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Osun rerun and politics of the ‘rejected stone’

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Head, South West Bureau, Osogbo)
26 September 2018   |   4:02 am
The Osun State governorship rerun election scheduled for Thursday, September 27, has suddenly thrown up the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore, as a beautiful bride being wooed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).

Senator Iyiola Omisore

The Osun State governorship rerun election scheduled for Thursday, September 27, has suddenly thrown up the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore, as a beautiful bride being wooed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).

While the Senate President, Dr. Olusola Saraki, led a retinue of PDP leaders to seek Omisore’s hand in a marriage of convenience for the election, a top APC member told The Guardian that the leadership of the ruling party had also met with Omisore in Ile-Ife where they had “fruitful” discussions.

Confirming that the two parties are desperately seeking his hand in alliance to win the election, Omisore who spoke after his closed door meeting with Saraki, said: “I have given my programmes to both APC and PDP. My programme is like this-payment of salaries and pensions. Good governance is what is important to me.

“Anyone between the two that will do that will get my support. I am passionate about Osun and my interest is the welfare of the people of this state. I have told those sent to me. At the appropriate time, we will tell you where we are going.”The Ife prince is not a stranger to both parties. His political trajectory started with Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the second republic became the deputy governor to the late Chief Bola Ige in the old Oyo State. But he later fell out with his boss and the progressive politics. However, the assassination of the late governor by yet-to-be identified killers further widened the gulf between those in the progressive politics and Omisore.

It was no news that the APC goons had accused Omisore of complicity in the murder of Ige and this allegation has been part of below-the-belt campaign line of some elements within the APC. It was gathered that the APC, like the PDP, was dangling a Senate ticket as bait, but it is not clear which side Omisore will fall for. Although an analyst said nothing is impossible in politics, he argued that Omisore might accept APC’s offer if only to use the opportunity to prove them wrong in the allegation over Ige’s death.

Omisore was a strong PDP member until this year when he lost the party structure that denied him the governorship ticket. He won the Senate seat under the platform of the PDP and was also the flag bearer of the party in the last governorship election.After the meeting at Ile-Ife, Saraki said the PDP had agreed in principle with Omisore’s conditions to get his support for the rerun election, adding: “we had a fruitful discussion with Senator Omisore. He used to be with us. And we believe he is helping us now. I am optimistic of a good outing for PDP.

“After meeting with him, I am more optimistic now that with his support, PDP will win. We are confident of a good outing. I am more confident now.” Although Omisore left the PDP to join SDP, almost all his political colleagues and associates are still in the party, as such analysts believe that Omisore may be more comfortable in striking a deal with PDP than APC.

However, the once rejected pillar from the two parties has declared that whichever party is ready to implement his programmes as SDP candidate would have his support during Thursday’s poll. Although Omisore and his party, SDP, came third in the election with a total of 128,049 votes, the PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who came first, polled 254, 698 votes, while the APC posted 254,345.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive because the number of cancelled votes was higher than the margin between the two leading political parties. According to the Chief Returning Officer and Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) Prof Joseph Adeola Fuwape, 3,498 votes were cancelled, while the margin was 353.

Fuwape cited technical hitches, over voting and disappearance of an electoral officer with voting materials as reasons for the cancellation of votes in the affected polling units and eventual declaration of the election inconclusive. Tomorrow’s election will hold in seven polling units spread across four local councils. A polling unit in Osogbo, where the Electoral officer absconded, has 884 registered voters.

Other six polling units are at Ile-Ife and its Orolu suburb. According to the INEC statement, a polling unit at Ife North local council has 357 registered voters, while two polling units at Ife North local council has 812 and 502 registered voters. Orolu, where INEC complained of technical hitches, has three polling units with 393; 387 and 167 registered voters.

The Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Lasun, is from the community, but he was trounced by PDP in circumstances that fueled suspicion about his influence and loyalty to the APC. Analysis from the number of registered voters in the seven polling units shows that 2,614 voters are expected from Ile Ife axis of the state. However, a source said out of 3,498 only 2,323 have collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

While the APC is expected to have a clear lead in the only polling unit in Osogbo based on its recent record of performance, PDP will also want to maintain its strength in Orolu where the party led others with 7,776 votes against APC 5442, and SDP 2043.

But an APC source on yesterday told The Guardian that Senator Omoworare was among the leaders that the party had approached to lead the battle to win the rerun. He described Omoworare as a loyal party member who would not want to put his party to shame.

Omisore’s influence in Ife and environment cannot be underestimated. And, Orolu local council, where election will hold in three units is beside Ife. Omisore’s father, Oba David Omisore, is the ruler of Garage Olode, a town in Ife South, where two units’ elections were cancelled.