties and their candidates, cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), have worked assiduously to earn a victory.
Across Osun State, apprehension has reached fever pitch. It is expected. A lot is at stake – power, integrity, ego, wealth and many more.
For now, parties and their flag bearers for the gubernatorial election Saturday, August 9, cannot count their eggs before they are hatched.
Even the incumbent governor seeking re-election appears not too sure of success. Sources at the government house in Osogbo say it is fifty-fifty. A game of chance!
An aide of the governor who spoke with BDSUNDAY, said performance appeared not to matter so much to the poor folks of Osun, but “stomach infrastructure.”
“My brother, the way things are at the moment, nothing is sure. Nobody is sure of anything. If you talk about performance, we have done so, but when people begin to say, ‘Oh if you tarred the roads, have you tarred our stomach?’ So, it is all about stomach now. We really hope that the people of Osun will vote with their conscience, because if they do, there’s no doubt that we will carry the day,” he said.
Only two contestants despite the crowd
Although there are 20 contenders in the race, it is however, a straight battle between two candidates of two parties. It is between the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Rauf Aregbesola and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’S Iyiola Omisore.
Rauf Aregbesola: He was born on May 25, 1957. He ran for governor of Osun State in the 2007 elections. Although Olagunsoye Oyinlola, (PDP) candidate was declared the winner, Aregbesola appealed the decision and was declared winner on November 26, 2010 by the justices of the Federal Appeal Court, Ibadan, Oyo State.
On the orders of the court, Aregbesola was sworn in as governor by noon on November 27, 2010. He was formerly an activist. He was Lagos State commissioner for Works and Infrastructure when he ran for election in April 2007 on the platform of the defunct Action Congress (AC).
On Saturday, April 12, 2014, Aregbesola was endorsed as the gubernatorial candidate of the APC.
Iyiola Ajani Omisore: He was born on September 15, 1957. He is a chartered engineer, a qualified Public Private Partnership practitioner and a frontline politician. He served as the second elected deputy governor of Osun from 1999-2002 on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy. He was elected a member of the Senate representing Osun East Senatorial district from 2003 -2011 on the platform of the PDP.
What is APC offering the people?
The incumbent governor and candidate of APC believes he deserves victory going by the level of development his administration has brought to the state in the last three-and-half years. According to him, such achievements are seen in all sectors of the state’s economy ranging from road infrastructure to education, to agriculture to transport, industry, security and information and communication technology (ICT). The governor says that despite the meagre monthly federal allocation to the state, his administration has been able to look inwards to generate revenues (without unnecessarily being burdensome on the indigenes through much taxations) to cater to the ever-increasing needs of the people. He says his prudent use of the available resources has been responsible for the provision of quality infrastructure across the state. His promise to the people is that he will complete the ongoing projects as well as embark on new ones. While he tours the communities seeking their votes and disseminating his message of hope, the Ilesha-born Aregbesola says his six-point integral action plan, which formed the policy thrust of the his administration, has delivered dividends of democracy to the people of the state. He insists that his administration has created numerous jobs for the youth through the Omoluabi Garment Factory, the ICT initiative, agric revolution among many other programmes of his government.
It is his promise that the on-going airport project will enhance trade and investment in the state, even as it will provide an avenue to push farm produce to places where they are needed which will attract revenues to farmers. The airport, he says, will have hangers where helicopters will be comprehensively serviced; a project he enthuses is the first in the whole of Africa. The APC candidate believes that it is not reasonable to change a winning team.
A party faithful in the state said: “I have really followed Aregbe’s style of governance, for me, his major achievements include roads construction and rehabilitation across the state, the ‘Opon Imo tablet (a computer tablets that replaced textbooks) in secondary schools which promotes the use of ICT among Osun youths and aims at making them compete favourably globally), the O’YES, O-Schools, O’MEALS and Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (O’REAP) as well as school reclassification which entails merging of schools among others. The present administration has been able to provide much democracy dividends, and has set a solid foundation for the development of the state. It will be in the best interest of the state to re-elect him. I think that his achievements will speak for him in the August 9 election”.
