Osun 2022: Senator Adeleke warms up to ‘battle’ Oyetola again
Senator Ademola Nurudeen Adeleke, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the 2018 Osun State governorship election was not thinking about politics until the sudden and controversial death of his elder brother, Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, who died on April 23, 2017.
Isiaka a former governor of Osun State died of a heart attack while he was a member of the Nigerian Senate. He represented Osun West Senatorial District of the state.
The need for a by-election to fill the vacuum left by the elder brother brought Ademola to the political limelight because he was largely unknown. Ademola, who had spent a good part of his life abroad, was picked by the PDP to contest the by-election.
Ademola was declared victorious, winning in nine out of 10 local governments that make up Osun West Senatorial District. His landslide victory shocked the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) because it thought that Ademola, being a newcomer elective politics, could not defeat a former senator, Mudashiru Hussein of the APC, even with the support of then-Governor, Rauf Aregbesola.
Ademola admitted that his victory was due to his brother’s “historical goodwill” and influence. Speaking after the by-election, he said, “I was having fun during the campaign and enjoying my dance because my brother (Isiaka) had done 70 percent of the job with his historical goodwill right from when he became an executive governor in 1991. I was always with him. I want to follow in his footsteps and may God help me.”
Owing to his remarkable electoral performance at the by-election, the popularity of the Adeleke dynasty in Ede, Osun State and the fact that the people of the state thought it was wise that Osun West produced the next Governor of the state since other two Senatorial Districts – Osun Central and Osun East- had governed the state, PDP, in the build-up to the 2018 governorship poll, declared Ademola it’s gubernatorial flag bearer in a keenly contested primary with another chieftain of the party, Akin Ogunbiyi, with a seven-vote difference.
Ademola contested the 2018 governorship election with then-candidate Oyetola and was close to defeating the latter despite speculation that he lacked academic and intellectual capacity. Although Mr Adeleke was leading his APC rival with 353 votes at the end of the first round of ballots, the table turned the other way after the supplementary election was conducted, with the APC candidate (Oyetola), overtaking and beating the PDP candidate with a total margin of 482 votes.
Besides leading in votes cast, the APC also led in the number of local governments won, winning a total of 16 local governments against 11 won by the PDP. The SDP won two while the ADP won one. Ademola and Osun PDP had dragged Oyetola to court and alleged that the election was rigged. The Osun State governorship elections petitions tribunal sitting in Abuja had declared Ademola winner but the Appeal Court and Supreme upturned it and affirmed Oyetola winner of the poll.
Ever since the court discharged and acquitted him on the certificate forgery case, Ademola had gone back to his base in the United States. Even in his absence, residents of the state, especially those who are empathetic to the PDP still yearn for him to return and contest the forthcoming governorship election. The leadership of the party, leaders and chieftains have not hidden their support and desire for the 60 – year-old Ademola to return and wrest power with Oyetola, again.
Ademola made headlines in the traditional and online media recently, when he reportedly bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at the Atlanta Metropolitan State College. Speaking recently, in an interview on why he waited till 60 before bagging a degree, Ademola had said, “I am by the grace of God a man given to the pursuit of knowledge and skills. Before politics, I had successfully managed businesses worth several millions of dollars.
“I was involved in turning around blue-chip companies and so I am eminently equipped to turn around the fortune of Osun State for good. My recent completion of a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice should even put all doubts as to my academic records to rest. I am sure you know it takes more than being average to attain this feat. They are free to check my school records, they will marvel at my performance.
“The quest for more knowledge motivated me to enrol for a degree programme. I had enough time after the controversial decisions of the courts on the Osun State governorship election. I could not just be politicking so soon and so I decided to go back to school. It is a desire to be a better me and it was a worthwhile decision,” Ademola said.
Some PDP Federal lawmakers from Osun PDP also visited Ademola at his USA home to solidarise and assure him of their support as the forthcoming election approaches.
Those who met with him were; members of the House of Representatives in the state, Hon Bamidele Salam, representing Ede-Egbedore-Ejigbo federal constituency, Hon Oluwole Oke, representing Obokun-Oriade federal constituency and Hon Otunba Ajilesoro Abimbola, representing Ife federal constituency. They have referred to Ademola as “incoming Governor of Osun by 2022” on their social media posts.
