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How Adeleke, Babayemi emerge in Osun PDP parallel primaries

By Seye Olumide, Timothy Agbor and Rotimi Agboluaje
14 March 2022   |   4:12 am
It was not a strange thing to keen political watchers of affairs in Osun State, when the state chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held parallel primaries to select its candidate on Tuesday ahead of the July 16 governorship election.

[FILES] Senator Adeleke. Photo/twitter/OfficialPDPNig

It was not a strange thing to keen political watchers of affairs in Osun State, when the state chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held parallel primaries to select its candidate on Tuesday ahead of the July 16 governorship election.

Two candidates eventually emerged in the peaceful primaries. Senator Ademola Adeleke, who was the party’s candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial election and Prince Dotun Babayemi.

Other aspirants, who later stepped down for Babayemi are Mr Dele Adeleke, a relative of senator Adeleke, Hon. Sanya Omirin, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, and Alhaji Fatal Akinbade.

An order, given by an Osun State High Court sitting in Ijebu-jesa recognised officers of the party elected in 215 wards under the immediate past state chairman of the party, Soji Adagunodo, as those eligible to participate in the primary.

But a counter order delivered by Justice A. A. G. Onibokun of an Ikirun High Court stated that it’s the National Executive Committee (NEC), either acting through itself or through the National Working Committee (NWC) that can conduct Ward Congress to elect the Ward Executive officers of the party.

There was heavy security presence at the two venues of the primaries, Osogbo Township Stadium where Senator Adeleke emerged and WOCDIF, where Babayemi was affirmed and voted.

While representatives of the NWC of the party, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and serving national and state officers of the PDP witnessed Adeleke’s election, it wasn’t the same at WOCDIF, where Babayemi emerged. Some members of the elders’ caucus of the party in the state aligned with Babayemi to put together the exercise.

At the end of the exercise at Osogbo Township Stadium, the Chief Returning Officer of the Osun State 2022 primary election, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, declared Senator Adeleke winner. Ewhrudjakpo, who represented Bayelsa State Governor, Duoye Diri, said Adeleke defeated other aspirants.

He said: “The process went without any hitch. 1,916 delegates were accredited to vote. At the end of the voting, Ademola Jackson Adeleke got 1,887, Babadele Adeleke got one, Fatai Akinbade had nil, Dotun Babayemi got nil. Akin Ogunbiyi got nil and Sanya Omirin got four. There were 24 invalid votes.

“By the power conferred on me as the Chief Returning Officer of this gubernatorial primary, we hereby collectively declare Ademola Jackson Adeleke as the winner of this gubernatorial primary for 2022 governorship election in Osun.”

Ewhrudjakpo urged other aspirants to join hands with the winner to win the July 16 governorship election in the state.

He also said there was no parallel congress in the state, adding that any other congress apart from the one he supervised would not be recognised by the national headquarters of the party. He also congratulated Adeleke.

“The king is here and the crown is here (Osogbo Township Stadium). This is the authentic congress and any other one conducted in any other place will not be recognised,” he added.

In his acceptance speech, Adeleke said there was no victor, no vanquished in the primary.

He said: “We are all winners. Let’s work together to rescue people of the state from the All Progressives Congress government.”

Also speaking, Sunday Bisi, the factional Acting Chairman said the purported withdrawal of the other aspirants was not known to the party’s National Secretariat, adding that Adeleke was still contesting with them.

“Up till now, I have not received any letter stating that any candidate withdrew from the exercise. However, if the Abuja delegates come, they may tell us if there are letters or not and they will tell us the names of those people. Six aspirants purchased forms from our national headquarters. My belief is that we are having six aspirants contesting today.

“If an aspirant is withdrawing, he has to write a letter to the party, telling the party that he’s withdrawing from the race. Until that is done, we will take them as gubernatorial aspirants that are contesting,” Bisi said.

MEANWHILE, announcing the results at WOCDIF, the Returning Officer, Hon. Adelani Ajanaku said Babayemi polled 1,781 votes.

He said though, other aspirants stepped down for him, some delegates voted for them. Ajanaku said total votes were 1,907, void votes 27; valid votes – 1,880. Sanya Omirin had 16 votes, Akin Ogunbiyi had 23, Fatai Akinbade had 28, Dele Adeleke had 32 while Dotun Babayemi polled 1,781.

National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Iyorchia Ayu

He therefore declared Babayemi as the winner and candidate of the party for the governorship election. Babayemi, while delivering his acceptance speech promised not to disappoint the party leaders and members.

“I am indeed also grateful to everyone for the confidence reposed in me, while making a solemn promise never to disappoint you. Today, I promise not to be the candidate of a few but a governorship candidate of all.”

The intrigues
TWO factions had been laying claim to the chairmanship position of the party in the state. The Wale Ojo faction enjoys support of Soji Adagunodo, the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Southwest, while Sunday Bisi is with the Senator Ademola Adeleke-led faction.

Those seen at the Wale Ojo faction include a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, a former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Senator Olu Alabi, Dele Adeleke, former deputy governor, Chief (Mrs) Olusola Obada, Dotun Babayemi, among others.

But more party supporters thronged to the place where Adeleke emerged, and they include Honourable Wole Oke, representing Obokun-Oriade federal constituency, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, senator representing Osun Central senatorial district, Honourable Bamidele Salam, representing Ede/Ejigbo, Egbedore federal constituency, Chief Ajeigbe, Professor Wale Oladipo, Bunmi Jenyo, Clement Akanni, Alhaji Gani Olaoluwa, former national deputy chairman of the PDP, Diran Odeyemi and Lere Oyewumi.

