It promises to be a tough battle for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket for the September 22 election in Osun State as 17 aspirants file out today in Osogbo, the state capital to determine who flies the flag of the ruling party. The 17 aspirants in the race are Benedict Alabi, Babatunde Taiwo, Lasun Yusuff, Gboyega Oyetola, Adeyinka Ajayi, Adeoti Moshood, Peter Babalola, Saka Layonu, Oyemomi Ezekiel, Oriolowo Adelere, Amere Gafar, Najeem Salam, Mumini Rafiu, Alamu Bisi, Dayo Oyebanji, Kunle Adegoke and Babajide Omoworare.
The aspirants were screened and certified qualified by the leadership of the party after payment of N500,000 each for expression of interest form and N7.5 million for nomination form each to the coffers of the party. The exercise was earlier billed for yesterday, but was shifted by 24 hours over what the APC leadership described as unforeseen development.
A statement issued and signed by the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the party in the state, Barr. Kunle Oyatomi, said the postponement was due to unforeseen development. But, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, in another statement late Wednesday, said the Osun Congress Committee headed by Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari, would meet with the stakeholders of the party on Thursday and that the primaries had been moved to Friday (today).
Unlike in the past when delegates elected candidates for elections, the national leadership of the APC has adopted direct primary as means of selecting its candidate for the Osun State governorship election. National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who announced this after a meeting of the APC National Working Committee (NWC), said the party believes that direct primary will give every member of the party a sense of belonging.
His words: “We have decided that in other to ensure popular participation, and to deepen democracy in Osun State in-line with the provision of our party’s constitution which allows for either direct or indirect primary, we have resolved that the governorship election primary in Osun State will be conducted on the basis of direct primary. “What that means is that every card carrying member of our party will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party.
This, for us, is the most democratic way to conduct election and is in line with what our critical stakeholders from that part of the country want and we are quite happy to oblige. “The more we allow our party members to participate in the process of nominating candidates; we will remove the issue of corruption or monetization of the processes of nominating aging candidates in addition to the fact that party members will have a sense of ownership of the outcome of the exercise.
“We have also decided to nominate members of a panel that would be chaired by the governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari, who is also the chairman of the Governors’ Forum. We have no doubt that no one can compromise him as he will approach this exercise in line with the spirit and letters of our constitution. He will be assisted by four others, who will ensure that this direct primary is conducted hitch-free and the outcome laying a foundation for mobilization of the Osun electorate.” But, justified as the NWC’s position on direct primaries may be, 12 out of the 17 aspirants, who obtained the expression of interest and nomination forms for the Osun State APC governorship ticket rejected the option.
Twelve of the aspirants, all from Osun West, in declaring their rejection of the option, called on the NWC to revert the proclamation of direct party primaries for the conduct of the election without delay to avoid devastating effect on the party. Among those who rejected the direct primary option are Adeoti, Babalola, Layoonu, Amere, Salami, Olabanji and Oyebanji.
Addressing newsmen at the party secretariat in Iwo on Wednesday, the Osun West senatorial chairman of the party, Hon. Amobi Akintola, said the district demands for the usage of delegates system for picking the party’s flag bearer to ensure the representation of teaming and committed members of the party in the choice of their candidate.
Akintola posited that delegates primary should be used because of the fact that there is no verifiable data base of APC members from units level, nor at electoral ward or state level. According to him, the party membership registration has never been updated since 2014, so adoption of open primaries will lead to chaos of an unimaginable magnitude which would definitely weaken the party’s strength ahead of the election.One of the aspirants, Adegoke, particularly accused the Osun State government of planning to manipulate the primary election in favour of the Chief of Staff to the governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola.
His words: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will need to send 332 officials to monitor the election in all the 332 wards all over the state. Commissioners and local government chairmen who have been instructed to manipulate the exercise in favour of Oyetola will be presiding officers in each of the wards. “It is sad to note that the supporters of the state-anointed aspirant, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, are now threatening our supporters that they should not appear at the polling centres except they are ready to vote for the said anointed aspirant.
