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Reflection From Osun Governorship Election

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INTRODUCTION

The emergence of the present Governor-elect of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke can be likened to that of the victory of the Biblical David. A young shepherd over that of Goliath, a giant Philistine warrior. If not for God, David would not have won the battle against Goliath in the face of weapon, experience and physical intimidation exhibited by the warrior Lord, Goliath going by the numerous and well trained soldiers paraded by the Philistines.

The above scenario is applicable to the electoral contest that took place on the 16th day of July, 2022 between the ‘all-powerful’ ruling party and that of the youthful and according to many of his critics, “in-experience” Ademola Adeleke of the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

What happened on that election day was not just a contest between the out-going governor, Mr. Oyetola and Senator Adeleke. It was a contest between the rulers and the ruled. It was a contest between the political gladiators and the resolute but determined impoverished citizens of Osun State. It was equally a contest between political propaganda, deceit and lies and the people who already knew the truth about the state of affairs in Osun State.

Build up to the Election, Internal and External Struggles

After the 2018 governorship polls that produced the Mr. Oyetola occasioned by a very controversial re-run election where about 350 votes were ‘manufactured’ to impose him as the governor. The in-coming governor went back to the drawing board and retraced his steps to correct his weaknesses that were used against him in 2018 election. He personally stated this in one of his debates prior to July 14th governorship elections. He went back to obtains a degree in Criminal Justice in the United States of America.

When it became obvious that Adeleke was going to contest again in 2022 governorship election, there arose different types of ‘wars’ internally and eternally. The first ‘war’ he has to contend with started from his own family! Yes, his nephew who held a very vantage and strategic position in his struggle in 2018 coveted to become Osun State governor come 2022. Today, the rest now is history.

Within the PDP, there also arose a very strong gang up against Adeleke with the sole aim of ensuring that he did not emerge as the flag bearer of his party. Mr. Akin Ogunbiyi and his political aides came up with fierce opposition and campaign of calumny as if they and Ademola are not in the same party. They granted several disparaging interviews to the extent that some people began to insinuate that they, Mr. Akin Ogunbiyi and his political aides are being used to destabilize their party, PDP then.
However, when it became so obvious that their tactics would not work, Ogunbiyi and his group left for another political party.

This left Adeleke with another powerful block within the party to contend with. This ‘powerful block’ backed one Prince Dotun Babayemi. But after fighting back, front, left, right and center, they discovered that majority within party, especially the young but articulate members of the party prefers Adeleke.
At the end of the day, the group loyal to Babayemi organized and attended a parallel primary election at a popular Event Centre in Osogbo, the State capital on the same day the real and authentic primary election of the party took place. While Adeleke became the real flag bearer of the party, Babayemi equally claimed to have emerged as the flag of bearer of the party in the parallel primary organized by some fractional leaders of the party. Some few weeks after the primary election, Babayemi approached the Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, asking the court to recognize and declare him as the authentic flag bearer of the PDP. But the Federal High Court in its wisdom threw out Babayemi’s suit in its entirety. Babayemi refused to relent. He appealed the Federal High Court judgement at the Akure Division of the Federal Court of Appeal.

On Wednesday, 20th day of July, 2022, the Court of Appeal sitting in Akure gave judgement in favour of Adeleke affirming him as the authentic candidate of the PDP in its primary election held on the 8th March, 2022 at the Osogbo City Stadium. The Supreme Court at Abuja also threw out Babayemi’s appeal as a mere waste of judicial time.

Meanwhile before Babayemi’s suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, there have been several law suits against Adeleke instituted by several individuals and groups both within and outside of his parties. All in a bid to ensure that Adeleke did not emerge as the governor of Osun State. But what will be will be. In attempts to frustrate him, there are many orders and injunctions majority of which are glaringly procured and later turned out to become legal summersaults.

As a matter of fact, a particular judge gave two different orders in two jurisdictions. One of such orders was set aside at Court of Appeal, with serious reprimand to the giver of the so-called ‘preservative’ order. Another one was recently set aside too also at appeal court. Some that are not members of the same party with Adeleke also dragged him to Court upon a primary election they have nothing to do with! Among this category is the one brought by Boot Party’s governorship candidate and another by one Mr. Bayonle of Young Progressive Party (YPP). Information later revealed that they are all being sponsored by those who never wanted Adeleke to be the governor of Osun State.

Another battle that Adeleke fought before election was that of biased press and media propaganda. Many of the traditional and social media were sponsored to smear his image and personality. Even during a programme that supposed to be unbiased and where fair opinion is expected, what you hear is politically biased statement against Adeleke and his party. A newly established radio station in Osogbo took lead in this. You only need to listen to some of its so-called newspaper review and political programme (especially the Yoruba version on Sunday afternoon) prior to that election. I listened to its newspaper reviews on the Friday morning before the election day and it amuses me how a presenter was justifying the State government’s action for denying Adeleke and his party the use of Osogbo City stadium for their mega rally. The same stadium that Oyetola and his party had earlier used a couple of days before Adeleke’s request. However, and funny enough, the media (both private and publicly owned) have started their praise singing as soon as Ademola Adeleke became the governor-elect of Osun State.

