Though the 2014 governorship election in Osun State has been won and lost, the last has obviously not been heard about the election, as the Osun State chapter of the PDP rejected the result and decided to take a closer look at it.
Though many had predicted a keen contest between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party who are believed to be the main contenders, te result of the election did not come as a surprise to some people. Meanwhile, observers have opined that the PDP flag bearer in the election, Senator Iyiola Omisore had a number of factors that put him at a disadvantage against the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. To them, it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Omisore to win the election against Rauf Aregbesola.
The Bola Ige Factor
Omisore approached the election with a moral burden which had been a part of his political baggage since 2001. Fingers were and are still being pointed at him over the death of Chief Bola Ige. He and Chief Ige had their disagreements which climaxed with the removal of the latter’s cap at the palace of the Ooni of Ife in December 2001. Ige was murdered days after.
Though he achieved a feat that seemed impossible when he won a senate seat from detention in 2003, the Bola Ige factor was the reason Omisore actually became a Senator in the first place. He had purchased nomination forms for the governorship position but the leadership of the PDP in their wisdom convinced him to swap forms with Prince Oyinlola who had intentions of going to the senate.
The fears they had eleven years ago obviously had effects on the 2014 governorship election. Back then the fear had been that with Bola Ige’s death still fresh in the minds of the electorate; Omisore might not get the desired number of votes in Ijesaland and other places.
Though he was not convicted by any court of law and he has continued to state his innocence, the court of public opinion has simply refused to absolve Omisore of complicity in the murder of the former Attorney General of the Federation.
Popular musician, Lagbaja refused to play at Omisore’s campaign rally, reason being that Ige wass his mentor. Some of Ige’s kinsmen in Esa Oke also openly declared that they would only vote Omisore if Bola Ige came back alive to endorse him.
Omisore’s Many Battles and The Division of PDP
Political observers at a point noted that Omisore was fighting on too many fronts and that was shortly before the election. It is a known fact that Senator Omisore has a considerable amount of influence of the structure of the PDP in Osun State. Incidentally, he and the former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola have not been in very good terms for some time.
Omisore had to be placated back in 2007 to allow Oyinlola run for his second term which was eventually truncated by the appellate court in 2010. They had issues regarding control of the party machinery in the state. Few days to the election, Oyinlola who was unceremoniously removed as the National Secretary of the PDP decided to join forces with the APC, swelling the ranks of his new party with about 10, 000 people who defected with him. Though on election day, Oyinlola did not deliver his immediate constituency for his party, his exit affected the image of the PDP in a way.
Omisore’s emergence as the party’s candidate also generated a lot of dissatisfaction within the PDP.
Fatai Akinbade, a former Secretary to the State Government left for the Labour Party and became the governorship candidate there. The state’s first Executive Governor, Senator Isiaka Adeleke too was locked in a supremacy battle with Omisore. After a scuffle, Adeleke concluded he was no longer wanted in the PDP. He moved the APC. He conveniently used his political clout to deliver his Ede constituency to his new party.
The internal wrangling no doubt affected the fortune of the PDP at the poll.
The Aregbesola Factor
It would amount to self-deception to conclude that Ogbeni Aregbesola does not have a mastery of the art of politicking. Even with his status as the Governor of Osun State, Aregbesola is still highly revered in Alimosho, the biggest Local Government Area in Lagos State. Reason is his closeness to the grassroots. He stormed Osun years back with the Alimosho experience when he introduced himself with the name “Oranmiyan”. Till date, Ogbeni as he is fondly called has not stopped being a grassroots politician.
His performance also went a long way in swinging things in his favour. Though some of his policies have been criticized, he still scored some firsts; the “Opon Imo” is one of such innovations in the Education sector. The fact that the Civic Centre where Senator Omisore first publicly declared his governorship intention was constructed by the Aregbesola administration also had meanings read to it.
The Ife-Modakeke and Ijesa Factors
Though in Osun’s political arithmetic, it is believed that the bulk of the votes come from Ife, Ilesa and Osogbo, every candidate strives to do well in other areas.
The Ife Modakeke factor again played itself out in the last election. Right from the 1830s shortly after the demise of Ooni Akinmoyero who received Oyo settlers who became the first inhabitants of Modakeke, Ife and Modakeke have always had their differences. They were on opposing sides during the Ekitiparapo war. And even before then bloody skirmishes had been recorded between the two towns, a repeat of which occurred in the 1990s.
Though Omisore, an Ife prince, being the son of the Olu of Olode Town won in Ifeland, most of the votes in Modakeke were not in his favour.
Meanwhile, the APC recoded the widest margins across Ijesaland. With the Bola Ige sentiment which had already pitched Ijesas against Omisore, it was obvious that the bulk of the votes would go to the APC.
An added advantage was Aregbesola’s status as an Ijesa son.
The Ekiti Experience
The victory of the PDP in the recently held governorship election in Ekiti State also served as an eye opener for the APC in Osun. Apart from seeing where the loopholes could be, the APC chose to match the PDP move for move, rice for rice and effort for effort.
Unlike the situation in Ekiti where APC leaders from other states were barred from entering, in Osun, the party ensured that leaders who would observe from other states came in early.
To also block the loophole created by the dissatisfaction of teachers in Ekiti, Aregbesola made sure their counterparts in Osun were “sorted” before the election.