By Kayode Olaitan
Observers of the Aug. 9 Osun governorship election, in which 20 political parties participated, note that its results became unpredictable, few days before it was held.
They recall that the calculations changed with the last-minute decision of two ex-governors of Osun State — Isiaka Adeleke and Olagunsoye Oyinlola — to join the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Although it was reported that some candidates of other parties had declared their support for Sen. Iyiola Omisore, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development; the arrangement did not work.
The observers agree that this last-minute realignment of political forces in Osun altered the political calculations in the three senatorial districts in the state.
Analysts note that the defection of Oyinlola and Sen. Kolawole Ogunwale from PDP to APC particularly boosted the APC’s performance in Osun Central Senatorial District, which comprises Boluwaduro, Boripe, Ifedayo, Ifelodun, Ila, Irepodun, Odo-Otin, Olorunda, Orolu and Osogbo local government areas.
They argue that the contest was keen in Osun East Central Senatorial District, which produces the leading contenders – the incumbent governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, and Omisore.
The senatorial district, which comprises Atakunmosa East, Atakunmosa West, Ife Central, Ife East, Ife North, Ife South, Ilesa East, Ilesa West, Obokun and Oriade local government areas, also has substantial number of voters.
As regards Osun West Senatorial District, home to Alhaji Fatai Akinbade, the candidate of the Labour Party (LP), the defection of Adeleke to the APC, barely 48 hours to the election, perhaps, influenced the outcome of the election in the district.
The district comprises Ayedaade, Ayedire, Ede North, Ede South, Egbedore, Ejigbo, Irewole and Isokan local government areas.
Perceptive analysts observe that in spite of the intrigues, the peaceful conduct of the election somewhat signifies that the 2015 general elections will be peaceful and credible.
After voting and collation of results, Prof. Bamitale Omole, the Returning Officer for Osun State Governorship Election, declared Aregbesola as the winner.
He said that Aregbesola, the APC flag-bearer, polled 394,684 votes to defeat Omisore, the PDP’s candidate, who polled 292,747 votes.
The results also indicated that Akinbade, the LP’s candidate, polled 8,898 votes.
Omole said: “Aregbesola satisfied the requirements of the law, having scored the highest number of votes and is, therefore, declared winner and returned elected.’’
Further analysis of the results indicated that Aregbesola won in 22 local government areas (LGAs), out of the 30 LGAs in the state.
A report from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed that 1,407,222 voters were registered for the election, comprising 661,394 males and 745,828 females.
It also indicated that there were 332 registration areas, 3,010 polling units and 3,379 voting points in the state.
The INEC report signified that in Ilesa West LGA, Aregbesola’s local government area, APC polled 15,427 votes, while the PDP secured 5,449 votes.
In Ife Central LGA, Omisore’s local government area, PDP secured 24,555 votes, while APC got 9,608 votes.
Commenting on the election, Alhaji Waheed Lawal, the National Vice Chairman (South-West) of National Conscience Party (NCP), lauded INEC for the way it handled the election, urging the commission to sustain the feat in the 2015 elections.
“Since INEC got it right from the beginning, I can confidently say that the election was credible and fair,’’ he said.
Besides, Lawal said that since the outcome of the election reflected the true wishes of the people, the other parties should cooperate with Aregbesola in efforts to move the state forward.
Mr Sunday Akere, Osun State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, thanked the people for the confidence they reposed in the APC-led government.
He said that the victory would spur the governor to do more for the people of the state.
“We advise the opposition parties to support us and forget our differences; our acceptability is unquestionable. The governor’s second term will be a period of action,’’ he said.
Reacting to the outcome of the election, Omisore urged his supporters to remain calm, assuring them that the PDP was still studying the election results to determine the next line of action.
“It was not a race we came into, unmindful of the odds stacked against us.
“In spite of this and the fact that all democratic structures in the state are in the hands of our opponent, our supporters still fought gallantly in every polling unit to achieve the feat we posted in this election.
“In the meantime, our situation office and party are analysing the results of the elections against field reports.
“We shall be making public our findings and the appropriate steps will be taken accordingly,’’ he said.
Nevertheless, Omisore emphasised that the result of the election reflected that the PDP was no longer a pushover in the South West geopolitical zone.
“This is success we are thankful for; we must celebrate the PDP’s leadership, its members and the extensive engagement of supporters of the Iyiola Omisore Organisation on all platforms,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Akinbade said that he did not regret partaking in the election on the platform of the LP, urging the people of the state to support efforts to develop the state.
However, Mr Kunle Oyatomi, the Director of Publicity Research and Strategy of APC in Osun, urged the other parties which participated in the election to collaborate with Aregbesola in efforts to develop the state via purposeful administration.
He said that in any election, a candidate had to win, while the others were expected to team up in providing advice and assistance to the government in power.
Chief Rueben Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, congratulated Aregbesola, saying: “This is democracy in action; it is the wish of the people, he should dedicate the victory to the people.’’
An election monitoring group, Reclaim Nigeria, commended the security agents that provided security during the election.
Mr Adewole Adewale, an official of the group who observed the exercise in parts of Osogbo and its environs, said that the police, in particular, exhibited exemplary professional conduct.
“I went round almost all the polling units on my motorcycle and I saw an excellent display of professionalism by the security agencies,’’ he said.
Adewale also commended INEC officials for their good service delivery while conducting the election.
During the election, security agencies, especially the police and the army, mounted heavy surveillance on strategic areas across the state, in form of patrols and searches at checkpoints.
President Goodluck Jonathan, during the PDP campaign rally in Osogbo on Aug. 2, assured the people that the Federal Government would beef up security in the state, so as to prevent miscreants from disrupting the election.
Besides, Sen. Musliu Obanikoro, the Minister of State for Defence, re-echoed the government’s commitment toward ensuring the conduct of peaceful and credible elections across the country.
“We should not lose human beings because of elections; our people should not be traumatised because of elections if truly we want to serve our people,’’ he said.
All in all, observers note that although Nigerians are becoming more eager to participate in the election of the country’s leaders, tangible efforts should be made by all stakeholders to guarantee the success of future elections in the country.
“Through such efforts, the country’s democracy would be strengthened,’’ they add.