Osun West by-election: A make-or-break contest for APC, PDP
BEFORE the sudden death of Senator Isiaka Adelele, on April 23, 2017, Osun State people, most especially in Osun West Senatorial District, never envisaged that an election would be conducted in their domain so soon. The only expectation of the residents then was the 2018 governorship election.
But, the demise of the flamboyant politician, popularly called Serubawon by his admirers, altered political calculations, thus compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to fix July 8 for bye election, with a view of filling the vacant seat of Osun West in the National Assembly.
From that standpoint, politicians and their parties, that had hitherto preserved their arsenals and conserved their energy for the 2018 gubernatorial contest immediately went back to the drawing board, hold fresh consultation and alignments aimed at shoring up their electoral chances during the crucial poll.
The vigour and tenacity with which major parties, specifically the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are preparing have been linked to the strategic importance of the election to the 2018 governorship poll in the state.
Pundits are of the view that the outcome of this election will, to a large extent, determine the direction of victory in the next year’s poll, hence the seriousness and doggedness being exhibited by the two major parties and their coalition partners to put up with impressive performance.
Currently, alliances, horse trading and intrigues are in top gear among politicians in their efforts to outwit real and imagined opponents in the election, with meetings holding even beyond the precincts of Osun West where the election would be held.
However, the strengths and weaknesses of both parties would go a long way in determining who carries the day among the candidates.
What analysts consider one of the strengths of the APC candidate is the fact that the party is controlling the government in the state. To others, the achievements of Governor Rauf Aregbesola in the last seven years may go a long way to boost the chances of the APC in the election.
To another set of observers, being the ruling party in the state may also make it easier for them to adequately fund the election, with many of their members as political appointees and elected officials
On the contrary however, some analysts believe that the choice of Mudashiru Hussain as the flagbearer of the party may inadvertently be an albatross for the APC. Their line of argument is premised on the fact that the party may have miscalculated in the choice of Hussain from Ejigbo town, where the incumbent Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly hails. Honourable Mojeed Alabi, who represents Ede North/Ede South and Egbedore/Ejigbo in the House of Representatives is also from Ejigbo.
From this perspective, other communities in the 10 local government, constituting Osun West Senatorial District, Sunday Tribune gathered are not comfortable with the emergence of Hussani as candidate.
Sunday Tribune also gathered that the both the Speaker and the House of Representative member from Ejigbo are eyeing the governorship of the state next year and are said not to be in the radar of Governor Aregbesola as likely successor. The choice of Hussain therefore is being seen by some critics as a strategy to shut the duo out of the governorship contest.
Another issue being debated in the build up to the election as one that may may count against the APC is the non-rehabilitation of Osogbo-Iwo road by the Aregbesola administration. It would have been the anchor for a major support base for party in the election, reason some observers, if the governor had reconstructed the road which is presently in a bad shape.
The mass movement of the Adeleke political family and support groups to PDP as a result of the defection of Ademola Adeleke to the main opposition party is another major challenge for the APC.
Ademola Adeleke, who was formerly a senatorial aspirant on the platform of APC, had defected to PDP and emerged as the party’s flag bearer on June 14, 2017 at a primary election held in Iwo town.
On the part of the PDP, the recent reconciliation between the two factions of the party in Osun may serve as a tonic to propel its strength and enhance its chances at the poll. Earlier in the week, the faction, led by Dr Bayo Faforiji of Senator Iyiola Omisore’s group and that of the state chairman, Honourable Soji Adagunodo, harmonised their differences and agreed to work for the victory of Adeleke.
The involvement of the Labour Party (LP), led by a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), in Osun, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in an alliance with the PDP may present stronger pedestal to accentuate Adeleke’s chances during the poll, say analysts of the developments in the build up to the election.
But, the sincerity of the reconciliation in the PDP is another issue, which some pundits believe may not stand the test of time, considering the vested interests of some major power brokers in the party.
Investigation by our correspondent also indicates that the absence of a think-tank to on strategies to win the election within the PDP camp may puncture the effectiveness of the alliance formed with other parties, most especially the SDP, to win the election.
Another factor that may be a major challenge for the PDP in this poll is availability of funds needed to oil their campaign machinery for the election, having been out of power in Osun for the past seven years and at the federal level for two years.
Coupled with this is the battered image of the party, following mind boggling corruption cases involving some of its prominent members, who served in the cabinet of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The APC may explore the seemingly bad image of the party to drum support for Hussain during the campaign for votes.
Aside the strengths and weaknesses of the main parties, there are power brokers of Osun West extraction in both parties, who have already commenced consultations to up the ante for their respective candidates in the poll. On the side of the APC are the current SSG, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, from Iwo, Professor Mojeed Alabi and the Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, both of whom are from Ejigbo.
From the the PDP, former Minister for Youths Development, Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi, from Ode-Omu is rooting for Ademola Adeleke in Ayedaade Local Government Area, while Akogun Lere Oyewumi and retired Colonel Olayiwola Falabi are mobilising support for the PDP in Ikire of Irewole local government area.
In Egbedore Local Government Area, a member of the House of Assembly, representing the constituency, Honourable Abiodun Awolola is working assiduously for the APC candidate, while Chief Layi Ogunrinade and Honourable Bamidele Salam are enlisting the support of eligible voters for the PDP. A former executive secretary of Ayedire Local Government Area, Honourable Gbenga Ogunkanmi is also mobilising support for the APC in the locality where another staunch member and former Speaker, House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh holds firm.
Meanwhile, the voting pattern of the 10 local governments in Osun West may have been altered with death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke and the defection of his younger brother, Ademola to the PDP. During the last governorship election in 2014, the exit of late Senator Adeleke from PDP to APC contributed immensely to the large number of votes recorded in that senatorial district. Regardless of Adeleke teaming up with the APC then, the PDP still won in Isokan and Ayedire local government areas.
Now that the Adeleke political family is back in the PDP, both APC and PDP will have to struggle in sharing the votes in Osun West Senatorial District. To some observers, it may be an uphill task for the the APC in Ede North and South local governments, being the stronghold of the Adelekes.