by Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo
Talleyrand, it was that said “in war, you die only once, in politics, you die to rise again”. This applies perfectly to the erstwhile Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose who was disgraced out of office in 2006 for daring to look former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the face. It is said that Obasanjo once called Fayose a rascal who had no respect for elders and also cast aspersions on his paternity. Fayose would reply in Yoruba thus “Mo mo baba mi, se o mo baba e” meaning “I know my father, do you know your father?”
Although, Fayose was at a time Baba’s favourite political son, he lost out on his pride of place. Perhaps his popularity among his people led him to assume it was practically impossible for anybody including ‘Baba Iyabo’ to kick him out. However, Chief Aremu Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo would prove to him that the power wielded by the President is indeed powerful: nobody confronts the President without some adverse consequences.
For eight years, Fayose refused to bend even upon entreaties from his friends and family (in fact his family at a time had to apologise to baba on his behalf)
Eventually, Mr. Fayose’s political career suffered a natural death. He would remain in the political wilderness until he did the right thing politically: apologise to the ‘Ota warlord’ and reunite with all his previous enemies. With his resurrection also came the resurrection of the PDP as he returned to the PDP fold from the Labour Party.
While all this was happening, the ACN had consolidated and took over the Ekiti Government House from Engr. Segun Oni.
Now that Mr. Fayose is back in the PDP and ready to challenge Fayemi in 2014, what chance does he stand? Will the ACN successfully retain the ‘fountain of knowledge’ state?
The last has not been heard of the issues between Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele and Governor Fayemi. If Fayose is allowed to capitalise on this, there is a strong chance he will replace Governor Fayemi. The ACN just have to up its game and put its house in order. 2014 is here already!
Osun state will also be standing up for tests. In fact, Osun will prove to be the first true test of the Action Congress of Nigeria’s political status because apart from Edo state, the party has not been re-elected in any governorship election (except of course, you count Lagos State which is naturally its domain. It remains to be seen how any opposition party plans to weaken stronghold of Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu in the coming elections).
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola came in to the Osun state government through the court in what has come to be referred to as ‘Salamigate’. Aregbesola’s penchant for the letter O is amazing: from O’YES to O’CLEAN; from O’REAP to O’SCHOOL, the ‘O’ love is strong and hot. These are what his supporters are always quick to point at as Ogbeni’s achievements in office.
His Opon Imo device has received wide commendations from different quarters in Nigeria; though allegations as to the total cost of the project persist. The Government have denied allegations that the contract was awarded to Aregbesola’s son Kabiru but this denial has met with pessimism among the general public. Information coming from Osun State is that the device has not been distributed in major schools in Oshogbo.
Aregbesola has also been alleged to be putting the state on a financial precipice with his continual borrowing which is said to now be close to 300 billion naira; this has also been denied. I take the denial on its face value though, I also find it a little difficult to believe that the Governor will go to the extent of borrowing as much as N300 billion for a state with one of the smallest allocations from the federal purse (though impossible is nothing in Nigeria).
The governor was recently asked to state the debt profile of the state and Ogbeni dodged the question. I really hope the state debt profile is not as high as the opposition wants us to believe.
One particular factor however, that may stand on Aregbesola’s return is the fact that he has treated workers shabbily throughout his tenure by often delaying their salaries. At a time, salaries were paid three months after they were due. And this has pitched him against the workers, many of whom have vowed to see him kicked out of office.
The battle for Osun is often at the grass roots and this is where Aregbesola holds sway as he is still loved by people at the grass roots. He is however not so loved in the state capital of Oshogbo because of the manner in which he has carried out demolition of buildings to enhance his urban renewal programme.
Aregbesola’s opponent, Senator Iyiola Omisore is surely a political juggernaut especially in the Osun State terrain. He was a former Deputy Governor of the State as well as Chairman of the Senate Appropriation committee. His popularity among his people has however waned with the persistent war against his personality and the allegation of his involvement in the murder of the late Chief Bola Ige.
Aregbesola has described Omisore as an ‘ordinary fellow’ who has no authority to challenge him to a debate. It is obvious to all though that Omisore is not an ordinary fellow and has a huge chance of taking over Aregbesola’s seat. Chief Omisore is said to have the support of the Ooni of Ife. This portends that Omisore will likely clear Ile-Ife and with Osogbo not sure for Aregbesola, it means the main battle will be in the Ilesha hinterlands.
Is Aregbesola about to say O’DABO (good-bye)?
The Ashiwaju and other ACN leaders have a huge task ahead of them: retaining Osun and Ekiti state. If the party loses both or even one of the states, its power will be weakened ahead of the 2015 general elections. It may lose its Senatorial and House of Representatives seats in the two states. It may also be difficult for its presidential aspirant to win these states.
In 2011, the party’s Presidential aspirant Mallam Nuhu Ribadu won only Osun state. It is therefore imperative that the party pulls all necessary (albeit legal) weights to win the two states. The present circumstances in the two states however shows that the party has a very difficult task in 2014
*Special appreciation to Micah Stephen for the ‘ginger’ to write this piece*
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