Governor Rauf Aregbesola is revving his electioneering as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) closes in on him ahead of the August 9 governorship poll in Osun State.
Former governor of the state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, has become a “beautiful bride” in the poll, with Aregbesola and the his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), actively courting him to defect from the PDP.
Oyinlola, who was removed as the national secretary of the PDP in 2013, is also on suspension from the party but has insisted he is the legal occupant of that office.
He recently held a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa during which, TheCable gathered, he was asked by the president to campaign for the PDP in the Osun poll.
Oyinlola did not give any commitment, sources said, but did not rule out campaigning for the PDP if he was restored to his position.
Aregbesola, seeking re-election on the APC platform, is being challenged by Senator Iyiola Omisore of the PDP.
Oyinlola was unseated as governor four years ago after an election petition filed by Aregbesola, who also went ahead to probe his tenure in office ─ but the former governor was cleared of any wrongdoing by the panel.
In recent times, PDP has been upbeat that Osun is “there for the taking” after its victory over APC in Ekiti State and the myriad of local challenges facing Aregbesola.
Some of the issues the governor has been battling with, which gave PDP hope that he had become vulnerable like Dr. Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti, were the delay in paying workers’ salaries and disquiet over failure to pay compensation for houses demolished under the urban renewal policy.
There are also perceptions of religious bigotry against him as well as widespread opposition to the re-classification of schools.
All these have raised the hope of the PDP that it was going to upset Aregbesola in the election.
However, Osun State government has taken a “soft loan” from a south-west state to clear arrears of workers’ salaries and Aregbesola has been meeting with their representatives to resolve outstanding issues and calm them down ahead of the election.
Aregbesola is said to have complained that there has been a shortfall in the state’s monthly allocations, leading to a cash squeeze.
Following his moves to re-align political forces, he is believed to be enjoying a rebound ─ although the election is still expected to be keenly contested.