Osun in perspective: Feting opposition’s ensconced hopelessness
By Adebayo Adedeji
Pointless. Murky. Fuzzy. Cheerless. Uneventful. Bleak. Those are right expressions to describe the future of Osun PDP. By future, of course, we are not referring to the next generation or the next 10, 15, 20 years. We talk specifically of the immediate future: future of 2022. And reasons abound to predict such gloomy future for the party that has been noted for roguishness, violence, terror, crudity, lack of probity and brazen disregard for law.
Memory lane. After the election rigger Olagunsoye Oyinlola had been told to go home by appeal court because election that returned him to office was shamelessly fraudulent, nobody was ever in doubt what the future portended for the PDP. They had already lost the people’s sympathy and confidence.
No patriotic citizenry would support a fiendish party that spilled blood to get to office as Osun PDP did in 2007 when thuggish hirelings were used to burgeon to death supporters of the then ACN. The state sponsored political violence coupled with Oyinlola’s lacklustre performance in office courted enemies for PDP.
People swore they would never have anything to do with them. In fact in the 2014 gubernatorial election when the then incumbent Rauf Aregbesola sought a re-election, the resolve of the people was borne to bear.
In spite the federal power and brigandage unleashed on the Osun people by the PDP to discourage them from supporting APC, the progressive party still had the day.
Prelude 2014. That was the period PDP was not even at peace with itself. We recall the Ideal Next Hotel experience where the former governor Isiaka Adeleke was rough handled and landed heavy slaps by thugs and leaders of the party.
He and his supporters were harassed, hounded and humiliated out of the event Centre. The humiliation was so much that Serubawon, the former governor, had to openly tear into shreds the PDP’s Umbrella and vowed not to return to the sanguinary party again. According to him, ‘PDP is a party of thugs and violent people.’ He was welcomed into APC, compensated with a senatorial seat that was being occupied by close ally of Aregbesola, Mudasiru Hussein. Hussein had in 2011 defeated Adeleke to clinch the same Senate seat.
2017. Isiaka Adeleke passed on untimely and the death was politicised by his family. The politicisation ballooned and it could not be managed decently before a by-election. Ademola Adeleke, popularly seen then as a loafer and nondescript, was enticed with a Senate ticket in the PDP, the same party his elder brother, mentor and benefactor had vowed not to associate with.
Ademola did not care if his repulsive dancing on the grave of his father-figure would hurt or diminish his social capital or not… He was only engrossed with lucre, power and political relevance. He polled 97,480 votes to defeat APC’s candidate Hussein who polled 66, 116 votes.
That was 31,364 winning margin. And interestingly, the bulk of the votes, like 31,965, came from Ede town. APC got mere 4,880 votes here. The party only managed to win Ejigbo, Hussein’s local government. This was how a comatose PDP was enlivened in Osun State.
With deep pocket, the Adelekes raised their support base within and without their new party. They offered political patronage and stomach-infrastructure with utmost tacts. Many unprincipled and rapacious politicians sold their conscience to pave way for him in the party.
Left right and centre, the hitherto gubernatorial aspirants, some of them doctorate degree holders, shelved their age-long ambition to accommodate a man many of them previously and privately claimed did not finish secondary school with credit passes! If you no get money, hide your face…?
Ademola emerged the PDP candidate and was poised to slug it out with the APC’s Gboyega Oyetola.
In the election proper, different tactics were employed by the PDP to de-market the APC and its candidate. They elevated all sentiments to poach votes. The ‘irregular pension and salary payment’ was the most effective campaign slogan they spinned. Oyetola was called unprintable names.
He was demonised. He was vilified. He was stereotyped in the worst possible form. He was projected as part of the ring that milked the state dry. Even when the facts indicate that Oyetola was born and brought up in the state before he went to study for degrees in Lagos, they dubbed him an Ajele, a vicious viceroy of a shylock feudal lord.
The PDP narrative was mellifluous, taking everyone off his or her feet, until the bubble burst. Vicissitude? The party’s candidate was demystified. Unmasked. Ademola was not only found not to posses the minimum academic credentials for the office he was seeking to occupy, he was also said to be grossly lacking in the lowest capacity to maintain serious intellectual discourse.
However, his handlers did a solid job of shielding him from negative press. He was shielded from public interrogation. He ran from debates even when some of those debates were conducted in Yoruba, a vehicle of expression he should ordinarily have its mastery.
Ademola shunned serious media engagements. No live interviews. Everything was arranged for him so his idea-processing inadequacies would not be inadvertently promoted. He was ‘packaged’ through out the electioneering.
The only times he was active were when the party held road shows: the rare occasions he proved he could entertain better than Bobrisky, Michael Jackson and James Brown. Transmogrification. He became an irritant to the discerning educated ones.
The mindful pensioners and dispassionate workers would rather give their votes to Iyiola Omisore, the highly schooled candidate of the SDP, rather than throwing away their votes to a boisterous character, the rudderless flag-bearer of the PDP. And that was exactly what panned out in the election.
Votes were cast for SDP in protest against APC, the party touted to be owing pensions and salaries. At the end of the day, Omisore of SDP polled 128,053, Ademola of PDP polled 255,023 and Oyetola of APC polled 255,505 votes. Oyetola was declared winner of the contest.
Unexpectedly, the PDP winning margin in Ede was significantly whittled down. Unlike in the 2017 by-election when APC got mere 4,880 votes and PDP 31,965 votes in Ede, in the 2018 governorship election, the APC got 11,537 votes as against PDP 35,438 votes.
This, obviously, was an indication of either rejection of the overbearing influence of, or shrink in popularity of the Adelekes or presence of serious political challenge by some APC stalwarts in Ede town. Regardless, it was a major setback for the PDP.
