Adeleke’s death and Osun APC’s fortune in 2018 guber race
When the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who represented Osun West senatorial district Osun State, in the upper chamber of the National Assembly (NASS), was announced on Sunday, it came as a rude shock to many Nigerians and particularly many faithful of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
One of the immediate concerns following the spontaneous protest and insinuation that trailed the death was the impact of the development on the fortunes of the party in the state’s 2018 governorship election.
But many questions have since been put to the fore concerning the sudden death of the former governor of Osun, who is also considered to be one of the strong contenders for the governorship poll.
The first question is could Adeleke, a serving Senator who had a personal physician, have died of drug overdose as Nigerians are being made to believe? Was he poisoned by political opponents who didn’t want him to succeed the governor Ogeni Rauf Aregbesola in 2018, as some people are insinuating; and what would have triggered the violent protest in his hometown, Ede where irate youths confronted and almost lynched some of the party’s leaders who showed up at the deceased’s home for the burial.
Besides, some alleged that Adeleke, was deliberately killed by the same forces in the APC, who were fingered in the death of former governor of Kogi State and the party’s governorship candidate, in the November 2015 election, Prince Abubakar Audu.
Though answers are not readily available to these questions, the sudden death might further compound the tensions, intrigues and distrust that have permeated the ruling party since it came to power in 2015.
While the consequences of the death of Audu and the controversial emergence of governor Yahaya Bello, is still ravaging the Kogi chapter of APC, it is argued that the allegations trailing the death of Adeleke would rub off on Osun APC ahead of 2018 election if not properly managed by the party.
Already, one of the children of the deceased, Tunji has alluded to a case of murdered when he asserted that the father was hale and hearty before his death. He insisted that his father might have been killed because of power, position or money.
In particular, he claimed that that the father might have fallen victims of political enemies for his ambition to become the next governor of the state. This position contradicts reports by the medical pathologist who carried out the autopsy on the late Senator that said he died as a result of excess painkillers.
The demise of the Senator further worsens the woes of APC in the state whose people have arguably been irked by Aregesola’s governing style in the past seven years and may have been yearning for a better alternative either within or outside the party.
This, observers contended might have prompted the unruly behaviour the youths at Ede who forcefully collapsed a canopy on governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state and governor Rotimi Akeredolu, among others.
A former governor of the state, Brig. Olagunsoye Oyinlola was also affected during the mob’s desperation to chase out Idiat Babalola, who is a commissioner nominee of Aregbesola.
It took Amosun who practically got himself involved to save Babalola whom the mob described as a betrayer. Babalola however said that she was a victim of “unfounded rumours” of an ambition to become the deputy governor come 2018 and so seen as a traitor as such move would scuttle Adeleke’s desire to govern the state.
“I am a proud daughter of Ede and Uncle Isiaka has been a mentor and we never had any disagreement till the news of his death was broken to me while in Lagos on Sunday morning,” she stated maintaining that those behind the attacks have poor understanding of the relationship Adeleke and herself.
The aide to Aregbesola lamented that the agitators deprived the former governor, the opportunity of a befitting state funeral.Meanwhile, one of the leaders of the party who spoke off record said the action of the youth was expected going by the kind of people Adeleke was before his death.
He however dismissed the insinuation that the man was killed. According to him, “The autopsy report has cleared all doubts and allegations in respect of Adeleke’s demise that he died due to overdose of painkillers.”
When asked what could have led to the protest, he said, “That the protest was spontaneous was expected but the saving grace was that Adeleke wasn’t buried immediately according to Moslem rite otherwise it would have a very big problem for the party and mind you the protest have subsided immediately the autopsy report was released.”
He also dismissed fear that the incidence might affect the chances of the party in the next governorship election.Said he, “I don’t think so because there are other notable and acceptable personalities from Osun West that can also contest or be presented by the party for the election.”
He said there was no doubt Adeleke was interested in running for the 2018 governorship election while the outgoing governor has another person in mind to use “it was a glaring fact that the two were not on the same page and this could have been another fact that triggered the protest before the autopsy was released.
“I think nature deliberately resolved the matter amicably like it did in the Kogi issue otherwise if Adeleke were to be alive the APC’s governorship primary would have been a very tough.”
The party leader said it would be recalled that the likes of Adeleke and Oyinlola defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC before the 2014 governorship election in the state boosted in no small dimensions Aregbesola’s victory.
According to him, “Adeleke popularity particularly boosted the APC chanced in the last governorship election it is therefore better imagined the clout he would have pulled against whomsoever the incumbent governor hove in mind.”
However, this popularity of Adeleke would come to bear on who becomes the next governor of the state. Specifically, his sudden death has whipped up sentiments in favour of Osun West for the governorship race.
The argument is that the pendulum of leadership should, going by what is on ground and in sympathy with Ede and Osun West district, swing in their direction.Besides and more importantly, Osun West has enjoined the coveted seat of government only for a brief period compared to the other two Senatorial districts – East and Central. The only time it had the chance to govern the state, its duration was cut short by the military intervention after about 22 months in office.
The incumbent governor hails from the East Senatorial district and he succeeded Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, an indigene of Central Senatorial district who vacated the office after about seven and a half years when the Appeal Court verdict ousted him.
Prior to the arrival of Olagunsoye, Chief Bisi Akande also from the Central Senatorial district, occupied the office. “What we are saying is that for that sake of equity, justice and fair play, we of the Western zone should be given the opportunity to field a candidate for the job this time around. And I know majority of the citizens of this great state of Osun will support us if nothing else but to honour the soul of departed Senator Adeleke,” a member of APC from Osun West canvassed.
Another member of the party also told The Guardian “Adeleke’s death or not the APC will have its problem particularly on this subtle division between the perceived ‘Abuja caucus’ and the ‘Bourdillion group’, which belongs to the national leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. No one can wish away the repeat of what took place in Ondo governorship election in the coming Osun contest.”