Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
With preparations for tomorrow’s governorship election in Osun State in top gear, an Osun State High Court Thursday restrained the police from arresting the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ademola Adeleke.
Adeleke had approached a High Court sitting in Ejigbo after the police accused him of engaging in examination malpractice and summoned him.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday directed the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, not to invite Adeleke until after the governorship election.
The police had invited Adeleke to the Force Headquarters in Abuja for arraignment on charges of examination malpractices, criminal conspiracy, and impersonation, breach of duty and aiding and abetting.
A presidential source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak on the matter, told some State House correspondents that the president had directed that PDP candidate should not be invited until after the election.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, had in a statement told Adeleke and four others to report to the Special Investigation Panel, Force Headquarters, Abuja, immediately for arraignment in court.
APC, PDP, SDP in Tight Race
The controversial police invitation to Adeleke has, however, not overshadow relentless permutations about tomorrow’s election, which analysts say would be a three-corner fight among the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition PDP and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) even though 48 parties are bidding for the state’s number one job.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, told stakeholders in Osogbo that the commission was ready to conduct a transparent election, stating that 16,000 officials had been deployed in the state to achieve that objective.
The police too have assured the electorate of security, revealing through the state command’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olafimihan Adeoye that 10,000 officers and men would be on the ground to secure the election.
A total of 1,682,495 registered voters are expected to troop out to vote in the state’s 322 wards across 30 local government areas.
Already, analysts predict a tight race, narrowing the top contenders to three, despite the fact that there are 45 other contestants in the race.
The top contenders, according to them are Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola (APC), Senator Ademola Adeleke (PDP) and Senator Iyiola Omisore (SDP).
Oyetola, former Chief of Staff to Governor Rauf Aregbesola and a cousin to Senator Bola Tinubu, the APC national leader, is said to be leading the pack and favoured to clinch the trophy largely because of the advantage of the widespread structure of the ruling party on which platform he is contesting in the state.
President Muhammadu Buhari had led 13 APC governors to the state to campaign for him. Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said some of the governors would remain in Osun till the poll is over.
With access to huge financial and human resources, Oyetola is said to be primed to win.
However, analysts say his chances are curtailed by the division his emergence from the primary process created with many of the bigwigs, including the former Secretary to Government, Alhaji Adeoti, leaving the party to pick the ticket of ADP. His candidature is also said to have breached the zoning policy of the state that would have seen Osun West, clinching the ticket.
He may also be affected by the loss of goodwill by Aregbesola, whose government was accused of poor welfare condition of public workers and pensioners. Having subjected a majority of voters who are public officers or their loved ones to half salaries for a few years, Oyetola is being haunted by some policies of the government he served.
Adeleke is a serving senator, which seat he won with a landslide, taking the seat of his late older brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, who until his death was nursing a governorship ambition. Though a political neophyte, the 58-year-old trounced his APC opponent to clinch the senatorial seat for Osun West District.
Going for him, according to analysts, is the feeling that it is the turn of Osun West to take the top job and he is likely to reap bountifully from his late brother’s goodwill in the local government areas in his Ede home town.
He is said to have a huge war chest from his other older brother and businessman, Mr. Deji Adeleke of Pacific Group.
He is also expected to benefit from the massive structure of the opposition PDP as well as the division in the ruling APC. It is also believed that the involvement of the singing sensations, Davido, his nephew; and B-Red, his son, may swing some large youth votes towards him.
His chances may, however, be dampened by the baggage of the controversy around his secondary school certificate even as he is seen as lacking in vision and ideas.
The SDP candidate is a veteran governorship aspirant. In 2014 he had contested on the platform of the PDP and was defeated by Aregbesola despite the massive support from the government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Analysts give him the benefit of his experience in politics, having served as the state’s deputy governor under Chief Bisi Akande and served a two-term senator. In the Osun east, where he comes from, he’s sure to pull a crowd of voters. With Ife controlling about six local governments, he has a fair chance.
His chances are, however, weakened by the feeble structure of his party, the SDP. The few months he joined the party are not enough to strengthen it and he is still perceived in some quarters to have been involved in the death of the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, even though he had been cleared of the charges by the Supreme Court.
His campaign, though reputed to most structured is said to be challenged by financial difficulties being the lone funder.