When the tenure of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun winds down in November 2018, the question of who takes over from him is permeating the political space.
Notwithstanding that the election is about 20 months away and that political parties have not flung their doors open for campaigns to the Bola Ige House, political maneuverings, consultations, scheming, alignment and re-alignment are in top gear.
Notable politicians are positioning themselves to clinch their parties’ nominations, by seeking the backings of the juggernauts, influencers and king-makers within the folds of their respective political parties. Among the aspirants that have overtly or covertly signified their interests in governing the state in 2018 are Lere Oyewumi, Adejare Bello, Iyiola Omisore, Adeola Adewopo and Kayode Oduoye, all on the platform of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In the fold of the ruling APC, Isiaka Adeleke, Yusuf Lasun, Mojeed Alabi, Gboyega Oyetola and Nojeem Salaam are some of the contending factors for the position of the number one citizen of the state.
Akogun Lere Oyewumi is currently a national commissioner in the National Population Commission (NPC).A former federal legislator and chairman of Irewole Local Government, Akogun Oyewumi is said to be a down-to-heart politician and grassroots influencer. He was appointed director-general of Omisore/Bello campaign organisation in 2014, a duty he carried out to the satisfaction and admiration of all the party faithful.
Oyewumi, who holds a doctorate degree of the University of Ibadan, is credited with many laudable capital projects which were executed during his tenure as the Irewole council boss. However, he is believed not to have the needed financial where-withal to sustain elaborate gubernatorial campaigns.
Adejare is a lawyer and served in the Osun State House of Assembly for 12 years: first as the Minority Leader (1999-2003) and later as the Speaker (2003-2011). He contested the 2014 gubernatorial election in the state as the running-mate to the flag-bearer of the PDP Iyiola Omisore. He is from Ede in Osun West Senatorial District. In the 2014 election, his party (PDP) polled 17,889 votes in the two local governments in Ede as against the APC’s 27,141 votes. He is known as a grassroots politician with vast wealth of experience and who can hold his ground anywhere.
Omisore is not new to the politics of the state. Since 1999 when he was elected deputy governor to Chief Bisi Akande, he has been a recurring decimal in the scheme of things in the state.
He ran against the incumbent Governor in 2014.He is from Ile-Ife, the same senatorial district as the current Governor.
Rumor has it that he is making surreptitious moves to join the ruling APC. His pockets, unarguably, are deep and he is loved by his Ile-Ife people, going by the outcomes of a series of elections from the zone. Omisore owns a radio station in the state which can be a very veritable campaign tool for him.
However, his albatross has been his alleged link to the gruesome murder of Chief Bola Ige. Chief Ige,an Ijesha aristocrat who was shot and bludgeoned to death by unknown assassins in his Bodija home in December 2001,had towering image that cut across the length and breadth of the state. He was the Governor of old Oyo state (now Oyo and Osun states) from 1979-1983.
Omisore, alongside other notable politicians, including Jelili Adesiyan (who later became police affairs minister during the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan) was detained in Agodi prison, Ibadan in connection with the murder of Chief Ige. While in detention, Omisore won a senate seat in 2003.
Ayoade Adewopo is a lawyer and expert in anti-money laundering matters. He was educated at the Polytechnic Ibadan, University of Wales and Indiana University. A prince and blueblood from the Ogboru Royal Family of Ile-Ife and Laoye of Ede(his mother was the first daughter of late Timi of Ede Oba John Laoye),Ayoade is the president of the Johnson Adedoja Adewopo Foundation.Through the Foundation,Ayoade has provided scholarship awards to many students in the states. Although he is relatively known in the Osun political circle, his alleged link with a rich and influential first class monarch in the state is going to be a plus for him. “Ayombo”, his campaign slogan, is gathering rave in the state.
(Dr) Kayode Oduoye,fondly called “Superkay”, is a household name in the state. Since he lost the Ifelodun/Boripe/Odo-Otin Federal House of Representatives seat election in 2015 to the candidate of the APC, the popularity of this Ikirun-born and OAU/Buckingham-educated lawyer has been on the rise. He has many good things working for him: he is young, wealthy, humble, generous and gregarious. He is a politician with decent and verifiable pedigree. He is a scion of late Senator Simeon Oduoye, a retired AIG and former military administrator of Ebonyi/Niger states. Kayode Oduoye’s clout cuts across all divides He is seen as a reliable unifying factor. There is speculation that some APC chieftains, having seen his positive exploits in the state, are making overtures to him to join the progressive fold.
