The voters in Osun West senatorial district will be going to the polls today, Saturday, to pick their representative at the red chamber of the National Assembly after the former occupant, Isiaka Adeleke, died in April.
It is apparently a straight fight between the Peoples Democratic Party’s Ademola Adeleke, who is the younger brother of the late senator, and Mudashiru Hussein of the All Progressives Congress. This is however, taking into account, the participation of nine other political parties.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Bade Falade, who emerged the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, dropped his ambition to offer support for Mr. Adeleke.
Barely 24 hours to the election proper, it is still hard to predict where the pendulum will swing. The campaigns have been tensed and laden with intrigues from high places. The APC candidate enjoys the backing of the governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who had unreservedly squandered a huge quantum of energy, resources and his goodwill on securing the needed votes for his erstwhile commissioner.
The keen contest is drawing its fervour, first from the politics which attended the death of the late senator, Isiaka Adeleke, and second, the deployment of party supremacy in upturning the outcome of the due process at the primaries of the APC featuring the two candidates at the time.
It is no longer news that Mr. Adeleke defected from the APC at the twilight of its primaries after his opponent, Mr. Hussein, who was disqualified by both the primaries committee and the appeals committee, suddenly received clearance by the party’s national working committee. He had accused the party leadership of failing to allow transparency in the process.
His defection cleared the way for Mr. Hussein, who was recorded to have yielded the ticket to Mr. Adeleke in 2015 despite winning it clearly as a mark of respect for the first civilian governor of the state.
However, Mr. Adeleke’s movement to the PDP went well, with other contenders willingly stepping down for him. He emerged the PDP candidate with 343 votes, thanks to the withdrawal of former Minister of Youth and Sports, Akinlabi Olasunkanmi and Olayiwola Talabi.
The power play that determined the emergence of the two candidates, hitherto on the same platform, now as adversaries, set the tone for the no-holds-bars campaigns. Some APC governors and its national chairman, John Oyegun, have joined forces with Mr. Aregbesola for victory on Saturday.
Besides the support from the party’s hierarchy, Mr. Hussein is not a political neophyte. He is one with a reserve of political antecedents both at the House of Representatives and the Senate. He represented Oshodi-Isolo federal constituency at the House of Representatives on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, between 1999 and 2007.
He then contested the senatorial seat in 2007 against Isiaka Adeleke, but lost. However, he defeated the late senator during the 2011 elections on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria. He was pressured to submit the ticket to Mr. Adeleke when both became members of the same party, APC, and the former governor showed interest in returning to the Senate. On this account, he stands tall higher above his opponent.
Mr. Adeleke has at the last minute received boost from the broken leadership of the party led by its factional chairman, Ali Sheriff. His major strength comes from the legacy of his late elder brother and the massive sympathy he had enjoyed from a larger voting population characterized by disenchanted populace ravaged by the hardship that had swept across the state. That Mr. Aregbesola is working so hard to win Saturday’s election for Mr. Hussein as if he is seeking a return to the government shows the strength of the opposition.
Mr. Adeleke is well known as a Lagos socialite, but not many are aware that he had been an astute disciple of his late brother’s political ideology. The timing of his foray into elective politics might wield a surprise when the votes are eventually counted.
He is also fortunate to hail from Ede, a region with two local governments. Ede North and South, with a relatively large voting population. His opponent, Mr. Hussein, is from Ejigbo, which has far less voting population.
Analysts have however posited that despite the areas where they come from, Mr. Hussein is looking good to do well in Ede. They argue that four commissioners represent Ede in Mr. Aregbesola’s cabinet, including the notable Idiat Babalola.
Osun West has eight other local governments which include Iwo, Egbedore, Isokan, Ayedade, Ayedire, Irewole and Olaoluwa. These will he hot battlegrounds as the election holds on Saturday.
In the build up to the election, eight political parties in Osun State endorsed and adopted Mr. Adeleke as their candidate. The opposition political parties under the aegis of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) directed their members and supporters to vote for Adeleke in the July 8 bye-election.
The chairman of CNPP in the state who is also the state Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Popoola Olatunji, declared that all the opposition political parties would work for Mr. Adeleke to defeat the candidate for the All Progressive Congress, Mudasiru Hussain.
Other political parties that adopted Mr. Adeleke include Action Alliance (AA), Social Democratic Party, SDP; Green Party of Nigeria, GPN; Alliance for Democracy, AD; Democratic People’s Party, DPP; Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN; People’s Party of Nigeria, PPN; and People’s Democratic Movement, PDM.
The song on the lips of observers is that Saturday’s election is a foretaste of what will be expected in the 2018 governorship election. That is the reason both parties are going into it will all commitment. The election, like a dress rehearsal, will signpost where Mr. Aregbesola and the wobbling PDP stand in the scale of popularity ahead of next year’s election in the state.
For Saturday, it is either Mr. Hussein or Mr. Adeleke. Both parties are optimistic of victory. Their respective supporters are not thinking differently. But only the voters, with their voter cards, will determine the outcome after all.