PDP/Omisore’s plan for the people
While traversing the nooks and crannies of the state on his campaign drive, Omisore pledges to promote good governance if elected. He raises pensioners, teachers and civil servants’ hope with his plan to pay their salaries and emoluments as and when due. The PDP candidate says youths will be employed, and that market men and women, artisans and other groups will also benefit from his administration if elected. Omisore, who also promises to make governance a worthwhile venture in order to make the state the hub of business activity in the South-West, says he will take governance seriously so as to make a difference in the state.
However, pundits say that his alleged complicity in the brutal killing on December 23, 2001 of Bola Ige, a former attorney general and minister of Justice, remains a huge baggage on his current aspiration.
Parties woo voters with rice, kerosene, others
Like in a beauty contest, contenders in the Osun election have been displaying their wealth. Reports from Osun said parties were competing among one another to supply food materials to prospective voters. Tales of trailer loads of rice, cooking oil, indomie, etc, and free distribution of kerosene have been rampant.
A commentator, who condemned what he termed a dangerous dimension of using rice to buy votes, recalled that “in 2007, poor uneducated people residing in rural areas were most willing to sell their votes and excuse their behaviour”.
Giving fillip to the above observation, Audu Ogbeh, a former national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who is now in All Progressives Congress (APC), told BD SUNDAY that politicians usually capitalise on the poverty level in the land to bribe voters, and that, usually also, after they (politicians) must have paid their way into office, they forget the voters.
“People who are poor easily fall victim. On election day, salt, maggi cubes, Indomie could win an election; N200 in the village, they are very poor, they have no money, so if they get that, that’s wonderful, they go and cast the vote, and for the next four years, they have no news of us (politicians)”, Ogbeh said.
Implication of victory for APC
Victory for APC in the Saturday’s exercise would stamp the broom’s party’s authority in the state. It would mean that beyond politics, the people are really satisfied with the government and its policies. It would also vindicate the claim of good performance being made by the current administration in the state. It goes otherwise; it would seem that Osun people had just been tolerating the party and the governor. It would also mean that claim of performance was a hoax after all.
What a victory will mean for PDP
Should the PDP win the election, it would have emboldened them to plan how to take over the remaining states under APC. The victory would have signaled a total loss of confidence in the broom party by the Nigerian people. It would also point to the direction of future elections in the country. If the result is to the contrary, however, the PDP would then need to go back to the drawing board, because it would mean its aspiration to take over all the states in South West in 2015 would remain a pipe dream.
Too much talk, allegations, name-calling and foul languages
For over two months now, contenders for the Osun gubernatorial seat have been crisscrossing the length and breadth of the state selling their manifestoes. While doing so, allegations, claims and outright falsehood had been sold to the people. In the course of the campaigns, much dust has been raised and so much sentiment whipped up. There have been accusations over raising and training of fake policemen to rig the election; religion was also a campaign issue as candidates spent so much time and energy talking on elevation of one religion over and above others; administration of schools and the actions and inactions of the current government in the sector dominated much space on the lists of agenda at campaign venues; there were allegations that INEC was plotting to disenfranchise some supporters of one party in favour of the other; accusations of plots to kill or assassinate certain members of the opposition before the election were rampant, and there were tales of certain parties having pre-determined results. There were claims and counter claims over an alleged survey conducted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which was said to have put one candidate ahead of other contestants.
Among the vain talk that sadly was a recurring decimal at campaign grounds was the allegation that the state civil servants were being induced for votes. Politics was also played with the debt profile of the state which was, in opponents’ estimation, huge and suffocating. Verbal tackles were also traded as parties accused one another of plot to arrest opponents one week to the election; a party condemned what it described as use of indecent languages at campaign grounds. There was also an issue of who is a better Awoist than the other.
All eyes on INEC
So far, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Attahiru Jega, in the estimation of many Nigerians, has acquitted itself well. For months now, the Commission has been involved in sensitising the voters in Osun on the dangers of electoral fraud. It has held several meetings, seminars and workshops with stakeholders, where it preached and warned parties and their members to play by the rules of the game.