The deputy national Publicity Secretary of PDP, Diran Odeyemi said Ademola would defeat Oyetola or whoever the APC would be presenting as a candidate in the July 16 governorship election in 2022.
Also speaking in an interview with The Guardian, a close ally to Ademola and one of his foot soldiers, Akintunde Bello Sheriff, said though the party was yet to hold its primary, “more than the overwhelming majority of PDP members in Osun and leaders, are for Ademola Adeleke. So, any day, anytime, if we go to the field of play, we are sure that Ademola Adeleke will emerge victorious with the help of God and support of the people.”
Also, the Osun PDP Chairman, Sunday Bisi, had said the party was backing Ademola because he “performed wonderfully during the last elections. He has won two elections in quick succession. In the Senatorial election, he won nine out of 10 local governments. He defeated the sitting governor before the abracadabra and remote control from Abuja changed the whole thing and since that time, he has not left us as a party.
“He (Ademola) has been looking back, performing his duty and looking at the welfare of party members. Every festive period, even during COVID-19 lockdown, he kept on doing things for us. So, if people are saying Adeleke is the one we want; if people are endorsing him right, left and centre, we as a party do not see anything bad in that. However, we are not saying that whoever is interested should not come out. No! It shouldn’t be so. Let those who are also interested come out and vie,” Bisi noted.
Two chieftains of the PDP who are yet to declare interest in the governorship are Akin Ogunbiyi and Sanya Omirin. The party has slated its primary for February, next year.
But some APC members have dismissed the return of Adeleke and his growing popularity. They do not see his recent academic attainment as a threat to Oyetola, who has been rooting for a second term.
On Tuesday, September 7, Adeleke spoke at a welcome rally organised by the PDP at its Secretariat in Osogbo, where he formally declared interest in the governorship race and also asked the incumbent governor to start preparing his handover notes.
He boasted that Oyetola’s days are numbered at the Government House. The uncle to the international music star, Davido, said he is ready to flag off his campaign. He said other contestants in the party are welcome to join the race for the party’s governorship ticket.
According to Adeleke: “The ruling party has messed up the state since coming to power. I am appealing to Governor Oyetola to start preparing his handover notes because his days as governor are numbered.
“I am back and ready to kick-start my campaign. PDP belongs to everyone, I can’t stop anyone interested in the party’s ticket from contesting, but l appeal for decency among everyone for peace within the party and the state.”
Ede, the hometown of Adeleke and Osogbo, the State capital, and other adjourning towns jubilated wildly as party faithful, in motorcades jollied to his return.
Chairman of the party, Hon. Sunday Bisi said the former lawmaker travelled to the United States to “add tremendous value to himself.”
Bisi said: “It gladdens our heart that in spite of the vicious political manipulation which robbed Senator Ademola Adeleke of the governorship position in 2018 and the naked use of State power to harass him, the governorship candidate deemed it fit to immediately use the period after the election in a very productive and rewarding manner.
“Instead of whining in bitterness or even creating mischief to protest the controversial decisions of the courts after the 2018 elections, Senator Adeleke stayed focused on personal self-development and positive engagement as a true democrat and reminiscent historical values of your dynasty.
“We love your courage and we appreciate your disposition as a man of peace. We are convinced that you are a man of divine purpose. Your unflinching effort at reinvigorating the party even while in the faraway United States of America depicts you as a vessel of love; who will spare nothing to emancipate the good people of Osun State.
“We are proud of the attainment of the honours you attained and even more proud of the heart-warming recommendations of the college authorities and your course mates. You have demonstrated beyond doubt that where there is a will, there will also be away.”
“With the additional feat to previous ones in the social, economic and political spheres, you have assured us that you are better positioned to drive the process of growth in our dear state and Nigeria as a whole.”
“Let me use this medium to warn those who feel they can subdue our party with the force of violence to desist forthwith. Such vain effort cannot get at us as our courage is too fortified to be discouraged.
“Testing the will of our people through any form of violence is an effort in futility but stretching it further will backfire. We will not warn you again.
“On our part as a party, we pray the Almighty God grants Senator Ademola Adeleke good health and sound mind to continually be of service to Osun State, Nigeria and humanity in general,” he said.
As politicking gather momentum ahead of July 16 2022, Senator Adeleke has put his hand on the plough. Pray, he doesn’t look back!