He has donated immensely to the cause of the media, faith-based groups and students/youths in the state. He, in company with his spouse Mosun Filani-Oduoye,has donated handsomely to a number of orphanages and the physically-challenged persons in the state. Mosun Filani-Oduoye is a popular Nollywood star and her politician-husband would find her popularity in the entertainment and movie industry readily beneficial in the campaign.
Oduoye also has used his contacts as an international businessman and active player in the Oil/Gas and Telecommunication sectors to secure employments for many youths of the state. Perhaps his good gestures and kind responses to the cause of the masses prompted his teeming supporters to urge him to seek the highest political position in the state.
Be that as it may, the internal wrangling in the Osun PDP, a fall-out of the May 2016 party congress in the state may impede his lofty ambition. The PDP has been polarised into two factions: one faction, believed to be loyal to the Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff Executive is led by Soji Adagunodo,while the second faction, sympathetic to the Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee is led by Soji Faforiji,a known ally of Otunba Iyiola Omisore. Analysts are of the view that if all the squabbles in the party are not resolved in the shortest possible time, further balkanisation may be witnessed in the party and will affect the chances of the party in 2018.
“PDP are in the opposition in both the state and in the federal. It would do them no good if they carry their roforofo fights into the election year,”one commentator, Yekini Agboola,sounds a note of warning.
On the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), we have the following:
Senator Isiaka Adeleke at present is a senator representing Osun West in the Senate. He has the honour of being the first Executive Governor of the state(1992-1993).A member of the Senator Ayoola Adeleke Dynasty of Ede,Isiaka Adeleke,nicknamed “Serubawon’’, holds degrees in Political Science and Public Administration of the University of Jacksonville. During his brief stay in office as the Governor of the state, it is to his credit that Osun State Polytechnic, Iree; Osun State College of Technology,Esa-Oke were established. Also during his tenure, he ensured the completion of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC).
Adeleke has a deep pocket and enjoys cult-like followership in his native home of Ede. His two children Bayo Adeleke(B-Red) and Adeshina Adeleke(Shina Rambo) are hip-hop stars. His younger brother Adedeji Adeleke(father of popular singer Davido) is the founder of Adeleke University,Ede.Isiaka Adeleke may benefit in no small measure if these influential and interesting characters are brought into the political turf for his sake. The involvements of these interesting and influential characters in the election can positively rub-off on Senator Adeleke’s campaign.
However, some analysts critical of him maintain that Adeleke is of the old generation and has nothing special to offer again, having governed the state 24 years ago when he was still in his late thirties. To this category of commentators, Osun is in dire need of ‘High Tech governance’ which, they presume, Adeleke cannot offer them.
Hon.Yusuf Lasun is deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. He is from Ilobu in Irepodun Local Government (Osun Central Senatorial District) and he represents the people of Irepodun/Olurunda/Osogbo/Orolu Federal Constituency. He is an alumnus of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife where he studied Mechanical Engineering. He is acknowledged as a grassroots politician who has used his political influence and connections to mitigate the suffering of his constituents. Lasun is seen as a politician and leader who feels the pulse of the electorate.
“Since his election as the Deputy Speaker in the country’s lower chambers,” according to one of his fans, “Honourable has impacted positively on us. He has drawn many capital projects to our constituency and also secured decent political appointments for some of our folks.”
However, his governorship ambition may hit the rock if he does not close ranks with the incumbent Governor. Although he has repeatedly denied the alleged rift between him and the Governor, evidence abounds that there is no-love-lost between the two political colossi.
Gross insubordination and disloyalty to the party hierarchy in the state are some of the allegations that are said to have been leveled against him by the governor. Within the main rank of the party structure in the state who are believed to be sympathetic to the governor, Lasun is regarded as a political Macbeth.
“Since his judasious emergence as the Deputy Speaker, Lasun has arrogantly but perilously moved on…He carries himself with air and portrays a larger-than-life image. He has kept himself away from all state/party functions, including from the President’s visit to the state in August 2016. It is an open insult and confrontation to the authority of president Buhari. This is the person that has not yet become the Governor; what if he becomes the governor tomorrow…and begins to enjoy immunity? He will be pointing fingers at the nose of the president as Ekiti Governor Fayose is currently doing!”