The supporters of the anointed aspirant, backed by state apparatus, have been distributing fake membership cards recently printed and soliciting for votes with huge cash.” Similarly, APC chieftains in Osun Central Senatorial District, led by Dr Dare Adetunji, from Odo Otin alleged that some agents of the state government had been threatening party leaders to either support a particular aspirant or lose their positions.
But, the national leadership of the APC, on its part, has repeatedly assured of a level playing ground. No doubt, the contest is a crowded race, but prominent among the aspirants are Yusuff, who is the current deputy speaker of the House Of Representatives; Adeoti, the current Secretary to the State Government; Oyetola, Chief Of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola and half brother to the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Senator Omoworare, the current senator representing Osun East senatorial district in the National Assembly; Elder Babalola, former Chief of Staff to former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Salaam, Speaker of the state House of Assembly. Head-to-head, each of them stand a chance of clinching the governorship APC ticket given that they have the political structure needed for such contest.
The Chief of Staff (COS) to Governor Aregbesola was born in Iragbiji, Boripe Local Government Area of the state September 29, 1954. An easy-going personality, he has a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master Degree in Business Administration with specialization in Finance from the University of Lagos.
A successful Insurance magnate, Oyetola was appointed as Chief of Staff by Governor Aregbesola on January 7, 2011. He is from Osun Central senatorial district and a cousin to Tinubu. Though he has no political structure, he is banking on Governor Aregbesola, who is said to be behind his ambition. Information has it that the task is a must for the governor because it is Tinubu’s project. In fact, other aspirants are alleging that he is the party’s favoured aspirant and that the state executive of the party had been bought over to favour his candidature. His track record as a financial expert dates to about three decades where he showed responsibility, diligence and unrivalled service to humanity.
His tenure in the last seven and a half years as the Chief of Staff to Aregbesola has also portrayed him as a man that has the technical knowhow to govern a state like Osun. The influence Aregbesola has as the incumbent, which he wields so strongly, will help him sell Oyetola to the leaders and members of the party.
An added advantage for Oyetola is his affinity to Tinubu. The financial wherewithal is also there for him as the incumbent as state resources are at his disposal to match any of the aspirants. To Aregbesola, there in need for continuity to ensure that all his projects and legacies are not rubbished by the administration that will succeed his, which explains the choice of Oyetola, whose ingenuity in resolving labour disputes on the side of government and contributions to improving government finances stands him out. While the zoning factor does not favour Oyetola because his zone had produced two ex-governors, Adebisi Akande and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, that of religion could work in his favour as the incumbent (Aregbesola) is a Muslim while he is a Christian.
He is the current Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives and hails from Ilobu of Irepodun Local Government Area of Osun Central senatorial district. Lasun has a formidable political structure in the state with outstanding political antecedents that qualifies him as the candidate of the party. His emergence as deputy speaker in the House of Representative in 2015 was in defiance to his party’s preferred candidate, which pitched him against the party’s leadership in Osun State and the South-West.
He had openly criticized the education policy of Governor Aregbesola, a development that did not go well with the governor and his supporters, who could oppose his political ambition towards becoming the APC flag bearer for the September election. The cold war between him and Tinubu, whom he shunned when asked to step down as a deputy speaker for the party’s preferred candidate is also likely to stand on his way. Also, the zoning arrangement does not in anyway favour him because most people in the state are clamouring for a candidate from the west senatorial district, while he is from the central, where Oyetola also comes from.
His political strength lies in the fact that he is a grassroots politician with loyal foot soldiers across the state. And, in terms of financial strength, he has a deep pocket and can fund his ambition without relying on anybody. On the issue of religion, he is a Muslim like the current governor and this might work against him as most people in the state are clamouring for a Christian candidate. Adoption of direct primary by the party leadership is also likely not to favour him.
