A clear winner emerged yesterday in the Osun State governorship election at the close of the second ballot which held in seven units across four local government areas of the State of the Living Spring.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) garnered enough votes to knock off the 353 votes the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led with at the close of the first ballot early Sunday morning.
After the collation of eligible ballot by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC candidate Gboyega Isiaka, with 254,345 votes, was trailing PDP’s Isiaka Adeleke, who polled 254, 696.
In line with constitutional provisions, the electoral umpire, declared the first ballot inconclusive and rescheduled a rerun in the seven polling centres where 3948 votes were outstanding.
The hard-earned victory of the APC at the end of yesterday’s rerun triggered a celebration in its camp and, as expected, the opposition party, after giving a fight, but not good enough to unseat the ruling party, cried blue murder, tagging yesterday as “Black Day” for the country. Its members, taking the defeat as a sentence to a four-year “shutout”, were forced to lick their wounds. Below are some of the winners and the losers.
The people of Osun spoke with their ballot for their preference as the next tenant at the Osun State Government House after the expiration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s tenure in November. They had a choice between Oyetola, a master’s degree holder in Insurance, who had understudied governance as Chief of Staff to the Osun State Governor for more than seven years. The other option was Adeleke, a senator, whose educational qualification has been an issue of controversy in recent time.
The elite took advantage of the rerun window to save the state from, according to them, being derided in the public. If the election had been won and lost on the first ballot, Osun would have set a record of becoming the first state to be administered by a governor with the least educational qualification. Before it was carved out of the Old Oyo State, Osun Division used to be the educational backbone.
INEC, Rule of law
The electoral umpire has further demonstrated its readiness for uprightness in the conduct of elections by allowing the votes of the 3948 registered voters in seven polling units where the first ballot was cancelled due to disruptions (Orolu); malfunction of Electronic Card Readers (Ife South); over voting (Ife North) and no voting) Osogbo), to count through the supplementary election.
Relying on the electoral guidelines to back the inconclusive declaration, the Returning Officer and Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) Vice Chancellor Prof Joseph Fuwape, said the margin between the two leading contestants must be in excess of the total registered voters where an election was cancelled. He said the outstanding votes could swing victory in favour of either of the two leading parties.
The APC candidate, now governor-elect, traversed every community to canvass for votes. With his programmes and party manifesto well-articulated, the Iragbiji-born technocrat-turned politician is expected to use the next three months in scouting for cerebral Osun indigenes who will join him in the implementation of his vision for the 27-year-old state. The task ahead for him is to bring all aggrieved party members, who left in the aftermath of his emergence as the APC standard bearer. He also has a task of playing the role of a father-to-all, irrespective of party affiliations, after his inauguration on November 27.
To the leadership of the APC, from President Muhammadu Buhari, party chair Adams Oshiomhole, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and governors under the auspices of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), the victory of the APC and its candidate is a dream come true.
The governors shuttled between Osogbo and their states to rally support for Aregbesola to consolidate the gains of July 14 in Ekiti State. Beside a desire to have all the six states in the zone in a single political basket, the governors’ plan was to use the isolated Ekiti and Osun elections in sending a strong message to the raging opposition on next year’s general elections.
APC stalwart Asiwaju Tinubu was in-and-out of Osun State to mobilise support for the party. Ahead of the rereun, President Buhari dispatched Ekiti State governor-elect Dr. Kayode Fayemi from United Nations (UN) 73rd General Assembly to join other party leaders in negotiating the APC into victory. The leaders met with critical stakeholders including, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate in the election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, African Democratic Party (ADP), standard bearer Moshood Adeoti and House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun, among others. Their support for the APC during the supplementary election ensured support for the ruling party.
The plan of the senator was to “dance” to the Osun State Government House after winning the election. But, whatever plan the Ede-born politician had, would remain in the realm of a dream, at least for now. In the run-up to the election, the senator had a running battle with the police over alleged examination malpractices. The PDP chieftains were all over the state to rally support for him. The party believed that INEC erred by not declaring Adeleke winner at the close of the first ballot.
Desperate to return to power after a four-year break, the PDP leadership planned to send a signal to the ruling party with the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states. But with two defeats in a row, close to the general elections, the opposition party will have to return to the drawing board to draw up a new winning strategy. To it, the non-declaration of its candidate as winner, based on his showing at the first ballot, was robbery. The party described yesterday as a “Black Day” for the country because its candidate lost the election.
Immediately after INEC declared the first ballot inconclusive and rescheduled a rerun for Thursday, Senate President Bukola Saraki was the first to discuss with Senator Omisore. Saraki, who defected from the ruling APC to seek the presidential ticket of the PDP, has been made the “national leader” of the main opposition party. He had left Ile-Ife on Monday before another PDP presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, visited Ile-Ife to persuade Omisore to support PDP’s Adeleke. But the bargaining power of the APC team, including Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha upturned whatever assurance the duo of Saraki and Atiku got from the strongman of Ile-Ife politics.
Some defectors, who formed “mushroom” parties to get their pound of flesh from the APC for alleged marginalisation, failed in their bid to dislodge the ruling party. Save for the APC and the PDP, the other 46 parties on the ballot had dismal showings. They may have to worm themselves back into the heart of the party that brought them to political limelight.