On the contrary, Lasun’s supporters do not see things in this light. One of these supporters boasts that: “Rauf Aregesola is just being petty and jealous of the meteoric rise of our amiable honorable. And he should note that it is God that chooses a leader. With or without Aregbe’s support, Lasun will become the next governor of our state. Insha Allah.”
They liken his case with that of new Governor of Ondo State Rotimi Akereeolu, who against all odds and alleged political gang-ups by party king-makers in the South-West emerged the party flag-bearers in the primaries.
Mojeed Alabi is a seasoned professor of Political Science and adjunct professor of Law. He is from Ejigbo in Osun West Senatorial District. A former speaker of the Osun House of Assembly (1999-2003) and a current member of the House of Representatives, Professor Alabi continually uses his scholarly writings and engagement to deepening the cause of democracy and good governance in Nigeria, nay Africa. His supporters believe he has, over the years, used his office to draw laudable constituency projects to his people.
He is articulate, ebullient and has mien, poise and comportment of a state governor. He is also known to be a loyal party man and ally of the state governor.
However, the position of many non-partisan commentators is that Alabi’s ambition may be an unrealistic one, going by his political leaning and moral standing. He is said to be an out-spoken politician who considers some attitudes of today’s politicians detestable. He is not given to political shenanigan. They also say he does not have fat war-chest to curry political favour and swing party delegates to his side unless he enjoys the massive and unalloyed support of the incumbent government who calls the tune in the party.
Nevertheless, his admirers are hopeful that his political kite will fly in 2018. To them what Alabi lacks in financial buoyancy, he possesses it in intellect and integrity: two qualities that, they affirm, can exalt a nation. Alabi, they chorus, is the Best Man for the Job.
Hon.Najeem Salaam is the current Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly.He is from Ejigbo in Osun West.A graduate of Political Science of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Salaam appears to be a mature politician,going by the way he has piloted and conducted the affairs of the Assembly since 2011 when he assumed the position. His support for the Aregbesola’s Government has been unwavering. There is much camaraderie between the Assembly and the Executive. This singular development, no doubt, has helped the machinery of development and governance in the state. Considering his deep understanding and ample knowledge of Osun politics, governance and government, he appears suitable for the office of the Governor.
Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola is the Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola.He is from Iragbiji in Osun Central. An alumnus of the University of Lagos where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Insurance (1978) and an MBA (1990),Oyetola worked for a number of insurance companies including Corporate Alliance Insurance as the Technical Controller and Crusader Insurance as the Underwriting Manager . Prior to his current position, he was vice-Chairman of Paragon Group of Companies, a consortium with interest in Oil and Gas, Real Estate, Stock Broking. Oyetola is rumored to be an anointed candidate of the Governor and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Asiwaju Tinubu has been a strong factor in the state since 2005 when his former works commissioner Rauf Aregbesola launched his governorship bid in the state. If Oyetola can emerge as the APC flag-bearer in a rancour free atmosphere and primaries, it is going to be to the advantage of the party; however, if his candidacy is imposed on the other aspirants, this may spell doom for the party.
In rounding off, it is instructive to note that there is a possibility of the two main political parties adopting ‘zoning’ in the (s)election of their candidates. If they do that, the outcome may tilt towards aspirants from the Osun West Senatorial District who are said to have been marginalized…. Since the creation of the state in 1991, only Osun West has not produced a governor that would spend a full one-term. Senator Isiaka Adeleke, from this zone, was governor of the state from January 1992 till November 1993 when the democratic structures were dissolved by the military. At the return of democratic rule in 1999, Chief Bisi Akande,from Osun Central,mounted the rostrum and he was in the saddle until 2003 when Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola took over. Oyinlola, also from Osun Central, was in power until
2010 when the incumbent Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola came into power. By this explanation and trajectory, it means Osun Central has called the shot for 14 years,Osun East for eight years and Osun West for barely two years.
In the different vein, some analysts believe strongly that if the existing cohesion within the APC is not pretentious, and Ogbeni Aregbesola continues to give responsible and purposeful leadership, and his Government’s current harmonious relationship with the labour is not allowed to severe again, it may be a tough feat for any opposition candidate to dislodge the ruling APC in the general election.