By: Tunde Oyekola, Osogbo
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still basking in its victory in last weekend’s Osun West Senatorial bye election won by its candidate, Dr Ademola Nurudeen Adeleke, the junior brother of late Senator Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke.
The PDP victory in the election was a sweet defeat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) being the first time in the last seven years of the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the governor of the state would kiss the canvas.
The APC under the leadership of Aregbesola took the control of the state on November 27, 2010 and had defeated PDP in the 2011 general election, 2014 gubernatorial election to secure his second term and the 2015 general election where the PDP only managed to win two out of 10 seats in the House of Representatives.
In last Saturday bye-election, however, PDP won in nine out of ten local governments with a total votes of 97,480 while APC scored a total votes of 66,116 and won in only one local government.
The Osun West senatorial seat became vacant following the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke, the first elected governor of the state who died on April 22, 2017.
The APC government under Ogbeni Aregbesola is in its third year of its second term. He has about 16 months to complete its eight years constitutional tenure and has executed a lot of projects, which included opening up of new roads and reconstruction of old roads.
He also introduced new education policies, which involved rebuilding of schools and merging of schools in the state.
He also introduced the use of weighing scales for traders in the state. Aregbesola was also the first governor to introduce payment of half salary on monthly basis to the state public servants.
Since the gubernatorial election in the state will hold next year, the senatorial election was a test of whether the various policies were still acceptable to the generality of the populace in the state.
However, to the opposition party, the election was an opportunity to launch itself back to the governance of the state having lost that chance in 2010 when the Court of Appeal in its judgment sacked Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who ruled the state for seven and half years on the platform of PDP.
The Adeleke family also wanted to launch itself back, having suffered humiliation in the hand of Aregbesola who regarded the late Senator Adeleke as a non-issue in the politics of Osun state.
Aregbesola during the campaign went to Ede, the hometown of the late Adeleke, that he never begged Adeleke to decamp to APC, which platform he used to contest election as a Senator in 2015.
During the primary election, the doors of securing the ticket of APC was shut against Adeleke who only managed to obtain the party’s form in Abuja instead of getting it from the party’s secretariat in Osogbo.
Notwithstanding the difficulties he faced, Adeleke managed to cross over to the PDP where he secured the ticket of the party and his road to victory was smoothened by the leadership of the party, which was already factionalised at the National secretariat as a result of the crisis between Senator Alimodu Sherif and Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
The two leaders , it was gathered, instructed their followers in Osun to work together for victory at the poll.
Prior to the period of the election, majority of the people of the state were not happy with some of the policies of the government of the day in the state.
Hence, two weeks to the election, there were series of protest and demonstration by different groups targeted at the Aregbesola administration. Medical doctors and retirees were protesting against the continued payment of half salary to them. LAUTECH students, an institution jointly-owned by Osun and Oyo States, who were protesting non-payment of ten month salary to their lectures and the continued closure of the institution and the market women who were protesting the introduction of weighing scales by the government to sell their wares.
Another factor for the defeat of APC was the disenchantment among the rank and file of APC, the ruling party as some of the leaders were not happy that the party brought Senator Mudashir Hussain whom they tagged, “ a Lagos politician who was not popular at home”.
According to them, Hussain did not relate well with the people and did not deliver the benefit of democracy to them when he was in the Senate between 2011 and 2014.
The coming together of people from different political parties including SDP, Labour,Accord, Action Alliance and those disenchanted in APC led to last Saturday’s defeat.
But there were also some unseen hands who rooted for Adeleke and may have used their powerful links to some forces in Abuja to actualise their wish. Among them are some in the leadership of the Senate who were out to use the election to settle scores and strengthen their hands in the imminent succession battle.
Other accounts also did not rule out a tinkering with or paddling of the votes in some areas particularly in Ede North and South where some staggering figures were recorded as votes for the PDP candidate.