Also, at the stadium were members of the Sunday Bisi-led executive, which has the support of the national secretariat of the PDP.

THE presence of the party’s NWC and INEC gave credence to the fact that Senator Adeleke’s candidacy enjoys support of the Senator Iyorchia Ayu leadership.

Indeed, Adeleke’s victory did not come as a surprise to many party members and the Osun electorate, because of his popularity, which began since the September 22 2018 governorship election. He was believed to have won but his victory was denied at the Supreme Court.

Majority of Osun PDP and the electorate see Adeleke as the only one among the six aspirants that has what it takes to defeat the incumbent governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola of APC.

A chieftain of the party, Prince Diran Odeyemi, said the best PDP could present to confront the incumbent governor is Adeleke.

One of the factors that worked in favour of the ‘dancing Senator’ is his unparalleled philanthropy, which cuts across party affiliations.

It was gathered that many of the delegates supported Adeleke without necessarily being induced with money. The Senator has been able to affect many lives of Osun people and especially PDP stalwarts through his scholarship empowerment programme.

According to Odeyemi: “It is not an exaggeration to say that several PDP members supported or wanted Adeleke to run again because they believed he won the 2018 governorship poll. He has continued to pay the WAEC fees of many indigent students even though he was denied victory since 2018.”

Adeleke’s philanthropic gesture include donation of transformers to many communities in the state just as he gives 10 bags of rice to each of the 332 wards across Osun State during every festival.

The Senator also became more popular during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic when he donated relief materials across Osun State.

Findings also revealed that Adeleleke has been consistence with the PDP, unlike some other aspirants who had at one time or the other dumped the party for other platforms and now returning to seek the gubernatorial ticket.

For instance, Adeleke’s consistency in the PDP gave him an edge over Ogunbiyi, who is alleged to be on and in Osun PDP.

Ogunbiyi was said to have tactically abandoned the party when he lost the ticket to Adeleke in 2018.

Babayemi

A party source said as at Tuesday when the primary held, notable followers of Ogunbiyi, who had benefitted in one way or the other from Adeleke shifted allegiance to the Senator.

Majority of party members, especially at the grassroots prefer Adeleke. To them, giving the ticket to any other aspirant is like giving the election freely to the incumbent governor.

For Dele Adeleke, a blood brother of the Senator, critical party members considered him as not too convinced. He is considered to simply want to use the Adeleke family name to put up some appearance. They wondered why Dele, who was the party agent to his brother in the 2018 governorship poll now thinks he should be governor.

The insinuation is that some ghost hands within and outside the party are using Dele, to scuttle PDP’s chances in the gubernatorial election. He is not known for impactful contributions on party matters and members, and could not replace the Senator yet.

Another aspirant, Fatai Akinbade, a former Secretary to the Osun State Government (SSG) under former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola did not display much gravitas. He is accused of always dumping PDP for other platforms any time he lost the governorship ticket.

A source within the party said, “This is the third time Akinbade contested the governorship primary and anytime he loses he always decamped to other platforms. The people were apprehensive of giving the party ticket to such person.”

For Sanya Ominrin, he wanted to reap from Ife Ijesha sentiment to claim the ticket but the members felt what is at stake, especially the quest to defeat the incumbent governor required going beyond politics of sentiments.

Babayemi, who won the parallel primary, is also not well rated among the grassroots. He was anticipating that Adeleke would be disqualified based on the controversies surrounding the senator’s education qualification.

However, when the party committee that was set up to look into the matter said Adeleke is qualified to contest, Babayemi, Dele, Omirin, Akinbade and Ogunbiyi allegedly ganged up to pull the Senator down.

Oyinlola intervened with the hope to persuade them to agree on one candidate but no one was willing to step down. In the end, Babayemi was eventually picked while Ogunbiyi excused himself from the race and returned to Lagos to face his business.

The intrigues got heated up when the aggrieved also accused the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu of deliberately tailoring the primary process to favour Adeleke, but Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, dismissed the allegation as unfounded and malicious.

On Tuesday when the primary held, The Guardian learnt that the agent of Babayemi came to the primary venue at the stadium only to be summoned to WOCDIF.

The deputy governor of Bayelsa State has however dismissed the parallel primary election. He maintained that the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) did not recognise the exercise conducted by the Oyinlola faction.

Meanwhile, Nigerian superstar, David Adeleke, popularly called Davido, has expressed joy as his uncle Senator Adeleke won the exercise.

Adeleke is a businessman and administrator; he was the group executive director at his brother’s company, Pacific Holdings Limited from 2001 to 2016.

Adeleke is a community member and philanthropist, who started his political career in 2001 alongside his late brother Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who died in April 2017. He contested the Osun west 2017 by-election after the death of his brother, emerging as the winner.

On July 23 2018, he emerged as the governorship candidate of PDP in Osun State after defeating Akin Ogunbiyi by seven votes.

He ran for governorship against Oyetola of APC and Iyiola Omisore of SDP. The election was declared inconclusive by INEC and a rerun slated for September 27 2018. Oyetola was declared winner after the run-off. Adeleke protested the result and on 22 March 2019, the tribunal sitting in Abuja declared him the winner but his victory was short-lived when the Supreme Court later affirmed Oyetola as the authentic winner on Friday July 5, 2019.