2019. The year offered the PDP another opportunity to prove their mettle, their popularity in the state. Humongous funds were deployed to mobilise supporters. The party leaders’ pockets were lined with money to merchandise votes.
But unfortunately, the effort met brick wall when in the national assembly and presidential elections the party recorded minimal successes. It was a real disappointment for the party moneybags; that despite their spending fortunes to prosecute the election, the ruling APC had more votes and seats in the presidential and assembly elections respectively.
They were more livid when their “banker” for that election, their candidate in the Osun West Senatorial contest, suffered a heavy and humiliating defeat. The senatorial district was regarded and romantised as the stronghold of the opposition considering the fact that Ede, the hometown and base of the Adelekes, was flaunted to deliver undiluted votes.
It did not work as planned because the APC had a better strategy. The party took the fight to Ede to reduce their wide margin winning streak; disarmed them in Irewole, where their senatorial candidate hails from; and consolidated its control over its traditional strongholds of Ejigbo and Iwo.
The Ikire-born finance commissioner Bola Oyebamiji and other APC chieftains from the zone gave a good account of themselves in the election.
The state assembly election that came nearly fortnight later was a real disaster for the umbrella party. They were overrun by the ‘rampaging’ APC. The PDP only managed to obtain three(3) of the 26 available seats. That was how the 2019 ended in tears for the PDP in Osun State.
Since the last elections, many things, of course, have changed in the polity in the state. Governor Oyetola, earlier dubbed nerdy, is winning many fans to his side. He is proving the political bookmakers and naysayers wrong.
He is not only listening to the plight of the people by providing dividends of democracy for them, he is also extending the proverbial olive branch to the hitherto members of the party who left in annoyance before 2018 guber poll…
The APC sojourners in ADP, PDP have now returned to the party to team up with other patriots to give the state enduring legacy. Moshood Adeoti, the immediate past SSG and ADP flag-bearer in the last gubernatorial election who polled 49, 742 votes, is now back in the party to team up with the governor.
In the same vein, the candidate of SDP and former Deputy Governor Omisore is with Oyetola. Many of his lieutenants have been saddled with key responsibilities aimed at turning the state to a land of prosperity.
Oyetola, really, is making a PDP alternative in the state undesirable. Unthinkable. He moves swiftly, steadily and firmly along the path of order and honour, in doing the biddings of the people. Since inauguration, Oyetola has been paying pensions and salaries promptly. Half salary, modulated salary gone.
Not only that: he has also shown serious commitment to defraying pension and salary arrears owed by previous governments. He has released over N12 billion to settle pension and gratuity obligations. The pensioners and workers are now at home with him because they understand he has prioritised their welfare.
In the health sector as well, Oyetola is etching his name in the heart of the people. He has built and/or renovated and equipped with drugs primary health centres in nearly all the 322 political wards in the state so the health facility users could have a proximity relief.
Before, you would need to travel distance to get a befitting health centres. He, additionally, has built befitting quarters for health workers, fully implemented the CONMESS and CONHESS agreements and made working in the state more meaningful for health workers. Splendid.
In Oyetola’s time, the state has become a construction hub. Ada-Igajo road, Aagba township road, Ejigbo township road, Ara-Ejigbo road, Osogbo-Iwo road are some of the roads with enduring architecture that are receiving Oyetola’s midas signature.
With the governor’s adequate logistical, administrative and funding support to all security outfits in the state, Osun has maintained its status as the safest state in the country. Oyetola’s responsible commitment to smooth take-off of regional security outfit, Amotekun corps, in the state is an evidence to the fact that he has the courage, the experience, integrity, the
exposure to continue to steer the ship of governance in the state. When the time comes for him in 2022 or any time later, to account for his stewardship, it is certain that our people will acknowledge his contribution to the progress and development of the state.
While APC is putting his heads together: reconciling with disenchanted party members, bringing fresh members on board, ensuring its campaign pledges to the people are executed, the contrary can only be said of the PDP.
Mudslinging, political devilry, unnecessary bickering and rumour mongering are now the pastime in their fold. It is one day, one trouble. If one leader of their party is not slamming criminal charges on some deviants within their party, another leader will be scheming to dislodge the elected party executives.
Soji Adegunodo, who since his election as party chairman has, with civilised standards made efforts to get the party on a winning way, been forced out of office following trumped up charges levelled against him by structure hijackers. He was accused of hobnobbing with the ruling APC.
The removal is not unconnected with the 2022. The power seekers from Ede know 2022 may be their last shot on the governorship, having invested stupendous fund over the period of three years without any return; so they want to crush all the impediments on the way to pave clear passage for them.
They have, according to some reports, told selected people that they would not be available after 2022 to waste their hard-earned resources to oil the machinery of the clearly unproductive party.
They have installed their devotee and kinsman, the substantive vice chairman to replace Adagunodo and every structure is being aggressively set up to scandalise and traumatise any dissenters.
Expectedly and in reaction to the shenanigans of the inordinate power poachers, the Adagunodo group who mainly are supporters of the former governorship aspirants of the party, Akin Ogunbiyi, are warming up, bidding their time to join the ruling APC before it becomes politically inexpedient.
As politicians, they have realised fighting to grab the structure of the party from the Adelekes now may be arduous, if not impossible; also, they do not fancy their winning chances in the PDP, taking into account the Oyetola’s ravishing performance, affirmative public acceptability, complaisant disposition to yearnings of the populace and political entente and rapprochement in the ruling party.
Hence they have begun to chart and negotiate a political future for themselves…. If and when this bold step is finally taken, it will, no doubt, expedite the process of winding up of the baleful and banal PDP and make their eventual requiem in the state a real moment to savour.