Tinubu: It’s back to trenches for Oyetola, Adeleke in Osun

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Oyetola and Adeleke

The soul of Osun state is at stake again as political gladiators are at each other’s jugular ahead of the 2023 polls. KEHINDE OSASONA gives more insight.

Although the much-touted Osun state governorship election battle between Adegboyega Oyetola and Sen. Ademola Adeleke has come and gone, it defied all predictions and permutations earlier advanced by political commentators and concerned citizens.

The outcome of the election did not only prove bookmakers and political analysts wrong, they are still finding it difficult to fathom what went wrong with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who had the firm grip and was almost coasting to victory.

Before July 16 election

Shortly before the July 16 2022 election in the state, the immediate past governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, had while speaking at a governorship debate organised by Arise News Television in partnership with ‘Enough is Enough,’ described himself as a candidate to beat.

He had said, “I’m the candidate to beat anytime any day. My performance speaks for me and I don’t have sufficient time to go through it. I have enough to be able to convince the people that I’m the best candidate for the job. And in any case, given the level of the campaign, I’ve gone to 27 local governments out of 30 and I see jubilation and excitement. I’m going to win that election come July 16, 2020.”

However, that was not to be as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) eventually declared Senator Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke as the winner of the election. Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled 403,371 votes defeating his closest rival and the ousted governor of the state, Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who polled 375,027 votes.

After the defeat, keen followers of political events in the state were quick to attribute the defeat to internal party crisis and disloyalty plaguing the APC.

Checks by Blueprint Weekend also revealed that the failure of the APC leadership to reconcile the Governor Oyetola and that of minister of internal affairs, Rauf Aregbesola’s faction was a contributing factor.

It would be recalled that the tussle for leadership of the party between the two camps heightened during the ward, local government and state congresses. The endless face-off came to a head during the party’s governorship primary election as the two camps quarreled over the legitimacy of the process which produced Oyetola.

Although a series of attempts were later made to reconcile the two camps, it failed to yield results and the Osun APC strolled into the election like that.

Old foes renew rivalry

Like it happened in 2022 during the governorship election, the gladiators in question are ready to unleash all their arsenals in a show of superiority in the 2023 election, coming up a few days to this time. The Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Alhaji  Abubakar Atiku presidential tango may have once again pitched both Oyetola and Adeleke and their foot-soldiers against each other.

However, just when he was yet to recover from what befell him and his party last year, the former governor  has again predicted that Tinubu would get over 1.5 million votes from Osun. Oyetola spoke in Osogbo at a march tagged ‘Osun Youth March for Tinubu/Shettima 2023’.

He said, “I want to commend the leadership of the supporters of Tinubu. Your demonstration today has given me assurance that Osun is for APC in 2023. There is no shaking for us at all.

“The government of Asiwaju (Tinubu) is the government of the youth. He is here to serve Nigerians. He has plans for education, agriculture, infrastructure, social development and many more. You will be surprised at the way he will tackle insecurity.

“I am certain that over one million votes are assured for Tinubu in Osun. Our campaigns will be youth oriented.”

As a way of avoiding the experience of the last election, a political support group, Tinubu Vanguard, has urged leaders of the ruling APC to form a united force ahead of the 2023 general elections. Its director-general, Dr. Benjamin Johnny, called on the leadership of the APC at all levels to re-double efforts to unite all contending interests within the party ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

“The Osun guber poll is an eye-opener, and the APC should identify areas of weaknesses and make an effort to forge a formidable political force. We urge all supporters of the Tinubu Project and members of the APC to keep the faith and not be discouraged, as leaders are already working to reposition the party for victory,” he said.

 Can Adeleke, PDP deliver for Atiku?

Also, at the inauguration of the state chapter of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in Osogbo last year, governor Ademola Adeleke said PDP would deliver the state for the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate.

The governor who made the pledge promised that an Atiku Presidency would strengthen the state and assist it to deliver on its five-point agenda as well as surmount the many challenges facing it.

Adeleke said, “Let us go out to mobilise our people. Let us march out as we did during the governorship election to again win Osun with even bigger margins for PDP. Nigeria needs an Atiku presidency because he has the most updated, relevant and responsive manifesto among all presidential contenders.

“His plan for Nigeria fits into the aspirations of the Osun people for restructuring of the Federation, local government autonomy, anti-corruption, better infrastructure, national unity in diversity and good governance.

“Our votes must go for Atiku Abubakar because he is the most tested and trusted with sterling records of performance in and out of government.”

Aside Adeleke’s assurances, Atiku will also be banking on the relationships he enjoys in the state owing to his marriage to Titi, an indigene of Ilesa, which is one of the biggest communities in the state.

Mindful of Governor Adeleke’s onslaught, the APC appeared to have re-strategised by not only fighting back, but to also ensure that it does not lose any notable politician or member to the ruling party PDP.

 As part of the moves, the former governor and Aregbesola might be working together again. As a pointer to that fact, allies of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola were said to have announced an end to all hostilities and his return to the APC fold after dissolving all factions and groups.

The Aregbesola factor

During a recent meeting held in Osogbo, a former speaker of the House of Assembly, Najeem Salaam, declared that Aregbesola’s men had resolved to work with other interests within the APC fold to return the party to power.

While welcoming them back into the fold, the APC state scting chairman, Mr. Tajudeen Lawal, stressed the need to re-build the party in collaboration with other interests and urged them to join the campaign for APC candidates in the 2023 elections.

“Osun APC has not lost any notable members to the PDP since leaving power in November, as the party awaits a favourable outcome in its ongoing case at the election petition tribunal. The party leadership has also been talking to various sections within its fold to keep them hopeful. The move, according to sources, was meant to ensure that the party approaches the next year’s elections with deserved seriousness,” he said.

After considering the chances of both APC and PDP presidential candidates in the state, the spokesperson for the opposition party, Mr. Kola Olabisi, declared that Osun would vote for Tinubu.

Olabisi, who commended the political structure of APC in Osun, also said some errors already committed by the new PDP government, that have earned it enemies would aid Tinubu’s victory, noting that Osun people have a longstanding relationship with the former Lagos governor.

He said, “The chances of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, are very bright as he remains the contestant to beat in the election.

“Tinubu’s acceptability in the six geopolitical zones of the nation soars daily, and Osun State is not left out of the unalloyed support being enjoyed by the APC presidential candidate.

Will Oyetola prove his mettle?

The birth of new independent support groups, the support from the Osun State chapter of the APC for the presidential campaign of Asiwaju Tinubu, may have also informed the former governor’s resolves to work assiduously and conscientiously with some other interest groups to ensure the victory of Asiwaju Tinubu in the presidential election.

Will Oyetola triumph this time? Only time will tell!

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