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2018: PDP resurrects in Osun, humbles Aregbesola

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The popular Yoruba saying, translated roughly to mean “the selfish ruler who listens only to himself ultimately dances naked in the market place,” is apt in describing the debilitating defeat suffered at the weekend by Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State and his All Progressives Congress (APC), in the Osun West Senatorial District by-election, won by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke.

Ademola is the younger brother to late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who was until his death in April this year, the senator representing the area.

After the 2014 governorship election in the state, where PDP also suffered a devastating defeat in the hands of the APC, with its woes compounded after the 2015 election, where it lost virtually all the legislative seats at the National Assembly election, many, including the APC had written the PDP off in the state, declaring the party as one which can never rise again.

But by last Saturday, the “dead” party resurrected, beating Aregbesola’s anointed candidate, Senator Mudashiru Hussein, in a contest for the Osun West Senatorial District, a contest the governor himself boasted would go the way of the APC, come rain, come sun shine.

By the time the results of the contest were officially released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), of the 10 councils in the senatorial district, the APC only managed to win one, with the PDP clearing the remaining nine, posting 97, 480 votes, and APC trailing behind with 66, 116 votes. The results were announced in Iwo, headquarters of the senatorial district by INEC’s Residential Electoral Commissioner for the election, Mr. Baritor Kpagih.

The beginning

Following the sudden and tragic demise of Senator Isiaka Adeleke, Ede people in particular, felt a sense of loss, and had hoped that the APC-led administration in the state would find a way of compensating it, by at least allowing it to produce the late senator’s successor. Although the state government denied any rift with the late senator, the way it managed issues arising from his death leaves much to be desired.

For instance, after his death, the state could not give him a state burial, despite the fact that he was the first civilian governor of the state. Explaining the circumstances that prevented it from giving the former governor a state burial, Aregbesola’s spokesman, Semiu Okanlawon, said the unruly behaviour of the mob denied the late Adeleke of a state burial befitting him as a former governor of the state.

Okanlawon, who denied any political rift between his boss and Adeleke as being speculated, said despite the short notice of the funeral being an Islamic one, the state government had prepared to dignify it as a state burial in view of Adeleke’s status as an ex-governor, adding that “the Deputy Governor was leading a government delegation to the funeral, they were already on their way, when the report of violence came…We don’t think that would be the best way to honour Senator Adeleke, who was known to be a man of peace.

“The tribute of the governor to the late Senator has taken care of it all. There was no rift whatsoever. It was an unfounded rumour. As Governor Aregbesola said he worked for the governor’s reelection and the governor worked for his election into the Senate in 2014…. Yes, there would always be power blocs, but the fact is they were in the same party and would always work for the interest of their party. In any case, he was entitled to vie for the governorship and Aregbesola is not seeking reelection. So, how could there be friction?”

However, if anything, Daily Sun learnt, the Coroner inquest into the circumstances leading to Adeleke’s death, did not go down well with the family. The inquest, which was at the instance of the state government, turned out to portray the late senator, as a “drunk,” who had little or no attention for his health, despite his status.

It was further gathered that the state government might have insisted on the Coroner, following speculations that some of its agents might have poisoned the late senator.

The screening, the defection

Barely a month after Adeleke’s death, INEC announced July 8, as date for the by-election. And in preparation for the election, the APC national headquarters set up a screening committee. Hussein and Ademola Adeleke presented themselves for screening. But Aregbesola preferred Hussein, as he was his anointed candidate.

In the end, the committee disqualified Hussein on the grounds that he had not resigned his appointment before aspiring to the position of a senator. The committee was said to have relied on Article 31 (iii), of the party’s constitution and the 2014 APC Guidelines on the Nomination of Candidates for Public Office.

The committee held: “In conformity with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, qualification for aspirants to respective offices in State House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, Governor and President, the party’s guidelines prescribe that an aspirant seeking public office on its platform shall not have remained as an employee of the Public Service within 30 days preceding the date of the election.”