The Secretary to the State Government and pioneer chairman of the defunct Action Congress (AC) in the state hails from Iwo in Iwo local Government Area of Osun West senatorial district. Adeoti is a grassroots politician, whose political strength cut across the length and breadth of the state. He knows his onion in the state’s politics and is loved by many. He is a local bred politician who had contributed immensely to the growth and structure of the APC since its inception.
He once served as chairman of the party in the state and has an impeccable record while in office. He is godfather to many politicians in the state and played pivotal roles in the acceptability of the then AC by Osun people. He was instrumental to the installation of Governor Aregbesola in November, 2010.
He is an outstanding aspirant that could be picked by delegates if democratic principle is applied. The financial wherewithal to contest for the ticket may not match that of other aspirants, but he remains an aspirant to beat any day. Zoning also favours his ambition of becoming the party’s flag bearer because he is from Osun West senatorial district,wheremany are agitating that the next governor should come from. His political strength and structure are as solid as ever. He also has loyal followers across the state and he could command them for action within a minute.
He hails from Ikire in Irewole Local Government Area. He could be regarded as one of the political heavyweights in the state given his distinctive way of politicking. He does not believe in the principles of impossibility. A political motivator that is richly blessed, Babalola is respected for his crowd pulling strategies. As a former Chief of Staff to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Babalola defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to AC with most his supporters in November 2010. He is presently the Chairman, Local Government Service Commission in the state. Babalola has committed political followers, who are capable of working round the clock to see that his political dream is realized. His supporters could be seen in the remotest part of the state.
He was the most popular among the 22 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial aspirants in the state in 2002. As a former Commissioner for Agriculture in the state and Chief of Staff, he understands the state’s politics. His political capability and popularity can stand the test of time. He could be depended upon when it comes to politicking in Osun West Senatorial District where he hails from. He could influence victory for his party as a flag bearer as his antecedents and achievements since he found himself in politics speak in his favour in the eyes of the people of the state. To Peter Power as Babalola is fondly addressed by his supporters, political structure is not a threat to his ambition as his political structure remains formidable.
He is a lover of youths who believe in the principle of his politics. His wealth of experience could also serve as his strength to ensure his victory at the poll if considered for the party’s ticket. He equally has the financial strength to pursue his ambition to a logical end without relying for help from anybody. He is a businessman who could rely on his business associates for financial assistance. On zoning, he is from Osun West senatorial district, where most people in the state believe the next governor of the state should come from. His loyalty to the governor and the party is also an added advantage. He is also loved for his contribution to the growth of the party and this could enhance his chance of being picked as the flag bearer of the party.
The senator representing Osun East senatorial district hails from Ile-Ife. He graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife with a Bachelors degree in Law in 1989. He was called to the Nigeria Bar in 1990. He also holds a Masters degree in Law from the University of Lagos. He was elected to represent Ifako Ijaiye State Constituency of Lagos State House in 1999 under the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and was re-elected in 2003. He became majority leader and chairman of the Business Rules and Standing orders.
In the April 2011 elections in Osun State, Omoworare polled 119,852 votes running on the platform of AC to defeat Senator Iyiola Omisore of the PDP who had 51,313 votes for Osun East senatorial district seat. His political belief is that the people he represents have a right to information, liason and participation via consultations.
He has in place a horde of educational, health, poverty alleviation, economic empowerment, entrepreneurial schemes and youth and sports development programme. His familiarity to the terrain of Ile-Ife and his constant romance with who-iswho in the town gives him the opportunity to know the political happenings in the place. Also, he has his own political structure which he can confront his cocontenders for the APC ticket. Omoworare is a grassroot politician with native intelligence. In terms of financial muscle, Omoworare, equally has a deep pocket to bankroll his ambition. However, zoning does not favour his chance of emerging as APC’s governorship flag bearer as the incumbent governor is from the same senatorial district with him.