As the September 22, 2018 governorship election in Osun State draws nearer, the two major political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are gearing up for the race with the usual political intrigues. Both parties are still calculating and nosing around to get suitable candidates that would be acceptable to the people of the state. Both parties are also intensifying membership drive so as to garner more strength and popularity.
Surprisingly, as the PDP is wooing some top politicians from other parties in the state, the APC is grappling with internal crisis and losing some party leaders and members who might defect to the PDP eventually. The recent moves by the PDP seem to have caused panic in the APC camp and members of the ruling party are apprehensive. The PDP seems to be taking the advantage of the problems in the APC to increase its strength and chance of winning the 2018 governorship election.
The candidate of the APC in the Osun West by-election, Senator Mudasiru Hussain was defeated by the candidate of the PDP, Senator Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke.
The PDP candidate defeated the APC candidate in nine out of 10 local governments in Osun West to replace his elder brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who died last April. Perhaps, it would have been a victory for the APC in that election if not for the internal crisis. The late Senator Isiaka Adeleke was in the APC before he died and his younger brother attempted to contest on the platform of the APC but he was not allowed. The PDP grabbed him and gave him the senate ticket in less than 24 hours before the election. The defection of Adeleke to the PDP led to mass defection into the party in the Osun West and paved the way for the PDP to win the election.
A PDP chieftain, who is also a governorship aspirant, Chief Gbenga Owolabisaid that the PDP sees the Osun West by-election as a warm-up exercise and an indication that the PDP would defeat the APC in the forthcoming governorship election in the state. Owolabi said that the PDP had learnt from the Osun West by-election and that the lessons would help the party to win the governorship election next year. “We can win the governorship election next year if we could come together the way we did during the Osun West Senatorial by-election. Our unity gave us that victory. We shall come together and work together for the next year governorship election,” Owolabi said.
Meanwhile, the recent effort of the caretaker committee set up in Osun by the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, under the leadership of Alhaji Sarafa Isola, has brighten the chance of the PDP in the state, considering the number of people who have defected to the PDP in the last couple of months. The committee has brought members of the party together and it has also brought those that have left the party back. The chairman of the committee said, “We have begged those who left the PDP for one reason or the other to forgive the party and return. They will all come back and the PDP will be strong again. That is my mandate. That is the objective. The PDP can win any election in Osun if we are united. The setback we experienced in the previous election was as a result of the crisis in the party which made some of our leaders to dump the party. I can assure you that all of them will come back to the PDP. Some of them have come back already”.
The former governorship candidate of Labour Party (LP) in the last election, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade is among prominent politicians attracted by the PDP caretaker committee recently. When the Sarafa Isola led 39-member Osun PDP caretaker Committee met Akinbade at his residence to beg him and seek forgiveness over the issues that led to his defection to the LP from the PDP during the last governorship election, Akinbade said he had accepted to return to the PDP with his supporters. According to him, “We left the PDP when we could no longer tolerate the injustice and cheating. We moved to Labour Party despite that we built the PDP together. We are ready to return to the party now. The PDP will win the next year governorship election in Osun State if we come together and work together. We shall return to PDP now that you come to beg us.”
Akinbade was the pioneer chairman of the PDP in Osun State and the party won governorship election in the state in 2003 under his leadership. He was the Secretary to Osun State Government for over 7 years. Akinbade is a very strong politician in Osun state with solid support base in the grassroots. He defected to the LP during the 2014 governorship election in the state. He confirmed his readiness to return to the PDP along with hundreds of his supporters.
Like Akinbade, the PDP caretaker committee also visited the former governor of Osun state, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola to beg him to forgive the party and come back. Oyinlola, who was the former National Secretary of the PDP, left the party before the 2015 general election as a result of the crisis that hit the party during the tenure of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the National Chairman. Oyinlola moved to the APC and was recently appointed as the Chairman of the National Identity Management Commission. While Akinbade agreed to return to the PDP without delay, Oyinlola has not announced his return to the party. But political observers said he might dump the APC very soon as some of his loyalists and supporters are already back in the PDP.
But the APC in Osun also seems to have realised the need to resolve its crisis and prevent its members from leaving the party. The spokesperson of the APC in Osun State, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, told Daily Trust that necessary moves had been made to persuade the aggrieved members of the party and address their grievances. Oyatomi said, “the APC in Osun has set up a committee to meet with members and leaders of the party across the state so as to resolve whatever crisis and ensure that we are united. The issues in the party are not beyond control and I can assure you that those issues would be resolved. Even husband and wife could have disagreement and they would resolve it eventually. The committee has met some members and party leaders and the committee will meet others soon.”
One of the prominent APC chieftains in the state, who is among those aggrieved, Alhaji Fatai Oyedele popularly known as Fatai Diekola, said he was not aware of any move to resolve the internal crisis in the party and that there was no way he would not be aware of such reconciliatory committee if it was true. Oyedele said that members of the party were divided and that the party could not win the governorship election next year with the current division. He warned that without true reconciliation, the future of the Osun APC was bleak. He said Governor Aregbesola and the state chairman of the party, Prince Gbenga Famodun, were the major problems of the APC in the state. He accused Aregbesola of running the party and the government like his private estate, saying that the indigenes of Osun State were suffering under Aregbesola, while people from Lagos were benefiting from his administration. He urged the national secretariat of the APC to either intervene now or wait to see the consequence after the 2018 governorship election.
Diekola said, “The time has come to say the truth. Though, it might be inconvenient for the political cotton weights, and a handful of politicians without a solid political base, masquerading as friends and loyalists of Governor Aregbesola. I believe we need to speak the truth. The failure of leadership of the APC in Osun manifested when we lost Osun West Senatorial by-election to the Peoples Democratic Party. If the leadership of the party in the state followed the proper selection process without public display of bias against one of the aspirants, may be, the result could have been much different. This temporary setback notwithstanding, we, the home based politicians in Osun APC have absolute confidence in the national leadership of our party and strongly in support of its political efforts to reposition the party in the state ahead of 2018 governorship election. But, without true reconciliation, the future of the Osun APC is bleak”.
@ Daily trust