Events During the Election

While it is the Constitutional duty of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to be an impartial and unbiased umpire. We have seen its conducts in the past. This time around INEC performed creditably well. Especially from my personal observation in some of the polling units I visited during the election, which I believe was a true reflection of what happened across the State. The introduction of modern technology also enhanced INEC’s performance with regards to BIVAS and electronic transmission of results. I agree with many public commentators that this time around INEC deserves a pat in the back. INEC staffers comported themselves professionally and in an impartial manner. We can only pray and wish that in subsequent elections they would replicate this good gestures. Contrary to the expectations of many people, the security agents also did very well before, during and immediately after 2022 Osun gubernatorial election. A lot of people were initially afraid when they saw the outrageous number of security personnel and materials deployed by the highest hierarchy of police, military and other sister agencies. But instead of the usual intimidation and harassment of citizens, the security agents performed their duties diligently and professionally. They did not intervene with the electoral processes. They only provided security for lives and properties during the electoral contest. I pray they continue in this manner for our democracy to be deepened and more sustainable.

It is not out of place to commend the electorates/voters too. They were resolute, determined and well-focused. They refused to be intimidated and coerced. They came out and well prepared to exercise their franchise. They seemed to think that with this election, they must achieve something very important. This was boldly written on their faces. I think while those who voted for the incumbent seemed to be thinking that he must remain on the plum seat, those who voted against him seemed to be saying, ‘this time around they must get it right’ and ‘that there should be no controversial electoral vocabulary like ‘re-run’ or ‘inconclusive’.
God provided favourable weather throughout that day even though at a time the rain threatened, the weather became friendly throughout.

Events After the Elections

As soon as voting ended, sorting and counting of ballot papers commenced. As stated earlier, it is interesting to note that at least 70% of voters in many poling units patiently stayed back to witness the sorting and counting of the ballot papers. They made sure that their votes are not only counted but that it also counts. They showed unparalleled enthusiasm and one is amused hearing them shouting during counting one! two! three!………… one hundred! until the ballot papers are exhausted.

Issue of alteration of figures that usually occurred from the poling unit to the collation center did not arise because of electronic transmission of results and also because the personnel involved are patriotic and true to their conscience.
The NGOs that partnered with INEC also deserves commendation because their monitoring and ‘Situation Room’ activities added credence to the efficient and seamless conduct of the exercise. In this regard, YEAGA Africa takes the lead. We observed that while some security personnel left on Sunday, others stayed back till Monday and Tuesday before going back to their various stations.

Lessons And Expectations

While Osun 2022 gubernatorial elections have come and gone, the lessons learnt by all stakeholders will remain. Many have given reasons depending on which side of the divide they are. The political gladiators would have learnt that where people are determined and ready, no amount of lies and propaganda can change their minds. I think this is good because it would add value to governance and service delivery. The politicians supposed to have learnt from the Osun 2022 governorship election that the welfare and security of the citizens is the primary duty of any serious government. Any political office holder that still waits till the election months or weeks before doing the needful must be living in the past. The reality is that people have begun to realize that the power to change government lies in their thumps and not in the guns or in any other election mechanism other than their permanent voters card, pvc. Osun election has taught us that people are now interested in government and how they are being governed. It is apparent that even if they don’t have the capacity to complain, they only need to wait till election time for them to exercise the power of their thumps.
Osun gubernatorial election has strengthened our democracy. The public, especially the youths has learnt that votes now counts and that the security personnel deployed for election are only there to provide security and not intimidation.

The security personnel must have learnt that where people are resolute to perform their constitutional duty, it is better to cooperate with and allow them than to contend with security breach in attempt to hinder them. They should have learnt that compromising or preventing the citizens from exercising their franchise will earn them (security personnel) public condemnation and shame. This is the only way that peace is guaranteed.

Osun election also teaches that in every area of our endeavors, we should not be discouraged. If we have any deficiency, we can correct it and bounce back. Truly, quitters never win and winners never quits.

To the new government in Osun State, expectations are very high. I think what is best for the in-coming Governor is to avoid sycophants and ensure that round pegs are put in to the round holes. The Governor – elect should see his victory as a challenge. He must be able to manage this success in an efficient manner. He must see himself as the Governor of the entire State and not allow some self-centered elements to de-rail him. As a young and dynamic politician, he must not disappoint the teeming youths who according to a report, comprising of nothing less than 65% of those who participated in Osun polls. I also wish that he would be able to prove his critics wrong at the end of the day. Above all, he must lead the State with fear of God. As stated earlier, the Osun 2022 gubernatorial election have come and gone, whether the lessons learnt will be put in practice, it is only time that will tell.

Amos Fakunsana, a public analyst and commentator writes from Osogbo. Osun State.

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