August is finally here, and the countdown to the governorship election in the state has begun in earnest. The man to beat in the election, the incumbent Governor of the State of Osun, the laconic and irrepressible Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has in the past three months traversed the nooks and crannies of the state showcasing his accomplishments at every turn to justify the peoples’ confidence with a clear promise of more to come when reelected.
On the other hand, his main challenger, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyiola omisore lacking any pedigree of previous accomplishments in the service of the people since his time as Deputy Governor and later Senator, and in the absence of any program or manifesto, he had no option than to resort to boast of deploying the crude might of the powers that be in Abuja to decide for the people of Osun.
True to his boasts, like they did in Ekiti, two weeks to the election, the undue militarization of Osun State has commenced and the dogs of war have begun shooting sporadically everywhere in order to heighten tension and intimidate the electorates ahead of the elections.
Like the at’oko wa ba ile je that they are, they have similarly recruited mercenaries from the Niger Delta, and the goons are on ground as well. This, however, is the greater insult and the salt on the injury. Importing a band of ill bred and uncouth thugs to come and truncate the wishes of the people of the cradle of civilization.
However, unlike Ekiti where they had a free reign because we were caught unawares as a result of our underestimation of their level of desperation, we now have all of these facts and much more, and I make bold to assert that the game is up for the PDP in the South West. The election of 9th August will be a turning point for Nigerians as we begin to roll back the fortunes of the PDP that has inflicted pain and sorrow on the country and its people ahead of the fateful year of 2015.
Basking in the euphoria of their victory in Ekiti, members and leadership of the PDP had no inhibition to equate the singular occurrence that shocked all critical observers for acceptance in Yorubaland. They see Osun as a walkover. Billions of Naira have been moved in to bribe, seduce and influence our people.
The fact, however, is that Osun State presents a different political terrain in comparison to Ekiti.
The issues that are germane to the average voter in Osun are far removed from those that played out in Ekiti. The traditional societies made up of Oyos, Ijesas, Igbominas, Ifes, Ibolos, etc. will place a higher premium on the quality of education for their children, availability of healthcare services, functional infrastructure that have been the priority of the Government of Rauf Aregbesola than the populist pretentions of an Ayo Fayose aptly aped by Iyiola Omisore in his public appearances.
They have equally taken little cognizance of the temerity of the man they are up against, aside the monumental achievements recorded by Governor Rauf Aregbesola, which are in themselves sufficient to see him through; he is a grassroots man and had always identified with the people and is always to be found in their midst. Little surprise he is so popular, and they found it convenient to relate with him unlike the corn eating babasuwe.
The cohesion APC enjoys in Osun State is one critical success factor that would ensure victory for Ogbeni Aregbesola. There is no crisis within the APC in Osun State. The party is one, and everybody is working together for Aregbesola’s victory. The loss of APC in Ekiti state was premised on so many factors that are confounding and requires time to unravel. No doubt the exodus of some party stalwarts or stakeholder’s equally paved way for the victory of Fayose.
Like the saying goes ‘’the cream would always settle at the top’’ which depicts that Ogbeni’s performance is enough to make him coast to victory with little or minimal effort. Ogbeni Rauf has preformed creditably like Kayode Fayemi but not taking any chance, which explains why he has been able to engage the people with grassroots programs like Ogbeni until day break, gbangbadekun, labe odan to mention a few, which show how connected he is to the grassroots.
The good people of Osun are not only sophisticated but very wise, and they can discern. The death of the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice is still very fresh in the minds of Osun people. His alleged involvement in Bola Ige’s murder continues to ring in the heads of the people. The good news is that, PDP as a party lost the Osun state gubernatorial election the very day Omisore was imposed as the Flag bearer of the party via a kangaroo primary. His character and antecedents as an alleged murderer, thug and fraudster are enough to convince the people to vote the incumbent. Notwithstanding, Omisore is aware of this but would be banking on the support from Abuja to rig him to power, but Osun people would resist any form of militarization and rigging.
The umbrella suffered a setback when one of their strong pillars in Osun state, Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke defected to the APC based on the fact that the foundation of the party was based on deceits and falsehoods. The whole of Osun East Senatorial districts are now solidly behind Ogeni Aregbesola. Not that alone, but the geopolitical demographics and permutations currently favor the incumbent.
Rauf Aregbesola’s empowerment program has impacted on lives in almost every home in the state of Osun having employed twenty thousand young and able youths in his first 100 days in office. He feeds school children across the state with balanced diet meals daily. Ogbeni’s administration introduction of ‘’Opon Imo’’ a high-tech educational electronic device or tablet has revolutionized learning in the State.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back for Senator Iyiola Omisore of the PDP was his inability to present himself to the people of Osun State in a well-publicized debate organized with the support of some international agencies. The debate would have given the electorates ample opportunity to clarify some burning issues with regards to several allegations leveled against him (Omisore). The highest level of disdain for the Osun voters was the fact that he couldn’t attend a debate in a state he wishes to govern but came down to Lagos to hold an interview with a private TV station.
At this juncture, it behooves on APC to challenge INEC to fastrack the distribution of permanent voter’s card (PVC) to avert the insinuation of rigging, which is synonymous with the PDP style of “winning” elections. These they have done in several places but the good people of Osun would vehemently resist any such shenanigan.
On a last note, it is confounding that it is the PDP that has raped and reaped so much from the country’s attempt democratic rule that has become the greatest threat to its sustenance with its intolerance of the opposition.
They have refused to learn from the experience of the NPC and the NPN before them. For Osun State and come 2015, we are prepared and better organized in a way that the armed men they have shipped in, in order to intimidate our people and suppress popular will, will end up turning the barrels on themselves, and on the day after they shall depart the State of Osun in shame with their tails tucked in between their hind legs.
Lateef Raji, Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Information and Strategy, writes in from Lagos.