The outcome of the Osun governorship election did not surprise analysts, but the drama was good enough for Nigerians, meaning no one could describe it as boring. In every battle, there are bound to be winners and losers. One person’s gain is another’s loss. APC’s Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola convincingly defeated PDP’s Dr. Iyiola Omisore and we learnt a few lessons in the process. TheCable presents a shortlist
1. INEC can do a good job, after all
The whipping boy of every election in Nigeria has been the umpire, and it is good to know that for once, there is a general opinion that the body did well. In the Anambra State governorship election last year, INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, accepted that the commission did not get its logistics right. He even disclosed that an insider had sabotaged the election in some wards. Many called for his resignation. When the Ekiti election was held and Governor Kayode Fayemi lost, there were talks that INEC used “photochromic” ballot papers which were pre-programmed to favour the PDP candidate, Mr. Ayo Fayose. No such allegation was made in Osun, and even Omisore’s protest over the result is receiving minimal attention. INEC promised to do a good job ─ and it did.
2. Aregbesola is a good fighter
Aregbesola emerged a winner not simply in the sense that he scored the highest number of votes. Rather, it is also because he was able to overcome so many last-minute obstacles that were thrown his way. He was able to move quickly to douse the tension among civil servants and pensioners. He confronted allegations of being a bigot very courageously and got people to speak on his behalf. He was able to withstand the federal might behind Omisore. Even though he could not match Omisore naira-for-naira, rice-for-rice and kerosene-for-kerosene (PDP gave double whatever APC gave), he still managed to secure a resounding victory. He should be very relieved now.
3. APC is still in the game
Again, APC is a winner not just because its candidate won. The euphoria that welcomed the party to the political arena was gradually dying down before the Osun poll. It had lost in Anambra and Ekiti and was even technically knocked out in Adamawa State following the impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako. All these were signals that suggested that APC was all noise and no action. However, the party is on a rebound. In a week that saw its governor in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Umaru Al-Makura, survive an impeachment move by the PDP-dominated house of assembly, it was an icing on the cake that the party retained Osun. A loss in Osun would have all but nailed APC’s hopes in the 2015 general election.
4. Adeleke is in charge of his territory
The first elected governor of Osun State was a member of the PDP. Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke, called “Serubawon” (literally meaning “intimidator”), was also a senator in the last dispensation. A colourful politician with significant influence in his Ede constituency, he was one of the PDP governorship aspirants before he was muscled out by Omisore. Ironically, he withdrew from the race complaining of “intimidation” by the Omisore camp. A leading Omisore supporter and minister of police affairs, Alhaji Jelili Adesiyan, had reportedly threatened to beat up Adeleke. “Serubawon” quickly left the party and teamed up with Aregbesola. Many analysts are of the opinion that if PDP had fielded Adeleke, Aregbesola would have faced a tougher battle in the poll.
5. Jonathan delivers another peaceful election
Though his party lost, President Goodluck Jonathan can be regarded as a winner, having yet delivered another poll that is violence-free. With the deployment of heavy security to Ekiti in an election won by PDP, there was criticism that he used the military to his party’s advantage. In fact, the story all over town was that it was military “intimidation” that helped Fayose. APC is currently in court to challenge the Ekiti results, and part of what the party is pleading is illegal “militarisation”. However, “militarisation” produced an APC winner this time around ─ so don’t expect Aregbesola to reject the result. If PDP had won again, critics would have said Jonathan used “militarisation” to achieve that. It is, therefore, a plus for him ─ in a weird way ─ that his party lost. It was another credible election.
6. PDP has made progress in Osun State
In the 2011 presidential election, PDP got 188,409 votes, but last Saturday, it scored 292,747. The party has gained an additional 100,000 votes. It might have lost the governorship poll but its popularity has not waned despite the defections of big players. If the PDP had won Osun State, the president’s camp would be popping champagne by now. It would mean APC only controls three states in the south-west, a very good setting for the 2015 elections. Although losing Osun has not diminished Jonathan’s re-election chances, his standing would not have been harmed by an Omisore victory. The PDP, also, has lost the bragging right after the ascendancy it gained in Ekiti. The party can, however, hope to rebound in Adamawa’s governorship bye-election.
7. Oyinlola is not a game changer
The former governor of Osun State, who was engaged in a bitter feud with Aregbesola four years ago (he was unseated by Aregbesola in an election petition), was the PDP national secretary until the party went into a crisis. He did not join APC initially, hoping that he would be restored to his position in the ruling party. Having waited for the PDP for long, he decided to defect to APC. This should ordinarily be a plus for Aregbesola, and Oyinlola should be celebrating that the person he pitched his tent with won, but it was an embarrassing outing for the prince as he could not deliver his Okuku ward to Aregbesola. Other big losers: Kashamu Buruji, the PDP chieftain from Ogun failed to help Omisore win despite his heavy investment; Adejare Bello, Omisore’s running mate who did not win his ward; Olusola Obada, former minister of state for defence who also lost her ward to APC; and Chief Bisi Akande, former APC chairman and former governor of Osun State who did not win his ward too.
8. Omisore’s governorship ambition is ‘jinxed’
Dr. Iyiola Omisore has been hoping to be governor of Osun State since 1998, when he was in the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). He was seen as a leading contender then. He joined the Alliance for Democracy after the dissolution of UNCP, and was asked to step down his ambition, and was made deputy to Chief Bisi Akande. Still eyeing governorship in 2003, he fell out with Akande and was impeached in 2002 ─ possibly to make him face trial for the death of Bola Ige, since he would lose his immunity automatically. He became a senator in 2003. He was poised to “succeed” Oyinlola as governor in 2011. He had bought hundreds of buses for his campaign and was ready to roll out his electioneering when the unexpected happened ─ the Court of Appeal ruled in 2010 that Aregbesola was the legally elected governor of the state. Oyinlola had to leave office. There was no longer going to be an election in 2011. Having burnt so much energy all these years, he has now failed to realise his dream again.