Saturday’s election in Osun promises to be a keenly contested one. The signs are palpable. Over the past few weeks, the state has been enveloped in tension. The contenders are throwing brickbats as they go about campaigning, but of the many contenders in the election, two of them stand out: Dr. Iyiola Omisore of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his All Progressives Congress (APC) rival, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
Whereas Omisore recently stood down as the senator representing Osun East at the Senate, Aregbesola is the incumbent governor seeking re-election. Ordinarily, an election in which an incumbent is contesting needs not generate the kind of tension we are seeing in Osun in the run up to the Saturday poll.
In many other situations, victory for the incumbent will be taken for granted. But victory for the incumbent will not be taken for granted for nothing. It presupposes that the incumbent had kept to his oath of office. He would have substantially kept to the promise that saw the electorate giving him their mandate in the previous election.
Second, there will be no major challenger in the election. The absence of a major challenger means there is nobody among the contenders with a strong platform or strong personality. So what scenario do we have in Osun days to the historic election? A jittery incumbent that is not sure of victory in an election in which he is seeking a second term mandate.
We also have a strong challenger in which the people have confidence to steer the affairs of Osun beyond October when the tenure of the incumbent ends. Already, pundits are predicting the possibility of a repeat of the Ekiti scenario in the Osun election which saw an incumbent losing the governorship to the opposition candidate.
Significantly, the Ekiti incumbent who lost his seat is of the same party as the Osun State incumbent (APC) while the Ekiti governor-elect Ayodele Fayose and the Osun main opposition candidate belong to the same party (PDP). The factors that will play out in the Osun election are many, but most of them are in favour of the opposition candidate – Omisore.
From his first day in office, the incumbent – Aregbesola – has courted controversy as if that is what he was elected to office to do. In the process, matters of state suffered. Policies were in fact ill-conceived or badly executed. Aregbesola started off with a government without cabinet. For close to one year, the Osun governor ran a government without commissioners who could have helped him resolve crucial matters of state.
He hid under the excuse that he wanted to save money that would be paid to the commissioners in form of salaries and other emoluments. Whereas questions are still being asked about what happened to the money so purportedly saved, what is obvious is that the Aregbesola government would have taken off on a sound footing with a timely cabinet in place.
Add this to the jejune decision to change the name of the state – from Osun State to the State of Osun – and you are convinced that Aregbesola is running a ‘government unusual’ albeit negatively. The only state which name is not in the constitution today – State of Osun – is Osun State – no thanks to the Aregbesola government. The governor then moved to the education sector to put in place a system that is not only alien to the national system but is also a recipe for chaos. He replaced the 6-3-3 system of education that is nationally recognised at the primary and secondary school levels with his own contraption which adds one year to the junior school to make it four years. Osun State people would have been lucky had the issue ended there. It created religious disharmony so much so that it ruffled feathers between Christians and Muslim students who were lumped together in the same school without consideration for their different religious back grounds.
The students went to school one day in attires that presented them as people of different religions in protest against the Aregbesola government’s indiscretion. Even then, the worst chaos was to come in the Osun education sector. The Aregbesola government launched with fanfare a tablet of e-books it called Opon Imo – tablet of knowledge –which was distributed to secondary school students. No sooner than the project was concluded than it was enmeshed in controversy. It was said to have been inflated to the tune of millions of Naira with the governor’s son being the beneficiary.
Worse still, it has come to light that the e-books are full of avoidable errors. The state’s leaders of tomorrow are definitely worse off with the Aregbesola’s tablet of errors. The governor has been boastful about his achievements in the road sector which he says will aid the Osun economic development. But the construction of the Gbongan-Osogbo road, the main road to the state capital – tells the story of the inept administration.
The road construction that has been on for the past three years is less than 40 per cent completed. A government which lays claim to progressivism but fails to meet the yearnings of the people in the critical sectors as education and road has inevitably failed the electorate.
Omisore presents himself as the viable alternative with his eight-point agenda. The PDP candidate has a rich political background that positions him for the task of governorship in Osun. Since 1999 when he plunged head-on into politics, the passion has been to use his God-given wealth to serve his people as governor.
A politician who held elective office for 12 years uninterruptedly cannot be a green horn in politics. He will deploy the experience he has gathered over that period of time to move Osun forward. Omisore is the best man for the Osun governorship. The electorate must vote wisely in the Saturday election.
-Fatunbi wrote from Osogbo