But for the exception of Mr. Wole Oke, tomorrow’s Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship primary would have been aptly described as a race of former senators. All but one of the four contenders in the contest are former senators. Oke, who is the exception, is no less of a legislator having been a two term member of the House of Representatives
Until just a few weeks ago, the race was Senator Iyiola Omisore against the others with Oke and Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi being the minions in the contest. That was until the entry of Senator Isiaka Adeleke, the first civilian governor of the state. What Omisore, Olasunkanmi and Oke lacked in terms of outreach and acceptance, Adeleke seemed in the consideration of some party elders to have.
Omisore who is believed to wield large influence over the party executive had echoed negatively in the opinion of some based on his past. But no one among the party elders doubted his strength on ground and capacity to fight. However, with some Southwest party elders and presidency officials looking beyond the gubernatorial election to the general elections of next year, it was the opinion of some that Omisore could be a great risk.
The PDP apparatchik in Abuja is desperate to stop Rauf Aregbesola, the presumptive nominee of the All Progressives Congress, APC from a second term. It was learnt party elders feared that even if Omisore were to win the party ticket that he could be stopped by Aregbesola. Their reasons included the negative badge that the APC and before then, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN had put on Omisore. Besides that, is the matter of religion.
Even though not an issue of his making, the recent controversy about students wearing religious attire to school and some policies of the APC administration have put religion as an issue. Osun under Aregbesola is set in the next few months to be the first state in the country to celebrate a public holiday in honour of traditional gods.
Given the belief that the majority of the population is of the Islamic faith, desperate elders of the PDP were said to have reasoned that Omisore who is of the Christian faith may have some difficulties in the main election even if he won the primaries.
Hence, Senator Adeleke, a Muslim who retired from the Senate in 2011 was lured reportedly by party elders in Abuja to enter the fray. Remarkably, Adeleke had before now given his blessing to one of the aspirants.
But he quickly changed his mind when he was urged to enter the contest.
Another factor in the consideration of the PDP pundits is the geopolitical factor. Adeleke is from Ede, one of the biggest voting blocs in the state. The permutation is that Adeleke could pull of Ede for the PDP in the general elections and with Omisore’s backing also galvanise the Ife axis to fully back the PDP leaving the two parties to contest for the rest of the state.
Adeleke at a relatively tender age became the first executive governor of the state in 1992 when he was elected on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP. Adeleke had at the period taken the state by storm when he proved all the political analysts wrong to emerge as the SDP candidate.
In 1999 at the onset of the current political dispensation, Adeleke also contested for the governorship seat on the ticket of the then All Peoples Party APP, but lost to Chief Bisi Akande of Alliance for Democracy AD. In 2003 Adeleke for the third time also contested the PDP governorship ticket with Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola but lost.
Senator Omisore like Adeleke has been nursing the ambition to govern the state since 1999. In the AD primary he was said to be on a rollercoaster to win the ticket before the late Bola Ige intervened to push forward Bisi Akande who subsequently emerged the with the ticket and ran the state for one term.
Omisore was, however, compensated with the post of deputy governor.
Following the sweep of the PDP through the Southwest in the last decade, Omisore had generally been seen as the governor in waiting to succeed Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
However, his dream and destiny for 2011 was cut short with the court declaration of Aregbesola as governor in 2010. That declaration changed the configuration and colour of politics in Osun and deferred the ambitions of Omisore.
Omisore’s capacity is not in doubt. The day he made his declaration for the governorship last month the state capital was practically taken over and it was expedient for Governor Aregbesola that one of his commissioners was bereaved and hence the governor and his cabinet practically left the state capital for Omisore on that day.
Tomorrow’s match up is definitely going to be a clash of heavyweights. Having sustained a machine on the ground for years for this project, the thought of asking Omisore to pull back is almost unimaginable.
But with party elders believing that Adeleke would prove to be a more formidable obstacle for Aregbesola, the outlook for an exciting contest is easily in view.