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Lasun’s exit, Omisore’s new office and implications for Osun 2022

By Seye Olumide (Southwest Bureau Chief) and Timothy Agbor
04 April 2022   |   4:01 am
The two major political parties in Osun State, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will use the coming July 16 2022 governorship election to test capacity ahead of 2023 general elections.

Iyiola Omisore. Photo: BBCAfrica

The two major political parties in Osun State, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will use the coming July 16 2022 governorship election to test capacity ahead of 2023 general elections.

While the ruling party under the auspices of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, will fight to retain the state and maintain status quo of five states in Southwest for APC, PDP’s calculation would be to weaken APC by taking over Osun ahead of 2023.

The strength of the parties depends on how they manage their internal challenges, which should determine how they perform in the poll. It is not clear how the APC is handling the faceoff between former governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, now Minister of Interior and incumbent Governor Oyetola. There are two factions well entrenched behind the two gladiators and it doesn’t look healthy for the party going into elections.

Resolving the crisis was part of the task Senator Abdullahi Adamu was handed by the party leadership before he emerged as national chairman of the party. Now, together with his team at the National Working Committee (NWC), they must place priority on resolving the Osun crisis before the election.

Last week, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and one of the leaders of Osun APC, Yusuf Lasun, reportedly ditched the party in protest against how he and loyalists were allegedly treated by the Oyetola camp.

If care were not taken, Lasun and his group would amount to some votes to be lost by APC.

The stage is naturally being prepared for divided governorship election, for the APC and the PDP, as they share similar features – crises, divisions, litigation, defections and bleak chances – as their candidates, Oyetola and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the PDP, have cases to surmount.

While Oyetola has started making covert and overt strategies to retain his occupancy of the Oke-Fia Government House, Adeleke has told Oyetola to start preparing his handover note.

Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has listed Oyetola and Adeleke, among other candidates for the election, both still have pre-election petitions to surmount.

At the APC primary, the incumbent governor was adjudged winner after he polled 222,169 votes; his closest challenger, Moshood Adeoti, a former Secretary to the State Government, had 12,921 votes, while Lasun Yusuff, polled 460.

Adeoti had alleged that the primary was rigged to favour Oyetola and had therefore, alongside the factional APC in the state, approached the Appeal Committee of the party with a petition.

Similarly, the PDP conducted parallel primaries and one of the aggrieved aspirants, Prince Dotun Babayemi had been claiming to be the authentic candidate of the party despite INEC’s announcement of Adeleke as candidate of the party.

Healing the factional wounds ahead of the election is crucial for both parties. But there are no serious signs of rapprochement anywhere.

Implications of Lasun’s exit for APC
WHEN news of Lasun’s resignation from APC filtered into town three weeks after the party primary, which he lost, many were not surprised. He tendered his resignation letter at the party’s secretariat in Osogbo.

The former parliamentarian threw in the towel after his bid to clinch the party’s ticket hit the rock. In 2018, he suffered similar fate. He told his fans that the 2018 exercise was rigged and the agents used to carry out that act had been duly compensated with plum positions in the current administration.

Speaking in Abuja, when he obtained his nomination form for the 2023 governorship, Lasun noted that “no man born of a woman can rig him out in the next election,” adding that whoever was planning to rig the 2022 gubernatorial election would be judged by God.

The former Deputy Speaker maintained that the 2018 Osun gubernatorial election was rigged and noted that the processes leading to the rerun and the statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari that the election was remotely controlled were all pointers that the APC did not win the election fairly.

In a statement, the Osun APC spokesperson, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, dismissed the statement, adding that such claims could only come from a politician seeking public attention by misleading the citizenry.

When Lasun finally dumped APC, the party described it as laughable, adding that Osun APC remained unperturbed, and will not lose sleep over the defection.

He said “It is pertinent to tell the public what they already know that Hon Lasun Yusuf is a ‘noisemaker and paperweight politician’ whose mind has left the party since 2018 after he contested for governorship primary election and failed and he has consistently been failing to win elections, even in his Poling Unit.

“Our party will show Hon Yusuf that truly, he has no electoral value because, when he worked against the party, APC recorded so much electoral victories and the next election won’t be an exemption,” he said.

He urged members of the APC to stay away from enemies of the party who portray themselves as party men but are worse than those in the opposition.

However, party watchers say, that Lasun polled 460 votes in the last primary election means he is not a man without followers. Actually, a video was shown where he appealed to his supporters who had thronged his Polling Unit in Ilobu, to return home and that only eight supporters excluding himself and his lawyer should vote on that day. In essence, Lasun’s exit may affect the chances of Oyetola in Irepodun/Olorunda/Osogbo/Orolu Federal Constituency, where he commands a large following.

If he eventually prosecutes his governorship ambition in another political platform as it is being rumoured, he would pull a good number of his APC supporters along.

But the party has maintained that Lasun is not a threat to Oyetola’s chances in the forthcoming poll.

Omisore’s emergence as APC national secretary and implications for Osun guber.

THE emergence of Omisore as the national secretary of APC is perhaps, a big plus to the chances of Oyetola. It was gathered that Omisore’s new position could not be disconnected from the roles he played in 2018 in ensuring that Oyetola emerged victorious in the supplementary election against the PDP’s Adeleke.

Also, observers say that since the feud between Oyetola and his immediate boss, Aregbesola, has become intractable, the incumbent governor needed someone who could wrestle with Aregbesola in Osun East Senatorial District.

Aregbesola and Omisore belong to the same zone. Therefore, Oyetola would be using Omisore to knock out any eventual political strategy Aregbesola might want to device on July 16. There’s been long drawn enmity between Aregbesola and Omisore; and Oyetola would certainly maximise that to get votes in the zone.

The Guardian however learnt that efforts are in place by the Adamu-led new NWC to engage Oyetola, Aregbesola and Omisore before the election. There is also the possibility that former governor Bisi Akande, who is said to be unfavourably disposed to Omisore’s emergence will be involved in the reconciliation.

The national leader of the party, who is aspiring to succeed President Muhammadu Bubari in 2023, is also central to the reconciliation on the premise that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a blood relation to Oyetola. Tinubu is a former boss to Aregbesola in Lagos, who also played a critical role in the minister’s emergence as governor in Osun.

The bulk of the job will fall on Senator Adamu to resolve before July 16. Meanwhile, a party source said President Buhari will personally intervene in Osun now that the national convention has come and gone.