Interestingly, the committee further held that Hussein admitted while appearing before it that he was indeed a commissioner in the Aregbesola’s cabinet, even after obtaining a nomination form, an action they noted was at variance with the party’s guidelines. It, however, advised Hussein to seek redress through the party’s appeal committee in case he was not satisfied with the committee’s verdict.

Hussein appealed the verdict of the screening committee, but the Appeal committee upheld the decision of the screening committee, noting among other things that: “During the petitioner’s appearance before it, he confessed that his nomination form did not satisfy the full requirements of a legal document which could stand him for election.”

The committee stated that, “an objective view of the petitioner’s nomination form for the primary was not duly sworn to before a magistrate or a notary public and his failure to do this constitutes an incurable defect. The failure of the petitioner to submit his nomination form for the purpose of certification and oath before a magistrate or a notary public is fatal to his cause. Upon the above consideration, the appeal for reconsideration and reversal as presented by Hussein lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.

“Consequently, the disqualification of Hussein by the five-man election screening committee for the Osun West Senatorial District primary election of the APC is hereby upheld.”

How the election was won and lost

Adeleke is very popular brand in Ede. His political patronage, however, cuts across the entire Osun-West senatorial district. Daily Sun learnt that rather than make attempt to placate the family and the people of Ede, Aregbesola and the APC carried on as if the political family of the late senator posed little or no threat to the APC in the state.

For instance, during the campaigns leading to the election, Aregbesola, while canvassing for support for his candidate in Ede, had said the late senator’s younger brother may be suffering from mental illness, following the death of his elder brother. That message did not go down well, with an average Ede person, it was further learnt.

Hear him: “Deji Adeleke is a businessman, he is not a politician but it is like his brother’s death has run him mad. (O dabi pe iku egbon e ti da lori ru). It is a lie that I borrowed money from Deji.

“It is to the glory of God that they got the Certificate of Occupancy of their university from our government. Why didn’t those who are their new friends give them the C-of-O of that university? If Deji Adeleke had so much money, why did he beg me to waive the payable tax of his university? Why couldn’t he just pay?

“I am bold enough to say this over and over again because I have never sought assistance from any member of the Adeleke family, even during the lifetime of Senator Isiaka Adeleke. Nothing of such occurred.”

In a swift reaction, the Adeleke family also said “What’s more appalling is Aregbesola’s outburst – as widely quoted in major newspapers, that Senator Isiaka Adeleke’s sudden death ‘has affected the psyche’ of Dr. Deji Adeleke. How? One may want to ask: If Aregbesola has a giant, a towering personality and eminent person like the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke in his family, and he lost such a distinguished personality to the cold hands of death, will he take to the streets and dance merrily?

“Why should Ogbeni Aregbesola carry politics to this ridiculous end and act like a tin god, who will never leave the office as governor and this transient world as a human being? To those of us living, inclusive of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, we don’t know how we will end up. Senator Isiaka Adeleke died gloriously. The whole world celebrated his death.

“If Aregbesola is talking of a contentious Certificate of Occupancy, is he the one that provided the billions of naira that put Adeleke University up as the ‘Harvard’ of Nigeria?”

In the end, apart from the sympathy for the late Adeleke, Aregbesola’s handling of the screening process, the campaign in Ede, coupled with the growing disenchantment with his government policies and programmes, ensured victory for PDP’s Ademola Adeleke. The mere fact that APC lost Iwo to the PDP is an indication that even some APC members may have worked against the party’s candidate. PDP’s victory was double assured following the decision of the PDP factions in the state to bury their hatchets and unite in support of Adeleke.

However, how the party manages the victory and the choice of its governorship candidate in the next year’s governorship will go a long way to determine whether or not it can reclaim Osun State. One thing is sure. Aregbesola must return to the drawing board, if he wants his party to retain the state after the 2018 governorship.

 

Source: The Sun

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