Expectations are high that INEC will up its ante in superintending over the Osun election without hitches.
Already, Jega, the Commission’s chairman, has assured Nigerians and indeed the whole world that Osun election will be far better than that of Ekiti State.
Pundits say that INEC must do everything within its capacity to ensure that it discharges its duties in Osun without any fear or favour. Those who gave the advice point to the recent re-deployment of the former state resident electoral commissioner, which APC alleged was done in bad faith and with sinister motive.
“A factor that might have put APC in distress in Osun is the sudden removal of the REC. Imagine a REC that has been working closely with the state government, (remember that PDP had raised alarm to that effect) and all of a sudden, another REC was sent to the state at the instance of the Federal Government; he is not likely to be the governor’s man, at least, not now. So, INEC must be seen to be very transparent in its activities during the elections to avoid people drawing unnecessary conclusions”, an analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Security agencies not likely to intimidate voters
Like in the Ekiti election, the presence of security agencies in Osun next weekend is likely to be huge. Although some politicians still allege that the overwhelming presence of security personnel in Ekiti during the gubernatorial election scared away potential voters from polling booths, popular view has been that though huge and intimidating, the security agents neither molested nor denied genuine voters from exercising their franchise. It was also noted that the soldiers, regular police and other categories of the Nigerian forces drafted to Ekiti discouraged violence and encouraged a large turn-out of voters. It is expected that the same scenario will play out in Osun in the interest of one and all.
Voters by LGs
Osun state has 30 local government areas and 332 registration areas. The state also has 3,010 polling units and 3379 voting points. While releasing the document, INEC said it was in compliance with section 31 subsection 3,4 and 5 of the electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
Breakdown of the voter population by local councils:
Ayedade 51,252 voters, Ayedire 25,899 voters, Boluwaduro 16,844 voters, Boripe 47,137 voters , Ede North 49,130 voters, Ede south 35,931 voters, Egbedore 33,925 voters, Ejigbo 51,623 voters, Ife central 95,471 voters, Ifedayo 13,066 voters, Ife East 81,430 voters, Ifelodun 57,592 voters, Ife North 45,435 voters, Ife South 44,555 voters, Ila 33,527 voter, Ilesa East 54,746 voters, Ilesa West 52,286 voters, Irepodun 36,556 voter, Irewole 53,487 voters, Isokan 38,493 voters, Iwo 66,657 voters,
Odo otin 48,720 voters, Ola-Oluwa 25,554 voters, Olorunda 71,580 voters, Oriade 47,113 voters, Orolu 24,914voters, Osogbo 110,670 voters.
INEC also accredited 29 local and foreign observers to observe the Saturday election. They are:
(1.) Centre for Civic Education (aka: Transition Monitoring Group, TMG); (2.) Justice and Equity Organization (3.) NEPAD Nigeria (4.) Reclaim Naija (5.) Centre for Democracy and Development (6.) Centre for Peace Building and Socio-Economic Resources Development (7.) Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room (Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre) (8.) Nigeria Bar Association Election Working Group (9.) National Association for Peaceful Election in Nigeria (10.) Independent Election Monitoring Group (11.) Rights Monitoring Group (12.) Election Monitor (13.) Police Service Commission, Abuja (14.) CLEEN Foundation (15.) Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolutions (16.) Research Initiative for Sustainable Development and Gender Awareness (RISDGA) (17.) Justice Development and Peace Commission (18.) The Forum of State Independent Commission of Nigeria (FOSIECON) (19.) Women Arise for Change Initiative (20.) EU Delegation-Abuja (21.) International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) (22.) United States Mission to Nigeria (23.) High Commission of Canada (24.) British High Commission (25.) UNDP/DGD-Abuja (26.) Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (27.) Embassy of Switzerland (28.) Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and (29) Embassy of France.
Zebulon Agomuo & Remi Feyisipo