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Osun 2018: The coming preliminary senatorial contest

By Leo Sobechi
25 June 2017   |   3:55 am
But for his death Senator Adeleke, would have been the only former governor seeking a return to the office. That was why his unexpected demise elicited suspicions that November 2018 gubernatorial poll had much to do with it.

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor State of Osun.

The July 2, 2017 senatorial bye-election for Osun west senatorial district is manifesting the indicators to the November 2018 governorship poll in the state. Before death claimed the Senator representing Osun west in the Senate, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, two months ago, it was expected that three persons would slug it out for the governorship poll. They include the late Senator Adeleke, Hon. Yussuf Lasun and presumptive preferred candidate of the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola.

That was the situation of things in Osun until Sunday April 23, 2017, when Adeleke has died. The death of Adeleke, sparked off some controversies, not only as to the cause of his sudden death, but also about the fact of his preparations to return as governor.

The process of getting a replacement in the Senate for the people of Osun West has provoked another round of concerns. One issue that is propelling the political unease in Osun is concerns for the governorship election coming up next year. And what makes the governorship poll very exciting is the fact that there would be no incumbent on the ballot.

But for his death Senator Adeleke, would have been the only former governor seeking a return to the office. That was why his unexpected demise elicited suspicions that November 2018 gubernatorial poll had much to do with it.

Death And APC Politics
To a large extent, Osun, nay Osun west senatorial bye-election seems to be playing out a repeat of the Kogi experience, when the death of one of the governorship candidates threw spanner into the electoral process.

But while the Kogi instance had to do with governorship, in Osun, two aspirants are heating up the system, they include a younger brother to the deceased former occupant, Otunba Ademola Adeleke and a former senator, who incidentally was prevailed upon by some interests to yield his ticket in 2015, Senator Mudashiru Hussein.

Ordinarily, the search for a replacement for Senator Adeleke would not have been a subject of much controversy if not for considerations for the 2018 governorship and the underlying suspicion about what/who triggered the sudden death of Osun’s first civilian governor.

As it turned out, National Working Committee (NWC) of All Progressives Congress (APC), intervened in such a way that ruffled the system further. The general expectation within the Osun APC was that since the former Senator had a meritorious outing in the Senate, his immediate family would be allowed to step into the void created by his death, whether through natural or human induced causes.

In the case of Osun west, the politics of 2014 necessitated a strategic alliance between Isiaka Adeleke and the APC that was just registered. Two things played out then. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which knows the electoral worth of the former governor, vacillated in giving him the governorship ticket. When therefore the party settled for Senator Iyiola Omisore, Adeleke decided to switch camp. It is believed that but for his defection to APC, PDP would have attempted the feat it wrought in Ekiti nearly a month before. The defeat of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the then incumbent governor of Ekiti State sent shock waves down the spines of APC promoters, especially in Osun State.

In a bid to ward off the evil spectre, the leadership of the party in the state started reaching out to influential politicians that could stay the hand of the then rampaging PDP with its backing of federal might. More importantly, the loud boast by Senator Omisore that the PDP magic in Ekiti would be replicated in Osun set the stage for new strategies. That was how Senator Adeleke was lured into APC with a senatorial ticket in his kitty.

By ensuring that the Senatorial ticket was not retained in Ede, APC seems to have not only taken with the left hand what it gave with the right, but also set up a replay of the 2011 contest between Adeleke and Hussein.

It was perhaps in recognition of the warp and woof that preceded the election of Senator Adeleke that made the APC to disqualify Senator Hussein twice before the NWC restored his credence for the July 8 senatorial bye-election. And, with the reversal of the earlier position to have Otunba Adeleke on the ballot, old animosities and passions were reawakened.

Repeat Of PDP-APC Rivalry
It all started with conflicting reports about the disqualification of Senator Mudashiru Oyetunde Hussein by the APC Electoral and Appeal Committees. Nonetheless, when APC NWC delivered the final verdict restoring Hussein’s right to contest the primaries, Dr. Adeleke saw the handwriting of political mischief and decided to make alternative plans.

At that point, it dawned on all the major players, including the hidden catalysts of the political recalibration, that whoever occupies the vacant senate seat reserves the power to influence the outcome of the November 2018 governorship.

Adeleke, rightly repudiated the process preceding the APC primary election, pointing out that apart from being a “political caricature,” it was part of antics of the party leadership to manipulate the eventual outcome. That discovery paved the way for a fine tactical withdrawal, because subsequent events showed that he would have lost the primary.

Opposition political parties that noticed the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob in the skewed arrangements within APC approached the aspirant and set up a clinical strategy to confront the forces that never wanted Senator Adeleke to feature in the governorship.

With his unexpected resignation from APC and swift emergence on the platform of PDP for the July 8 senatorial bye-election, Otunba Adeleke has unwittingly set up a possible repeat of the 2011 contest that pitched his elder brother, then of PDP, and Senator Hussein, who was candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Signs that the senatorial bye-election has the imprints of a pre-governorship fervour emerged during the separate primaries by APC and PDP. APC held its primary at Osogbo the state capital, while PDP withdrew to Iwo local council of the state. Security was tense and tight in Osogbo, despite the fact that Hussein was running against himself and Adeleke enjoying a free run as other contestants willingly stepped down for him to emerge.

Question Of Membership
At the time of filing this report, it remained a matter conjecture why Osun APC suddenly came up with a statement claiming that Adeleke was not a member of APC all the while he was jostling with Senator Hussein for the senatorial ticket.

In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, APC rejected Adeleke’s claims that he withdrew from the primary election owing to the lopsidedness of the process. Although the party created the impression that Adeleke withdrew out of fear of confronting a “tough” contender, it disclosed that checks revealed that the younger brother of the deceased former Senator did not register his membership of the party in his Abogunde/Sagba Ward 2 in Ede North local council.

Oyatomi added that there was a petition dated June 9, 2017, which detailed how Adeleke was not a bonafide member of APC in the state, stressing that there was no manipulation of the system to favour Hussein.

In view of the forceful position of APC against Adeleke, especially against the background that he is contesting the senatorial election on a famous rival platform, are there guarantees that only voters in Osun West would be the final arbiters of who replaces Senator Isiaka Adeleke in the Senate? By July 8, 2017 the result would be open to all.